ČTK photographs in centre of Prague tell story of Czech century

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

As the nation celebrates 100 years of statehood, the Czech News Agency (ČTK), which celebrates its birthday on the same day as the republic, has unveiled its own exhibition in the centre of Prague. ‘Okamžiky století’ [Snaphots of History] as the exhibit is called, details every year of Czech and Czechoslovak state history through iconic photographs.

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek
Founded on October 28th 1918, the Czech News Agency has been around for exactly as long as the Czechs have had their state. No surprises then, that some of the most iconic moments of Czech history have been captured by Czech News Agency photographers. According to ČTK’s own information, its archive contains around seven million images, so there is no limit of choice.

At a press conference announcing the launch of the exhibition, ČTK’s head of photography, Petr Mlch, who led the team that chose the material for the exhibition, described the selection process.

“We tried first to have one picture per year, to fit the concept 100 for 100. But then we found out this was mission impossible. We decided to dig out a lot of historical issues and similar such topics out of the archive. Finally we selected 700 images, more or less. From this huge portion, we made a final selection of 163 images. We put it into panels and this is the final exhibition which you can see right now.”

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek
This is not the first screening of the pictures. In fact, the exhibition has been on tour across the Czech Republic and was displayed in six cities since the unveiling in spring 2018. Now however, the real hundredth birthday of the ČTK is nearing. Or is it?

At the same press conference, ČTK general director, Jiří Majstr, said he believes it was the ČTK’s role in the founding of the Czechoslovak state which can be seen as the most important contributions of the agency in the Czech century.

“The founding of ČTK is a bit of a complicated issue. It is not as straightforward as the company being established [on 28.10.1918], because the ČTK was first established by Masaryk in Chicago. Then it was established later by President Beneš in London, for the same reasons. So these were two news agencies acting on behalf of the future of the country when most of the people, apart from those who wanted Czechoslovakia, did not think about it. That would be probably the most important part.”

The Czech News Agency produces around 170,000 news pieces and headlines per year. Apart from text reports and audio records, it also started providing video-streaming services in January 2018.

The exhibit will be on Prague’s Na Příkopě street until the end of October and aims to attract both local citizens as well as tourists. On the 17th of November, ČTK intends to hold an open day, in which the development of its news reporting in the past century as well as its machinery will be on display.