Slovaks, Czechs and the New York Times

A number of people forwarded me the most recent New York Times article on Slovakia while I was on vacation, and I found it problematic enough to think about breaking silence and writing something, if only to comment on the lovely horse-drawn wagon, apparently the mascot of all journalists visiting Slovakia.  I didn’t but fortunately Scott Brown did, with his usual humor and sense of perspective.

The thing I found most surprising about the article was not the tired “rural” image, but the fact that anybody bothers to write about Slovak-Czech rivalry.  When I read the headline, “Neighbor’s Shadow Still Large in Slovakia” I assumed it was about Hungary, a neighbor that actually does cast a shadow on political debate in Slovakia on a daily basis.

Articles like this create for me a big problem:  having seen how a good newspaper’s coverage of a country I occasionally visit contains basic errors of interpretation and asks the wrong questions, what can I make of that same paper’s coverage of countries I know nothing about?  Is the stuff on Indonesia and Ghana just as limited?  I hope not but I fear so.