Happy Birthday, bloggingportal!
Three years of bloggingportal. And what a journey it has been. I remember sitting around a huge table in a flat in Brussels – with a certain Jon Worth and the (back then) mysterious Brusselsblogger – dreaming up something that is now known as bloggingportal. Well, resources were scarce and it took us only another year to launch the actual website in January 2009. As I said at a conference a few years ago: “Three people, one idea, no money” (hey – I always wanted to quote myself in a blog post!)
Ironically I am blogging this while sitting at exactly the same (and now truly) legendary table in a flat in London… Well, in many ways I would not be here without bloggingportal and all the people I met through the project. So thanks a lot for all your help and support!
We have learnt a lot over the last three years – especially how not to do things. But I guess this is how it has to be. The problem is still the same: We are a bunch of enthusiastic people without a real structure, without money and without much time on our hands. It is a bit like herding anarchist and hungry cats…
So what does the future hold for bloggingportal? I blogged about our problems in the past and called for a bigger EU blogosphere. As you can imagine not much has been solved – although EU blogging has arguably grown somehwat. To get an idea about the debate on the future of bloggingportal head over to Brusselsblogger, Ronny Patz and Mathew Lowry’s Tagsmanian Devil who all have written more substantial blog posts on the issue.
If you are reading this and you are thinking “well this blogginportal stuff may be a fun thing to do…” – why not get in touch ? I think we do need people with fresh ideas who are motivated to invest some time in developing the website as well as the bloggingportal concept (whatever that is…). Because it is simple: The media landscape has changed, blogging has changed – even the EU has changed (well, ok this is debatable!). So maybe bloggingportal needs to change too!
PS. I am not dead – honest. Pseudo-regular blogging resumes as soon as possible… (Reason: new job in London & flat-hunting)
A small step for the EU institutions… - or a small step for bloggers? (sorry for this piece of plagiarism)
Anyway, it was a world premiere: The first time ever that bloggers were accredited (as bloggers!) to an official EU institution! OK, it was just a pilot project but nevertheless a very interesting endeavour – now a lot depends on whether the EU institutions continue the process and whether there are actually enough bloggers that would be interested. At the moment I am quite optimistic for the former but not for the latter.
If you have not followed the story: The idea of getting a press accreditation for bloggers at EU institutions has been discussed for quite a while in the blogosphere and within the institutions. The #EUpilot however would not have happened without the Hungarian Council Presidency. As part of their “Blogger outreach” (also a novelty in the institutional machinery in Brussels!) they organised several background briefings with Bloggingportal.eu editors and other bloggers (unfortunately I missed all of them so far…) Anyway blogger press accreditation would have not been possible without these meetings and the determined officials of the Hungarian Council presidency. Thanks a lot for this – and let’s hope other presidencies and other institutions (!) learn from this pilot project! (It is actually a weird twist that the most secretive EU institution was involved in the pilot project – and not the most obvious one: the European Parliament!)
What happened in the Council you might ask? Well, this week there were two bloggers that covered the EU Competitiveness Council (and parts of the Foreign Affairs Council). But you should really read the original stuff including the preparatory blogging and the live tweeting:
#EUpilot on twitter
So, thanks a lot @ronpatz and @europasionaria for a great blogging and tweeting coverage! Let’s hope that some journalists read the stuff and re-consider their strategies on how to cover council meetings – and how to make it more interactive and interesting. It is really not rocket science
But why is this pilot project so important?
My two basic (and possibly naive) cents: Treating bloggers like journalists is important because of two reasons. First of all, bloggers are citizens and basically every citizen can become a blogger without much effort. (ok, you need to open a blog and start writing…) The point is that not only journalists but also non-journalists have access to formerly restricted institutional environments. You don’t need to work for a newspaper or have a press pass to have access. Second, it can be a (small and symbolic) step for institutions to open up to normal citizens. Not because it is that exciting to cover press conferences and do some doorstep interviews – no because it can help demystifying institutional practices and it can become useful in challenging myths. It might even improve press coverage and can increase public scrutiny (at least theoretically). Obviously if we think about transparency in EU institutions this is hardly enough – a lot of other stuff remains to be done!
