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Press - The humble queen of journalism

The humble queen of journalism

Margrit Sprecher is the country's most important journalist. Today she receives the award for her life's work.

Margrit Sprecher would not want to speak to Margrit Sprecher like that. Sitting face to face. Separated by a table top. Too static, too formal. After almost two hours of conversation, she gets up and apologizes: “I'm very sorry for you. What I'm telling is so bloodless! Can I at least show you the apartment? "

Margrit Sprecher is the largest living Swiss journalist. Today she receives the Reinhardt von Graffenried Prize for her life's work. Has won the most prestigious German journalism award. Has played a decisive role in shaping Swiss press history for 40 years.

She is called the grande dame of Swiss journalism. But at the moment her biggest concern seems to be that her story is not enough journalistically. Although this is already exceptional in key words. Born into the Graubünden Von-spokesman dynasty, from which chiefs of staff and governors have emerged for centuries. In the 1970s, the well-behaved housewives magazine "Elle" was converted into a feminist paper. From the 1990s: prices, prices, prices. Since then: the pillar saint of Swiss journalism.

An observer

But now Margrit Sprecher absolutely has to show her apartment, “so that at least a little something happens for your text”. She doesn't need that herself, action for her stories. She watched. Describes. And so precisely that almost nothing really has to happen. She strings together minimalist sentences, rhythmically like a drum solo. Speaker does not need linguistic pop petards. With no ego between the lines. This is probably why her portraits are more cutting than any eloquent slippage. Like these four sentences that she wrote in “Die Zeit” at the beginning of 2013 about the SRF all-purpose weapon Nik Hartmann.

«Only his friends see each other
his broadcasts are not on.
'At least say it.' That is
he doesn't care. At least that's what he says. "

Four sentences that explain everything. And yet not thundering down like a judge's judgment on the person portrayed. But Margrit Sprecher is also an empathetic professional colleague and that's why, of course, the apartment. "So that they have at least some meat on their bones," says Sprecher and floats from the dining room into the office of her old apartment in Zurich. Margrit Sprecher was born in 1936. She looks at least 25 years younger. Her gait is that of a dancer. The parquet does not creak. From one window of her study you can see a vineyard and Gottfried Keller's former home. The children speak English on the streets of the neighborhood. Pretty environment. "Too beautiful," says Sprecher. "I would like to see more life here." She recently saw an apartment through the office window, and there was lightning from the window at night. "I was hoping for a dingy erotic photographer." She went to the door sign. Reporter habit. It was the photo studio of the Betty Bossi publishing house. Speaker rolls his eyes. She once said: "Happy people don't give anything."

Margrit Sprecher started her first newspaper when she was ten. Including business section entitled “How are business going?” For which she asked her grandfather about the price of wheat. At the age of 30, she transformed a magazine that had been thought of as a good housewives magazine into a feminist paper, at 47 she set up the "Life Today" section of the "Weltwoche", and after her official retirement, as a freelance writer, she actually only polished her own statue . With even better lyrics. Since she stopped working on editorial boards, her texts have gotten better, she says. No more distraction. But she has also become homeless journalistically. “The 'World Week' was my home,” she says. Until she smeared right under Roger Köppel. The best Swiss journalist is no longer at home anywhere.

Interest in the big in the small

It is almost exclusively reports and portraits that Sprecher has written in her long career. Thematically, they range from the death penalty to Nik Hartmann. From the pilots of the Swiss Air Force to Radio DRS 2. Over the decades, the many stories from the speakers have come together to form a mosaic that precisely depicts this country and its people. Margrit Sprecher does not want to interpret this picture. "I'm not interested in the big picture." But for the big in the small. And yet there is a bracket that encompasses all of their texts. «All of my lyrics are written against power. That is my mainspring », says spokesman. And so even the angry Nik Hartmann portrait is actually a settlement with the SRF system.

Margrit Sprecher is now sitting at her Apple computer. She hesitantly moves the cursor across the screen, like people who didn't grow up with computers. Who are still amazed that the cursor takes over the movement of the hand. Double click. Her latest article on all of her publishers she's ever had. Nobody was perfect. They were all guys. "Today most publishing houses have managers who gag their employees over and over again," says Sprecher. For the 79-year-old one thing is clear: journalists can only meet those in power at eye level if their employers do not rob them of what is most important - self-confidence.