Oh, American Press, bless your heart

The US State Department released a broad travel advisory for Europe on Sunday. It cautioned Americans who are traveling to Europe to be extra vigilant. As one would expect, some of our loved ones in the US expressed concern over our safety. Suffice it to say, I have felt safe and continue to feel safe in Luxembourg. In fact, I cannot imagine a safer place to be.

But feeling safe and actually being safe are two different things. So, in the interest of learning as much as possible, I checked my usual online newspapers on Monday. The most prominent piece was in the Wall Street Journal. The article was reasonable in its tone, but the photo and video captions made be laugh. Not a “ha-ha” laugh: I was laughing at you, American newsmedia. You amuse me.

A screen grab of the article:

The first video caption reads “With armed soldiers patrolling under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, tourists seemed undeterred by the warning…..” Of course the tourists are undeterred — those soldiers are there EVERY DAY, all the time! I think their primary job is running off guys that are peddling the cheap Eiffel Tower statues. In fairness, the Journal did capture that aspect of the situation.

Still, to me, the picture with the Eiffel Tower statues is entirely unrealistic. First, the guy pushing the vacation tchotchkes memories would have scooped them up and gone running before the soldiers arrived. That shot was totally set up by the photographer.

For a more realistic view, here are our photos around the Eiffel Tower from September 2009. (Please keep in mind that we weren’t trying to capture soldiers in the original photos. They were so common that they were just included in the frame of some of the photos we took last year.) Click on the photos for full-size versions.

Soldier on patrol underneath the Eiffel Tower; Champs de Mars in the background

Peddlers underneath the Eiffel Tower

Why are they running?

I mean “soldier” in the broadest sense. There are many different police forces in France, almost all with militarized components.

Peddlers relax at “home base” just across the street from the Tower — on this day, it really looked like a half-hearted game of tag.

But wait! There’s more! The Eiffel Tower isn’t the only Paris landmark that the Journal dug up.

To anyone that spends time in Paris, the caption is totally misleading: “French soldiers patrol around the Louvre museum in Paris, Sunday.” Guess what, WSJ? The soldiers patrol around the Louvre EVERY DAY. We were just in Paris in September and we were at the Louvre a bunch. And we saw those guys all the time. Those soldiers may be patrolling on Sunday, but not due to any new alert from the US.

Voilà: our photos from early September of this year. Pretty much the same patrol.

But the part about the whole thing that I really appreciate is the fact that the State Department is warning travelers. Tuesday’s WSJ:

The knowledge that, on average, some 100,000 Americans are traveling in Europe at any one time also factored into U.S. decision-making, said the counterterrorism official.

What about those of us living here? Are we not a concern? At least the Canadians care about us:

I mean, there are only 1.2 million of us over here. Perhaps we should focus on that, along with the 100,000 that are traveling? However, not one article that I have read in our beloved American press has thought to point that little nugget.

I suppose the American press is focusing on those who are reading their newspapers and watching their television shows. That would make perfect sense — except I pulled all the WSJ information above from the European edition. Thanks for caring, my English-language “local” press.

1 Comment to “Oh, American Press, bless your heart”

  1. Dave said...
    6 October 2010

    Maybe they didn’t warn you because they knew that you would mock them….