There’s been enough sentimentality here for a while, right? That’s not what you normally come here for. What do you come here for, anyway?
I’ve been pondering the things that people coming here seem to enjoy, and the more personal I get…well, it seems that’s what people want to read. I’ve tried covering some relatively serious topics, or at least I’ve begun to introduce them, and it might be read, but no-one seems to want to talk about it. Sure, there are a few comments…maybe. But more often than not, it seems like people are politely waiting for another entertaining story.
Who would blame them? You don’t come here to be bored, eh?
I’ve thought about what I like writing about that might be interesting to the people with whom I regularly interact. Although politics is intriguing to me, I’m often bored by your run-of-the-mill political scandal. As soon as the Prime Minister resigns in disgrace or some government agency completely screws up a task, I’m already looking for what the story says about the society in general. The specifics of the events aren’t nearly as interesting to me as what they ultimately mean.
So the big story here for the last few years has been the European debt crisis, and to be honest there are far more experienced journalists and bloggers who can cover this from a financial perspective. I think I do a passable job of understanding those things, but writing about it is not my strength.
Instead, I’ve always been interested in the cultural aspects of the story. The stereotypes that the different countries have of one another. The divisions that’re ignored when times are good suddenly become very ugly when things go sour. The press has done a remarkable job of stoking the fire in some cases, by calling southern Europeans lazy or insinuating that the problem with the northerners is that they’re simply too rigid.
There was a series of articles printed simultaneously in a number of European newspapers this week (El Pais, gazeta, La Stampa, Le Monde, and my local rag Die Süddeutsche Zeitung) about the idea of Europe and the present situation in general. I was thrilled when I saw The Guardian was also taking part. Saves me from doing a lot of painful translation of what I’m reading.
Here’s how the project is explained:
Six countries, six newspapers, millions of readers. One EuropeThe European Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in 60 years, a malaise that goes beyond the euro debacle and the enormous tide of debt swamping the continent. The union seems exhausted. Expansion has ground to a halt. Sluggish EU economies are being eclipsed by rivals in Asia and Latin America. “Brussels” has become a dirty word, no longer only in Britain. Euroscepticism is on the rise across the continent. The taboo has been lifted on national stereotyping and scapegoating – lazy Greeks, bossy Germans, chauvinistic French, haughty Brits.At this critical juncture, six leading newspapers from the largest EU countries have come together in a joint project to build up a more nuanced picture of the EU and explore what Europe does well and what not so well.We begin by investigating the benefits the EU has brought to 500 million people and later today examine the national leaders labouring to steer it out of its current difficulties. Tomorrow we look at euroscepticism and national stereotyping. At the end of the week, you can take our “How European are you” test and see how you and other European readers rank.
Doesn’t that sound interesting? If not, say something now. Along with stories of a vomiting dog and windscreen meat, I plan to talk a great deal about this European crisis stuff. I could easily start with the page about German stereotypes, because they’re the ones I know best, but instead I’ll give you a link to British stereotypes: do mention the war, please!
I’m going to leave you with that. I’m hoping this is going to be fun.