Ana Muhar has taken time out of her busy schedule to talk to Croatia Week for the latest edition of ’60 Seconds With…’. Ana is currently based in London where she works as a correspondent for one of Croatia’s leading daily newspapers…
Hi Ana, can you tell our readers what you are doing at the moment, and where they can read your work? I am the London Correspondent for Jutarnji list, Croatia’s leading daily paper. I mainly cover current affairs, but anything British, too. I also have a blog called Dopisnica.
Why and how did you get started in journalism? Journalism has found me rather than the other way round. “Audition”, a great book by the American broadcaster Barbara Walters, led me to apply for a Master’s degree at London’s City University. While studying, I was approached by Jutarnji list to cover UK topics. My first “big” assignment was the Chilcot Inquiry. I remember sitting in the middle of a chaotic protester’s meeting typing on my laptop thinking: “This is it, I want to do this for a living!” The strong sense of capturing a moment and bringing it to the readers back in my homeland is something that has never left me. I believe being a correspondent is the best job in the world. Apart from being Jeremy Clarkson hosting Top Gear around the globe.
What is the main difference between journalism in Croatia and the UK? The journalism in UK, with its daily papers and the BBC, is the finest journalism in the world. There is nothing that compares to it. I don’t like talking about Croatian journalism and its problems, mainly linked to the size of the country and its economical and political anemia. Instead, I focus on the superb work of some of my colleagues. I loved the recent documentary by HTV’s Milka Barisic on the winemaker Mike Grgich. And I love reading anything by my colleague Inoslav Besker.
You have interviewed a host of famous people, can you name some and who left the best impression on you? It is usually political leaders that leave a big impression. Hillary Clinton. Nicolas Sarkozy. Tony Blair. But the one that impressed me most was the interview with Rauf Denktas, the founder president of Northern Cyprus. I was the last journalist to interview him, only days before he passed away. It was very poignant. He was physically weak, but his message and beliefs that Turkish Cypriots deserve their state, an idea he was fighting for all his life, made him as passionate and eloquent as ever.
What has been your favourite interview to do? I like covering big stories. The news hacking story was very interesting. So was the case of Julian Assange. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics were fantastic. I also loved covering the last Greek election because I could sense there was a story different to the one portrayed in the world media. It is difficult to point out one story, because each one of them was compelling.
Best 3 things about living in London? The people. A recent trip to California reminded me how incredibly lucky I am to be surrounded by the world’s intellectual elite. I find London one of the most intellectually challenging places on Earth. It is highly motivating. The newspapers – the FT Weekend, The Sunday Times and the Economist never cease to make me happy. The English – I love observing the habits of the English. I am interested in their history, literature and values. I find English politics hugely fun and their jokes unbeatable. This genuine interest helps me a lot in my job.
What do you miss about Croatia? I miss my parents. I miss my weekly lunches with Zoran Kurelic, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, my dear friend and mentor. I miss Gornji grad where I was brought up. I miss the smell of chestnuts in Autumn and mimosas in Spring. I miss Dolac, afternoon walks with my Mother in Dubravkin put and the Saturday’s promenade in the centre, I miss the fact that everything important to me is a walking distance away, things one takes for granted when living there.
Favourite place in London? That would be our home in Chelsea. It is very cozy and has a fireplace which has become the symbol of our evenings and Sundays. It is also the place I write from and I love my study that is very small, very bright and very inspiring.
Favourite place in Croatia? Dubrovnik. I find it one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It is also the place I got married to my husband David. Our lazy lunches in Šipan followed by a barefoot afternoon walk on Stradun is my idea of happiness.
Favourite restaurant in Croatia? Orsan Gverovic in Dubrovnik. Plavi Podrum in Volovsko. Apetit City in Zagreb.
Favourite restaurant in London? I still haven’t found one that has it all, so I would say: Cecconi’s for the atmosphere. Lucio for its owners. Brinkley’s for the fun. Shogun for the food and memories it holds for me.
Favourite city in the world? It varies. At the moment it is Istanbul. I simply love its energy, it holds the true mosaic of East and West, I like the people and the food. I would love to explore it more.
If you were not a journalist what would you be doing today? I would probably be a TV reporter, which I occasionally am for the national TV channel HRT. Or a writer, which I am trying to be after work. Not many surprises there.