sabato 7 maggio 2011

Writing about Europe: bringing an elephant in a crystal shop

Is Europe newsworthy?

On the 4th day of the Perugia International Journalism Festival 2011 (15th of April) Italian journalists sat together to discuss European journalism. Victoria Graul, German volunteer and expert in European issues, sums up the gist of the workshop.

“Do you think reporting on the European Union is boring?...The Italian newspapers don’t have many EU information about the European Commission, but young people want many news…Reporting on the European Union institutions is perfect just because there are very few people who know how they exactly run… You should talk about it in a simple way because the European Union’s organization is very complicated”.

Breaking down issues regarding the European Union to an understandable coverage seems to be a tough challenge for journalists. At least the participants in the workshop “Writing about Europe” agreed on that. Gabriele Crescente, one of the founders of the news website cut right to the chase of the matter when he said that including the European Union in journalism was like bringing an elephant in a crystal shop.

Crescente explains the meaning of his analogy: “Most of the time the reader feels that European institutions are very far from his interests. You have to make him discover that you are talking about his real life but without the institutional touch. And what helps us is that it refers to main stream media work, so it is already tailored on a wider audience than institutional media do”.

Since the Lisbon Treaty the European Union legislature has been once more broadening its influence in each member state. However European citizens seem to show little interest in the matter of the European Union, as the few voter-turnout for the European Parliament in 2009 proves.

Crescente from explains the tool they use to attract the reader’s attention for European issues: “We can either publish the whole article and translate it into ten languages. In this case the only work you have to do is to pick an article that is telling over a national issue, but that can be interesting to other national readers. Or we can have colored briefs that are mainly what is on the front page of European main newspapers. In this case you have to plunge into the national reality that can be sometimes very far from the average reader”.

The participants of the workshop further discussed the lack of information that European institutions provide to journalists. Succeeding in European journalism means to be prepared. There is one way to be considered: Studying the European Union’s complex apparatus to gain expertise knowledge in European matters.

You can download the Podcast here.

Article and podcast by Victoria Graul (24 years old, Chemnitz, Germany)


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