six months at The Munich Times and then The Munich Eye

This week at enemy grounds in Ingolstadt
  • People hear again and again that print journalism is dead, but when it comes right down to it, some people just want to hold the paper in their hands.
  • You’d think that being a journalist opened doors for you, but often the worst thing you can do is say, ‘I write for a newspaper.‘ (I knew this one already, because I’ve been working for my wife’s journalist office for a decade now…however, I’ve seen it repeatedly while researching my own stories in the last six months – no one wants to talk to a journo. Unless they’re in PR and in that case they have nothing I really want to hear.)
  • Being a professional journalist sounds impressive, but it isn’t. Writing for The Guardian means something in my book. Having been published by some two bit publication? Not so much. Over the last half year, I’ve heard repeatedly, ‘He’s a professional journalist.‘ You know what that means? He says he’s a professional journalist. Nothing more. It’s a real profession, but very few people are making a living at it. Very. Very. Few.
  • Some say the future of news journalism is at the hands of bloggers. I certainly hope not. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading blogs and write a few myself, but do I really want Lucy’s Football giving me analysis on the European Debt Crisis? She can’t handle her debt crisis.
  • The Münchner Merkur isn’t a bad paper. I had no idea how well written it was and have used it as a gold mine to find ideas for stories. I’m still a snob about reading the Süddeutsche, but my horizons have expanded to include news source at which I’d previously scoffed.

The last week has been mostly about the Oktoberfest here in Munich on the old Miscellaneous Blog de Lahikmajoe. I’ll be getting back to that soon enough.

Realised this week that I joined my paper (then The Munich Times, whose name I preferred, and later The Munich Eye) exactly six months ago. What a way to celebrate the half anniversary, right? With an assessment of what I’ve learned.

Here’s to another six months of sometimes quality writing and covering the news and events going on in Bavaria’s capital. Hope you’ll be along for the ride.

under some of our noses

our future readers

I was frustrated last month at how little time my new job was allowing me for blogging. Ridiculous, eh? Here I have this great opportunity to help start an English-language weekly newspaper in Munich, and I’m worried about my little, personal site.

Here’s the thing, though. It needn’t be either/or. I could focus all of my energy on the paper, like I did for most of July and the beginning of August, or I could keep working diligently for The Munich Eye and mine that site for topics to be used over here.

That was how I originally envisioned it, after all. When I first talked to William Smyth, the editor of The Munich Eye (formerly The Munich Times), I thought I’d be doing a bit of writing for this fledgling startup. What a thought. For years, I’d been selling articles here and there. An article about tea on one website. A list about Die 10 einflussreichsten Songwriter, die kaum jemand kennt (The ten most influential songwriters you’ve probably never heard of was my original English title) on another one.

Yet, here was a chance to write regularly for a publication nearby. I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity. Little did I know what was in store for me. Nearly five months later, I still have no idea how good this thing could become.

Starting in early July, we went into print and each week we attracted more attention. Writers and photographers came out of the woodwork. People we didn’t even know existed were here under our noses all along. Well, not literally. It’s not very safe under our noses. Allergies and all.

Munich: the city of ‘We don’t need all of those newfangled things’

What an inviting message…yes, come to Munich

There was an intriguing article in the local paper last weekend, and I’m only just now getting round to talking about it. Sometimes I need a few days to decide if it’s even worth bothering you with.

Truly.

Not every idea is a gem. Aren’t there things you’ve done that, in retrospect, you probably would’ve reconsidered?

Well, I have an entire rucksack of those, but my suspicion is that you didn’t come here for my reject rucksack. That’ll have to wait for a slow day. These are anything but slow days. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For example, a week from Thursday the first print edition of The Munich Times is coming out. That means no matter how calm and collected I might appear here, I’m running ragged in my daily life. I have the same clients I normally do, and Ella and Louis, my sister and brother pair of Vizslas, need their daily trudge in the park. In addition to that, there’s the organising and cajoling I’m doing.

With whom am I doing all of that? With my colleagues at the paper.

That’s right: We’re starting a newspaper. In print. While everyone else is going digital, we’re betting that there’re still people that want to hold newsprint in their grubby little hands. I’ve heard all the arguments that we’re mad, and I’ve even strongly considered some of them. However, my heart is in this. Fully.

You want a taste of the sort of writing we offer? Well, here you go:

Chimpanzees: having a crack at culture (by Jane Marple)

Europe has to decide: cut or spend (by Michael Owens)

I personally have written on a variety of subjects, but I think the one I enjoyed the most was one of my first pieces for the newspaper:

St John Passion at the Matthäuskirche on Good Friday

And although England is now out of the European Championship, the writing about football is one of the best parts of The Munich Times, so here’s Chip off the old block (by Geoff Poulton)

You went and read every single one of those, right? You better have. You don’t want me to hand deliver the print edition to your doorstep, do you? I will, you know. Because, according to The Adventures of One Fancy World-Traveling Bon Vivant (with a jaunty hat), I’m the sort who just might do it. Show up and shove a copy into your waiting hands.

Can you even remember what I started this with? It was the article I read in the paper. For those of you who read German, here it is:

Hauptstadt der Selbstgefälligkeit: Warum München die Zukunft hinter sich hat

For the rest of you, the thrust of the article is that the citizens of Munich aren’t necessarily interested in progress for the mere sake of it. We’re a city that almost says, ‘We don’t need all of those newfangled things.‘ Not mindlessly, we don’t. Not  at all costs. No thank you.

Can you see where this is going?

What a perfect fit. A newspaper for a city that appreciates the traditional.

I’ve heard a statistic that a quarter of the Bavarian capital is foreign. That can’t be possible, can it? Not so traditional in that respect.

Yet in a way that plays to The Munich Times strengths even more so. It might not be the reader’s first language, but it’s very possible that English is more easily  understood than German. That’s certainly a part of who we’re aiming for.

We shall know soon enough. No need to fear: I’m taking you with me on this one. Something only a Bon Vivant would do. As is my wont.