EU and the media: Brussels, no thanks!

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

The turmoil surrounding the services directive shows all too clearly that there is a considerable divide between the media and Brussels. Often an issue only receives media attention when a decision has already been taken. This article by Manuel Lianos, editor-in-chief of Politik & Kommunikation, explains the main problems.

Abstract EU documents and directives mostly suffer the fate of landing in the drawers of media editors. Usually, it is not until the implementation deadline has expired and the politicians start to complain that EU issues get the attention of the media. According to a new study, only five percent of the political coverage in German media deals with EU politics. 

One of the problems is that many journalists and editors understand too little of EU procedures, missing the important events in the legislative phase and often believing that the EU is too complicated an issue to have a positive effect on readership numbers. 

A further problem is that too many journalists do not ask critical questions, due to either a lack of resources, time or knowledge. According to a media source, only five percent of the correspondents in Brussels actually do their own research. And many of them end up defending the institutions. 

The Commission itself has become less accessible since it has moved back to the Berlaymont building and the spokespersons of the Commission do not always behave in a way that invites questioning. 

In addition to this, critics claim that a significant number of the approximately 1,000 journalists in Brussels have been hired by interest groups and act as lobbyists. To prevent this, the International Federation of Journalists (IEF) has adopted a code of conduct. 

To read the full article (in German), please click here

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