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Why "Katapult" founder Benjamin Fredrich fires himself


With original maps and megalomaniac projects, Benjamin Friedrich became the star of the media industry. Allegations by ex-employees in Ukraine have now forced the journalist to resign.

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Benjamin Fredrich

Photo: Jens Büttner / dpa

For Benjamin Fredrich, the name has always been the program.

He called his magazine »Katapult« in 2015, a quarterly, creative collection of infographics and maps - and like a catapult he fired volleys from the provincial Greifswald into the media industry.

Why Greifswald?

"Why not, you asshole?" says the catapult website.

The founder's projects were cheeky, ambitious and always a little cheeky.

Most of the time he was successful.

He took on the "Süddeutsche Zeitung," which he accused of stealing "catapult" ideas for their own pages.

He insulted publishers and their managers and founded his own medium in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania - to improve the "crappy reputation" of the country.

Fredrich was fearless and talented at marketing his own snout well.

One revelation too many

Now that's over for now.

Fredrich has resigned from his management positions at »Katapult« as editor-in-chief and managing director.

"It bothers me that I failed to meet basic expectations and communicated poorly," Fredrich wrote on his magazine's website.

The reason was research by the industry magazine "Übermedien", which has been dealing with the activities of the controversial journalist for a long time - and has already fought various small wars with him.

Now it was about a particularly sensitive project: Fredrich's commitment in the Ukraine.

Immediately after the start of the Russian war of aggression, the head of »Katapult« at the time promised to strengthen reporting from and about the Ukraine.

He advertised »Jobs for Ukrainians«, looked for reporters and photographers and promised a fixed salary of 1,650 euros per month.

"We can't just go on like this and act as if nothing happened," Fredrich explained at the time.

"We must do everything we can."

Allegations from former employees

Many of these promises later turned out to be exaggerated.

"Übermedien" quoted several Ukrainian editorial staff who complained about outstanding salary payments and inconsistencies.

Fredrich ended the collaboration or lost interest in it, he wanted to change employment contracts on his own and accused the Odessa office of "corruption problems."

Hundreds of thousands of euros that Fredrich collected in donations were at least unprofessionally managed.

The disappointment is great - even among those who had always supported him.

"With the 310,000 euros he collected, he could have hired a large team and set up a serious project that would have been significant," the "Ostsee-Zeitung" quoted a former employee as saying.

Fredrich himself rejects most of the allegations on his website - with the usual harsh words.

Many assumptions and allegations are "baseless", the procedure "shabby", writes the journalist and businessman.

Some commentators compared him to Fynn Kliemann.

The influencer was caught doing crooked mask deals during the pandemic, and the public prosecutor's office is still investigating him.

"The constant comparisons with Kliemann, which do neither Kliemann nor me justice, wear me down," writes Fredrich.

hard landing

If you believe the entrepreneur, all donations were used for work with and for Ukraine.

A functioning Ukraine editorial team has been set up in Greifswald, which has published 144 articles so far.

At most, the office in Odessa failed – which Fredrich had denied to »Übermedien«.

After his hasty resignation – a “new person” is announced for the editor-in-chief who has obviously not yet been found – Fredrich plans to take care of his journalistic “baby” full-time.

He will "put all his energy into KATAPULT Ukraine," he writes.

And a final "Bye." It doesn't sound like an apology.

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2023-02-01

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