Now, what is the the way forward?
First of all, I think, we need to spread the word a bit. For the EU institutions it was quite an achievement. At the same time it is good to know that with a bit of determination a handful of officials can make things happen. So please spread the word.
The aim is to get a permanent, institutionalised and easy procedure that would allow bloggers to have the same rights as accredited journalists within the EU institutions.
But we also need to get more bloggers on board. Not only ‘eurobloggers’ but also subject specialists. Most EU policies are sector specific, so coverage is often difficult for generalists – and generalists do not necessarily contribute to a better media coverage. We hope there will be similar opportunities so if you are a blogger and you want to get involved in future events and campaigns do follow bloggingportal and/or contact us!
The problem is obviously Brussels. Most bloggers that might consider participating in such a process do not live in Brussels. Travelling to some EU meeting is out of the question – it is a budget and a time issue. Most bloggers do have proper jobs. So even if the EU opens up for bloggers I suspect that not many will take advantage of this. Somehow a blogging link between the EU level and the national and subject spheres needs to be established. Any ideas are most appreciated – although there are enough ideas but not enough people that get involved.
And it is a major problem: Hungary’s new media law.
Bloggingportal.eu launched a European Blog Action against Censorship in Hungary and also provides a good round-up of reactions and some background documents (just go through the comment thread!)
I don’t want to repeat the points that were made elsewhere. It is never a good idea to pass a law that can be used (even if nobody wants to use it in a specific way) to increase political control over the press. Even the slightest possibility of a a problematic legal clause needs to be addressed. Press and media freedom are too important for democracy in Europe. Simple as that.
As you know Hungary will take over the Council Presidency of the EU in January 2011. And there is even a new blog by the HU presidency. So feel free to voice your concern about the new law. Obviously they are not amused about the critical reactions and claim that the Council Presidency has nothing to do with Hungarian politics. But the new media law seems such a major problem that I think it is a legitimate thing to do. And anyway, the Council Presidency is organised by the Hungarian government… It would be a major embarrassment if the Council presidency was overshadowed by the media law…
So let’s take a picture of Viktor Orbán and transform him into Viktor #Censorbán (yes it is inspired by schäublone, #zensursula & #censilia). Basically it is a wordplay of Viktor Orban and Censorship. In other languages one could use Zensorban or Cenzorbana… the idea is quite flexible. Feel free to use, remix and share the picture (cc by-nc-sa). As you will notice, I am not a professional photoshop/gimp user and I did not have a good picture of Orban in the first place. So any quality improvements are much appreciated. Not sure whether this also makes sense in Hungarian as I do not speak the language. (so if you speak Hungarian leave a comment with improvements!) I know that it should rather read “Censorban Viktor” but well, let’s say it is designed for an international audience.
But there are a couple of things that we should think about in more detail:
First of all: It seems to me that media freedom and internet freedom are increasingly attacked by democratic governments around the world and Europe is following the trend. There are two principal strategies:
Option No 1: A government wants more control over the press or the internet. It is interesting to think about why this happens more frequently ( – and not understanding the internet is a big part of it) Usually it is framed as a security problem: “We need to know more about terrorist networks” or it is about the children: “We have to protect our children” . It can also be the result of intense industry lobbying to “protect customers and offer a better product” or it is connected to copyright issues. All these claims are very difficult to challenge in any campaign. (but it is not impossible!) Just think about the French internet blocking law, a couple of German internet laws (from “zensursula” to “JMStV”) or even international negotiations that include internet related articles such as ACTA. The debate on net neutrality can also be cited in this context. But the Hungarian law seems to go one step further as it us includes all types of media plus a governmental media watch dog…
Option No 2: A toxic combination of private and public interests mixed with strange business models, corruption and media monopolies. For example Murdoch in the UK, Berlusconi in Italy or the general level of corruption in Bulgaria that also affects the media. This is usually a gradual but equally dangerous process. (but also a topic for another blog post…)
The main question for the EU: What to do with those countries? The accession process is a straight forward process: Copenhagen criteria and conditionality prevent countries to adopt certain laws. However, once a country joined the EU there are not many possibilities to interfere with laws that might not be in the “spirit of the EU”. Italy or France can get away with laws that would not be allowed under a strict accession regime. And it is similar in the case of Hungary. So what could be done? Ignoring certain people in Council meetings (it did not work with Austria), reduce or stop payments of the cohesion funds/CAP or a suspension of voting rights in the Council? To impose a supervisory mechanism (mixed results in Romania and Bulgaria)? I am not convinced any of this would have an effect. But do we really need a new legal tool regarding fundamental freedoms?
