Interviewing Tsipras (Biggest Name in Headlines)… NBD

This summer is a crazy time to report in Brussels, Belgium. At Thomson Reuters we cover a ton of topics, but the Greek debt crisis consumes most of our time and energy recently. It may not seem like that big of a deal to everyone at home, but it has consistently been at the top of media headlines from many countries this summer (including the US). I wanted to share some of the things that I have been working on with everyone at home because the videos we produce are bought by media companies all over the world. So many of the things we put out from Reuters in Brussels ends up on CNN and other American news channels.

So why exactly is Greece a big deal and what exactly have I been working on?

Last night history was made. Greece had been fighting default for five years, but last night Greece missed a payment to the International Monetary Fund and they are the first developed country to do so. The Greek crisis is far from over. Greece is headed down a path to leave the Euro and there is fiery tension between the Greek government and their creditors as well as other EU leaders.

I must say that reporting in a foreign country is difficult, but it is even more challenging to be thrown into such an important and complex story. The past two weeks have been a marathon for political reporters here in Brussels. Here are the three main types of meetings that we covered in regards to Greece.

  1. Eurogroup Meetings – The Eurogroup meetings are between all of the finance ministers from countries that use the Euro.
  2. European Summits – European Summits are meetings between the heads of state of all 28 EU member-states.
  3. Meetings between key EU figures and Tsipras – There were frequent meetings between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and key EU people such as Juncker, Dijsselbloem, Draghi, Lagarde and Schulz.

Working these events can be challenging, but I have interviewed some of the world’s top leaders regarding one of the biggest international stories of the year. I was standing just an arms length away from Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras when he said the highly-used quote about how EU leaders are blackmailing Greece. At this point in time, the world thought that Greece was wanting to reach a deal, but I got to see the expression in his eyes and the demeanor in which he stormed out of the EU Summit first-hand. I told my colleagues that did not see his it up-close that Greece was out. Sure enough, Tsipras called for a referendum later that night.

That video of my interview with Alexis Tsipras was bought by over 75 clients around the world. My video was on top news channels across the world including CNN. Here is the interview published on Reuters’ website (about 30 seconds in).

During the month of June, the Reuters Video News Team in Brussels produced an all-time record of 116 stories in one month. 116 stories does not sound like very much, but I would like to add that there are only 5 real employees and 2 interns at this branch.

I started thinking about all of the world leaders that I have either interviewed, held a microphone up to for a statement or filmed at a press conference. Here is the list.

  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
  • President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz
  • European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
  • President of the European Council Donald Tusk
  • Eurogroup President Jereon Dijsselbloem
  • IMF President Christine Lagarde
  • And countless financial minister

Foreign Interviews and World Leaders: EU-CELAC Summit

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I have learned a lot this past week and a half since I wrote about my internship, so I thought I would post an update.

Thursday I covered a story at the European Parliament. The UN presented an appeal for more money to go towards humanitarian acts in Iraq. After the presentations were over, we went to the hall and I got to conduct one-on-one interviews. My first interview was with Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq. Then, I got to interview Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF. Lastly, I interviewed the Kurdistan Regional Government Minister for Planning, Ali Sindi. It was incredible to get to interview such high-profile people. When we got back to the office, my boss was happy and said that I got good vox-pops (soundbites). The cameraman that I was with cut the videos and I wrote the shotlist in iNews and worked on the story. It was the first real story that I did and I really enjoyed it.

Waterloo is a really big deal here in Belgium and this summer is the bicentennial. Basically, 200 years ago Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, which is near Brussels. Belgium is very proud of this and made a proposal to have a commemorative €2 coin in honor of the battle. Well, to make that real, all countries in the EuroZone (countries that use the Euro) would need to approve. Obviously, France wasn’t happy about it and wouldn’t approve it, so Belgium withdrew the proposal. They got around this rule by creating a €2.5 coin and a €10 coin (that is not actually valid currency) to be a collectors’ item. I went to a press conference about the new coins and then helped shoot video of the coins being made, which made for some cool sequences. This story was targeted for our French clients, so I came up with questions with one of the print interns that speaks French and then he asked them because I could not. When I got back, I wrote the story and shot list in iNews.

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This week was the EU-CELAC Summit where the heads of European and Latin American countries met for discussions. Getting into the European Council building is worse than airport security, but there was a bomb threat here while we were here yesterday, so I guess I understand why. I went out and helped cover a Mexican protest. The protestors mentioned the students that went missing and an unclean recent election as reasons why they want the EU to stop supporting the current Mexican President because they believe he is not helping Mexico’s situation. It was interesting. I conducted my first interview in a foreign language. Gracias professora Reina. The summits are a lot of rushing around to wait. It’s a lot of rushing to press conferences to hear that they are cancelled or rushing to get an interview and then waiting a long time before anything else happens. Either way, it is really cool to be here with some of the world’s top leaders.