I’m back. I’ve been busy. Well, not really busy. But busier. Spent a lot of time in train stations having missed a few by just a couple of minutes. On one of those waits I wandered into PressByrån and started rifling through the magazines. I really like to read and tend to be drawn to bookstores and magazine racks.
So I snagged up The Economist. Which I actually don’t read but I was feeling adventurous. I flipped through and stumbled upon a short little snippet about the Metro, the free newspaper that I read every morning on the subway and the trouble they were having establishing themselves in the US. It was here that I realized something that bummed me out. And reinforced something about stereotypes. For the most part, they are always based on some grain of truth, how big of a grain is up for debate but there is usually something there.
Metro in the US is thought to be having trouble making a lasting impression for a couple of reasons. One being advertising revenue, the loyalty people have to the newspapers they pay for and other exciting business things. But what caught my eye wasn’t that. It was that Metro tends to focus on international news. And so Americans in New York and Boston didn’t want it.
A free newspaper in Boston was taking a different route and focusing on local news. And doing well. Not the Metro though. Too much international stuff. Bummer. I have, and will continue to, argue that Americans are not nearly as ignorant as they are made out to be. But this wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
And this is one thing I like about Sweden. People are well informed about what is going on throughout the world. Let’s face it. The US is big so people usually hear about what is going on there. But Swedes are informed about what is going on the world over.
Although one thing that really drives me nuts is the half truths that people take for gospel about the US. Too much TV, too many movies. Leaves a bit to be desired sometimes.
So I have questions (actually only three). Important ones (kind of at least…). Ones that I have no real answers for (but still have opinions about).
Are Swedes so well informed because they are so small? A country the size of California with only nine million people. There is only so much going on in this country. Leaves a lot of room for international news.
Are Americans less informed because they are so big? Less room for international news.
Does it matter?
Whether it matters or not, people take this sort of news and it fits into the stereotype of the ignorant American. Which just isn’t good. Because not everyone is like this. Just like every Swede isn’t afraid to talk on the subway. Just like every Swede isn’t a feminist. While there is some truth to most stereotypes, they just don’t always fit. And before anyone leaves some comment about taking my own advice and that I’m an arrogant American who doesn’t even see that I am doing the same thing. Shut up. I write in generalizations. I know.
Maybe I have been colored by the people I hang out with, my family, my friends. I am a product of my environment. And my environment always seemed to have a pretty good international perspective. People travelled. A lot. People read. A lot. People went on to all sorts of higher education. And so, I have been surrounded by people who have been anything but ignorant in the face of international happenings.
Maybe it’s just the New Yorkers and the Bostonians who don’t want that international news.