Sometimes quick editorial shots can go wrong.

This is what happened in Greifswald in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

The "Katapult-Magazine" has been published here since 2015, and has been able to build up a nationwide readership with innovative data journalism.

The quarterly magazine founded by journalist Benjamin Fredrich became an example of how print journalism can be economically successful even in the digital age.

The circulation is almost 100,000 copies.

But on Tuesday, the thirty-four-year-old founder resigned.

Kevin Hanschke


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“We tried to make a difference.

But I've obviously failed," he said in his statement.

There are various allegations against Fredrich.

It's about mismanagement and false balance sheets in his Ukraine engagement.

When war broke out in Ukraine in February, the editor-in-chief decided to expand his model to include Ukrainian-language journalism.

Katapult is starting a magazine with 20 editors from Ukraine, Fredrich wrote on the website.

For this, 20 "Katapult" employees would voluntarily forego part of their salary.

"The news team should consist of people who flee, who stay in Ukraine and who travel there," it said at the time.

On the one hand there was praise for the commitment to Ukrainian media professionals.

Donations were collected for the further expansion of the Ukraine editorial team

But there was also criticism from the workforce.

Employees complained that they found out about the salary cut through social media.

A few editors even left the publishing house because they were not willing to give up half their salary.

But even that was hardly discussed.

The establishment of the Katapult Ukraine editorial team progressed.

Journalists were hired in Germany and Ukraine.

An online magazine appears, maps and texts on Ukraine are published.

For the goal of further expanding the Ukraine editorial team, 310,000 euros in donations were collected.

So far so good.

But at the end of the year there seemed to have been communication problems again.

Übermedien reports on a dispute within the editorial team, in particular with the journalists Roksana and Sergey Panashchuk, who have been working with their teams from Greifswald and Odessa for “Katapult Ukraine” since spring 2022.

They accuse Fredrich of "having dropped them".

In the middle of the year, “no one seemed to be responsible for us,” attest the journalists from Ukraine who have been publishing in European media for years and work as fixers.

There was a lack of resources and support

There would have been a lack of editorial resources to produce the delivered articles, says Panashchuk.

No content appears on the project page for weeks, and the members of the "Katapult Ukraine" team who were recruited for the project are almost non-existent.

There is also talk of disputes about positioning.

In hindsight, Panashchuk felt that her main purpose was to "give media interviews about the Ukraine project."

In August 2022, "Katapult" fired her because of "questionable decisions" in online reporting and because she had removed "critical sections" about Ukraine from a planned book, replies chief editor Fredrich at Übermedien.

Since the end of 2022, "Katapult" has also no longer paid regular salaries to employees.

There was also talk of "recruited" journalists who hardly delivered any articles.

Fredrich himself criticizes the poor quality of the team's contributions.

In the case of "Übermedien" he initially rejects all allegations and even accuses the Ukrainian journalists of embezzling funds.

On Twitter, however, he wrote: "The representation is correct in some places, wrong in some places and distorted in many places."

Over the media, Fredrich accuses him of personal vanity

The surprising letter of resignation followed yesterday, in which he acknowledged mistakes in founding the Odessa office.

"It bothers me that I didn't manage to meet expectations and communicated poorly."

In the text on the website, however, he also accused the media and its editor-in-chief Stefan Niggemeier of launching a campaign against "Katapult".

He lists the successes of the publisher's commitment to Ukraine, including 144 published articles, a book and support for refugee projects.

"Niggemeier bases his statements on partly unfounded allegations by former employees and thus assumes a calculation that never existed".

In turn, the media reacted to the allegations, accusing Fredrich of personal vanity and asking about the use of the Ukraine donations.

The Katapult website continues to post vacancies for the Ukraine edition.

In the meantime, articles have been published again – on military spending or aid.

In the course of his departure from operational activities, Fredrich also declared that he wanted to put all his energy into the criticized project "Katapult Ukraine": "I want to do what I have announced".

The entire journalistic work of "Katapult" is now managed by a dual female leadership.

The appointment of the editor-in-chief is still pending.

Hopefully this won't be another hasty shot.