Newspaper icon Hans Dichand dies

One of the most powerful and influential men in Austria passed away today (Thurs) after Kronen Zeitung boss Hans Dichand died aged 89 at a Viennese clinic.Dichand was chief editor of the Kleine Zeitung and the Kurier before re-establishing the Kronen Zeitung in 1959. The tradition-rich daily was abandoned during the Nazi’s Third Reich regime.Dichand, who was born to a poor family in Graz and served in World War Two, managed to make the “Krone” Austria’s bestselling newspaper. It sells around one million copies today, and research showed that almost three of the eight million Austrians read it.Dichand’s son Christoph took over as editor some years ago, but the iconic journalist remained the key force in the background up to his death. Dichand senior has been accused of stirring up people against each other with his right-wing mindset articles and comments.Dichand, who rarely gave interviews, once said: “I’m neither a racist nor against foreigners. I just oppose a federal policy of supporting spongers and criminals and burdening taxpayers at the same time.”The Kronen Zeitung engaged in aggressive campaign journalism against immigrants for decades, while brave policemen, cute little children and a naked playmate on page seven are regarded as the essential ingredients of the small-format daily.The paper has been feared for its potential of helping to build up political careers by destroying others.Speculations that it might not be as powerful as it once supposedly was however increased recently.Dichand launched scathing campaigns against incumbent President Heinz Fischer ahead of the 25 April election under the synonym “Cato” in comments. The Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) candidate Barbara Rosenkranz meanwhile received outspoken support by Dichand, who described her as a “brave mum”.”Let’s vote for her. She will be a good president,” the “Krone” mastermind told his readers.The mother-of-ten eventually garnered just 15 per cent, while Fischer won almost 79 per cent of the overall vote, the second-best result ever achieved in a post-war presidential election in Austria.Research revealed Kronen Zeitung readers’ voting decisions only showed minimal differences to the overall outcome.Another example of Dichand-masterminding campaigning was his strong support of an Austrian membership of the European Union (EU) – before attacking the EU ever since the country joined it in 1995.Late right-wing spearhead Jörg Haider’s rise and fall is also closely linked to Dichand’s actions.Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann was confronted with criticism from all sides when he admitted around two years ago that he called Dichand only “Uncle Hans”. Adding insult to injury, Faymann also revealed he spent several holidays with the infamous newspaper boss.Dichand recently said in an interview series in own paper’s weekly supplement “Life” that he was adamant of giving his point of view regardless of what people think.He said: “A reader wrote to me, asking why I don’t finally resign to enjoy my twilight years. All I can say is that I will continue to engage myself and express my opinion as long as God gives me the strength to do so.”One of his most famous statements dates back a few years ago. Asked whether he enjoys wielding authority, he said: “I prefer stroking my dog to exercising power.”