Peter Šimůnek could be considered a multitasker. “I’ve only ever done one job in my life,” he says. He graduated from the University of Economics and at the same time studied journalism. During his one-year study at the University of Linz in Austria, he was interviewed at Mladá fronta Dnes and obtained a position in the economics department.
It was at the very beginning at the time, because, as he says, there was practically no economy until the revolution. “At the same time, I worked as a correspondent for APA (Austrian Press Agency) in Prague,” confirms Šimůnek’s desire for diversity in his professional life. Even today, in addition to the boss of Forbes, he also presents a weekly 2 x 2 commercial program on Czech radio.
He started journalism in the 1990s. Back then, he says, journalists – including Šimůnek himself – were naïve. “We made billions of mistakes, we were terribly naive. We didn’t understand many things, but the politicians understood it anyway. Assessed with today’s eyes, we were terrible, but he didn’t could be otherwise, ”describes the editor.
The German edition was a godsend
According to Šimůnek, in addition to journalists without creative experience in a democratic regime, there was a completely different media landscape in the Czech Republic after the revolution. Especially in terms of ownership. “In the 1990s, German publishing houses dominated the media in the Czech Republic. And that was a godsend,” Petr Šimůnek thinks.
“They came here to make money, they didn’t care about anything else. They weren’t steeped in any privatization, they didn’t have any known politicians here, they didn’t have connections to any businessmen. Thanks to this, the media were independent because they brought in money, “he adds. The change came after the financial crisis. “First Andrej Babiš bought something and then, in order to have a full bambita against him, the other big Czech businessmen bought off the media and now it looks like that here,” says Šimůnek.
He worked under one of the great businessmen. Specifically in Hospodářské noviny belonging to the Economia publishing house, the majority of which was purchased in 2008 by entrepreneur Zdeněk Bakala.
“Zdenek Bakala is a different league. He saw it and sees it as his mission to want an independent newspaper. I don’t remember a single instance in the six years I was at Hospodářskéky that Bakala would have called because he wanted to influence something,” Šimůnek describes his work in the daily Šimůnek, adding, “He didn’t get involved in what we’re writing about. He didn’t push any direction or his friends there. It’s completely different from Andrej Babiš and Mladá fronta.”
During his years in Mladá fronta Dnes and then in Hospodářské noviny, of course, as usual, he also worked on another project. He appears regularly on television screens in the Sunday program Parti on TV Prima. “I was pretty good at journalism back then, but as a TV person I was a bad ear. I don’t have the guts to watch the first few years I did it,” he said. recalls Šimůnek from his television debut. Despite self-criticism, he positively assesses the ten-year experience. “I remember Partia very well and I am grateful to him,” he says.
It’s a shame Kellner didn’t give more interviews
In Hospodářské noviny, Šimůnek held the position of editor-in-chief. Then management offered him the post of Director of International Projects. “I was negotiating a Forbes license for economics in New York,” says Šimůnek, adding that at that time the magazine was already successfully published in Slovakia. “Turns out the economy doesn’t care much. Then we broke up for good.”
This was followed by a trip to Spain and a phone call from Forbes, Slovakia. “The editors in Bratislava called me if I wanted to do Forbes in the Czech Republic,” he says. The beginnings were not easy. The press room had about five people when the first issue of the magazine came out. But the vision was not lacking.
“From the beginning, we tried to dissolve the idea that Forbes was a magazine of billionaires for billionaires. The list of the richest people is, of course, a trademark of Forbes, but it is a magazine about inspiration and business,” says its editor. Unlike the American version, which according to Šimůnek focuses more on big business, in the Czech version they also wanted to focus on the stories of small entrepreneurs. business starts in a bakery that someone opens somewhere in the village. It’s the same courage as building an empire with hundreds of billions in profits,” says Šimůnek.
Petr Šimůnek interviewed the richest Czech, Petr Kellner, who tragically died last year after the helicopter crash. Periodically, not once for Forbes. “Kellner built one of the greatest financial institutions in Central Europe, if not all of Europe. He saved terribly with the interviews, he also worried about his safety and that of his family. Perhaps thought he that it was a waste of time for him to do business. I think it’s really a shame because if he used to communicate more he could have inspired more people and explained some controversial things , and there was no need for such a fog around him, “concludes Šimůnek.
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