Difficult. Dry. And above all: boring. If you’re discussing the state of EU coverage, those are the words that are likely to come up.
According to the European radio network Euranet, the number of Brussels-based correspondents is decreasing. The focus on national angles in EU coverage is increasing.
The media fail to deliver, so it seems, good coverage of an aspect of politics and daily life that has become so important in European societies.
The EU falls under the universal criterium of democracy: we, journalists, have to hold it to account. For that reason, we have to inform the public about it. And the general public has to be willing to read what we write.
Now, that counts for about every aspect of current affairs. And though, political journalism is rarely depicted as difficult, dry and boring. Financial stories don’t have to be difficult, dry and boring.
So here’s an idea: why not take the editorial approach that media use for every piece of news, and apply this on what’s happening in the EU?
Humanise the story. Search for the financial impact, or the emotional impact. Follow the money. Or look for ‘the stories’ behind the news – of which there are millions to find across Europe.
It’s as simple as that. But oh so rare to find in the stack of coverage produced each day.
At the POLIS Conference: Reporting the World that went down at the London School of Economics last Friday, a panel discussed the issue of European media and European democracy.
It was Lucian Sârb, Director of News and Programmes at the transnational broadcaster euronews, that made the remark: “since the European crisis, stories about Greek social issues made the papers across Europe.”
This gives a good illustration of where EU coverage could be going. When an audience feels affected by an issue –as is the case with the eurozone crisis– the stories become interesting. Even when they’re happening at the other side of the continent. People relate to good stories. And they become aware of certain issues by reading about them.
That’s what good journalism does. Time to test it on the EU beast.
Time to make European coverage work as a journalistic product.
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I’m currently working on a project to put (an elaborate version of) this editorial approach into practice. If you have comments, ideas or links to share with me: don’t hesitate to mail or tweet me! Details are all on the “who?”-page.
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You can read an interview with Lucian Sârb of euronews in my previous post. He discusses the editorial approach of euronews, and what it is to work in a multicultural and multilingual newsroom. Good stuff!