Perspectives in the Czech Media: An Interview with Ondrej Stindl

Article excerpt

I met with Ondrej Stindl at a coffee shop in the district of Holesovice. During the interview, while he may have lit a few cigarettes and drank a beer, he never lost his perspective. Nor, for that matter, his modesty or his self-assured positive outlook on the world. I asked him about his opinion about the state of affairs in the Czech media, and we spoke about his role in and position towards the BBC, the Czech daily newspapers and film critiques.

THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE CZECH MEDIA

You have previously worked in both the Czech division of the BBC, as well as in the Czech media. Can you compare the two?

I can't say that I have worked in enough workplaces to make general observations. Our foreign director only kept in remote touch. Czech owners have a disadvantage since they are considerably closer.

Did you experience the BBC Code of Ethics while working there?

Not much. We had to evaluate the personnel, but this is part of the normal course of our work. If someone veered too close to the edges of the guidelines, then we would discuss it. There were also definite guidelines for certain anomalous situations; for example, what to do in the case that a member of the Royal family dies.

Did you enjoy your work at the BBC?

Well, its work like any other job. I wasn't always completely absorbed in my work, but some days were more enjoyable than others. The BBC did have a fantastic atmosphere and sense of camaraderie. This by itself, regardless of your work, makes everything a lot more bearable.

How would you assess the Czech media?

It would be easy to call the Czech media dim, and they are a little bit. Sometimes though, one can find interesting, enjoyable, or clever articles. But, you know, everyone looks at the results of their profession and sees something different from the consumers. When I see a humorous title, I am inclined to think of the meeting that might have lead to it.

What media do you refer to regularly? In the context of my work, I read newspapers on a daily basis. But even if I didn't have to work anymore, I would probably buy Lidovky, or maybe Hospodaky. In regards to Czech magazines, I read Tyden, Respekt and sometimes even Reflex. In any event, since I moved from Modrany to Holesovice, I don't read the papers as much because I spend a lot less time on the Prague transit system.

And on the Internet?

I occasionally read things on the Internet, but not everyday. For example Culture 11 or The Atlantic, which has blogs from various authors. I also read American Scene or sites dedicated to film and music.

What makes journals or newspapers good?

I am a faithful reader of The Atlantic Monthly, which publishes articles on themes that I would never expect to find in other forms of media. Not so long ago, for example, I was reading about the reforms of the New Orleans school system. And while it may be banal to say this, it is good when someone is passionate and can write. News is everywhere today. You walk into the metro and you get news. Maybe from a commercial perspective the profitable articles are those that express an opinion about the news, or when certain authors have a following of individuals who associate their own likes and dislikes with the author in question. This probably doesn't work in print, but it does on the Internet. But it's also possible that this is just my own chimera because I write original pieces, and I tell myself that maybe our time is coming.

Do you watch much television?

Usually films or soccer.

Do you have a favorite program?

The Champions League is a good one.

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What is your position towards Internet media?

Maybe I have said this already, but in 1992 or 1993 I was conducting an interview with Laurie Anderson on Radio 1. I actually fell asleep during the interview because she had such a soothing voice. …