Mediacafé # 3: Europe: no medium, no message?

How is Europe portrayed in our media


MON 18.10.10 | 19:30

Rits Café, A. Dansaertstraat 70, 1000 Brussels


The European authorities produce a non-stop stream of information, but only a tiny fraction reaches the population. Why? The European institutions are brave enough to reflect on their own actions, but they also point an accusing finger at the Member States and the media (corporations). On Mathew Lowry's blog the debate has already started!

How can Europe increase and improve its communication? What role should policymakers, journalists and citizens play? A debate with Bart Sturtewagen (editor-in-chief of De Standaard), Leigh Phillips (EUobserver) and Brigitte Alfter (European Fund for Investigative Journalism Moderator: Koen Vidal (foreign editor at De Morgen).

In a report that was discussed by the Committee on Culture and Education at the end of June, MEP Morten Løkkegaard states that the lack of coverage about the EU in national media is a well-known fact. To create a European public space however, it appears to be vital that citizens are informed about the political life of the European institutions. The European institutions are not afraid to admit this: they must speak with one voice and communicate more directly instead of merely informatively.  A change in communication policy seems to become one of the key discussion topics in the future of the EU. How to use, for instance, social media such as Facebook and Twitter?

But Member States and media share part of the blame as well. The production of qualitative EU coverage should be incorporated in the charters of public broadcasters and it should be supervised as well. Pan-European media corporations should get a real chance, one where differences in language and perception don’t spoil the broth. The number of accredited journalists in Brussels dropped in the last couple of years, but it has to increase again. Only a physical presence in Brussels can guarantee such investigative journalism.

How can Europe communicate in a more uniform and direct way with media, the Member States and its citizens? Is there a need for an independent European information channel, like CNN in the United States? Would this improve the involvement of citizens and fuel integration? Who plays which part in this story?

On Mathew Lowry's blog the debate has already started!

Brigitte Alfter was EU Correspondent in Brussels for the Danish daily newspaper Information. At this moment she covers European affairs from the office in Copenhagen. She is the director of the European Fund for Investigative Journalism and is co-founder of Wobbing in Europe, a web- and network tool for journalists.

Leigh Phillips is editor at the EUobserver, an independent online newspaper specialized in European affairs which reaches 60.000 people each day.

Bart Sturtewagen is editor-in-chief at De Standaard. The coverage of Europe is the responsibility of the foreign affairs department. This department is staffed by seven journalists.


Mediacafé is an initiative of deBuren, VVOJ, Fonds Pascal Decroos and and accessible to everyone.


The announcement of this event on another (uninteractive) website led me to publish a post on this on the Friday before the event. It generated over 20 comments, so your readers may be interested in it: