Everyone has teenage idols. Some of you loved the Backstreet Boys, others the Spice Girls, today’s youth is into One Direction. After I had left my A*Teens adoration phase, a teacher introduced us to a newspaper. A weekly newspaper, the biggest and most important in Germany. The first week he forced us to read it, the following weeks were voluntary. Everyone stopped reading, and I was hooked. Oh, how hooked I was – there were apparently all these people who talked only about things I cared about, who wrote beautifully, who proved that there was a world behind the limits of our district, who even shared my aesthetic feelings regarding corporate design.
Since then (some ten years ago), the paper has been my company. I started to meet people who said, “I read it in the paper” and it was music in my ears. A soulmate! In my flat share, we would sign up to the free three week trial subscription to then cancel it afterwards because we could not really afford the price. With six girls times three weeks, we got pretty far. When the world was turned up and down by political events, I would take a look to the paper and try to form an opinion. I developed a ritual of how I read the parts, I would receive cut outs from friends, and we would save the magazine that is part of the paper for each other for months. Thursdays were the days one waited for, the day the paper is published. If I wanted to give myself a real treat, I would go to the Stockholm Central Station and invest an hour’s salary into the paper. It’s one of the things I have missed in Sweden: the papers that discussed things in a different way than DN and SvD.
Even though I didn’t even know what they looked like, I knew the editors’ names and I knew what to expect from the different people. That’s the feminist, that’s the intellectual, oh and he’s the provocative type. They turned into something of my adolescent idols that I looked up to and whose topics I related to.
Now of course I cannot deny that the paper has changed. It happens that I frown upon reading the editorial, I can roll my eyes at the magazine that in some weeks seems to have become an advertising leaflet for the gentrified upper middle class. But time and again, I find the reports about exactly the things I have been wondering about, too, I discover the stories that give you goosebumps, and I read the commentaries that capture precisely what I think on a question.
And since two weeks I am really close to my teenage idol. Really close as in I go into their house every day. Really close as in my employer is a daughter company to the paper. Really close as in I get the paper a day before everyone else, as an inspection copy. Really close as in if I dial wrong, I will be connected to the senior editor who also happens to be the most important German chancellor still alive. Really close as in I stand in the completely full elevator with my colleagues and the door opens to a prominent author.
Working close to my teenager idol, that’s the one good part about my current occupation. Let’s see how long it takes until the idol is demystified…?