Some say that money shouldn't be discussed, in such a case how to write about it? Before you is an expert in this field, one of the pioneers of Polish financial journalism - Maciej Samcik, editor-in-chief of subiektywnieofinansach.pl.
What skills do you consider key for a journalist and how do you work on their development?
Journalism is a profession that you can't quite "learn". You need to have two predispositions, without which it is impossible to do this profession well. The first is the ability to pour your thoughts onto paper in an efficient and logical manner (despite appearances, this is a rare skill, as evidenced by the huge current market need for people who "can write"), and the second is curiosity about the world. A journalist must want to learn, find out, wonder, dabble, explore. The moment you stop reading, observing, talking - you begin to be reproductive. There is something else - creativity. A good journalist should have this trait, or at least should have a boss who can come up with a topic that no one has come up with before.
Once one has these two or three things, then we can talk about more mundane workshop skills. That is, divisibility of attention, ability to get information, networking, aggregation and selection of information. The best way to work on the quality of all of these things is through contact with readers, audiences. If you have a lot of them - and I do - there will always be someone who will say that something could have been done better, read more, learned more, explained better, put together more efficiently. The biggest mistake of modern journalists is that they cut themselves off from their readers and audience. Most often it is out of fear of verification. But in this job without constant verification there is no quality and progress.
What is the most important task of a journalist these days?
To tell people about the world, to select information for those important to them and to explain why it is important and how it affects their lives. In "Subjectively about Finance" we publish one to three texts a day. We could - working with this lineup (six high-class journalists on a permanent basis and four associates) - publish, for example, fifteen and thus have a greater reach. My conscious decision is that my reader is supposed to come to "Subjectively about Finance" in order to be assured of two things: that if he/she reads something from me, it is important, and that if he/she reads something from me, one is sure to learn something new. My reader has plenty of better things to do than to read "Subjectively about Finance". If the reader spends his precious time - it is my duty to give him content that will enrich him with either knowledge or money.
How will AI affect the work of journalists one year from today?
One year from today, it will probably influence in such a way that you can write a background for a text or a simple article with its help, which is supposed to bring clicks and make money from display ads. I don't think AI will reach the quality of writing that is needed to create exclusive, specialized content that responds to changes around our portfolios, for example. In "Subjectively about Finance" we spend most of our time coming up with topics that no one has come up with before. Or an unusual "bite" of a topic that everyone else is writing about. Or on finding the second, third bottom. Or on counting something for our audience that no one has counted before. If AI can come up with a topic, and not just write down what it knows about a given topic - that could be some kind of breakthrough. Creativity, sensitivity, ingenuity - these are things in which it is difficult to overtake a journalist. Journalism is based on contacts, acquiring knowledge not only from the Internet, but also from the real world, from real people. This is where AI will not help for now.
What do you think the ideal relationship between PR and journalism should look like?
It should be based on mutual understanding. I'm not a banker's pet - to put it mildly - but I have an excellent relationship with many bank PR people. They know what my job is (that sometimes I have to dig them up), and I know what their job is (that sometimes they can't tell me something, even though they know it). Mutual respect and understanding that everyone wants to do their job to the best of their ability - that's the key. And honesty. We should not deceive each other. Some PR people understand their tasks in a warped way: they think that if they lie to a journalist, this will protect the company's image, because the text will be "better" from their point of view. Having a fair relationship with PR specialists, I managed several times not to step on a landmine. They couldn't tell me how it was, but they gave me tips that made the text better reflect the complexity of reality.
Finish the sentence: If I don't write, then....
I speak. I prefer to write, but people increasingly want to listen rather than read. And if I don't write and speak, I read. But rather not books, but what smart people write about the economy. I like to learn and find out new things. And it doesn't tire me at all. I think I'm a workaholic. Don't go down that road.
What are your goals as a journalist and how would you like to influence society through your work?
"Subjectively about Finance" grew out of helping people and that drives me constantly. If my work makes me a somehow-influential or popular person, then I would like to process that into influencing the decisions of important people - in corporations, in government, in the opposition. So that they make less stupid decisions and more wise ones.
Do you currently feel more like a journalist, a financial columnist, or an advocate for the "common man" in the clash with big financial institutions? Is it possible to combine these roles?
When I'm asked on TV how I would like to be signed, I usually say it’ up to you. It doesn't matter who I think I am, what matters is how people who want to listen to what I have to say see me. But I don't know if it matters to them whether Samcik-journalist, Samcik-blogger, Samcik-influencer speaks to them. I guess they want a credible guy to speak to them, who can tell it like it is and defend his opinion in an argumentative argument.
For years you worked as a journalist for a major daily newspaper. Now you combine journalistic work with running your own business. What has such a change given you, and what has it taken away from you? What do you now look at from a different perspective as an entrepreneur?
As a journalist for "Wyborcza" I was able to devote more time to writing. Now more of my time is taken up by running "Subjectively about Finance" - a company already of a dozen people, where I am responsible not only for myself, but also for the people who want to work with me. I am not an entrepreneur by birth, so managing the company is not what I love most - I still try to do as much writing as possible, editing, coming up with topics, talking to people, helping them. But the development of my own medium has certainly taken time away from writing, finding topics, doing journalistic work. Instead, it gave me independence. The financial one (many times more money) and the "corporate" one (I organize my own work).
What do you consider your greatest professional success - awards, articles, creating your own medium? Or maybe something else?
A little bit of everything, because it adds up to being in the top 5% of people in this profession. I've always believed that if you work hard, patiently and honestly, you increase your chances of being one of the best in your profession. And then new opportunities come along. And you still have to know how to take advantage of them, instead of sitting in a warm armchair and thinking "why change something if it's good now?" I'm glad that I was able to take advantage of these opportunities, because it required making non-obvious choices and risky decisions.
What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to encourage you to take an interest in the topic?
Find something interesting in the subject and tell me about it ;-).
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