The Educationist: Please do let us know about your early education.
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: I got my early education from Budapest school. That time, we had to go to school even on Saturdays, for one week at morning time and other week we had to attend at afternoon classes. I was merely 7 years old when the October Revolution started in Budapest. I had witnessed dead and lynched people. Our house was constantly under firing of Russian tanks being on the main boulevard of Budapest. I hardly managed to save my life being in the cellar when Russian tanks fired my house. Many of my classmates migrated to Western countries as refugees. The school administration was very strict and I didn’t like that at all.
The Educationist: In your childhood, did you ever plan to be a communication and PR specialist?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: No. I even didn’t know about it. Frankly speaking, nobody in Hungary had any idea about this profession at that time. It was the age of propaganda.
The Educationist: Earlier, you studied economics and then what circumstances forced you to study journalism?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: I was interested in articles writing and used to write in the university-newspaper. Then I realized that I could produce some good write-ups. I also got similar feedback from my editors and readers. Later, I joined community of young journalists where I was offered with an opportunity to work for a bi-weekly magazine as an intern. I was successful in that so I worked regularly, and earned money during my studies. After that I sustained my position as journalist in the same magazine. At that time it was also compulsion to study journalism for the journalists so I had to study journalism after my degree.
The Educationist: Europe has always been a favorite destination for foreign students. What are the main reasons behind this thinking?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: Europe has very deep cultural traditions however they have mostly common roots. Culturally Europe is very much established; even most of the world languages have Greek and Latin roots. So it can be very interesting for young people of other continents and other cultures to interact with European people. Furthermore, there are numerous iconic places famous universities in Europe.
The Educationist: How do you differentiate European education system from American education system?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: I don’t have much information about American system of education. As much as I know, it is quite free and based on free selections and decisions of the students. However, European system follows plan-oriented studies. If you study in Europe, you will get different study plans, and once you select, you have to follow those plans.
The Educationist: What are the main issues of European education system?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: The majority of European higher education institutions are based on the so called Bologna system. It means 3 years Bachelors and 2 years Master degrees (except doctors and lawyers). So bachelor program is mostly for average students (it is basically a leveraged graduation) and masters is now the real University level program.
The Educationist: You have delivered lectures at different countries, where did you feel comfortable and where find tough and why?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: I have delivered several lectures in Kazakstan, Portugal, Rumania, Russia and Ukraine. Generally, I always preferred to conduct a course rather than delivering a single lecture. It does not depend on selection of country rather it depends on the “soul” of the institution and suitable timing.
The Educationist: Being a public relations specialist what do you suggest for people of underdeveloped and third world countries?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: Actually, most of the stories are driven through media and sometimes media discovers some specific issues while forgetting others. Of course it depends on the world politics; if there were oil or uranium, it would be excessively covered by the media keeping other people and issues out of interest. For example, if a war happens in Africa, it would be given coverage, but for long term the starvations of tribes would not be highlighted by the media. Of course, behind the awareness of the media there was always some political will.
If an issue is addressed by the ambassadors, it can raise required awareness. For example: Lady Di could raise awareness for the landmines. The up-to-date PR in the web era is using so called influencers, bloggers, vloggers, Youtubers and Facebook stars in order to raise awareness and give models to follow.
The Educationist: As a journalist where do you rank the credibility of Western media?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: The Western media especially the American media is free. It means: there is a wide variety of papers, blogs and news portals. I don’t believe in “neutral” reporting as there are always some political motives behind stories. There is one very important thing, the new wave of hoaxes, alternative truth and so on. How do you perceive different news received from different media? It destructs the credibility of the media and if people cannot believe the news, it destructs the whole society; this is really dangerous.
Noam Chomsky and his friend wrote about the modern ways of propaganda already in the 1990’s.
The Educationist: How can general public judge that media reporting is biased?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: The politically judging is an emotional issue. Not only the media is biased, general public is also biased. Different public groups want the media to certify their biasness. People don’t read or watch media from both (or three) sides, they only read and watch the papers and TV channels which suits their feelings and are biased of the particular social groups.
The Educationist: What is the public perception of media agenda setting in Europe?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: The European media is much diversified, not only politically but even by the level of quality. There is no “general” media agenda.
The Educationist: What is your opinion about Pakistan and its people?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: I know very little about Pakistan. I don’t dare to form an opinion due to my limited knowledge about it. I’ve never been there and had no possibility to meet Pakistani people. Sorry, but I will not form any opinion without knowledge. But I am really curious about visiting this interesting country.
The Educationist: Pakistan has vibrant media and it plays a key role to make public perception. What strategies should Pakistani media adopt to create a soft image at international sphere?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: Of course, Pakistani media is mostly targeting the people inside Pakistan. Since the language (and writing) is pretty closed so it cannot target outside world, especially Europe. If Pakistan wants to step up to the international stage, it has to communicate strongly with the world. I think, it is not a media issue in the present web era. It needs a lot of Facebook, YouTube posts, videos, blogs, pics, data and facts. It should target the audience differently; to young ones, to politicians and opinion leaders. It must use interesting influencers. But these are only general advices, for more detailed advice I have to know better the country and the people.
Educationist: Do you think that education system in Hungry is complicated as compared to other countries?
Dr. Peter Janos Sos: I don’t think so, since Hungary was a part of the Austrian Empire for long time. It is based on the old Austro-German system due to which it is very traditional. It has a light Eastern-European flavor: mostly authoritarian, leader-oriented and conservative. But the level of the Hungarian high education, especially universities, it is very qualitative. To come here is a worthy thing.
Interview condcuted by The Educationist Resident Editor in Russia He can be reached at: [email protected])