Im vergangenen Herbst trafen sich auf Einladung des Goethe-Instituts 23 junge Journalisten in Brüssel - aus jedem Mitgliedsland der Europäischen Union war ein junger Medienmacher gekommen. jetzt.de war als deutscher Vertreter dabei - wir dokumentieren das Manifest der Medienmacher im Original.
Been to London? Remember the speaker's inspired announcement, Mind the gap? That's probably the richest phrase that anybody has ever said in an underground. Now go to Brussels. You'll realize Mind the gap is what should be written in bold letters in each and every office of the European quarter. We . . . But who are we?
We are a group of young journalists from 23 European countries. We came together to Brussels as participants in the Youth Media Seminar on Active European Citizenship. After long hours of discussions and deliberations on the communication Gap between the EU institutions and the European citizens, we decided to make the best out of our meeting in Brussels by establishing a network. It's not an exclusive club at all - any journalist who wants to join us is welcome. We came - we saw - now it's time to do something about it.
We aspire to put another brick - not in the Wall - on the bridge that will eventually and hopefully connect the European superstructure with the European public. We believe that the media have a key role to play in bridging the gap between a complicated Europe and its citizens. Our role is dual. First and foremost, we can communicate the views and worries of our audiences to Brussels officials and hold them accountable to their responsibilities. Secondly, we will try to bring the European effort closer to its people and make the EU locally relevant, keeping also the citizens accountable to their responsibility - being involved.
We might not be experts in institutions but we know a few things about communication. We also know a few things about the apathy and discontent that our audiences show towards the European enterprise.
We are standing on the shoulders of a giant. This giant is the European Union and we can see further if we stay critical and keep our eyes on the horizon. There is something to see. And oh what beautiful something that is. So we suggest that you take off your coat, have a cup of coffee, and read this.
Make it human
Most of the information coming from the EU is addressed to ,the general public'; it's high time that you realize there is no such thing as ,the general public'. In all possible senses, Europe speaks many languages. If you don't want to talk to the people, why are you surprised that they don't want to talk to you either? Make public panels constant and relevant, not occasional and opportunistic. Remember it was ,all about diversity'? Then go and speak to those who are different from you. Ask them what they want from you: after all, they are your employers too! Set your agenda drawing from your base, not top to bottom. Break the glass box you seem to operate in and tune into the real problems of society. Re-prioritize spending! If you truly believe culture and education can change the future of the EU, put them high on the agenda and be generous with relevant programs and initiatives.
Make it specific
Speak clearly and to the point: the goal of communication is to be understood, not to baffle the other side. Quit jargon and never use ,Eurospeak'; forget about Lisbon strategies, structural funds, etc. Even at press conferences, imagine you're speaking to people who don't know about these things: you actually are. Never - never! - avoid questions: you risk turning bored journalists into angry journalists. Still, remember journalists are not there to eat you alive. Privilege criticism and respond to it constructively. Don't feel threatened by it. Don't panic when they ask questions: it's their job; in the end, we all want to make the EU more transparent, don't we? Don't try to sell the European idea as if it were a product.
Make it local
Most people find it difficult to comprehend the EU on a general level: Brussels has become an abstract entity somewhere out there. Show people what the EU is doing for them on the local level: in their country, in their town, in their neighbourhood. You can't expect people to care about the EU unless you prove the EU cares about them; if this last bit seems obvious to you, remember it's not necessarily obvious to everyone. Tell people about other EU countries, make them familiar with their culture, encourage mobility. Make the EU institutions accessible to the public and bring more people to Brussels: not would-be bureaucrats but ordinary people. And reduce the fortress-tight security of your glassy anthills: these are our institutions and we want to see what's going on there!
Make it cool
Today, people are preoccupied with all sorts of information. Make sure that your information reaches them: present it in an attractive way. Issuing leaflets is not enough: make people want to read them. Address the new media while not forgetting the old ones. Put some colour in your info! Talking about colour, remember Europe is multi-colored/multi-ethnic now. EU integration is not only about new member countries, it's also about integrating those who feel segregated. EU institutions look exclusively white. They also look exclusively boring: do something about their image, make it less formal. For a start, next time you're going to be filmed, you might consider leaving your tie home. This is serious. If EU-topia is about cultural diversity, then why do all the bureaucrats in those glassy anthills look so forbiddingly similar? Or, to summarize: why, the hell, does it have to be so dull? Is this their vision?
It doesn't have to be boring. It can be human. It can be specific. It can be local. It can be cool. It's all about personality!