The main question for the blogosphere: How to campaign against the various laws and legal practices that restrict press freedom (not only Hungary)? Media freedom in other (European) countries should be of concern for the (European) blogoshphere(s). So the question is whether this topic could potentially become a pan-European topic? There have been great blogging campaigns in Germany and France relating to press and internet freedom. We need to learn from successful campaigns in other EU countries and replicate the most efficient tools. And especially for smaller countries support from the rest of the EU might be crucial to run effective campaigns. In fact, it is one of the few topics that resonate with all national (political) blogospheres in Europe - which is not a surprise as every blogger can identify with the potential problems of a proposed law.
So what should be done with the Hungarian media law? Let’s keep the topic on the agenda, use the Council presidency to get EU wide media coverage – and embarrass the Hungarian government.
Update 27/12: Now you can also follow @censorban on twitter…
Update 30/12: SME Dennik, one of the biggest daily newspapers in Slovakia, mentions the bloggingportal campaign alongside the Censorban pic (although attributed to bloggingportal.eu which is not a problem – but a factual mistake) Anyway, the article can be found in the print (e-paper) and online version of the paper!
In case you are wondering what has happened to this mysterious bloggingportal event in London… Well, we have an incredible programme (see below) and there seems to be quite some interest among bloggers and journalists. So if you would like to attend this event please let us know as soon as possible. Just send an email to info[at]bloggingportal.eu to reserve a place.
I also would like to thank eurogoblin who did an amazing job in organisig this event (while living in Africa for most of the time!). Well done Joe!
WHEN: 10th December 2010 – 13:00 – 18:00
WHERE: Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3EU
WHAT: Bloggingportal.eu proudly presents: A non-partisan event exploring the different ways bloggers and journalists can cover the EU in Britain.
13:00 – EVENT START / REGISTRATION / SANDWICH LUNCH
13:45 to 15:15 – FIRST PANEL – “The EU in the British Media”
We’ll be asking our panelists about the coverage of the EU in the British press. Do the media generally do a good job of “keeping tabs” on the EU? Is it true that British euroscepticism is driven by the media, or are the media just following public opinion?
15:15 – COFFEE BREAK
15:45 to 17:45 – SECOND PANEL – “The EU in the British Blogosphere”
In this panel, we’ll be turning a critical eye on the British blogosphere. Do bloggers have any advantages over mainstream journalists when writing about the EU? Are bloggers better informed and freer to say what everybody is really thinking? Unconstrained by deadlines and editorial oversight, can they delve deeper into a story? Or are they just under less pressure to maintain levels of accuracy and ethical behaviour?
Bruno Waterfield – Brussels Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph, Europe Not EU blog
Gawain Towler – UKIP / Europe of Freedom and Democracy Press Officer and Blogger, England Expects
Antonia Mochan – Head of Media, EU Commission Representative in the UK, Talking about the EU
Jon Worth – Blogger, Jon Worth’s Euroblog
Both panels will be moderated discussions, including time for questions from the audience. There will be wifi provision and a charging station for laptops/mobile phones etc. Please let us know by e-mail at info [at] bloggingportal.eu to reserve a place.
