European neighbourhood: do we care what happens next-door?
In 1989, at the time of the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia, most of the international media focused on those events. Even later, during the process of transition to democracy, the Czech Republic occasionally caught the attention of the world. Today - 15 years after the fall of communism - events in this country have disappeared from the front pages of the international press. Why is that? And does this lack of interest work both ways? Are Czechs interested in what's going on in other countries?
"For the French media it is still Africa, and of course Europe in general, then America and conflict regions like Iraq, Afghanistan or if there are some problems in China or Korea. But Central Europe is so normal and quiet that there is no interest in it."
The situation is a bit different in neighbouring countries. You find a lot of articles about Czech events in the Slovak media; also Polish newspaper readers are quite interested in what's going on in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, in Germany - the Czech Republic's biggest neighbour - Czech events usually do not get so much attention.
Anneke Hudalla from the Sachsische Zeitung - a newspaper in the Saxony region which borders with the Czech Republic - says people there are rather interested in things related to convenient shopping than in more serious matters.
"I think most people in Saxony are interested in how much a gallon of gas is. Everybody wants to go there and get gas there. People are also interested in supermarkets etc. I think they just want to profit from the lower prices but they are not really interested in how Czechs live or what people do here."
Anneke Hudalla says that although Czechs are more interested in Germany, the media here also does not focus on real life stories.
Perhaps it is natural that people tend to be more interested in the hot news from distant more turbulent regions than in ordinary stories from countries close by. On the other hand, in the light of an integrating Europe, it is quite ironic how little we know - and how prejudiced we sometimes are about our own neighbours.