I met my editor this morning at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Berlin office today. It’s an old, beautiful four-story building right in the heart of the Unter den Linden area of Berlin-Mitte. The fourth floor, which comprises the Sonntagszeitung office, really took me aback, as someone accustomed to American newsrooms. Each person on staff has his own spacious office. There’s art all over the walls. A kind of calm confidence seems to pervade the place. (Granted, it’s just Tuesday, and they go to print on Saturday night, but still.)
Claudius Seidl, the editor of the Feuilleton (aka The Man), is a charming fellow. We chatted in his lovely office (we’re talking multiple leather couches, coffee table, art, and, of course, proofs of last week’s paper) for nearly an hour over coffee. He seems to be a lover of all things, particularly when it comes to journalism. He was quite relieved to find that I spoke German — apparently their last guest journalist was a Chinese guy who had to have an intern translate everything for him — but as we discussed the fortunes of the FAZ and my work at The Washington Independent and the state of international news coverage, I did find my language skills limiting my ability to get my point across. The unfortunate result is that I sometimes have to make an altogether different point, one I can communicate but might not find as persuasive. So it goes.
I also met some of the other FASers, including a guy (names aren’t gonna happen yet) who was a Burns Fellow (reverse direction) ten years ago in Eugene, Ore. Seems like a warm and friendly environment, even if the lack of communal space might be isolating at times. We’ll have to see. I start next Tuesday.