"Twitterview" with Balz Rigendinger

Chief Editor for Switzerland

Balz, you have been Chief Editor for Switzerland at SWI swissinfo.ch since the beginning of 2017. That means "three languages in one go". You have a creative, motivated and professional team at the outset, publishing articles according to all the rules of the art of journalism. 2017 was an intense, exciting and groundbreaking year for SWI. New teams, new premises, many productions… there was hardly time to draw breath, and since the autumn a cold political wind has been blowing. It surely isn't always easy to stay on course.

In 2017 a great deal of time was spent on social media. Posts, feeds, walls, tweets have become part of everyday life for journalists at SWI, and in the summer we reached the one million mark on Facebook. Acceptance of swissinfo.ch on social media is very high. So I'm going to invite you to give a "Twitterview". Remember, your answers must not exceed 280 characters.

How proud are you of your crew @swissinfo? #bestteamever

I don't like pride, it can't be measured. But I'm certainly impressed. There's a lot of #Experience here. It shows in serenity and #Reflection. And yet the digital world goes without saying for everybody here, and has been for years. #Hatsoff!

Which production @swissinfo in 2017 did you like best? #Decisionsdecisions

Our report on discrimination against #ExpatriateSwiss by Swiss banks. We kept at it stubbornly but objectively. And also a portrait series of people from the Swiss #LGTBIQ community: Close to the people, well written, relevant.

You lead a trilingual editorial team @swissinfo, how do you overcome the language barriers? #Languagemix

Those that I have, with #deepl.com. This online translator shows impressively what artificial intelligence is already capable of. In this respect I'm expecting huge developments, which can only be of benefit to our multilingual country.

Which milestones have you overcome in 2017 @swissinfo? #Superhero@swissinfo

SWI reactivated dialogue with Swiss expatriates, with a powerful echo. For me, the first mile was only achieved after four months, when I first got the feeling that I had arrived in this very complex operation.

What makes direct democracy interesting for other countries? #DearDemocracy

Many citizens of other countries wish they had as much participation. For them, Switzerland is like a beacon. But it's also interesting that our democracy has weaknesses. It's slow, compromises can be lazy, bills can be too complex. Imperfection keeps journalists on their toes.

What do you miss sometimes, working @swissinfo? #Iwish

Sometimes I wish we were more edgy. Our multilingualism often requires us to describe Switzerland in a way that will be understood all round the world. There is a risk of sounding like an encyclopaedia. Text sometimes suffers in translation. Images and videos fortunately do not.

What is your number one wish for 2018? #abracadabra

Relevant stories. They will catch on.

Balz, many thanks for this "Twitterview"! Looking back, what else would you like to say about 2017 – without a character limit this time :-)

Well, it was my first year, and this is my perception: Due to its remit, history and its unique competence, SWI is a rare bloom in the Swiss media landscape, almost a one-off. Here you have many people passionately asking themselves two questions every day: What is Switzerland? What does it mean to be Swiss? These questions become more and more interesting the faster everything changes. So there are still plenty of answers to come.

Interview: Nina Hübner, Communications + Marketing