Thomas Venker

Caressing Klimaretter, Performing Arts and Groove Magazine

To Berlin, and in a neat side effect of our somewhat compact accommodation I floated into the editorial office of our neighbours Founded by Nick Reimer and Toralf Staud these people are the German authority on topics of climate change and energy production.

Their nine-member editorial staff, complement by a phalanx of freelance writers, columnists and correspondents, is doing an excellent job on a highly explosive journalistic field, full of lobbyists and marked by progress only be recognizable under the magnifiying glass. In contrast to the worldwide reach of the subject matter their own space is small and constrained. All editors share something like 10 square metres. It’s a big team of committed part-timers, who when they’re in, give it their all.

And this is a thing one can’t mention often enough in these liberated times of our new economy. When fees are stagnant or dropping, among reduced budgets and rising pressure on the editorial teams we should at least think about improving the working experience. If I took one thing from my last permanent job, when I had a staff of 30, it was that useful constructive feedback is so valuable, particularly in times of stress. Offices are homes to a million insecurities. And with everyone under deadlines it seems like there’s no time to make sure your people from editors to interns are keeping their heads together.

It’s not about hitting the „like“ button. Rather a short email saying how much you appreciate their work – you can be sure this one won’t hit the spam filter. (and no, I am not begging for mails to Kaput here, that would be so wrong, well, my email adress is Thomas@…)

What brought all this to mind? Well it all started with a response I got to a lecture I gave the other day, at Deutschen Theatertreffen „Performing Arts“ in the TAK Theater at Aufbau Haus. I spoke about the labour conditions of artists and journalists, a subject we return to from time-to-time in the „Insolvenz & Pop“-series on Kaput. For most of the non-journalists in the audience this discussion meant social pressure and expectations – the neverending pressure to succeed under any circumstances. Weirdly in the digital age though the same issues of salary, respect, time, freedom seem to affect nearly everyone.

To balance the subject, of course I made sure there was time after for a party. Got to look after those colleagues after all. By chance the editorial staff of Groove Magazine, a publication this author has occasionally contributed to over the last 15 years, was celebrating their 25th anniversary at Berlin’s Berghain club, the city’s pre-eminent dungeon of sins and adventures.

One can’t rave highly enough about the work of Editor in Chief Heiko Hoffmann and his team. In a period marked by crazy marketing budgets but pressure on editorial this lot do an amazing job. And they somehow make it look effortless. The editorial gang at Groove are constantly challenging themselves to come up with bigger stories and spotting trends, keeping their readership on their toes. Here’s hoping they get to publish more digitally and also reach English readers, especially given how international the audience for electronic music has become.

I stopped by as I’m accompanying them to the World Climate Forum in Paris this November. (Well, it’s not music, but what is the the danger facing planet Earth’s climate if not a kind of desperate insolvency, right?). This connection came out of my interview with Sabine Minninger of Brot für die Welt, which you can read here:

As a cultural journalist it is a fantastic privilege to be given a chance to peer into this unknown world over the shoulders of professional collegues. I’m hoping I will earn their trust by coming up with questions and storylines that a true everyman, in all his proud naivety, would ask. Full report soon, here on Kaput.

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