Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One volcano, four countries, three different stories

(Don't try to figure this picture out if you are not caught up on Lost)

Unless you just woke up from a coma, you probably have heard about the whole volcano-out break-flight situation. I mean, even my mom heard about it and she doesn't have TV or radio and she doesn't read newspapers.

On Friday afternoon E and I are scheduled to take a flight from Chicago O'Hare to Amsterdam Schiphol airport. And while it looks pretty promising right now with flights seemingly going back to normal, I am only going to be happy when the plane I am scheduled to board in two days, safely lands on Dutch soil (and I am on it).

Ever since I first heard about the volcano eruption, I wanted to be/stay as updated as possible. I was watching American morning news at that time and I was sure they would report about this. After all, when Michael Jackson died, hell, even when Corey Haim died, they had ample coverage on that. But apart from Al Roker doing his weather forecast from Iceland, there wasn't really anything. Some channels mentioned it but nothing that gave me more info then I already had - that a volcano had erupted in Iceland and that there was restricted air travel in Europe. Clearly most Americans aren't that interested in what is going on over there in Europe (or that's what the news channels think).

Next stop - CNN. I don't really watch CNN that much. Funnily enough I used to watch CNN a lot when I was living in Europe. Towards the end of my time in Europe, I watched a lot more Euronews than CNN but for a long time CNN Europe was one of my favorite news sources. Unfortunately CNN is not what I remember it to be. I am not sure if that is because I have changed and become more critical or if CNN has changed. A bit of both, perhaps. Anyway - CNN didn't only have news they had THE news. According to CNN - Europe was in chaos. And that Eyjafjallajokull wasn't even that much of a problem. But what if the volcano next to it erupts? Because according to CNN that was almost definitely going to happen and then, folks, then we'd really be in trouble. How much trouble, CNN didn't want to say but it would be BAD.

This got me so scared, I decided to forego American news altogether and instead focus on European news. After all, Europe was a bit more personally invested in this whole schlamassel.

Of course this meant I didn't check The New York Times - which I usually consider a good news source.

Next on was the BBC. BBC News, while still having a bit of a sensationalist edge to their news reporting ("Watch interviews with angry, stranded people! Are you stranded and want to tell us your story?"), was a lot more informative.

But still, they didn't give me the info I wanted.

Next on, I went to read the website of the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. I'll be honest with you - I don't really keep up with Austrian news that much, not even the politic news. I decided to leave the country a long time ago and even though I am still homesick for it sometimes, I pretty much decided when I left, that I would probably never go back to live there again and with that I lost most of my interest in their politics. But I still read Der Standard sometimes - because it's a good newspaper. And it didn't disappoint this time either. They were the first to inform me that all Austrian airports had re-opened on Monday. They also kept me updated on the "hight" of the ash and all that without being sensationalist about it.

For good measure I also started reading the Dutch website and of course KLM (the airline which hopefully will fly us to Amsterdam on Friday). Both websites, while not providing you with pages and pages of info, did provide me the most necessary facts.

While I understand that reading about the volcano situation is not as important for Americans as they are not as impacted by it, I still think that it is somewhat condescending of the mainstream, American media to shut out international news as they do. I am not just talking about the case of the volcano - I found out about the earthquake in China by trying to find news about the flight situation on European news websites. I remember about a year ago when that earthquake in Italy happened - I was in New Orleans at the time - without internet connection and I was trying to find out more about what happened through TV and newspapers. But there was nothing about it except the mare mention of the fact that there had been an earthquake! I truly believe that Americans would be interested in what is going on in the world even if it happens on the other side of the planet.

It has been 1.5 years since I left Europe and I NEED to get back, if just to burst my "Europe is so great"-bubble. Because while I often sound anti-American - I am totally aware that nothing is as good as you remember it.
So wish us luck that everything goes alright for us in the next three weeks!

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