Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shame on Presseurop

In May we wrote a post about European news portal Presseurop. This portal had just started and we were recommended to give it a time before criticizing it. Well, time has been given. So, what do we see in Presseurop?


Essentially the same we saw on the day of that first critique. Let's use as examples the news posted in that portal today.


We basically get very negative news concerning small countries taken from big newspapers of big countries. In Hungary there have been racist attacks... but the one who tells us about that is, imagine!, German FAZ.


And we get very positive news about big countries coming from big country newspapers: there is a United Kingdom village giving a lesson of very-well-behaved ecologism to the world (from a Spanish newspaper); there is another United Kingdom village which is, of course, very nice and interesting. At the same time, the whole of "Central and Eastern" Europe is facing terrible economic problems (and we wonder why so many journalists and newspapers insist in capitalizing those words "central" and "eastern" as if central and eastern Europe were some kind of separate entity from the rest of the European Union, some kind of world apart).


The good news continue for the rich and ignoring the poor: France and Germany are mentioned for their economic growth of 0.3% in the second quarter of the year while Portugal, a country that registered the exact same number in the exact same quarter, is not referred to in this 697-word-long article.


Just like in our first critique of Presseurop back in May, there is also a clear over-representation of Germany in terms of either origin of the news (which newspaper) or subject itself: besides the FAZ article, the other news getting the most visual emphasis in today's Presseurop's entry page is a cartoon about... German elections. But of course everyone in each of the 27 member states of the European Union cares deeply for the German elections and can be heard discussing the very important matter of the decólletés of the German candidates in all those beautiful cafés from Lisbon to Helsinki...


Now, it is interesting that in such a news portal always so fond of giving bad news and with such over-representation of German affairs nothing was said about the shooting of four innocent people that took place in German village Schwalmtal two days ago.


Proceeding with the analysis, Presseurop doesn't always need to go to the German, English or French "serious" newspapers to find bad news about other countries. No, other countries themselves provide ridiculously self-deprecating pieces of, let's call it this way, "information" [caught you! I just saw you making the ridiculous gesture of the two fingers in both hands simulating quotation marks; and isn't this gesture the perfect badge of political-correctness?]. An example ensues.


Today we find a Polish article about the Baltic sea, which is deemed as "shallow, closed, poor, one that divides rather than connects". With such initial summary of the article, we got actually surprised that in the body of the text it is claimed that the levels of two toxic components are not growing anymore. But we got utterly suprised that in a text with ten paragraphs and 1156 words about the Baltic sea, there is only one sentence about the main issue in the Baltic: energy. This is the sentence: "The agenda provides for the creation of a Baltic energy market, which is to be made possible by the development of pipelines and power lines connecting the region’s countries".


Now, as long as one knows Presseurop, what is not really surprising is that in such 1156-word-long text about the Baltic nothing is ever said, there is no mention, not even in that only and lonely energy-related-sentence - about Baltic's main business, main problem and main European affair: the Nord Stream pipeline. A 1156-word-long text about the Baltic that doesn't touch the most important issue concerning the Baltic: is it because Nord Stream pipeline is a very controversial business involving Germany and Russia? No, for sure not... (But we surely should conclude that what truly is "shallow, closed, poor, one that divides rather than connects" is the article itself).


The analsyis could proceed but the conclusions would keep being the same as the ones from May. Actually, in the past months, Presseurop has been totally in accordance with the reality we criticized in May and criticize today. So, after having given it time to "see how things are going to develop" it seems fair to restate that initial critique of ours and to add to it.


The aim of Presseurop is to offer a common newspaper to the citizens of the 27 member countries. We don't believe all these people is really interested in reading news with so much emphasis on German, French and English affairs and find that a news about, say, Slovak Republic is some kind of exotic article.


Further, we don't believe people from 27 member countries want to read a selection of news so much biased in favor of big rich countries and so much denigrating for all the others. A shooting spree in Germany is not mentioned, a racist attack in Hungary gets first title in first page; a sign of economic recovery in Germany and France is mentioned but absolutely ignored when registered (at the same time!) in Portugal; etc., etc., etc..


European Union is not a group of four or five countries that are or believe they still are very important with a bunch of merry little inconsequent sovereign nations around. European Union is neither a place where there is a western Europe and a separate "Central and Eastern Europe", with capitalized letters. No: there is not and there should not be that kind of separation, demarcation. Including central and east Europe countries in their own category is but discrimination. And this discrimination is very much present in Presseurop, as it is present the discrimination against small countries and in favor of the big ones.


All these examples, all of this mentality is actually the opposite of what the European spirit is and should be. Europe is either 27, 27 and more, 27 and counting or it isn't. From its begining, for the last months, and for now, Presseurop isn't. Time has been given to this project and we had put hope the project's seeming mentality would change. It didn't.


True that one shouldn't forget that the European Union took time to create, to develop and to enlarge. But the path to Europe is surely not made out of such sad expressions of anti-European mentality and big country nationalism as present in Presseurop.

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