Tuesday, November 23, 2010

OK snapshot: Stockholm sunset

Denna över Marieberg. Kan väl symbolisera kulturskymningen i svensk dagspress...
(This one over Marieberg. It can symbolize the cultural dawn that is sinking down over daily Swedish newspapers. [Marieberg is the little mountain on Kungsholmen where Dagens Nyheter and Expressen have their offices - those tall buildings in the distance.])

LS comments:
Swedish newspapers are struggling just as American ones, and what sells the most (crime, drama, entertainment, and other mayhem) is not really what can be considered high culture...(which some think is just snobbish intellectualism... but I don't agree 100%). Fewer and fewer pages are printed in the morning papers, and the giant online dragon is Aftonbladet (also in print), who mostly has sold out to the mayhem-addicted. I read Aftonbladet all the time online, but half the time it makes me sick. But it still has lots of currently updated news from around the world, mixed in with the latest in plastic surgery, weather chaos, grisly murders, and recent school bullyings.

Currently the top headline in the online edition of Aftonbladet is "Obama furious at North Korea" (something serious to look like a serious paper), but this is followed below by "Hand was stitched on the foot -9-year old girl had miraculous operation" (gross me out and make me in awe thing), "Several trucks blowed off road" (the usual weather chaos thing), "Your child will become obese due to bad sleep" (scare me in the everyday life thing).

Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet are the two old morning papers in Stockholm, fierce competitors, and both try to be very serious until they too dip their feet into the reality TV shows and Zlatans latest outburst. Then there is Expressen, Aftonbladets competitor, an evening newspaper also online and in print - but not at all as big as 'aftonslasken' ('the evening garbage'). These are all in Stockholm, and on the West Coast there are a few more papers.

Aftonbladet was in deep dodo about 20 years ago but managed to turn a bad situation around by focusing more on the 'soft issues', i.e., home, women, food, health, parenting... and becoming less macho (=sports, economy). There is a great documentary radio program in Swedish about the macho culture on Aftonbladet back then, when a few women who wrote a report about it which became rather infamous (and important) and how their newspaper office is today. Yrsa Stenius has also written about the culture at newspapers in Sweden in her great book Makten och kvinnligheten (The Power and The Feminitity), which I will review here at some point.

But the point here is that there used to be a lot of culture, analysis, deep thought, and funky stuff in these newspapers (like New York Times still has), but it is largely gone or at least minimized. There is still reviews and important articles about art, theater, books, philosophy, movies of course, but it has become much more shallow, especially in Aftonbladet, I think. So, the sun is setting over the cultural departments at the
Swedish newspapers.... I am sure there is lots of interesting things to read in other media forms, such as magazines and blogs... but an old tradition is fading. The times they are a'changin'.

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