It was a debut for the weekly Bulgarian newspaper Capital as well as for the Berlin taz. The paper – more precisely, the arts department – housed me for one month in its offices in Sofia. In return, Capital journalist Svetoslav Todorov took my chair at the foreign desk for the same time period.
All of this happened as part of Close-Up, a special programme by the Goethe-Institut in which German journalists swap their workplaces with colleagues from other countries. It’s a kind of taster course with plenty of opportunities for in-depth insights in an unknown media world and one’s own investigations.
Unlike almost all such programmes elsewhere, the good thing is that they also give a turn to people over fifty rather than packing them off to retirement.
The newspaper Capital, which also has a daily online presence, is one of the few quality newspapers in Bulgaria. As the name implies, economic issues take up a great deal of space in its reporting. And corruption in Bulgaria is an ongoing issue.
This does not appeal to the coalition of right-wing liberals and right-wing populists under Boyko Borisov in particular. So it’s no coincidence that Ivo Prokopiev, the owner of the media group Iconomedia, which also owns Capital, is presently being investigated for allegedly dubious real estate transactions. Depending on the outcome, in the worst-case scenario it might cost Capital its very existence. But the colleagues there know at least one thing: they certainly have solidarity from Berlin.