• Germany's news in English

Europe needs local news in the global language

The Local · 5 Feb 2013, 14:16

Published: 05 Feb 2013 14:16 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

An Italian programmer in Berlin, a German doctor in Barcelona, a Spanish architect in Brussels - they number in their millions, these healthy roots of a rapidly maturing European garden.

And yet, despite a flourishing generation of young adults who truly consider themselves to be Europeans, this grand union of nations is very frayed. You may have noticed. It has been mentioned in the press.

Indeed, a barrage of dismal European news - the teetering Euro, the north-south factions, the bailouts, a potential ‘Brixit’ - has left many of the union’s 500 million citizens wondering “what has the EU ever done for us?”.

Because the pro-Europeans have well and truly lost the PR initiative. That’s a tragedy, because there will be referendums and populations must be persuaded. And it’s a disgrace, because they have all the material they need to tell a winning story.

So what is that material?

Is it that the dream of freedom of movement has become reality? That there’s more trade between EU countries than ever before? That intra-European travel has become commonplace and remarkably unremarkable? Or what about the 2.5 million European students who have enriched their cultural awareness, language skills and contacts books by studying in another country?

We are all now exposed to internationalia to an extent that would have been unthinkable just three decades ago. And let’s not forget the very human product of all these mobile lives: more international romance – producing a new generation of binational, bilingual children.

This is all good news. But if the official from the EU serves it up, it won’t smell right. It will smell a bit too much like propaganda.

No, the narrative that will cement the European project is made up of the daily lives of Europe’s citizens.

Because unless we understand what makes our fellow Europeans tick we can never persuade our politicians to solve the problems that threaten our extraordinary European freedom.

Of course, the best way to understand any country is to visit it, talk to the people who live there or to live there yourself. The next best way is to read that country’s news.

But intra-European daily news reporting is practically extinct. As news organisations all over the world scrambled to update their models for the digital era, the first victims were foreign correspondents and their everyday stories giving a flavour of life elsewhere.

What we get plenty of, though, is a one-size-fits-all diet of “International News”, which tells us very little about the countries where it happens. In fact, being by definition an aberration, International News gives us an utterly narrow view of life in the country where it happens. It’s the news which could have happened anywhere.

There is of course a place for the broad-brush top-level analysis but you don’t expect to learn about life in the Czech Republic by reading an article in, say, the Economist, about the country’s first presidential debate.

Daily news is the glue of our society, defining the issues we care about and how we respond to them as a community. And since your community goes beyond your local neighbourhood, your city and even your country, daily news from around Europe should be a vital part of our lives.

But take away the Big Stuff Which Could Have Happened Anywhere and what you’re left with is the occasional rehashed quirky story, out of context and written by someone a long way from the action.

Knowledge and insight give way to hackneyed archetypes which reinforce people’s prejudices - lazy Greeks, thrifty Germans, rebellious French, responsible Scandinavians. As the economic crisis has bound the fates of reluctant Europeans together, media clichés have been driving the continent further apart.

Story continues below…

If you are an expat, if you travel or do business internationally, if you study abroad or have friends and family in other countries, then you need to know what’s happening around Europe.

But then, you know that, because you are reading this article. There are millions more like you and at The Local we are doing our best to spread this news, these small snapshots of life that together form the essence of nations, to as many people as possible.

Local daily news from around the continent will break down barriers and bring us closer together. And if it helps voters to understand how much they have in common, then it might just change the destiny of Europe.

Paul Rapacioli, CEO, The Local

Twitter: @paulrapacioli

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd