Ever since The Local was founded in Stockholm back in 2004, before expanding to eight other countries, we have tried to be a window on other cultures. We are convinced that finding the stories that tell us who "we" and "they" are helps break down barriers and brings us closer together.
In a tense world increasingly muddled by fake news and disinformation, we believe this places a special responsibility on The Local.
That's why we're launching our new "Sweden in Focus" series, where we aim to take an in-depth, independent and impartial look at the biggest challenges and opportunities Sweden faces today. We refuse to gloss over problems or paint an alarmist picture, but equally, there are no easy answers.
READ ALL THE ARTICLES IN OUR SWEDEN IN FOCUS SERIES:
- How is Sweden tackling its integration challenge?
- No-go zone? How one of Sweden's roughest areas edged out its drug gangs
- Why Sweden is not the rape capital of the world
- Is Sweden's openness under threat or is it stronger than ever?
- Who will defend the defenders of free speech? How Sweden is tackling threats against politicians and journalists
- 24 hours on Stockholm's streets with refugee protesters
- What lessons can Sweden learn from its Yugoslavian refugees?
- Latte pappa or crime? Sweden's international reputation
- How Sweden's getting ready for the election-year information war
- Working on the front line in Stockholm's vulnerable suburbs
- Why Swedish gangs use hand grenades (and what the country is doing about it)
- The story of Sweden's housing crisis
- Breaking down Sweden's anti-Semitism problem
- How robust is Sweden's democracy? (clue: not very)
- Why Sweden doesn't keep stats on ethnicity and crime
- Is Sweden's zero-tolerance approach to drugs a failing model?
Don't worry, we're not changing. We've always tried to be a voice of reason, whether it's debunking the six-hour workday or analyzing sexual violence statistics. We're just going to do it even more, even better.
Because there are challenges, such as high unemployment among foreign-born people, a housing shortage, crime and poverty in vulnerable suburbs. The peak of the 2015 refugee crisis is over. But how to integrate all the new arrivals is likely to be a key point of contention in the next election in 2018.
"The subject is very polarized at the moment. On one side there's Donald Trump and Fox News talking about Sweden from afar, and on the other politicians in Sweden saying there's no problem. I try to show that the truth can be found somewhere in the middle," ex-police officer Mustafa Panshiri, who teaches lone refugee children about adapting to Swedish values, tells our deputy editor Lee Roden in the first instalment of Sweden in Focus, which tackles the thorny topic of integration.
Truth is complex by nature. Sweden is neither a dystopian hell of immigration-fuelled crime, nor a perfect paradise of latte dads, fika breaks, Abba, meatballs and flawless social equality. Neither of these images tell the whole story of what daily life is actually like in this country, yet they are the only two narratives many outside of Sweden will ever read or hear about in much of the international media.
We noticed the thirst for local-global news again in the wake of the deadly attack in Stockholm on April 7th, when English speakers turned to us for the latest news in English, but also to read about how Stockholmers showed that Sweden's trust and openness remained untouched by terror.
And where many other English-language media parachute in and out, The Local Sweden's team live here, speak the language, know the culture and will see all stories through to the end. So when the refugee crisis settles, when "last night in Sweden" stops getting clicks and when the hype of "lagom" is replaced by the next Nordic buzzword, we'll keep reporting on Sweden's opportunities and challenges.
Meanwhile, we will also make sure that our coverage keeps reflecting the daily lives of most of Sweden's residents, whether it's an explainer about the country's weirdest traditions, the latest news from the startup scene, how to boost education, or simply Swedes finding the time to debate the most bizarre stories.
Because the vision on which The Local was founded in 2004 still holds true today: daily news is the glue of society. It breaks down barriers and brings us closer together. Thank you for joining us on that journey.
Emma Löfgren, Editor, The Local Sweden
Lee Roden, Deputy Editor, The Local Sweden