Several journalists quit daily Postimees on Friday, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, with many citing distrust in the paper's management as being behind their decision. According to Andrus Raudsalu, board chair at Postimees Grupp, the daily's parent company, the paper's publishing schedule is not jeopardized by the departures, which number at least six.
A meeting on Friday which brought together executives and the paper's editorial board, failed to improve relations and in fact, according to head of opinion at the paper and one of those who resigned, Indrek Lepik, created more problems.
Lepik was joined at the meeting on Friday afternoon by investigative editorial journalist Oliver Kund, and journalists Martin Laine, Mari Mets, Helen Mihelson and Henrik Ilves, from the editorial side, according to online portal Delfi. Andrus Raudsalu was one of those present from the executive side.
"It just didn't seem like a reasonable atmosphere in which to carry out normal and professional journalism any more," Lepik told ERR of his decision to leave.
Andrus Raudsalu confirmed to ERR that he had received the resignations of Mari Mets and Indrek Lepik, conceding that the atmosphere in the editorial office was tense, with journalists expressing distrust in the management of the publication.
Raudsalu added that there were still sufficient staff present to keep the paper running.
"Postimees editorial staff has over 100 employees; staff are still present and new people are coming to work," Raudsalu said.
Raudsalu added that he believes that stand-in editor-in-chief Kalev Korv, who is editor-in-chief of news wire BNS, part of the same group, and who is substituting for the recently-departed Peeter Helme, will be able to restore peace at the newspaper.
"The search for a [permanent] editor-in-chief is ongoing, with several candidates being discussed," Raudsalu said, adding that he did not rule out both the new candidate and a new head of investigative editorial could come from the current crop of journalists still working at the Postimees editorial office.
The recent departures join former publisher Merili Nikkolo, who stepped down at the beginning of the week after 17 years on the job, as well as Holger Roonemaa, head of the investigations unit, who also resigned.
In November, Peeter Helme was effectively ousted from the paper following expressions of no-confidence from editorial staff. Helme had been on the job a little over six months, and replaced Lauri Hussar, who left in January to pursue a career in politics, running for the Estonia 200 party in the March general election.
In April, journalist Vilja Kiisler quit after reports of interference in her work at the paper. Kiisler now works for portal Delfi.
Other recent departures include long-term head of opinion Neeme Korv, who quit a little over a year ago, and in summer, journalist Sigrid Kõiv, who had also been at the paper many years, as well as editor Marti Aavik and opinion editor Taavi Minnik.
Postimees Grupp is one of two major private media companies in Estonia and is owned by businessman Margus Linnamäe. It operates several regional papers, as well as radio channels and TV channels, Kanal 2, Kanal 11 and Kanal 12.
Editor: Andrew Whyte