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Local level European journalism: a worthwhile challenge

Submitted by on May 25, 2011 – 23:09No Comment

Local level Euro­pean jour­nal­ism meets two jour­nal­ists’ chal­lenges : a demo­c­ra­tic chal­lenge and an eco­nomic one.

The demo­c­ra­tic challenge

You may or may not be a fan of the Euro¬≠pean Union. But there is no deny¬≠ing that it affects our daily lives even at the local level ‚Äď be it work, study, health, retire¬≠ment, the envi¬≠ron¬≠ment, social secu¬≠rity, Inter¬≠net or trans¬≠port. The EU is every¬≠where we are. And the EU takes an inter¬≠est in us, even when we show no inter¬≠est in it.

The EU is not an unchang¬≠ing tech¬≠ni¬≠cal con¬≠cept. It is a polit¬≠i¬≠cal con¬≠struc¬≠tion capa¬≠ble of evolv¬≠ing, mov¬≠ing and improv¬≠ing ‚Äď and its form is shaped by organ¬≠ised pres¬≠sure. Although cit¬≠i¬≠zens do not get involved in defin¬≠ing EU poli¬≠cies, oth¬≠ers do this on their behalf. But not nec¬≠es¬≠sar¬≠ily in the way that cit¬≠i¬≠zens would like. Brus¬≠sels is the world‚Äôs second-largest lob¬≠by¬≠ing cap¬≠i¬≠tal. Some 15,000 lob¬≠by¬≠ists, three-quarters of whom rep¬≠re¬≠sent the inter¬≠ests of ‚Ä?big busi¬≠ness‚Äô, are always look¬≠ing to influ¬≠ence Euro¬≠pean leg¬≠isla¬≠tive projects to match their own inter¬≠ests ‚Äď often non-transparently. There are over two lob¬≠by¬≠ists for every Euro¬≠pean civil ser¬≠vant with a uni¬≠ver¬≠sity degree. The ratio rises to 20 lob¬≠by¬≠ists for every Euro¬≠pean Par¬≠lia¬≠men¬≠tar¬≠ian. For every jour¬≠nal¬≠ist with EU accred¬≠i¬≠ta¬≠tion, there are 10 lobbyists.

To ‚Ä?com¬≠mu¬≠ni¬≠cate‚Äô (in the widest sense of the word) Europe to its cit¬≠i¬≠zens, three main types of ‚Ä?medi¬≠a¬≠tor‚Äô can explain any¬≠thing in gen¬≠eral terms by adapt¬≠ing their mes¬≠sage to their tar¬≠gets: teach¬≠ers, civil soci¬≠ety organ¬≠i¬≠sa¬≠tions and journalists.

The eco­nomic and social chal­lenge for local media

Many peo­ple think that media cov­er­age of Europe turns off audi­ences and read­ers. There is some truth in that. But if Europe is viewed in the right way, by link­ing polit­i­cal and insti­tu­tional ques­tions to prac­ti­cal and local con­cerns, this cov­er­age can be very lively. Read­er­ship may even be increased, offer­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties to the media will­ing to get involved in this adventure.

The ‚Ä?Euro¬≠pean niche‚Äô can also open up new job oppor¬≠tu¬≠ni¬≠ties to young jour¬≠nal¬≠ists. How¬≠ever, these jour¬≠nal¬≠ists should also be project ‚Ä?organ¬≠is¬≠ers‚Äô ‚Äď capa¬≠ble of being proac¬≠tive, mak¬≠ing pro¬≠pos¬≠als to news edi¬≠tors, help¬≠ing to change men¬≠tal¬≠i¬≠ties through their ini¬≠tia¬≠tives, and so on.

Arti¬≠cle writ¬≠ten by Jean Lema√ģtre

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