Last week the question was posed by M van den Broeke (head of the European Parliament Press Unit): "Should serious EU bloggers get some sort of accreditation to EU institutions? But on what criteria?". Twitterers debated about what the criteria for "serious EU bloggers" should be, and Stephen Spillane wrote a follow-up article here.
Defining "serious EU blogger" would be a very sensitive question, given the nature of blogging and the goal of an impartial accreditation system. Blogging is a hobby, in that people blog on whatever topic they what, if they feel passionate about it, for as long as they want. It's hard to say if there's a right way or wrong way to go about blogging - mainly because there isn't. Some blogs may be more successful than others, depending on their topic, the writing style, the engagement of the author with commenters and other blogs, the number of different media used and the extent of hyperlinking, etc., but given that people blog for different reasons and different goals, there's no real "right way" of blogging.
So how can we assess who is a "serious EU blogger"? If we say only bloggers who blog only about EU affairs are "serious", then we would be excluding a vast number of national bloggers who blog - or who might want to blog - about EU matters and how they affect their country. On the other hand, it should probably be more selective than anyone who has ever written about EU affairs since there would be a huge volume of potential bloggers, given its nature as a hobby. The number of articles and the "seriousness" of the articles is another sensitive measure of a serious EU blogger - who decides how often someone should blog and what constitutes serious content? This shouldn't be looked into too deeply, I feel, since taking more subjective factors into consideration may lead to decision-making that feels arbitrary to some bloggers. Still, for someone to qualify as a "serious EU blogger", some amount of time and effort would be necessary factors for consideration, though they would need to be as objective as possible.
So here's a (flawed) suggestion: a serious EU blogger is someone who has written about the EU for a year, over the course of the year. The articles wouldn't need to be spread out (or some figure like 2 posts per month given), but picking up on some matters of EU affairs as they affect the main theme of the blog over the year. For borderline cases, where the blogger hasn't written a lot/often about EU affairs, an extra condition of having contacted an MEP/Commissioner/EU official or institution for information that they used in a post would show some serious interest in following up and investigating an issue.
Is that too simplistic? Too easy-going and open? Not open enough and too restrictive?
It's good to see this issue being talked about, and hopefully it will lead to the institutions opening up more for citizens in general.