Gorkana meets…Klaus Fiala and Forbes Austria


Klaus Fiala

Tell us about your role and remit at Forbes Austria.
I am a reporter covering business and finance, specifically for the investment section of our monthly print issue, where we cover topics such as markets, stocks, and so on.

In addition to conventional equity analysis, we also aim to seek out unusual stories such as interesting Fintech companies or unusual investment approaches. We want to get people excited about finance, even when they wouldn’t necessarily be interested in these kinds of articles.

Since our editorial team is relatively small, I also cover topics for the magazine such as business, lifestyle etc. Moreover, there are smaller tasks to do, which include proofreading prior to our publication date or internal coordination. From time to time, depending on time and occasion, I also write online articles for our website www.forbes.at.

What does a typical week look like?
The main task at the beginning of each month is researching and planning, which means deciding on the topics, conducting interviews, researching articles, attending press events. During this time I am quite frequently away from my desk.

The further the production proceeds, the more I actually write. In the last two weeks the entire team is in the office more regularly, trying to complete the layout and finish the text.

How does the US edition of Forbes influence your work on the Austrian edition? How much content do you share with the US?

Basically, we can determine our topics independently and decide on the cover, articles and main focus ourselves. However, the US issue obviously determines the general direction of the magazine – an emphasis on entrepreneurs of all different kinds .

Additionally, each issue contains 30 to 40% content from the Forbes network. We select the best stories and features from Forbes US, translate them and then include the articles in our magazine. This way, we have well-researched pieces, which provide our readers with background information from the US and other countries in which Forbes is active, such as Mexico, Russia or Africa.

Our US colleagues also happen to use articles from the Austrian issue for the US magazine. In the future, we would like to increase the amount of content published in the US.

You are a relatively young journalist writing for one of the most well-known business publications. Can you tell us a little more about your recent career path?
During my studies (economics) I undertook work experience in journalism and wrote for the Austrian daily newspapers Der Standard and Kurier and the Austrian press agency Österreichische Presse Agentur (APA). From the very start, I was covering business and finance, topics in which I had a personal interest and which also complemented my studies.

In March 2015, I became aware of the fact that Forbes was planning to start an Austrian issue and absolutely wanted to be a part of that. Luckily, it worked out.

What first got you interested in business and finance? What do you find most challenging when writing about these areas?
The more you learn about the topic – especially financial markets – the more diverse it becomes. On the one hand this is intimidating, but on the other hand also extremely exciting. The financial crisis in particular made it apparent how far-reaching economic processes are in a global context and which economic ties exist. The debate surrounding economic and political issues has been carried out in a prominent and controversial manner, especially since 2008. In my opinion, this is the most exciting topic area.

For me, the biggest challenge is processing the extremely complex content in such a way that my grandmother or my 14-year-old cousin would be able to understand it as well (a test which I actually put it through from time to time).

In the field of financial journalism, in particular, terms are often explained inadequately while too much jargon is used. This might be interesting for a handful of readers but not the wider public. Writing in this style is not easy and, unfortunately, I don’t always succeed.

However, I think the aim should be to give as many people as possible the opportunity to inform themselves, so they can then form their own opinion about events.

You produce content for Forbes’ print and online editions. How does your approach to writing and sourcing information differ depending on the type of publication? 
For the print issue, we have the luxury of allowing ourselves (a little) more time for the articles. They therefore usually focus more on background information, strong images and are generally longer. With the print issue, we have a bigger chance of gaining the reader’s undivided attention. For example, when they are at the beach reading our magazine, than would be the case online.

Readers’ attention spans are shorter (effectively) on our website. Mostly, the articles are shorter and more provocative than in the print issue. Only very specific topics are interesting for our online community.

Long reads, even if they are well-written and researched, are scarcely read online. What I like about online content, on the other hand, is the smooth integration of external sources (such as other newspapers or magazines) and different media formats, such as video.

At the end of the day, print and online are two different media formats that overlap and should be treated according to their respective characteristics. However, the research methodologies are quite similar:  even when working on content for the print edition, as long as it’s not regarding interviews, my research predominantly takes place online.

Do you use social media for your work? How does social media influence your work?
I use Twitter to keep informed and up-to-date throughout the day. LinkedIn is great for researching short biographies. Instagram and Snapchat are for private use – hardly ever professionally.

I haven’t had a Facebook profile for private reasons (e.g. data security) for a long time. Sometimes this can be a bit of a disadvantage because people, especially those my age, communicate via Facebook very often. My colleagues also get some of their information through Facebook.

On the whole, social media certainly doesn’t influence our daily work as much as it influences online journalists.

How can PRs help with content?
PR agencies are great if they know the specific product and make suggestions accordingly. Standardised press releases are not really helpful for a monthly magazine but if we get suitable interview and topic suggestions, a collaboration often works out well.

For us this includes topics in the areas of business, finance and lifestyle which have some sort of extraordinary feature or something unexpected. We don’t necessarily have to be cutting-edge, but should be able to provide something new. Some agencies manage to do this better than others. But I think this is the best way to get our attention.

What is the best way for PRs to get in touch?
Preferably via email but over the phone is also perfectly okay.

In an ideal world, if you could choose to do something completely different from media journalism, what would you like to do?
In an ideal world I would be a professional football player for SV Darmstadt 98 or would have enough imagination to write novels in a small country house.

Klaus Fiala was interviewed by Gorkana’s Davia Peris.

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