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First Female Editor of Europe’s Biggest Tabloid Quits Amidst Power Struggle

Tanit Koch made headlines in 2015 when she became the first female editor of the German tabloid, Bild, and two years later, she has now announced her departure from the newspaper giant after losing power struggle with one of Bild’s executives.

A Female Chief Editor Steps Down

Tanit Koch, 40

In a world where it is uncommon to see women at the helm of leading publications, one Irish-educated journalist broke through the glass ceiling and rose to the top of Germany’s biggest newspaper company as its editor-in-chief.

In 2015, when Tanit Koch was chosen to lead Bild, Europe’s leading tabloid, the company was selling as many as three million copies of its newspapers every day. However, that number has quickly dwindled to one million in two years as the world moves to electronic news sources, leaving the future of traditional tabloids in grave danger.

After receiving her formal education from Ireland, Koch returned to Germany where she found a job as a trainee journalist in Bild Academy. Over the years, the 40-year-old shifted from one editorial role to another until she was made the deputy editor-in-chief.

Koch said that becoming the chief editor was her ultimate dream job, and even though she was finally granted her wish to be at the top of the German tabloid, she didn’t keep the powerful role for long and had to step down as the editor-in-chief after only two years of being appointed at the post.

Traditional Print Media, A Dying Business

The popular newspaper, owned by Germany’s publication giant Axel Springer, has been known for using flashy headlines and provocative images of women to attract readership – but the newspaper is no longer able to keep up with the growing trend of electronic media.

Despite her bitter-sweet farewell, Koch’s journey to the top has been remarkably inspiring for young women around the world. In a space of a decade, Koch’s hard work and determination took her from the role of an unpaid trainee to one of the most influential women in the tabloid business. But what were the circumstances that compelled Koch to step down from her post?

According to the media reports, the 40-year-old was at dispute with the owner of Bild, Julian Reichelt, who had rose to his current post from that of a war correspondent last year. Reichelt, having greater authority in the company than the former editor-in-chief, clashed with Koch over tabloid’s management issues.

Almost everybody in Gild knew about the growing animosity between Koch and Reichelt, as the two went head-to-head in a fight for power which put Gild’s future at risk.  One German commentator and analyst said that two people having similar ranks in a company but completely opposite personalities were bound to clash at some point to get things done their way.

Tanit Koch interviewing Angela Merkel, German’s Chancellor since 2005

Struggling to Break Through the Glass Ceiling

After being in a power struggle for almost a year, Koch could no longer take the pressure and announced that she will be taking her leave from the company on March 1, handing over all her responsibilities to Reichelt.

In her farewell letter to the newspaper’s employees, Koch said that she had been making compromises ever since Reichelt gained control of Gild, and she had finally reached her limit. She explained that when two people have different opinions and management styles, they need to reach a happy medium in order to maintain harmony, but it was unfair that she always had to be the one to settle for less.

Koch isn’t the first woman to leave Gild this year. A few months before her resignation, the chief publisher also departed from the company, raising questions about the tabloid’s management style. A media critic said that if women want workplace equality, they need to come to terms with the fact that the bosses will be just as harsh and tough to them as their male counterparts in the company and they need to learn to handle the pressure.

Companies like Pro-Quote have been making an effort to encourage women to take positions of power in Germany’s newspaper industry. Pro-Quote had set an aim to bring women to hold at least 30 per cent of the management and chief editorial positions in leading companies by the end of 2017. However, only three tabloids, including Gild, had followed through with that goal but with the announcement of Koch’s resignation, the future of power balance in the publication field look murky for women.

Do you think women will ever successfully be able to break through the glass ceiling and get top management positions in organizations?

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