Short Speech on Modern Danish Press and Journalism

However, they represented only ten printing-houses, as the Berlingske Concern publishes the “Berlingske Tidende,” the “Berlingske Aftenavis,” and the “B. T„” while the Politiken Co. publishes the “Ekstrabladet.”

The evening Press is less developed than in many other large cities, much less so than in Stockholm. In 1946, the afternoon and evening papers had 23 per cent of the total circulations.

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The Copenhagen newspapers’ share of this country’s total newspaper circulations (on weekdays) is a little more than, corresponding to London’s, a very striking difference.

If the tour old Ferslew newspapers are counted as one, the number of Copenhagen newspapers has remained fairly stable since the beginning of this century.

New York will possess only a couple of dailies in 1975, if newspaper- mortality continues at the same rate as in the past 25 years.

In this period its population has increased by two millions, and the number of newspaper been reduced by four. Copenhagen has not seen similar developments. Certainly, one is struck by the fact that no important morning paper has been started in the last fifty years.

Large-scale newspaper industry has, to all intents and purposes, become a monopoly. As the chief result of this concentration, the Capital’s two largest newspaper com­panies now represent a little less than of the country’s newspaper circulations, and more than of Copenhagen’s. Now this means that although the number or Copenhagen dailies have remained stable, the concentration round a couple of newspapers has led to very considerable differences in economic status.

A comparison of the general appearance of the Copenhagen Press with what it was a generation ago will show that, as is mostly the case in small countries, news and entertainment are still mixed with political and literary “copy.”

Less than ever is it possible to differentiate between a political and information section of the Press. Roughly speaking, newspapers are made up, half of what people want to read, and half of what they ought to read.

The “Omnibus Newspaper” has won the day. As finances and circulations allowed, the sphere of interests and contents has been widened—or circulations have increased as a result of this editorial system.

The great daily is like a many-storeyed department store. Evidently no present-day reader is expected to study an entire newspaper, but only what interests him personally. So the important thing is, by clear “lay-out,” headlines, and other technical means to indicate the nature of articles and make them easily accessible.

The large-scale industrialization of the Press makes it possible for editors to invest very considerable capital in the (home and esp. foreign) news-services.

Also most newspapers have become less biased, more open-minded and independent, their staffs better informed.

The smallness of the country makes it impossible for any important newspaper to cater for only a section of the community. However, a few are of the independent type, mostly treating politics as “news.” Technically the great Copenhagen dailies are fully up-to-date.

The influence of the British Press is clearly felt, but ours is not quite like the Press of any other country.

Generally speaking, the Copenhagen Press seems rather homogeneous; it is not only that the “lay-out” is very much alike, but also the domination of “news,” and the common sources. It is practically impossible for any one newspaper to monopolize an important news-item.

Apart from politics, newspaper differ less in “copy” than in the way they handle it. In spite of all tendencies to uniformity there is still—especially outside the news-service proper—scope for individual talent. Newspapers still differ in tone, discretion, and that indefinable “personality” which means so much to readers.

We have already shown that the change of emphasis from politics (views) to reporting (news)’ begun with the reorganization of the “Politiken” in 1905 opened the way for increased circulations. And the democratization of the Press favoured its industrialization. We have also seen that from the time of World War I the editorial, technical, and economic apparatus of the dailies was greatly expanded, in Copenhagen so greatly, that the largest of them developed into “capitalist newspaper-factories,” which could only thrive with nation-wide circulations.

The large Danish daily to-day has a week-day circulation of 170,000-190,000 copies. On Sundays it reaches 250,000-300,000.

It has 1,000-1,500 employees, its turnover is of kroner 30-40 million, and in the basement its press prints 200,000 twenty- four-page newspapers per hour. In 1948 the total editorial expenditure of the Berlingske House was kr. 6 million, paper cost kr. 9 million.

These figures alone are enough to rank such a newspaper high among the commercial and industrial establishments of the country. Very considerable capitals are invested in the modern newspaper concern, and so it is subject to the same economic laws as any other great business company.

It must yield an interest, and be able to pay its way. It is often said that the large Copenhagen dailies are “over-capitalized.” But this is wrong if it is taken to mean that original investments were too large (so that it is supposedly necessary to whip up the rate of interest by unscrupulous mercantile methods).

The total investments by the proprietors of the “Politiken” in 1884 and 1905 were kr. 200,000. The rest was capital savings.

Roughly speaking, the expansion of the permanent capital investment (buildings, type-setting machinery, printing-presses, illustrations department, etc.) have only kept pace with the natural growth of the dailies—if we disregard the special conditions after World War I.

By this continued investment of earnings the proprietors’ fortunes have increased, rather than their personally available yearly incomes. But the profit-percentage, if any, has been slight, if, as would be natural, the invested capital is also expected to yield an interest.

What is happening is this: As the concern grows, so do the proprietors’ fortunes, but it is doubtful whether profits, no matter how they are calculated, are materially larger than usual for businesses of similar size and with similar risks.

Be that as it may, large capitals are invested and must be made to yield an interest. Here it must be remembered that for a newspaper concern the main thing is the day’s issue, which must be able to cope with the journalistic efforts, when events necessitate maximum exertions.

However, the newspaper alone can only keep the extensive machinery going for part of the 24 hours of the day, while the general costs would become a heavy burden, if “running idle” were unavoidable. So the colossal apparatus, created with a view to maximum journalistic exertions must be made full use of.

This is the reason for the creation of “associates.” In 1921 the “Berlingske Tidende” started the “Sondags-B. T.” in 1925, the “Radiolytteren;” in 1928, the “Popular Radio;” in 1928, the Berlingskes Forlag (publishing house); in 1938, the “Billedbladet;” and in 1940, the “Landet.”

In 1913, the Berlingske Concern printed 9 million copies of its papers; in. 1948 over 130 million copies of dailies and weeklies. In the same way the “Politiken” started its Sunday magazine, the “Villabyernes Blad,” the “Idraetsbladet,” the “Ugebladet for Danske i Udlandet,” and the annual “Hvem-Hvad-Hvor?”

In nearly all Copenhagen papers we find similar changes in the direction of manifold publishing activities. All this is not merely due to economic necessity, for the increasing contacts with the reading public have at the same time been giving profound satisfaction to the “Press Instinct.”