Wolf Schneider grew up in Berlin. Having passed his Abitur he served with the German Luftwaffe until the end of the war. His post-war career began as a translator for the US Army, in 1947 he joined the Munich-based Neue Zeitung, a newspaper of the US military government. It was here that he received journalistic training and later worked as an editor. In the early 1950s Schneider was a correspondent for the news agency AP; in later years he was in charge of the news team and correspondent in Washington for the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In 1966 Schneider joined the Stern magazine, where he worked as editor in chief and from 1969 as manager of the publishing house. German media tycoon Axel Springer hired Schneider in 1971 to design the news magazine Dialog aimed at challenging Spiegel's dominant position in the German market. The project ended in failure, however, and Schneider was appointed editor in chief of Springer’s conservative daily Die Welt, based in Hamburg. A commentary on the Chilean dictator Pinochet deemed too critical by Springer cost Schneider his job within a year of his appointment.
Schneider remained at Springer as editor in chief without portfolio. In 1979 he was appointed first director of the newly founded Hamburg school of journalism, now called Henri-Nannen-Schule). He was to hold this position until 1995. He taught more than 300 pupils, many of whom are now in leading positions. He also became widely known during this time as the godfather of concise German prose.
In the 1980s and early 90s he also presented the NDR talkshow.
Schneider lives in Starnberg.
Since 1995 Wolf Schneider has been a vigorous lecturer on the German language and has been giving seminars for press officers and young journalists. He is a prolific writer and has produced 28 best-selling nonfiction books, among them staple works on good German style (e.g. „German for life. What school forgot to teach“). His latest works are „Speak German“ – a defence of the German language in the face of Anglicisms and „Man: A career“ which tells the story of Man’s rise to mastery of the Earth and plots our uncertain future.
His ideal is a concise written style, which avoids the typically German pitfalls of rambling sentences, separated verbs and complex constructions. Schneider is a critic of orthography reform and has founded with others the pressure group „living German“.
He has received several prizes and holds a chair as honorary professor in Salzburg.
- "Wolf Schneider" (in German). EconVerlag. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- "BIOGRAFIE – Medien & Nachrichten". Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten (in German). 8 May 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
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