September 2004



I’ve noticed a funny thing about the way I absorb news since moving to Germany.

I have changed the mix of media substantially. Living in Bloomington I used the Hearld-Times, The Indiana Daily Student, NPR, WISH-TV, NYTimes.com, CNN.com, and random other sources that crossed my desk.

Now I have reduced my sources to three principle sources: The Economist (print), CNN.com (breaking news, quick world views), and NYTimes.com.

That’s it – no other sources regularly cross my path. I do used ObscureStore.com and Fark.com occasionally as time wasters, but I would not call those two sources serious, just amusing.

What’s more interesting is that I know less about what’s going on in the United States than I’ve ever known: It wasn’t until a week after the primaries in Colorado that I found out who won and I didn’t learn that the current (soon to be former) governor of New Jersey was a poofter (Since I am one, I can use the word) until the weekend after he made the announcement. If I lived in the United States, both of these would probably have been in the local rag-and I would have at least seen a headline.

Here, unless it is in The Economist, I actively must seek out the news.

Oddly, at the same time, I have become significantly better educated about the world at large.

For example, I now know about the impending privatization of Japan Post and 3G mobile phone services around the world-neither are subjects I ever would have encountered while doing my normal news surfing in the United States.

The Economist has become my savior: I find that I read each issue from cover to cover: the first trip through I pick up the things that I immediately find interesting-news from the United States, British politics, anything relating to Germany, my new home.

Then, as the issue gets older, and I still have to travel between Weimar and Jena a few more times, I start to read the things that I would never have read, if it weren’t for the fact that I am basically surrounded by media I can’t understand.

You see, in America, I would have made the first pass through and then moved on to the next newspaper/magazine/whatever.

Here I don’t really have a choice.

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