Oriented towards People
Styria Media Group is a group of companies, which is looking towards the future, oriented on basic values, representing topicality and at the same time steeped in tradition. Its employees have shaped the present in different times and media and at the same time made history. In the company history of Styria, political, social, cultural and economic developments since the last third of the 19th century are reflected in a special way.
"Fide, Arte, Industria"
The history of the company Styria began with the establishment of the Katholischer Preßverein in September 1869 in Graz. In an explosive environment, Styrian Catholics dared to take the initiative to start their own, modern media work. Their motivation in a time of a general mood of cultural struggle was clearly defined: to offer resistance to these developments and to inform through journalistic work. With its newspapers, magazines and books, Styria subsequently contributed to the political and mental emancipation of many people.
The quality of its work and products, a good balance between humanity and organizational effectiveness as well as the consideration of the newest technical standards made Styria a well-known name on the printing-, book- and press market. An important basis for success was the generosity and vision of its owner, which as an independent, autonomous association reinvested the generated profits entirely in the company and thus enabled the sustainable creation of value. The guiding principles of the company in those years were "Fide, Arte, Industria".
Light and Shadow
A special milestone in the history of the company was the establishment of Kleine Zeitung in 1904. It was designed as a daily paper for the general public and sought proximity to the people, regardless of their social background, education and religious or political views. Success proved the idea right: under the popular term "Kreuzerfrosch", Kleine Zeitung quickly became an indispensable part of the lives of broad levels of the population. Being on the pulse of the time and on the pulse of the people, building and justifying trust, reporting and entertaining extensively without thereby renouncing an autonomous, intellectual profile – this has been and today still is the recipe for success of Kleine Zeitung and many other Styria media.
Also after the transition from monarchy to republic, the newspapers and books of Styria accompanied private and public life with information, critique and orientation. The economic turbulences of the hyperinflation during the 1920s as well as the increasing political polarization of the country also made an impact on the company. With its basic orientation on Christian values, Styria was a thorn in the side of the National Socialists. Thus, the Preßvereinsanstalten were confiscated by the regional administration of the NSDAP already on the day of the "Anschluss" of Austria to the German Reich. Arrests, dismissals and the "Gleichschaltung" of the newspapers followed.
The Katholischer Preßverein was reshaped into the Preßverein in Graz, staffed with NS party members. In order to document the break with the company's tradition and culture, the name Styria was eliminated from all official company names. The extent of the brutality of the approach can be seen at the personal fate of former Styria director general Karl Maria Stepan, who – alongside many others – had to go through many bitter years in prisons and concentration camps for his beliefs.
Lessons from history
In 1945, Stepan returned – unbroken, ready for dialog and reconciliation – to Styria, where he advocated the company's reconstruction with the whole strength of his intellectual and moral authority. As Kleine Zeitung could be reintroduced to the market in 1948, its fundamental objectives were undisputed – despite all uncertainty in economic matters. The lessons learned from recent history should have a strong voice: independence from all political parties and economic power groups, support of parliamentary democracy, promotion of the exchange of ideas between the essential intellectual currents of the time and – so to speak at its core – the protection of humanity.
The fact that such an ambitious project could become reality for long periods of time was mainly thanks to those employees, who advocated it in their thoughts and actions – also if it was uncomfortable. Probably not by accident, both the public and critics bestowed the attribute "courageous books" to the publications of the Styria publishing house. Thereby, already very early on, the conviction, that critical, independent reporting and the endowment of meaning can only become effective, if they are combined with entrepreneurial strength and financial security, was part of the basic principles of the corporate strategy. This connection of textual aspiration and economic success, within Styria has always been regarded as the actual challenge in publishing. Especially the names of Hanns Sassmann, Fritz Csoklich and Julius Kainz stand for this model, in which the company, for example, for a long time has been committed to the quality newspapers Die Furche and Die Presse.
Continuity in the midst of change
On this basis and under a new generation of executives, the classic print and publishing house Styria, from the mid-1990s onwards, was turned into a modern media company and repositioned. The transformation to a stock corporation in 1997, created modern structures suitable for this. Since then, the owner responsibility to a large extent has been carried by the non-profit Katholischer Medien Verein Privatstiftung. Under the leadership of Horst Pirker, chairman of the board from 1999 to September 2010, Styria focused all entrepreneurial attention and competence on contents. This reorientation has been accompanied by strategically justified, dynamic, yet controlled growth, which is documented through numerous start-ups, acquisitions and shareholdings on the national market and – since 2001 – also in Southeast Europe, especially Croatia and Slovenia. Over the last decade, this direction was pursued in a concentrated and consolidated manner. With a cooperative corporate culture and in clear strategic approaches, the strong brands of the Styria should be strengthened, costs and efficiency should be actively managed, and the share in the digital business should be expanded significantly in order to mobilise the full force of the group of companies for the common success. In this jubilee year of 2019, Styria’s current executive board, headed by Markus Mair, through the multi-million euro modernisation of newspaper printing facilities in Graz and St. Veit, has delivered a clear statement that the print business also has a future.
As a media company, Styria has always regarded itself as being at eye-level with current events – and in doing so constantly reinvented its métier. The history of the group of companies shows, that the challenges of the respective future always provoked changes, even new beginnings. Constructive and creative in intellectual matters, intelligent and responsible in economic affairs, offensive and self-conscious in business. What remained constant are the underlying values, the orientation towards humankind and its dignity.