By Eleanor Klibanoff, George Washington University
am taking International Reporting, a class through the new Communications, New
Media and Journalism program that was launched this semester. The class is
unique in its hands-on nature. Students are given the tools to become foreign
correspondents and then sent out into the field to put their training to good
use. For our first, practice news assignment, my classmates and I were tasked
with writing an article about how the recent presidential election in the Czech
Republic was impacting the growth of the Communist Party.
I knew that there was a new president, but that was as far as my knowledge reached on the intricacies of Czech politics. I had no idea how my neighbors felt about the election, but I assumed that if Zeman had won, he must be well-liked. Oh, how wrong I was.
Once I started interviewing Czech people on the street, I learned that it was much more complicated than it first appeared. Most residents of Prague did not vote for Zeman. He is well liked in the towns and villages outside of the capital, and they managed to get him into office despite support for his opponent in the city.
Czechs seem very reserved at first meeting and are rarely overly expressive. But during the process of writing my article, I found the hot button issue that gets them talking: politics, more specifically, Communism. I spent almost an hour at the Karlovo Namesti metro stop talking to an excited old woman with the translation help of her young granddaughter. She had lived under Communism and was very upset that the new president had made allusions to cooperation with the marginal party. By the time I was done with the interview, I not only had great color for my story but had spent an enjoyable morning getting the political lay of the land from those who are living it: the Czechs themselves.