The work of an opinion editor is primarily characterised by a joke where a friend asks “Listen, what you do think about it?” – “Nothing, I am on a vacation!”
Yet at other times, we still need to constantly make decisions about incoming texts (opinions are free, but facts are sacred and they should not contain key logic errors), ask the opinion of those who are smarter or write “for millions of readers” yourself. First and foremost, it means excellent knowledge of more or less everything – from behavioural disorders of children to considerably more serious behavioural problems of heads of state. And then the real challenge comes – to combine the opinions of the managers of the editorial office of Päevaleht into a single opinion and while considering this, write a witty but nevertheless serious editorial. And thereafter write an answer to a discontent “reader from Viljandi” who is intent of finding out who the writer of the editorial is, sorry about that but is a collective piece of work…
It was not supposed happen the way it did. But Jaanus Piirsalu was responsible for it. I had travelled back to Estonia from my previous home in Prague by train and bus, carrying a backpack and had no plans whatsoever to do anything serious in my life. I was sitting on the lawn at our Song Festival, sipping peacefully my beer when Jaanus told me, listen, were are about to launch a new newspaper, Ärileht. Go and talk to Andres Eilart. Andres cut me short – my objections that I knew nothing about economy were overthrown by the argument that he was searching first and foremost for people with a sparkle in their eyes. So, Eilart will give you a job and will also give you wisdom. So, for a while I wrote about foreign news and lived in Moscow but it was Andres once again, working already at the opinion editorial office, who lured me there.
We now have a mission. We recently had a brainstorming session on the topic of what characterises our newspaper. Our unanimous stance was surprising. We are looking towards the future. We are searching for ways to reach it in the quickest but also the safest way. And being aware of the fact that those who control the past control the future and that those who manage the present control the future, we warn about not provoking past monsters. We are open and do not narrow-mindedly hang on to barricades. And we wish to take our readers with us on this trip. Don’t say that it will not be exciting. Especially at the time when interest in the future and shaping it is at a higher peak than during the Singing Revolution. It may be so that the most difficult part is to detect the moment when the observer – the journalist – will start controlling the processes to the extent not permitted. And also the prevalent dilemmas: what to do when you witness a fire? Watch it? Run to extinguish it? Help victims? Or decide that, oh well, it was old anyway, let it burn! We don’t always know the answer, it will depend … But it is you who is in the midst of all these processes and you are not responsible only for yourself.
There will be a future you wish to avoid. In five years’ time we may have Hungary, Poland or Turkey if we are unable to preserve the present. In such a case, Ekspress Meedia will undoubtedly be one of the last strongholds of freedom of speech. Or shut down. We will not be slaves. And there will be a future with Estonia still being among the countries with the greatest freedom of the press. It means that the society, the living organism, will cope with temperature fluctuations, will look around with open eyes and adapt. Then we will know that we have done something right.
Anyone who wishes to work at Ekspress Meedia, do it with an open mind! The world view is not crucial and race, gender or sexual orientation are even less so. But indeed, the eyes should sparkle and say: “The future belongs to us!”