A letter from the editor: Help us continue our reader-first mission in 2024

Go behind the scenes of Expats.cz with our editor, then take a moment to tell us how we're doing and help shape the direction of our coverage this year.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 01.01.2024 15:54:00 (updated on 04.01.2024) Reading time: 6 minutes

Dear Readers, As we head into 2024 I wanted to take a moment to thank you for continuing to read and support Expats.cz and to share some reflections on the transformative year gone by and a glimpse into what lies ahead for foreigners in the Czech Republic.

I'd also like to ask you to share your feedback in the questionnaire below so that we can continue to deliver service-oriented, reader-first content that not only informs but also educates, engages, explains, and occasionally entertains.

But first, I'd like to take you behind the scenes at Expats.cz to give you a sense of who we are and what goes into producing our daily news coverage.

A day in the life

We are a small news team composed of expats from around the world who are devoted to delivering the most accurate and curated daily news stories to our audience every day. We collectively represent seven nationalities and are women-led, and independently owned.

A typical day for me begins at 6 a.m. Each morning, I prepare my kids for school, embark on a school run at 7 a.m., and return by 7:30 a.m. to make coffee and delve into various feeds, compiling our daily news briefing. As all you work-from-home parents out there can attest, writing on deadline in the presence of children generates a specific variant of stress. That's why I choose to work in the office a few days a week.

I am supported by our news editor, Thomas, and designer, Daria, who join me each morning shortly thereafter. We collaborate to brainstorm daily coverage and plan out the graphics that we will share on social media.

From l-r: Thomas our news editor, me, former content manager Ioana, and designer Daria in Karlín.
From l-r: Outtake from professional photo shoot with Thomas our news editor, me (I have perfected the art of sleeping while standing), former content manager Ioana, and designer Daria in Karlín. Photo: Anna Glukhova

Part of my job involves overseeing a network of journalists who contribute original stories and reporting. Our regular contributors, Will and Julie, cover a range of topics, including business, economy, education, travel, and healthcare. Additionally, Jason, our weekend editor, is responsible for delivering your Saturday and Sunday headlines.

Our web developer, Jan, and production manager, Daniel, serve as our unofficial Czech translators and proofreaders. Additionally, they provide unwavering technical and moral support, often in the form of humorous memes, chocolate distribution, and banter. (To see the faces and people responsible for bringing you the daily news, see our About Us page.)

2023: The year in review

Our community witnessed a myriad of changes, both positive and challenging, last year. What were the issues you cared about the most? One of the significant developments was the long-standing monopoly held by Pojištovna VZP in providing health insurance for foreign residents which came to an end in 2023.

In other positive news for those hoping to establish a career or work remotely from Czechia, the government launched its digital nomad visa while later moving to bolster the number of visas given out to third-country nationals. In addition, changes to help simplify the blue card application process were implemented in 2023.

However, it is essential to acknowledge the persisting challenges. The increasing cost of living in major cities like Prague has been a concern for expats, impacting their ability to maintain a satisfactory quality of life.

If 2021 was dominated by Covid coverage and 2022 by coverage of the war in Ukraine, respectively, 2023 was characterized by economic news, inflation, the housing crisis, and the work of Petr Fiala's government. Stories about the Czech economy and the housing crisis took center stage in our top ten this year.

Office decked out for the holidays. Why so empty? Covid, RSV kept many of our staff home in December.
Office decked out for the holidays. Why so empty? Covid, RSV kept many of our staff home in December. Photo: Martin Howlings

Also among our top headlines in 2023, an index suggesting that Czechia is among the most difficult countries to start a new life as an expat.

Such reports are wildly popular among readers though we don't always agree with the outcome and neither do you. Case in point, a TimeOut ranking that placed Prague's Vinohrady among the world's coolest neighborhoods stirred up tremendous debate on social media, and in response, you told us what you love (and hate) about your neighborhood. Both stories ranked among our most-read in 2023.

Our absolute most-read article of 2023 was a headline none of us expected to ever write: that a shooting in Prague's Jan Palach Square left 15 people dead, and dozens injured. Sadly our coverage of this story will continue into the new year.

Me reporting from Prague on the tragic December events at Charles University for Euronews Romania.
Reporting from Prague on the tragic December events at Charles University for Euronews Romania.

Challenges, milestones, and the year ahead

One of the most significant challenges we, as editors, encountered this year was dealing with the emergence of artificial intelligence and its implementation in the newsroom, along with its implications.

Do we use AI? Yes, Grammarly, Otter.AI (for transcription), Flash News, and ČTK (which has begun to experiment with AI) are important tools that help us operate better as a small staff, but human editors always read and develop our stories.

As journalists, we also found ourselves striving more than ever in 2023 to maintain unbiased reporting in the face of increasingly polarized public opinion and the amplification of extreme viewpoints. A delicate tightrope to walk and we aim to learn, grow, and improve our reporting in 2024.

This year we leaned into a renewed mission to deliver useful content that matters to our audience. We implemented a record number of new columns, explainers, expert Q&As, a Czech cooking column, a Czech language column, a reader response column, a food news column, and a weekend events column. Looking ahead to 2024 a site redesign and app are tentatively in our pipeline.

Our Instagram got a new look this year and we welcomed a new designer from Ukraine, Daria.
Our Instagram got a fresh look this year as we welcomed a talented designer from Ukraine, Daria.

Next year, we will focus more on areas that are a passion for both you and me, provided our data is solid: food, travel, and education. Among our top stories in 2023 was a piece on the launch of a panoramic Swiss train from Czechia, a profile of a bilingual reading app, a report on the opening of Czechia's first-ever Popeyes chicken branch, and the real-life adventures of a truth-telling trdelník.

Above all, we want to get to know you, our audience, better in 2024. You can always share your stories, thoughts, corrections, complaints, ideas, and tips with us at any time. See our submission guidelines here or drop us a line at cs@expats.cz.

How can we do better?

I would like to invite you to share your feedback in the poll below. What are the key issues you would like us to address? Are there voices that are not adequately represented? What aspects do you appreciate or wish to see more of, and how can we enhance our support for the expat community? Additionally, where do you believe our reporting could be improved or where do we go the extra mile (or kilometer, for those who enjoy giving us a hard time about our American usage)?

Be brutally honest. Your constant and often fierce feedback is vital to helping our organization continue to bring you the stories that matter. Know that when you leave a comment on our socials or write to our customer service department, our editorial staff sees it, reads it, and listens. I am listening.

I am looking forward to a year of positive changes, shared experiences, and the continued growth of the community of expats in the Czech Republic (and the Czechs who love them) as we learn to navigate across cultures and languages and the current events that shape us in 2024.

Thank you for reading,
Elizabeth Zahradniček Haas

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