AIE attended an interesting debate on Tuesday 18th October organized by the European Ombudsman on Truth, Facts and Social Media and how to cope with it in future journalism. Emily O' Reilly – the European Ombudsman - launched the debate by suspecting that if the most pro EU of us, had spent the six months prior to Brexit reading nothing but the Daily Mail (a mass market tabloid with a highly political anti-EU agenda), many of us might also have voted to leave.
The challenge for the EU institutions, for those Member State governments and political parties who wish to stop the growth of euroscepticism is how to engage with that narrative, not just through their own communication channels, but also through the way in which they deal with the citizen concerns that such media accurately intuit and frequently exploit.
Also interesting is to address the information deficit that comes not from the media but from Member State governments themselves, coming to Brussels to make decisions largely behind closed doors on issues vital to all of our lives but who then subsequently fail to appropriately to communicate on their own role in that decision making.
So how should reporting and communicating on the EU adapt in the age of social media?
Which lessons should EU politicians and institutions learn?
And what will it mean for the future of the EU if it does not adapt?
FRANCE | Isabelle Jégouzo – Head of the European Commission since 1st of September in Paris argued that we should not only be defensive in EU answers on negative narrators, but be pro-active on the social media and to communicate on a more basic ground.” Let’s go more local into the town newspaper and spreading info on a lower and basic level instead of complex EU terminology.
GERMANY | Rolf-Dieter Krause – Former ARD journalist - said that the spokesman service is too small to give active and quick service to the hundreds of journalists who are actually interested in EU topics but don’t get to see or hear the people they want to speak/interview. The EU spends millions in TV propaganda and its views are merely measurable in Germany (0.01 %)... Communication is not only broadcasting and printing brochures but getting in contact with live people to have listeners and then you are actually communicating! So knowing this for decades, the EU hasn’t changed that and therefore they give the impression of not wanting to inform. Social media jumps on this with negative narrative info with lies and untrue arguments on the EU.
UK | Brian Cathcart – Professor of Journalism at Kingston University thinks we tend to go too lightly on ’information jokes’ and should be more aggressive to oppose it. The culture and mission of good information newspapers (and mostly pro-EU papers) like the Guardian and Financial Times are declining and are understaffed. Social media counts as little thousands of termites crawling over the ‘Brussels elite bubble’ and they are somehow accounted to call out to the negative narrative press.
Emily O’Reilly concluded that proper balance has to lead to the full and proper understanding as for what is going on. She is recently working on more transparency at Council level where it tends to have the least transparency, but the information is most important. And as far as there is a lack of transparency it allows member state governments to hide their role, in making decisions and thus a vacuum remains that will be filled in with lies and by populist and others. People expect more than ever ‘Honesty’ and clearing out the work at Council level would be a great step forward.
> More summaries at the EU Ombudsman Tweets Wall on Disrupting EU
> Catch up with the whole story and watch the total debate online
> Complete introduction speech of Emily O’Reilly
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