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Europe through the Twitter lens

Submitted by on May 3, 2011 – 15:52No Comment

Today is World Press Free­dom Day, and the UN has decided to make it all about the web. So we decided to come back on that issue that has been strangely miss­ing from our White Paper (yes, we know).

On the day the World press is look­ing closely at the impact of the inter­net, we decided to right that wrong.

There is no doubt that the inter­net has been a game changer in the media indus­try. Besides news­pa­pers and broad­cast­ers going online, new media out­lets have gone to the web, and only to the web. These pure play­ers have in a rel­a­tively short time become key play­ers such as Eurac­tiv or EUOb­server.

Social media is only a smaller part of the inter­net, it’s all about blogs and social net­works. The impact they have is not so much in the way the infor­ma­tion is broad­cast, Twit­ter and Face­book can be seen as glo­ri­fied news wires, but very much in how the jour­nal­ists gather the infor­ma­tion, and how the pub­lic react to it.

This is what euroblog­ger Jon Worth pointed out : “The for­ward think­ing jour­nal­ists — the FT Brus­sels team and Leigh Phillips at EUOb­server for exam­ple — use social media, and Twit­ter in par­tic­u­lar, to source and check sto­ries”. For instance, he says, the lat­est rob­bery at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment build­ing in Brus­sels was first cov­ered on Twit­ter, and social media savvy jour­nal­ists were the first to get the story.”

But it’s not all about find­ing a scoop on Twit­ter. Euro­pean jour­nal­ist Jean-Sébastien Lefeb­vre high­lights the fact that he can now be in touch with his read­ers through social media. But he warns: “social medias are just pipelines. And this is not because you change the pipelines than the peo­ple would be more inter­ested to what you say. What we really need, it is jour­nal­ists able to work on those news, able to explain it in a com­pre­hen­sive way and able to stop the politi­cians when they use EU stereo­types when they need it for elec­toral reasons.”

Accord­ing to Jon Worth, the web, should be able to help here as well: “Social media can also help jour­nal­ists to add con­text to sto­ries, adding dif­fer­ent points of view from beyond the ‘Brus­sels bub­ble’.” Indeed blogs and social net­works are an open win­dow into other parts of the world, how­ever lim­ited they are by the indi­vid­u­als shar­ing their visions. After all, jour­nal­ists have already used Twit­ter to find wit­nesses of the eathquake in Haiti or the Pak­istani who live-tweeted the raid on Bin Laden’s hide-out.

The rise of the euroblogs

Social media still can be trou­ble for the press because, accord­ing to Jon Worth “it cuts at the heart of the busi­ness model of the main­stream media that under­mines the abil­ity of tra­di­tional jour­nal­ists to devote time and energy to cover a story.” How­ever, he con­tin­ues “blog­ging has brought many peo­ple with non-traditional back­grounds into the busi­ness of com­mu­ni­cat­ing about the Euro­pean Union, and that is very much to be wel­comed.” The prob­lem then becom­ing who to trust “this poses a big chal­lenge to peo­ple wish­ing to gain a com­plete and hon­est pic­ture of what is going on.”

Blog­ging is com­ing of age. Euroblog­gers are no longer seen as wan­abe jour­nal­ists. They have organ­ised them­selves with the blog­ging­por­tal which Jon helped set up, and their recent admis­sion in the press corps at Euro­pean Coun­cils is only log­i­cal, even though some details still need to be worked out.

But some­how, on the sur­face noth­ing really changed states Jon Worth: “much of the Brus­sels press corps oper­ates in the way it always did — going to the brief­ings, report­ing what goes on. But at the mar­gin things are chang­ing, with many jour­nal­ists asked to write blogs on the web­sites of their news­pa­pers or tele­vi­sion chan­nels”.

That might be the most vis­i­ble signs of change. Jour­nal­ists are using social media, not only sign­ing up to Twit­ter, but also writ­ing blog­posts, using infor­ma­tion com­ing from these new chan­nels (think of how many YouTube clips you have seen on TV news lately) and inter­act­ing with their read­ers in a new way.

Related posts:

  1. Euro­pean Coun­cil live on Twitter
  2. : explain­ing Europe with videos!
  3. Does the internet’s inter­ac­tiv­ity fos­ter the Euro­pean debate?
  4. Europocket TV: A young way to explain Europe
  5. Live blog­ging a EU Coun­cil (Video)

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