For the record, I am writing this from home. On a late winter Monday, with most of our crew either off-the-clock or working remotely, I decided to spare myself (and a few others) the day’s commute to hash out the news from our office in eastern Paris. So again, for the record: Yes folks, I do have an office to go to each day.
This wasn’t always the case. Like the instantly legendary “Expert of All Things South Korean”, Sir Honorable Professor Robert E. Kelly, whose live interview on the BBC was hilariously interrupted by his kids, I used to work from home. It could sometimes make a man (especially a man, I believe) doubt himself. This was occasionally made all the more odd on those occasions when, like Professor Kelly, I was called on to do similar kinds of impromptu interviews wearing the vest (and tie?) of “Expert of Entire Nation X” — Italy, in my case. And yes, I too might have had a young child or two lurking somewhere in the apartment as I waxed self-importantly about a pope or prime minister, always in 90 seconds or less.
As our whole world keeps getting smaller, its component parts continue to close in on themselves.
Unlike Professor Kelly, I am no longer an expert on any nation, but rather a humble news editor. Hack of all subjects, master of none. The beat we cover at Worldcrunch is limited by neither geography nor topic — hard news, as we say in the business, and soft. And so when that video from Seoul popped up at our Paris office on Friday, we knew it wasn’t your usual bit of blooper virality: In just half-a-minute, so much of what is happening in our daily worlds (first world, at least) came waltzing on the stage. Working parents and dividing responsibilities, the possibility to connect and the expectation to always remain connected. Gender roles and border crossings, international marriages and the beautiful truth that kids will always be rascals everywhere (read here for some extra deconstruction of it all).
The fact that Kelly was being interviewed about national political riots and the world’s most dangerous nuclear power is almost lost on the moment. Somehow, Asia never seemed so close and faraway all at once.
Back in old Europe, a new week means new, previously unimaginable stories for us to wrap our heads around. The first major national election since the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s win is about to take place in the Netherlands, with a flamboyant, far-right candidate eyeing victory. But it has taken an extra edgy turn in the final days, as a diplomatic standoff has erupted between the Turkish and Dutch governments that is somehow linked to an equally unsettling national referendum back in Turkey. The details are here, but the context (once again) is how, as our whole world keeps getting smaller, its component parts continue to close in on themselves.
One other example here in France that hasn’t yet made international headlines is the so-called “Molière rule” that requires the French language to be spoken on job sites for public works contracts. It may very well become a point of debate in this country’s own crucial national election, with another far-right candidate rising in the polls. Depending on where you sit, the language requirements for public work contracts is somewhere between justifiable home economics and deplorable xenophobia. Plenty to discuss tomorrow at the office, in English of course.