This professional group really does not have an easy time, because there is pressure from different sides. Just think of the alleged freedom of the press in dubious democracies (which in consequence even reaches Germany) or even acts of revenge such as in case of the editors of “Charlie Hepdo” in Paris. Journalists have to reveal themselves and become vulnerable in public for open wording. Article investigations often last until night and finally they have to meet the style of the newspaper/ magazine they are writing for or at least somehow heed the wishes of bosses or editors.
At local/ regional level, the topics are usually not that spectacular, but being up-to-date and looking for some “promi input” is always a must and appreaciated by all readers. Not to forget the time pressure, because editorial conferences are held almost every day and each text requested has to be ready at a certain time prior to printing; no matter if there is heavy rainfall or the nose is dripping.
However, job guarantee and earning potential in this professional group are not necessarily auspicious. The competition among the print media is in full swing and it is difficult to get a foothold into a permanent employment today. Writing for a magazine doesn’t look much better. Even for a research-intensive article often only EURO 800.- are paid.
And yet, there are always “scribblers” who “burn” for their profession. Such an exemplar is sitting in front of me today; in particular as he became aware of the Topagemodel blog. Christian B. is more a kind of quiet guy and a good listener. Nevertheless, he notes diligently when it comes to content and research. “The job has found him”, when he started to write short press-articles in 2002 during a traineeship for a national newspaper after passing his master’s degree in history, political science and English. He was fascinated by the variety of the topics and people; especially the departments of nature and technology including aerospace. Two niches that he still covers as of today and is appreciated for.
Among the specialized “technology journalists”, Christian already had the honor to interview Eric Armstrong, the eldest son of US astronaut Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon who died in 2002) and to meet “Astro Alex,” our current “space rider” Alexander Gerst during his training sessions in the Space Center in Cologne. https://www.rheinpfalz.de/lokal/ludwigshafen/artikel/mein-vater-war-ein-normaler-typ/
In terms of nature and environment he also writes a children’s series under the synonym “Nils Nager” (a smart beaver who explains the world) . No matter if it’s about honey, mushrooms or flower meadows, he understands to explain complicated topics in a few words in a clear and child-friendly way. https://www.rheinpfalz.de/lokal/speyer/artikel/nils-berichtet-beim-imkerfest-in-dudenhofen/?tx_rhpnews_shownews[reduced]=true
He has found his way to be pure and remain authentic in doing; not to be rubbed down as an individualist. Yes, sometimes it is a bit depressing when you submit a long article, but then there is not enough space in the planned edition or the article has to be shortened due to actual reasons. In frustrating moments he draws strength from Aikido concentration and martial arts exercises.
His combination of permanent editorial duties, such as editing texts (for 13 years now) and freelance work, is and remains the perfect way to persue his professional passion.
How does it work to make a career as a journalist? Does that mean you have to write for a major, multi-national newspaper like the FAZ or The WELT or magazines like FOCUS or SPIEGEL? Due to his experiences, he does no longer strive for it. This would mean even more stress and competition and sometimes more paternalism (“smiles”).
He loves the local news scenery, a well-known managable region where he feels comfortable and a functional network he can rely on. “Sure, many events in Berlin are more spectacular, but especially working in a small radius you must always write informative and honest; statements about situations far away cannot be easily verified by others”.
“The pace is simply no longer human” and the fast-moving time supports more sensationalism than research. The focus is more and more on provocative statements and the trend is “online first”. Also due to the pressure of competition, many things are under scrutiny every day for the purpose of structural optimization … and that also includes all kind of media-jobs.
No, he does not want to write a book despite his journalistic competence. Instead, he reports about a meeting with Prof. Harald Lesch, who is regularly seen as science expert on German TV. Lesch’s explanatory power in fact is really inspiring every time anew – I fully agree with him.
However, it appears that Christian draws clear boundaries regarding the news genre for himself, which makes him even more sympathetic to me. This means to always remain human and to treat his interview partners with respect (unlike many TV broadcasters who often expose the soap actors than showing them in a positive light).
Actually we wanted to talk about 1.5 hours on the TAM blog and his work as a journalist, but meantime three hours have passed and we have switched from Mr./ Mrs. addressing each other by the given name. He signals trustworthiness, so we also talk about some topics “off records”. The dynamic mid-fortier, who likes bike riding and sweets, is well-trained and not just a mainstream type who defines himself by “likes”.
For him it makes a difference to sit in the opposite of somebody during a conversation because it is the only way to get to know somebody on deeper level. The return of questions/ answers via email is filtered and doesn’t show facial expressions or emotions. So true …
Incidentally, Christian is in deed a meticulous “rodent”, because he appears well prepared for the interview, despite a constant shortage of time. He had viewed and read some TAM-articles in advance and explicitly knows about the concept, publication frequency and presentation.
He follows the conversation with high attention, asks supplementary questions and picks up also small nuances of content. Doing so, he allows digressions on the subject, but nevertheless always returns to his question in order to build a bridge between personality and thematic concern, in short, to write a good story.
Thanks for his interest in our TAM blog respectively its creators Renate and me. The link to the particular newspaper article will be published in due time.
Anyone who wants to know about my regular profession, may read the following article published in the “Berliner Zeitung” (unfortunately only available in German language): https://www.bz-nachrichten.de/das-betreuungsrecht-aus-sicht-des-rechtlichen-betreuers-von-petra-fritz/