Since The Local launched in 2004, we have worked to explain Sweden in a language you understand. We are now bringing the same concept to Germany, where we have spent the last few months setting up www.thelocal.de, which went live at lunchtime on Friday.
Editor Marc Young, reporter Kristen Allen and a team of experienced journalists based across Germany are already well into their groove, seeking out the most important, the most interesting and the most unusual stories from the EU’s most populous country.
Germany’s size and importance is just one factor that means it will be a very different place to report from than Sweden. For instance, despite the deeply-rooted links of language and culture, Germans and Swedes have very different attitudes to societal issues and politics.
Take the response to bans on smoking in public places. When Sweden introduced the smoking ban, there was little opposition among members of the public, and barely a hint of civil disobedience. But in one of the first features on The Local Germany, Naomi Kresge reports that the ban is being widely flouted in many parts of the country – and authorities are so far taking few steps to enforce it.
We’ll be following up on this and many other stories over the coming weeks and months. While our main audience will be in Germany, we hope that people living in Sweden and elsewhere find the site interesting and entertaining.
As I say in a blog post on The Local Germany, our existence is a symptom of globalization. This word might have negative connotations, but for many of our readers, globalization is a fact of life. Reporting on events in the global language, English, helps us give a greater insight not only to native English speakers, but also to the many who have English as a second language.