The so-called “euroblogosphere” is a rather small specialised blogging scene. It has always been like that. However, lately I have the feeling that not enough new bloggers take up the challenge to write about EU topics. It seems to me that only very few new blogs have been launched in the last months/years. Moreover, there are simply not enough good blogs around, somehow not much has changed in the last 2 or 3 years. From my own experience, it is very difficult to motivate people to blog about EU politics – and keep them interested for several years.
There is also the argument that blogging is on the decline because of twitter, tumblr and facebook. I am not sure whether blogging about politics (as political arguments usually need more than 140 characters!) is actually affected by this trend although it is true that the EU twittersphere seems to be growing. OK, blogging is not for everyone and not everyone is motivated to blog regularly. However, if there was a bigger EU-blogosphere it would probably motivate more people to start blogging!
But how to create a bigger EU blogosphere? I don’t really have an answer for that but somehow I have the feeling that we should step up our efforts to ‘recruit’ more bloggers and to keep active bloggers motivated! Especially the community building aspect of bloggingportal.eu has been a success – albeit with a limited impact.
If we think about target groups there are several groups that spring to mind:
(1) I think students are an important target group (especially in European studies, journalism, politics, economics, social sciences…). At the same time it would be good to have people from other more specialized subjects in order to strengthen the EU policy-blogging scene (for example energy, competition, single market, environment, fisheries, agriculture, standardization issues…). What I also would like to see is more local and regional blogs that could evaluate EU funding projects from a non-Brussels perspective or provide a regional links to EU issues. What needs to be done to motivate students to start a blog? And even if students start blogging – how can they be motivated to keep blogging after they receive their degree?
(2) The second big target group could be the thousands of interns in Brussels and elsewhere. There are quite a lot of internships in the EU bubble. They should (on average!) have slightly more free-time than other people and could use the blog for job hunting if they manage to create some buzz in their field. Especially in Brussels I think there could be a huge potential as many interns work in EU related jobs. Maybe blogging could give some of them the necessary extra qualification to succeed in the job market! But how to reach them and how to motivate them?
(3) Blogging should not be restricted to the younger generation. People that work in a job that has something to do with the EU or linked to EU issues are missing in the blogosphsere. Private and professional blogs are also not present in the EU blogging scene. Lots of people that blog on national politics do it as a hobby – is the EU not a topic that can be a good blogging hobby? Generally, it seems that within this target group EU blogging is not seen as a very useful thing to do. But how to change this?
(4) Academics. This is another complex story and I have first hand experience with ideasoneurope.eu The main problem is that the academic community in Europe does not appreciate blogging. And there is also a lack of true European public intellectuals, which is surprising as the internet in particular would be the perfect arena, but again, it is not happening. Partly, because the concept of a “public intellectual” does not seem to be popular in Europe - but also because a lot of academics are not familiar with the internet. (I am not kidding!) So, if you are an academic and you blog instead of writing a journal article you are basically wasting your time and it does not seem to help your career. But what can be done to change this?
(5) Retired professionals. With or without a EU job background. Is it possible to motivate this age group to take up blogging as a new hobby?
(6) [Update] Civil Society. There are many NGOs that could use blogging and social media to get their points across. It is a cheap and rather effective tool to engage with the public.
(7) [Update] Think Tanks. I argued before that think tanks should start thinking about blogs and social media. Especially if a think tank wants to reach a wider or specialized audience. Only very few EU affairs think tanks write a blog or use any social media tools. CER or ECFR are good examples how a think tank blog could look like.
(8) Existing bloggers in national blogospheres. There a many bloggers that write about the EU in a national context but they do not engage with a wider European blogosphere. They might just write a couple of posts a year about the EU. But nobody outside their national blogosphere takes notices. At the same time many bloggers writing in national context are not aware of the EU stuff. How can that be changed?
(9) Existing Eurobloggers. This is the big question about motivation. What needs to be done to create a system to keep people motivated. For me it is the community aspect, meeting people in real life, doing projects, talking to people.If that is part of the answer, we need to create more possibilities to move the blogging experience into the real world. And what would be the role of the various blogging communities such as bloggingportal.eu, ideasoneurope.eu, blogactiv.eu, cafebabel.com or 27etc.? Can we create better synergies and learn from each other?
There seem to be several interrelated problems (that also have not changed for the last years):
- How to motivate active eurobloggers and how to keep them interested?
- How can EU topics be integrated in national blogospheres? And how can the link between different national spheres and between the national and the European level be organised?
- How to get more people interested in blogging about the EU?
A post with more questions than answers. If you have any answers or any idea how to approach any of the issues raised in this post – just post a comment!