Editor-in-chief of Postimees Mart Raudsaar told Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" program that he does not approve of the behavior of journalists who leaked in-house correspondence and demands loyalty from the staff. Raudsaar added, however, that no one is hired or fired based on their worldview.
Raudsaar said he does not want to be the judge of what went on at the editorial board before his time. "My business is to do the things I believe are right. I believe that you need to talk to people and my actions must be clear and talked over in the editorial board," he said.
Those claiming Postimees has become a politically biased newspaper, should take a look at what is happening at other Estonian publications, Raudsaar suggested.
"I think we have lost the plot with these liberalism versus conservatism debates in Estonia. I feel we need sensible journalism, and talking about bias – we would need a content analysis first – really look at the contents of the paper and see who is given the floor and how often, also look at other Estonian newspapers, and I believe the results would be rather surprising. We could not say Postimees is the most biased," Raudsaar said.
Postimees' owner Margus Linnamäe asked Raudsaar to run a paper the contents of which would match its slogan.
"It reads that we need to ensure the survival of the Estonian people, state and language. In short, that is what he asked of me. I asked to be able to run the entire editorial board, so there would not be any separate sections and to have a simple management structure. Of course, he also asked me to make Postimees the best paper in Estonia, which I will definitely try to do," Raudsaar said.
"Disputes must remain in-house affairs"
Controversy at the editorial board of Postimees has been reported by the paper's journalists, whether in social media posts or by leaking in-house correspondence to competitors. Raudsaar said he will not stand for it.
"I think it's because people in Estonia no longer understand loyalty. If you work somewhere as a member of a team, you work together toward a common goal. What I would say is that these people have not understood we are on the same team and their choice is very simple – they can either get with the program or they can leave," Raudsaar said.
The editor-in-chief said that while plurality of opinion is welcome, debates should remain in-house affairs. "All editorial boards have arguments and even fights – it is entirely natural. Things that happen to the best of us must remain where they happen. You don't go to the bar to say your wife is awful while keeping up appearances at home – it is so hypocritical," he said.
Regarding values allegedly forced upon the editorial staff, Raudsaar said that after Margus Linnamäe's article from last Friday, journalists came up to him to ask how they should write in the future. "I told them they should keep doing what they've been doing," Raudsaar said, adding that Postimees journalists are not expected to sport a specific worldview, while they should declare it if they have one.
"If a person feels strongly on certain matters, they should say it. You cannot go to protest meetings one day and write a neutral piece on the subject the next. Facts and opinions need to be kept separate, and if we can do that, there problem is not a major one," Raudsaar said.
Where changes are concerned, Raudsaar said they do not only depend on him, adding that he will not be changing anything overnight. "Looking out the window – big ships turn slowly, and Postimees is a big ship. We are very good at writing about processes – corruption, politics, business – but recently there was a story about an old lady who turned 108 – we should write more about people. I would like to see a little more of that," he said.
Asked about the controversial "Meie Eesti" pages in Postimees, the editor-in-chief said while he likes the concept, even the best experts featured in the section need some journalistic help and editing from time to time.
Profit in four years
Concerning Postimees' business model, Raudsaar said that CEO of Postimees Grupp Andrus Raudsalu has suggested the plan is to be profitable in four years' time, which he regards as a sensible perspective. "Considering that aiming for short-term profit could lead to radical decisions. We are developing our paper and relevant channels in stages, gradually. The relative importance of advertisers is falling and that of subscribers growing everywhere in the world," he said.
Because Postimees' news chief Urmas Jaagant announced his resignation on Thursday, the daily needs a new news director. Raudsaar said there are currently three candidates for the position.
Editor: Marcus Turovski