Executive publisher leaves Postimees over plans for paper's future

Merili Nikkolo.
Merili Nikkolo. Source: ERR

Two senior members of Postimees' editorial team announced their resignations on Monday, citing differences with future development plans and concerns about media independence as reasons for their departures.

Merili Nikkolo, member of the management board of the Estonian media group Postimees Grupp and Executive Publisher at Postimees newspaper, left the company by mutual consent on Monday, after 17 years on the job.

Head of the investigations unit Holger Roonemaa also announced his resignation on the same day.

Chairman of the management board of Postimees Grupp Andrus Raudsalu said Nikkolo's leaving by mutual consent was prompted by the board's divergent visions on future development strategies.

"The media business is presently undergoing major changes. In order to survive in the long run, we must all support a shared vision in the management in terms of the future," Raudsalu said. 

Nikkolo has worked in companies belonging to Postimees Grupp for 17 years, including as editor-in-chief of the regional Järva Teataja and Pärnu Postimees newspapers. For the past several years, she has been the executive publisher of Postimees.

Postimees Grupp thanked Nikkolo for her contribution to the company and wished her success in her future endeavours, BNS reported (BNS is also owned by the Postimees Grupp - ed).

Until a new executive publisher is found, editor-in-chief of BNS Kalev Korv will be the acting head of news at Postimees. The management board of Postimees will initially continue with three members.

Nikkolo told news portal Delfi that she had left on friendly terms, and Raudsalu said the disagreement had been based on "purely business strategy".

Following Nikkolo's resignation, Roonemaa handed in his notice. "After Merili's announcement, I made a resignation statement because I do not see that we could be able to continue to provide independent media," Roonemaa told Delfi

Postimees is part of Postimees Grupp, one of two major private media conglomerates in Estonia, and operates several regional dailies, and radio and TV channels. Postimees is Estonia's largest daily newspaper and the Postimees Grupp is owned by businessman Margus Linnamäe.

Delfi wrote on Monday that "It is believed that the departure of Roonemaa and Nikkolo marks another chapter in the confrontation between newspaper owner Margus Linnamäe and journalists. Peeter Helme, the editor-in-chief of Postimees, had to resign a few weeks ago when the editorial board decided to write an editorial on a subject that was painful to the owner - namely, the editorial deplored the slowdown in pharmacy reform.

"Nikkolo's departure can, therefore, be considered as a punishment for the owner for not wanting or being able to defend the editor in a dispute between journalists and the editor-in-chief."

Peeter Helme stepped down from the paper in November after starting his position in April. It was reported that he did not have the confidence of the editorial team.

Helme said his decision to quit was in no way influenced by Linnamäe. He said he stepped down for the sake of maintaining editorial peace at the paper, prompting speculation that he had been ousted by a united front of editors and journalists at the paper.

Indrek Lepik, editor of Postimees' opinion section, was one of several Postimees staff who reportedly wanted Helme to step down. On the day of Helme's resignation, he told ERR: "The trust between the editor-in-chief and a number of editors and reporters was lost. We reported this to the editor-in-chief and the publisher responsible. But at the end of the day, the result is as it is. I can say that I understand [Helme's resignation]."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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