Tuesday 2 June 2009

Recession hits European News coverage

The Irish Times has reported on the dwindling number of journalists posted at Brussels, with rumours that the BBC will not replace Mark Mardell as their EU correspondent. The lack of Irish reporters there is lamentable, especially considering the political relevance of the EU to Ireland, whether or not the editorial line is pro- or anti-EU - it's a blow to serious, informed journalism.

Not only does Denmark, of a similar population size to Ireland, have more journalists, but Norway has more than double the Irish journalistic contingent and Switzerland has more than double that, despite their non-member status.

The European Parliament Groups will have to step up political engagement with the public (or really start it) if they want the attention of the media. It's a frail hope that they will, but I can't see the media covering the EU out of a sudden new-found sense of public duty...


  1. Eurocentric,

    If I remember correctly, I just saw a Danish reference to dwindling numbers of EU journalists from Denmark and elsewhere.

    The European election campaign has highlighted serious problems:

    1) The limited choice given to EU citizens, due to our underdeveloped political rights at EU level. A democratic EU is the only solution, but it will take some time.

    2) A massive need for civic education and quality information about what the EU is, what it does and why it is needed.

    Media beating the retreat only worsen the situation.

    It is hard to see other solutions than for public service broadcasters to step up their coverage, since the commercial media are cutting costs.

    The Commission and the European Parliament produce a lot of material, as do the news services EurActiv, EUobserver and EUbusiness, and the Euroblogosphere is developing (Bloggingportal.eu), but they only reach the ones who are already interested. The same goes for think tanks, many of them fairly active and good.

    I believe that a massive increase of EU coverage is needed in (higher) secondary education.

    The German bpb (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) as a producer and distributor of political information should be emulated.

    The EU information centres of the Swedish and Danish parliaments are also worth looking at.

  2. Yes, that was Thomas Estrup's Th!nk About It article here:


    Still, with 11 correspondents (1st Jan 2009) they have cut down the numbers, but are still way ahead of the Irish media.