Prague Morning, Czech Republic
I arrived in Prague knowing no one, unable to speak a lick of Czech. I’m leaving now, knowing little Czech but knowing the city and its culture better than I could’ve hoped to, despite its labyrinthine streets that seem to defy navigation.
I spent this summer working for the Prague Morning, the largest English-language newspaper in Czechia. It’s a relatively informal outfit, which proved to be an asset: the informality and small size made it an agile operation and made my experience extremely personal. I was doing a wide variety of editorial and creative tasks, including writing social media posts, proofreading submissions and helping design graphics. The bulk of my responsibility, however, was writing daily articles for the website. This involved doing research on other Czech media outlets and press releases and then writing about whatever was most relevant to the English language community that day.
The work was not always thrilling, but it felt meaningful. I would regularly meet people who read the Prague Morning every day. Being able to foster some sense of community among English speakers who were otherwise spread across town in many different industries was intensely satisfying. It also proved to be the ideal job for forced familiarization to an otherwise foreign city and culture. Through assigned interviews and stories—usually covering notable expats in business or culture—I was sent all around town, spending days in areas I would not otherwise have explored.
I hadn’t done anything remotely journalistic since middle school, so I had to adjust to a type of writing that is neither personal nor academic. I appreciated it, though, and it felt good to do writing that had objective value beyond simple personal or academic satisfaction. I found art and cultural reporting to be more challenging than expected: with an organization like the Prague Morning, the writing leans closer to advertising than it does criticism. The readers want to hear about an event beforehand—no one is particularly interested in an account or review post-facto. This is understandable and was nice insofar as I had a pretty good sense of what events were worth attending, but it didn’t always allow me to apply the critical skills we value so highly at Williams. Generally, I appreciated the break—it was nice to turn off my brain in a way that isn’t always possible at school.
I’m most proud of the articles I wrote about an English language theater company, a bakery cashing in on nostalgia for the First Czechoslovak Republic and the closing of the biggest brothel in Prague. I’ve learned a lot, and my writing and editorial skills have improved. The real value, though, has been getting to know such a beautiful city with such a rich history and culture.
It’s impossible to overstate my gratitude toward the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Arts and Entertainment Internship Grant. To Martha Williamson ’77 and Peter Nelson ’76, this opportunity would never have been possible without your support. I appreciate it immensely.