It is important to be present where the stories are
The Hungarian version of Euronews will be the channel’s 13th national edition and the second – after Greece – to be based on a local newsroom. The BBJ asked CEO Michael Peters about the new project.
The project – co-financed by Euronews and the European Commission – offers 37 full-time jobs: 22 journalists and a technical and support staff of 15 will work in Budapest, Brussels and at Euronews Headquarters in Lyon. The recruitment of the head of team is only a matter of days away, and the rest of the staff will be hired by February 2013, Peters said. Euronews is already available in 20% of Hungarian households: it is the fourth biggest news channel in Hungary, and 7% of the Hungarians watch it at least a week, according to EMS Europe.
Q: Is it very different establishing a local newsroom compared to working from your HQ in Lyon?
A: I would say it’s more impactful. Even if we were recruiting the same staff for Budapest, but working from Lyon, the result would be totally different. In doing our operation from Hungary, it gives us something totally different in terms of news impact.
Q: What does this difference mean in technical terms?
A: Greece and Hungary are totally new projects, because all the others were managed from Lyon so far. We had to re-think our workflow. It’s a big challenge technologically, as we are asking our staff to work here as if they were working in Lyon.
Q: How do you select the target countries?
A: Our strategy is to cover all of Europe. We have very good positions in Western Europe, we have also covered Russia and Ukraine, and so we have Central Europe in front of us, like a north-south corridor. We have three main countries in this region we focus on: Greece, Hungary and Poland. Now in Poland we haven’t succeeded yet in establishing a local newsroom; the Greek one is going to open in days, and Hungary in April 2013. The latter two countries are important to us for two main reasons. First of all, on a geographical basis, their situation in the region, etc, and on the other hand, they are at the top of the European news agenda. I’m a news teller, and as such, it is important to be present where the stories are; it is our business. Also we have an office here in Budapest to cover stories in the neighboring countries, so the newsroom here will work also as a regional center.
Q: How will you deal with the fact that a significant Hungarian population is present in the neighboring countries as well?
A: Yes, we are aware of that phenomenon and our correspondents will be travelling to all the Hungarian communities. It is a little known fact that our worldwide news director is a dual Hungarian-Romanian citizen.
Q: What are your next target countries?
A: We have a very advanced project in Romania, where first we will provide 24-hours news in English, then – just as in Hungary – news from a local newsroom.
Q: And finally a personal question: do you have a favorite project?
A: Honestly, Hungary and Greece are really important questions for me personally. As I was appointed CEO a year ago, I had to put in place a new strategy and these projects are the results of this strategy.
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