European media

c48104d7-53e2-401e-bf2a-bf260ffa860bLast night I attended a dinner-debate organised by the EPA.  Not (as you might think) the US Environmental Protection Agency, but the European Parliamentarians Association,  which has a rather splendid art nouveau mansion in the Allée de la Robertsau.  The topic for debate was “Beyond the national perspective – do we need European media?”.  They have perhaps failed to notice the existence of Euronews.

We heard passionate pleas from two journalists for more Europe-wide media to provide scope for them to publish their musings, coupled with thinly-veiled pleas for more EU funding to support them.  Naturally I engaged in the debate, and you may find my remarks amusing.  I have reconstructed them as best I can from the notes I made at the event.

“I’m a UK MEP representing the East Midlands, and I must admit that I feel I’m here under false pretences.  We’ve conducted this conversation so far on the basis that we’re all European citizens, but of course I’m not a European citizen, I’m a Brit”.  (General laughter). “I’m very concerned at the top-down, prescriptive tone of what we’re hearing.  You’re concerned about what you want to tell people, not about what they might want to hear.

“We’ve heard one journalist say he is “working for European integration”, and the other saying “How can I convince my readers that the EU is a good thing?”.  But that’s not your job.  You’re supposed to be reporting news and facts.  If you’re trying to persuade people of a particular political viewpoint, that’s not journalism.  That’s propaganda.  Maybe you should be politicians and not journalists.

“To make matters worse, you’re also asking for European funding.  Let me give you a quick tutorial in media economics.  Media outlets have two main income streams – advertising, and payments in one form or another from consumers.  If you expect funding from European institutions to promote the European project, then you’re clearly engaged in propaganda.  This was the way things used to be in Germany in the bad old days.  This is how things are done in Russia.  And in Kazakhstan.  And in North Korea.  It should have no place in an EU that pretends to be democratic.

“You complain that there is too little European news in national media.  I’ll tell you why.  The EU really isn’t very interesting.  Successful media editors know what their audiences want, and they don’t want too much Europe.  Personally I find there’s plenty of European coverage in my UK newspaper, and if I want more detail I can go onto the internet.

“Let me tell you a story.  In my political work I knock on a lot of doors.  More than once I’ve had a householder say “I don’t know much about Europe, and it’s all the fault of you politicians.  You never tell us what’s going on”.  And I reply, “OK.  Can you spare half an hour so that I can explain it to you?”.  And usually the reply is “Not now, I’m watching Coronation Street”.

“There’s another reason why European media are unlikely to work.  The 19th century British political philosopher John Stuart Mill famously wrote “Where peoples lack fellow-feeling, and especially where they read and speak different languages, the common public opinion necessary for representative government cannot exist”.

“It’s time to recognise that readers and viewers have a choice.  They’ll only pay attention to media that give them what they want.  But I have an entrepreneurial idea for you.  If you really believe there’s a latent demand out there for more European media, exploit it.  Go and start a European newspaper, and make your fortune.  And I wish you the best of luck with that project”.



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26 Responses to European media

  1. Brin Jenkins says:

    Brilliant Roger, few folk realise that modern communication is rigged to be only one way. You must listen and agree, dissent is never encouraged.

  2. Lovely stuff!
    Well done – and it took courage too.
    If only our other politicians were made of the same metal!

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Always have a wheel wrench handy!

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    H/t Guido:

    That’ll be males mainly…and this female speaker knows it (not in a nice way)

    Keep going mein fuhrer and the war will arise..whether u want it or not!

  5. Jane Davies says:

    Great speech Roger once again you nailed it!

  6. Ian Terry says:

    No wonder with hard hitting comments like that you are not invited on to the BBC QT

    as usual smack on the button

  7. Hi Roger

    You are absolutely right. I certainly like your intervention.

    Propaganda by journalists has been going on for years. The EurActive web has been sponsored by the Commission. Not sure about European Voice.

    Even BEUC the EU consumer group is part funded. NGO’s all getting money. The trade unions too. It is a scandal and it is discriminatory.

    My main point of communicating with you is about ” we are all European citizens”

    Roger during the Maastricht Treaty negotiations the Chapter on European Citizenship was added. This chapter includes the reference to the “freedom of movement of people”. It was not there before.

    Freedom of movement of workers was in the original Treaty but that is something different.

    I was told by Sir John Kerr – UKREP – (Lord Kerr who became the Secretary General of the Constitutional Convention and wrote the EU Constitution) that the government had got so many concessions that this was NOT going to be reopened.

    Nobody would listen. MP’s didn’t understand. ministers were not interested.

    Now we are all EU citizens, it says so on our passports, yet the EU is not a state – an aspiration of many.

    Nobody in the UK was asked if they wanted this tag, no referendum to say yes or no and dilute our individual sovereignty.

    So reform of the EU in my book is not just about the four headings sponsored by the government but more deep rooted.

    We should ask the UK citizen if they want to be a citizen of the EU as part of the OUT campaign.

    Just to add a further point. I have always understood that under international law the last agreed Treaty was fully effective. Under continental law (The Napoleonic Codes) as against common law if citizenship was referred to the ECJ could it be ruled that citizenship of the EU is dominant.

    This Chapter needs deleting which would automatically solve the whole issue of control of our borders, benefits to citizens of other member states and stop this increasing migration without effective control

    Trust you are well.

    Oh and by the way imagine a proposal from the Commission to trigger the emergency break to control what we in the UK want to do with our funds and watch the agreed conditions.

    Better OUT

    Sent from my iPad

    WILFRED ASPINALL Tel. +447872953922

    Director Aspinall & Associates EU Strategy Advisers Brussels

    Former Member European Economic and Social Committee

    Hon. Chairman Forum in the European Parliament for Construction and Energy Users (FOCOPE)


  8. Linda Hudson says:

    Would loved to have been there, a lesson in itself!

  9. Richard111 says:

    “”… in an EU that pretends to be democratic.””

    I think that sums it up nicely. Thank you Roger.

  10. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Keep hearing the words that an EU was part conceived to prevent a further war. Its coming up more often. You have to ignore the serial poking at Russia I think?

    Don’t think such a WW2 type was ever on the cards but they sure have brought one closer via the current invasion. A permanent one will arise if Turkey gets in. And we have not had much out of Libya…yet!

    • Jane Davies says:

      What’s the saying ‘if you tell a lie often enough people will start to think it’s true’?
      We, those of us who actually know about history, know the UN was created in 1945 to prevent further war in Europe. If the idiots at the EU are under the impression they have the power to do that then they are even more delusional than I thought they were.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      There is a way Jane. I think they blocked it by detecting your (foreign?) IP address.

      This it on youtube (oddly?) go right thru it:

  11. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Panic! (media standard stuff)
    Britain ‘faces influx of 50,000 asylum seekers’ if it leaves the European Union

    Don’t think the (whatever) seekers/invaders already here will like that?

  12. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Farage in Bolton yesterday (on stage)

    Hitachi say they will stay in UK on any event.

  13. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Another for you Jane: (Breitbart UK shows street interview…and the intellectuals turn up?)

    Migrant Muslim Men Interrupt TV Interview To Argue With Pensioner About Migrant Crisis

    Can’t be polite…just sticking it at you!

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