21.03.2018 18:42


Thor Fanndal: an Icelandic wind blows in Brno

Autor: Monia Dahmane | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

"My advice to anyone wanting to do journalism is to remember that perfect is the enemy of good and be prepared to flush your job down the toilet if necessary to report what you think should be reported"

Well-dressed, serious and professional-looking must be the first adjectives to describe Thor Fanndal. This 34-year-old man originally from Reykjavik, Iceland, has been living in Brno for less than two years and has already found his marks in the city.

We meet in a café, Thor enjoys open spaces to work, he looks exhausted and two empty cups of coffee are already on the table, he orders one more. When he starts talking, the enthusiasm reaches his face, his voice, although calm and clear-cut sounds melodious, maybe the remains of his mother tongue.

Suddenly, he takes his phone and apologizes for having a couple of calls to make. That is Thor’s life now : he is heading his own company which provides editorial services for other firms and newspapers times to times. “Once, a bank asked for our services to investigate on their clients to make sure they weren’t doing tax evasion!” he remembers. At his early age, he already has a good career behind him, one of those who every young  journalist or even entrepreneur would be interested in.

"I’ve worked in media or politics since I was 16 and done a very versatile job" : Thor is a hard worker who took many opportunities to excell in his job.

Thor first started studying informatics and had many jobs in designing newspapers, TV & film production, project management, editing and remastering mainly. In the same time, he was writing articles for newspapers. But his full-time career as a journalist only started in 2009 and evolved in 2014 when he had the opportunity to enter into a Faculty of Journalism in the United Kingdom : the Edinburgh Napier University. At this time, Thor had already founded a small production company and a weekly investigative magazine called Skástrik in Iceland. Thor is clearly a “workaholic” since his young age : “I’ve worked in media or politics since I was 16 and done a very versatile job”, he explains.

After working as a journalist for few years, mainly in Iceland, Thor has created his current company based in the United Kingdom's where he employs local journalists to cover the Brexit among other topics, but he is not anymore a journalist himself. “I have never been so poor in my life than when I was a journalist, it is such a hard job”, he recalls. Presently, the man is involved in what seems to keep him busy every day between the appointments and the trips, he doesn’t even seem to have time to sleep. “I currently work as a political advisor for The Pirate Party in Iceland. It has six MPs out of 63 in the Parliament. The party has now become a mainstream party in Iceland. In 2016 it was handed the mandate to form a government, and in 2018 it was part of four-party coalition talks to form a cabinet. I was part of the negotiation team at the time and have since worked on helping them gain trust among voters in Iceland. Since I joined the Pirates have risen in trust and are now seen as the number one anti-corruption force in Icelandic politics. This is obviously due to their great work, but I must admit that I take great pride in my work with them”, he says.  

For Thor, moving to Brno was first linked with a job opportunity but he finally decided to settle in the city. “I just fell in love with the country” he confesses, “Especially Brno, it is a boomtown that I really appreciate, unfortunately, I travel way too much for my work, so I have had a hard time getting accounted with this place but I am working on it”, he adds. Thor also choose the Czech Republic because he was looking for an enjoyable place compared to the U.S, Great Britain or India where he used to live : “The Czech Republic is more egalitarian than the UK and less austere. Yes, I know that sounds ludicrous but the brits are insane when it comes to these things”, he laughs. The man was looking for a cultural change but he is still surprised by the silence of Czech people, he remembers being in a train to Germany and the difference of noise he noticed when crossing the country’s border : “The Czech side was quiet and no one chatted but as soon as we stopped in Germany the guests became louder and more obnoxious”, he says.

The Czech Republic was also a strategic choice for Thor’s professional activities. Indeed, because of its central location in Europe, the country is a perfect place to work from and deal with many contract opportunities with international companies. Plus, at the same time, Thor considers the Czech Republic as a chance to develop his activities on a local scale because he plans  to stay in the country for some time.

My company supports few newspapers and organisations financially. This makes me feel less like I betrayed my trade than I otherwise should.

 Talking about his future is not a priority for Thor, he is lives day by day, he wishes to still work for his company and eventually set up an office in Brno and provide good jobs for few people. His company already pays its freelancers very well and he hopes that they can continue this way. 

Nonetheless, when I ask about coming back to his journalist years, he hesitates:

“I get offers now and then but at the moment I am happy with the work I do. One of the influences that my current work allows me is to infuse respect for the free press and critical thinking into political organisations. My company also supports few newspapers and organisations financially. This makes me feel less like I betrayed my trade than I otherwise should.” It seems that even though it was hard in term of salary, Thor still enjoys the journalism work, but he believes that it can be done in a better way, in the respect of journalists. Thus, being a journalist have marked his life forever but it appears to not be a really sure career choice nowadays according to Thor : “My advice to anyone wanting to do journalism is to remember that perfect is the enemy of good and be prepared to flush your job down the toilet if necessary to report what you think should be reported.”, he recommends. And Thor definitely knows what he is talking about : he tells me about the fact that in 2014 he discovered that one of his editors had few years back accepted a bribe from a wealthy man in secret. When Thor published his findings a majority off his colleagues did not support him and for a little while he had to rely on income from the foreign press alone. “The point of this story is not that my colleagues betrayed me but that no one is irreplaceable and most journalists that amount to anything will face this choice; job or principles. Understanding that you can do other things for some time or as a career even gives you independence beyond anything else. Someone else is equally or even more qualified than you.”, he explains.

 

Klíčová slova: journalism, Iceland, Pirates party

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