Uncertainty Ahead for Ben Cunningham

When Michiganian Benjamin Cunningham moved to Prague from Amsterdam, after earning his master’s degree in International Relations, he thought he would stay for a year or two as an editor (later Editor-in-chief) of the English language newspaper The Prague Post. Eight years later, The Prague Post does not exist anymore, and Ben, making a living as a freelancer, has a daughter with his Slovak wife.

These days, Benjamin works primarily as a foreign correspondent for The Economist. He also edits copy and composes book reviews for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Once he wrote a review of short stories by Bohumil Hrabal and was fascinated by Hrabal’s use of language and its English translation. He even visited Hrabal’s favorite pub “U zlatého tygra”. Mr Cunningham also teaches a course called Media and Democracy at Prague’s Anglo-American University, where he enjoys interacting with young people from all around the world.

He believes that for covering Czech and Slovak politics, living in Prague provides him with an advantage over foreign journalists who come here only once. He is content with being settled in one place, writing in-depth pieces about the country’s political and cultural phenomena, such as Jára Cimrman, instead of moving between countries every two years, as other foreign correspondents routinely do. The familiarity with the Czech environment comes particularly handy during the „slow“ months, when snap elections are not called, prime ministers are not resigning, and governments are not facing major crises.

When questioned about the 2017 Czech parliamentary election, Benjamin disagrees with journalists who say Babiš follows the steps of Orbán or Kaczyński. In Ben’s view, Babis is more practical and not so directive. In addition, the Czech constitutional system is more secure than the ones of Poland or Hungary. As for Donald Trump, Mr Cunningham considers him a terrible president, but adds that his incompetency might, in the end, save the US from suffering any permanent damage.

And what does the future hold for Benjamin Cunningham? Writing, of course. But is it going to be in Prague? He is not convinced. Ben is looking for a new reason to stay, and a new challenge.


Text vznikl v rámci kurzu Angličtina pro žurnalisty pod vedením Mgr. Aleny Proškové.


Foto: SME

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