Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Swedish indifference

Journalism is a career of ups and downs, and one of the downs, which may soon be reversed, is losing a stringer job I had with a leading Swedish business newspaper, Dagens industri. The reason was cost savings, although the costs were hardly excessive, a small retainer and some "bartered" plane tickets to Stockholm.
The strange thing was this was announced in January, when it was clear that Latvia would enter the European Union, and became effective on June 30, two months after Latvia joined the EU on May 1. Latvia has one of the highest growth rates in the EU. There are some 250 Swedish companies, many of them small and medium sized, active in Latvia. Most of the big banks in Latvia are owned by Swedish banks, as is the dominant telecommunications operator, Lattelekom (by TeliaSonera). None of this affected Dagens industri's decision. As far as I know, there is no one else and no other plans to cover Latvia. So we have a remarkable case of Swedish indiffrence. It goes beyond just the business press. The major Swedish news agency, TT, turned down an offer by a native Swede living in Latvia with some journalistic experience. All he wanted was them to help him finance his laptop, gas for his car, and a mobile phone so he could cover all three Baltic States. It is clearly a case of Swedish indifference.

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