Brussels according to the US

An American-German joint-venture for a new media outlet on news on the European Union

L'Osservatore Romano , inserto mensile "donne chiesa mondo" novembre 2015

Can Brussels be understood as one of the two “world capitals”, considering that the other is Washington? According to Politico.com it would seem so. Although a large number of Europeans are not even convinced that Brussels is the capital of the EU. The fact remains that the innovative American newspaper has decided to open a European edition and a newsroom a short distance from EU institutions. A launch event of the online newspaper is tabled for April 23 at the Parc du Cinquantenaire, a symbolic place for the Belgian State and its capital. A dedicated newsroom will thus deal with Community policies and the vicissitudes of the old continent, adding up to the thousands of accredited journalists who already work in Brussels’ “information bubble”. Which advantages? Beyond the dispute on world capital cities (could anyone deny that the same can be said for Beijing, Moscow, Brasilia or other emerging Countries?), the fact remains that a US editor signed an agreement with a powerful German editorial group, Axel Springer Se (Bild, Die Welt and other newspapers), thereby promoting a journalistic venture with evident political, financial, cultural and media connotations. European journalists and editors are warned. At this point one may wonder whether the arrival of Politico.eu could benefit the European integration process, in terms of contributing to increasing the information flow, hopefully qualified, regarding the decisions taken by EU Parliament, Council and Commission. Quality and competition. Some competition certainly won’t harm European countries’ media outlets, always remarkably measured in their reports on the developments in Brussels and Strasbourg. It is no coincidence that when speaking of the information gap that contributes keeping Europe distant from its citizens, emphasis is placed on the communication difficulties of the same institutions. But the reference is ever more often on the scarce, sometimes imprecise or distorted European communication provided by websites, newspapers, Radio and TV with the EU passports. Thus is it legitimate to imagine that also major newspapers on this side of the Atlantic ocean will realize that policies, projects, funding, and EU actions have a considerable, increasing bearing on the lives of 500 million EU citizens? What will Le Monde, the Financial Times, Gazeta Wyborcza, El Paìs, BBC or Der Spiegel do to rebut the new US competitor? Continental public opinion. While waiting to have a glimpse of Politico.eu and observe the countermoves of European journalism, it is legitimate to anticipate some of the expectations and desires in this area of information. First of all, it would be useful to put into place a form of journalism capable of truly attracting citizens’ interest for European questions, through the twofold path of simplification, thereby making EU policy accessible, along with the articulation of the message, in the sense that different news generally have a different readership. Second, there should be a news outlet capable of highlighting the concreteness of the decisions taken by EU institutions that impact the daily lives of individuals, families, youth, enterprises, research institutes, the tertiary and volunteering sectors; which concern the fight on terrorism, the future of the single currency, employment, the relations with neighbouring countries, the creation of route infrastructures, the promotion of sustainable agriculture or environmental protection alike… Nor should be neglected – third aspect – the importance of making a step forward in the direction of the proposal of mass media with a continental bearing. This calls into questions journalists, and notably, also newspaper editors. It would be necessary to overcome a set of obstacles along the way, ranging from investments to “European-minded” editorial staff, from advertising to the equally important language question. A truly European public opinion, critical to the growth of European citizenship, requires media with a continental bearing.

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