“(As a journalist), you have the incredible luxury of free asking. If you are in a free society, you can ask almost anything to anybody. And you should use it”.
Raphael Minder is correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times. Based in Madrid, he covers Spain and Portugal since April 2010, which means that, as a journalist, he is extensively experiencing the global financial crisis historical moment. To achieve this point of his career, Raphael started working in his home country, Switzerland, for Bloomberg. He also has spent ten years as a staff correspondent for the Financial Times, working in Paris, Brussels, Sydney and finally Hong Kong as the FT’s Asia regional correspondent.
In the short interview bellow, the professor of the IE Master in Digital Journalism gives his ideas about how is to be a correspondent and shares some advices to young journalists.
How did you get in the position of international correspondent? How was your path?
RM: After university I started working in publishing and I heard a friend that an American news agency was opening an office in Europe and they were recruiting people and I thought it could be an interesting switch, because book publisher didn´t look very promising. And I applied and they were actually opening an office in my home country, so I got a job.
What was the news agency? How old were you on that time?
RM: Bloomberg. I was 22.
After that once you found yourself in Spain, what were your first impressions about how would be your work here?
RM: I have worked two times in Spain: for Bloomberg Spain, in 1998 and 1999, and I came back for this new job 2010. So, I knew already the country, but I have known Spain in a different time and in a different economic context. So it sounded familiar, but also quite changed. The first time I leaved in Spain, Spain had the peseta, there was no Euro and it was a country much less integrated in the world economy than I think it is now.
And in the second time you arrived here, what were your impressions about how would your job be?
RM: For a correspondent it is very important to be able to cover a country that is of interest to readers and I have been very lucky, because the crisis. I am probably one of the few people in this country who has gotten a lot more work as a result of the crisis. Since my return – I arrived just when Greece was asking for a bailout, for rescue, and since then the interest in Spain has been huge. That has meant that I have written a lot more stories than I expected and I there has been a lot more demand from my editors for stories.
What is the biggest challenge of being a correspondent for you?
RM: I think it is to be able to learn about a country as you write about it. So, you have to very quickly get start and assimilate a lot of information. Then, there is a point when the challenge becomes different, where you actually know quite a lot that country and you actually have to take a step back sometimes and try to look at the country, or the society or the politics with fresh eyes, and not feel that everything you see is something that has already been seen so that is not important.
When we leave IE, what should be the most important things we should know in order to be good foreign correspondents?
You need to be curious; your curiosity should always be driving your work. You need to be as good as in your last story, so every story has to be done with the same accuracy as the previous one. In the fact that if you have done a great work, it won´t protect you if you produce something wrong or bad. You have the incredible luxury of free asking. If you are in a free society, [You can] ask almost anything to anybody. And you should use it.