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With the New Year, Good Reads is back on track and our editors are going to keep on sharing the best online articles that got them thinking about Europe recently. This time around, freshly appointed Chris Ruff will be introducing himself to E&M readers by sharing some reflections on the way we consume news these days and also about the German Pegida movement.

 

Chris, Heart/Legs editor

 

Chriss Ruff

2014: a year to forget

 

Whilst reflecting on 2014 around the dinner table with friends this Christmas, it seemed that none of us could remember a year with quite so many awful things that had happened. ISIS, the Ukraine crisis, Gaza, two (now three) passenger jets dropping from the sky leaving no survivors, terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Australia and elsewhere, schoolgirls captured in Nigeria – the list could go on.

 

2014 will certainly go down as a grim year for humanity. However, part of this phenomenon of negativity is due to the way modern news is consumed and distributed, lending an immediacy and urgency to current events. News is now omnipresent – available to us in more ways and at more times than ever before. Events are almost impossible to miss. As such, our perceptions about say, air travel, have been negatively influenced by what appears to be frequent crashes, although the data clearly shows that travelling by plane is actually safer than ever.

 

Yet despite the rolling 24-hour news channels and the pervasive impact of social media, journalism in 2014 has often felt stale or formulaic; perspectives on global crises have seemed like tired re-runs of old arguments, stuck in a by-gone era. It is for this reason that when a piece with genuine insight appears, such as this opinion piece by Jeffrey Sachs, it really makes you sit up and notice. Sachs, a former economic advisor to both the Polish and Russian governments following the end of the Cold War, eloquently describes the West's differing approaches to both countries and how this has had a profound effect on their subsequent development. In short, if the West had chosen to pursue a similarly conciliatory debt strategy with Russia as they did with Poland, the outcome would be very different. Instead, the US and Western Europe's desire to consolidate their victory with punitive measures has led Sachs to compare it with the aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles. The article adds even more, as it is written in first person on the basis of direct experiences.

Published in Good Reads

Junyuan Chen comes from China, but dreams of living long-term in Europe, where he is currently studying. 22 years old, he takes pictures in his free time, immortalising the landscapes of our beautiful continent. Two of his shots won first and second place in our Europe Through a Lens competition last month. E&M's Veronica Pozzi caught up with this young and motivated photographer, whose works so impressed our judges, to hear more.

 

Junyuan Chen

Junyuan's passion for photography was born in an unusual way. "Originally my hobby was actually making plastic models", he tells our magazine. "I bought a camera to take nice photos of my models. That's how I learnt some basic knowledge about photography: I haven't taken any lessons, I learn all the concepts and techniques through the internet (e.g. YouTube, forums) and books".

 

Originally from China, he is now pursuing a Master's degree in Accounting at the University of Glasgow, in the UK. It is not anything related to photography, that's for sure, but it was right after studying abroad for the first time that he picked up photography as his major hobby. In Glasgow, he is also a member of the University Photo Society, where he likes to "share ideas with fellows and take photos together with them". Thanks to a post on the society's Facebook page he first heard about the E&M photo competition. He then decided to enter two of his works for the November's edition of the contest, the theme of which was "Europe at night". "I wanted to test myself", he explains. And it went well. Let's find out a little more about his prize-winning pictures...

 

Published in Europe Through a Lens
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