There is a sleek, neatly-trimmed cat among us who intimately understands what it’s like to be a journalist in a country where the media is free in name only. And yet with all the risks and obstacles brought upon by such an environment, that hasn’t stopped him from doing his job truthfully, which is – to say the least – admirable (and perhaps at times a bit foolhardy, too).
Milos started his journey at Content Insights rather humbly, serving as a content marketer. But it didn’t take long until he found his true niche within the company, ultimately becoming our Client Relations Manager – the spokesperson for our prized content analytics solution.
Today, fueled by the mission to strengthen journalism by keeping publishers data-informed, not data-blinded, Milos is a busy bee who is no stranger to putting in extra hours. And yet with all his due diligence (as well as accolades for investigative journalism), he’s still just a regular fella who loves fishing, good grub, strategizing foosball matches, and getting all them laughs.
And so without further introduction, let’s turn the spotlight onto Milos…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What has your journey to becoming a member of the Content Insights crew been like?
It’s been a helluva journey! I started as a journalist at the Serbian Daily, Blic, at the end of 2014. It was both challenging and interesting – a real learning curve. As a correspondent, you don’t get to specialize in just one field of reporting. You basically get to report on different topics (i.e. sports, crime, politics, etc.) which really helped me broaden my horizons.
I stuck with daily journalism for about four years. But during that time, I’ve also dabbled in investigative reporting and participated in some prestigious fellowships, which gave me a whole new outlook about how journalism can be approached and executed. Then – kind of out of the blue – our colleague Djordje (who you might know as our young data engineering genius) sent me an ad for a job position at Content Insights.
We were friends for a couple of years prior to that, but that right there was my first encounter with Content Insights. I thought to myself: “Wow, this looks really interesting, let’s give it a shot!” And so here I am, going strong for about a year and a half and still feeling enthusiastic about it.
What was it like writing stories before you started here at Content Insights and how did that experience mold you into the journalist you are today?
That’s a very good question, actually. One of the perks of this job is that I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of journalists who come from more developed countries and live in very democratic societies. They have absolute freedom to do their jobs objectively and write important stories – all that without being pressured by the government. They don’t have to worry about their job security or their personal safety because journalism is perceived as an essential job, an important service for the people.
However, being a journalist in Serbia – which is currently ranked 90th on the World Press Freedom Index – it’s a completely different story. Good journalism often comes under fire in Serbia. This is reflected in everything, from finding sources and confirming information, to finding a relevant platform or paper to publish your story. It’s been like this for years, and I think things are, unfortunately, only getting worse. But the upside is that these circumstances gave rise to a whole new breed of local reporters: those who are resourceful in obtaining information, who are super careful when it comes to their safety, and who are – most importantly – persistent and won’t give up easily on a story.
That’s exactly what I’ve learned – how to stay safe, how to dig for information, and why you shouldn’t give up on your stories despite the possibility of people making it difficult for you to finish them. Still, I would very much like it if us journos in Serbia could work in the same environment and conditions as those from countries that rank among the highest in the World Press Freedom Index.
Interestingly enough, your job title has changed during your service here (into a Client Relations Manager, no less). What made you decide to change teams and how are things holding up for you at the moment?
I started here as a Content Marketing Officer, but I was mostly in charge of writing articles for the company blog. But the thing is, I didn’t feel like I was contributing enough to the cause and the future of Content Insights.
As you know, we’re on a mission here. Our mission is to help media truly understand their audience, and therefore grow and make media businesses sustainable. Working with clients actually got me more involved in promoting that change. Also, it’s always great to meet all those people from around the world and hear about their practices (except Antarctica, of course, where we don’t have any clients – yet).
So far, your current role has given you the opportunity to travel to Oslo, Athens, and Hamburg to all sorts of business gatherings, media summits and congresses. Tell us, how do you mentally prepare for those official trips and what have you learned about yourself during your travels?
I don’t (laugh).
To be honest, when I look at my colleagues Olga and Dragana and see how strong and compelling they are at what they do, they rub off on me in the best way possible. I observe what they do and try to replicate it. I generally strive to learn from others by default.
But I have to say, if you’re not a fully-fledged journalist, visiting these summits and events can seem daunting. Finding your feet there isn’t always easy and it’s natural to want to hang back, and wait to follow other people’s lead. But that is not what these business trips are about. As representatives of the Content Insights collective, we are the ones who should be answering questions, and that – I have come to learn – is something I’m actually pretty good at. But to get there, it took me a bit of patience and, more importantly, belief in myself and my team.
What goes through your mind when you are about to talk with clients about our services? How do you keep your composure when speaking to an international crowd?
It’s easier than most people think – or so I believe.
Look, the only thing you need to do is to learn your product thoroughly. That ensures that you have a solid base when you engage potential clients. Being able to answer people’s questions off the top of your head gives you this confidence – like everything is going to turn out alright, you know? Sometimes you will even find yourself talking to the CEO of a huge media company, but that shouldn’t be an obstacle. We’re all human, regardless of our job titles, so I find it’s best to start with that approach.
The bottom line is: knowing your stuff really helps on those occasions. Oh, and having a broad knowledge of the industry is also a big plus. When someone tells you, for instance, that their best feature story underperformed, it’s good to surprise them by letting them know what that feature story is and how they might be able to revamp it.
Let’s talk about your day-to-day activities. What does a regular day at the office look like for you? What’s your typical routine?
I would love to answer this question with two words: meetings and emails.
But, joking aside, my days are mostly made of meeting clients, demoing our product, training our users, etc.
In the meantime, it’s true that we do write a lot of emails. But what makes me feel really good about my job is attending company meetings where I get to present the feedback we get from our customers to our colleagues, which has a huge impact on the future of our product.
You are also no stranger to sports, both as a participant and a spectator. How do the worlds of journalism and sport collide? What do you think makes it so appealing to readers?
I think primarily it’s because sports incorporate everything about everything. When you look at topics journalists report on sports, you’ll see that it goes way beyond the final scores. Sometimes it’s about transfers and fixtures, sometimes it’s about human interest stories, and sometimes it also involves crime and corruption. There are innumerable ways to approach it, really.
Another reason why sports will never lose traction is that there are immense business benefits for media outlets too. Take a look at The Athletic, for example. They have roughly half a million subscribers, and they’ve got there by writing about nothing but sports!
There’s a ton of good podcasts too, as well as newsrooms that send out gripping sports newsletters (which may even vary in exclusivity depending on the clubs they are highlighting). It’s a great opportunity both for huge media outlets and local ones to bring home the bacon. I mean, every nation has – at the very least – a handful of sports clubs they are super proud of, and journalists who know how to tap into that pride can certainly create truly engaging stories.
Final question: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to impart to people who are just starting in journalism?
The thing that springs to mind is persistence. I think it’s crucial as it distinguishes the best apart from the rest. A good journalist is tenacious and doesn’t give up easily – something which is particularly important in countries where freedom of speech and freedom of the media is indeed compromised.