NOTE: We’ve had some technical difficulties with our e-mail system, so if you haven’t had a reply from us, then please contact us again. Also let us know if you have any further questions, or any dietary requirements or access issues we should know about.
Happy birthday to bloggingportal.eu! We are celebrating 1 year of Bloggingportal.eu! Last January we launched the page and it has been a great first year. More than 500 euroblogs, 25 editors and thousands of visitors! Thanks for all your support and help! Do continue to spread the word – and feel free to give us your feedback!
To mark this anniversary the European Journalism Centre (EJC) published a nice article about the project. In a way we reached the aim there: Bloggingportal.eu as a “featured resource” for journalists all over Europe
Don’t forget to stay updated with bloggingportal.eu issues: You can become a fan of bloggingportal on facebook and you can follow us on twitter! If you are a twitter addict you might want to check out our editors choice on twitter!
We are also looking for new editors and volunteers that would like to get involved. Just write us an email and we will get back to you!
Einer der ersten Artikel über “uns euroblogger” in einer traditionellen überregionalen Zeitung (oder ist das etwa der erste ueberhaupt?), und dann auch noch ausgerechnet in der Schweiz - einem nicht EU-Mitglied! Es würde mich natürlich interessieren ob es den Artikel auch in gedruckter Form gibt…?
Im Tagesanzeiger schreibt Tobias Moorstedt über die europäische politische Netzdebatte, mit vielen alten Bekannten wie zum Beispiel: Linkfluence, Bloggingportal.eu, Jon Worth, Cafe Babel, Eurotopics, Perlentaucher, La Quadrature du Net Aber auch inhaltlich auf den Punkt gebracht und sehr lesenswert:
The EP elections 2009 are finally over! Results are in and being the author of a political EU blog I probably should be writing an election analysis including:
… a critical look at the disappointing turnout figures and the reasons behind it.
… a sharp analysis of the results in different countries preferably in a comparative manner. You know the typical post about whether the successful party is in government or not and whether a national election is on the horizon.
… criticising the national focus of the election. Trying to show that the EP elections should not be used as a protest vote
… an analysis whether the left really lost and the right really won (+ mentioning the economic crisis) using some fancy tables with statistical figures
… an opinion about the eurosceptic parties and the right wing radicals. Maybe comparing the BNP with the various Freedom Parties and the Greater Romanian Party? ITS reloaded?
… something about the success of the Greens or whether the Pirate Party will have any impact in the Parliament.
… but also discussing strategies what should be done better next time, both at European and National level, you know communicating the EU better bla bla bla
… reflecting on the campaigns and all the different online projects
… ranting about the ignorance of voters, the lack of political knowledge, or why the media fails to cover the EU with an example how different TV stations or newspapers covered the election night.
… writing something about the challenges of the next European Parliament.
… some general thoughts on Europe vs. the nation state. The typical article on European identity or the lack of it…
… I should mention the Lisbon Treaty and the proposed reforms and whether the election results make it more likely to get the treaty ratified: Ireland, failure of Libertas, political survival possibilities of PM Brown in the UK and the referendum plans of Cameron. I should not forget Poland and Chech Republic.
… speculating about the political groups in the European Parliament and saying something about the new group led by Cameron
… I could also blame it on the weather, the economy, the Commission or the political elite.
I really should write something like that but somehow I cannot be bothered today. So I might postpone it for a few days (or weeks…)!
In the meantime I will be reading blogs! But what are the blogs writing about the European Parliament elections and the results?
If you find any good analysis or a good rant about the European Parliament elections why not add it to the bloggingportal? – It might give you bigger readership and, at the same time, you help generating an alternative source for EP election analysis from all over Europe covering as many languages as possible!
Feel free to add your own posts and/or posts you think are interesting to the list here! You can also add blogs that write about EU affairs on a regular basis!
Here is the link (there is also a fancy bookmarklet for your browser!): http://www.bloggingportal.eu/publish