Sunday, 18 July 2010

Euroblogs debating Euroblogosphere: Navel-gazing? Professionalism?

With the help of the Twitter discussion under the hashtag #bbs10 (now seven plus pages), let us track the discussion in and about the Euroblogosphere following the Waggener Edstrom Brussels Blogger Study 2010. In addition to the blog entries, remember to read the interesting comments, a sign of an emerging Eurosphere.

Jon Worth invited himself to the launch event, and he seems to have been the first Euroblogger to comment. Jon found the top ten list odd, with Charlemagne (only) in 11th place and Nosemonkey ranked 20th. He offered a link to the report, which was not on the Waggener Edstrom website (but the link did not open the document for me, using Google Chrome).

Even if not downloadable on the Waggener Edstrom website (despite WE comments to that effect), you can request a copy of the Brussels Blogger Study 2010 from the consultancy, by using the link in the first comment.

The EU-Brussels bubble has some way to go before understanding the impact of blogs it seems, concluded Jon, who also linked to the Twitter discussion under the hash tag #bbs10.

Independent bloggers writing about EU policy are nipping at the heels of their big media rivals, according to a survey on the EU's English-language blogosphere, was the main conclusion of EurActiv.

BlogActiv director Stuart Langridge noted the importance of and for the EU blogosphere, and he rejoiced that nine of the forty most influential blogs were hosted on BlogActiv.

The interview with John Jolliffe of Waggener Edstrom adds a few reflections on the nature of the study.

EurActiv publisher Christophe Leclercq on the EuRoman blog opined that EU online media are at their best when they build on a national debate. He trumpeted EurActiv and BlogActiv, but he criticised the study for being confined to blogs in English only, and for non-clickable blog names.

Online communications specialist Mathew Lowry underlined the importance of doing something for progress, rather than criticising those who act. Despite English-only blogs, narrow Brussels focus and a very debatable ranking of blogs, the report was a step on the way towards more and better analyses of EU social media by more people.

The new quality Euroblog did not pull his punches in an entry asking: How did Waggener Edstrom get it so Wrong? Arbitrary criteria and then failing to adhere to them started a detailed dressing down of the report, including the lack of blogs in other languages than English. set off a lively blogger discussion, with commentators pointing out the differences between the US and EU political blog scenes, as well as the absence of female Eurobloggers and anti-EU blogs.

Quality blogger the European Citizen modestly doubted his influence on other Eurobloggers and the Brussels Bubble. Conor Slowey referred to a number of other Euroblog comments, and he recalled the importance of finding and promoting blogs.

Europasionaria noticed movement among French Euroblogs and she expressed the belief that politicising Europe is a requirement for making it more interesting. But Euroblogs could also deal with other issues in order to appeal to a wider public.

Martin on Europaeum evoked the importance of , which aggregates more than 600 Euroblogs. He then proposed a new Twitter tag to present new Euroblogs: #bkae (for “better know a euroblog”), a proposal which received favourable reactions.

Rose22joh on Bit more complicated referred to both the study and the following discussion before adding that US methodology and comparison may have distorted the outcome. She underlined the variety and amateurism of much Euroblogging, the absence of EU girl geeks, and the importance of Twitter as a forum for discussion.

Breaking through the English-only study criteria, Michael Malherbe on Lacomeurop√©enne continued his professional analysis on EU communications with a critical comment on the Waggener Edstrom study, but he also presented Fleishman-Hillard’s Netvibes pages on Euroblogs according to categories: FH’s selection, Journalists, Citizens, EU officials, Commissioners, MEPs, Corporate, and Collective (introduction here).

Fleishman-Hillard’s Public Affairs 2.0 blog had previously discussed the absence of influential and professional policy bloggers in Brussels, and this was one of the main findings of the Waggener Edstrom report as well.

My own initial comments on the Waggener Edstrom report and the Fleishman-Hillard Netvibes pages were posted yesterday.

Know thyself

A discussion about Euroblogging among Eurobloggers is self-referential, but it is no sin. Know thyself is a recipe for learning.

The European social media scene, including the Euroblogosphere, is still in its infancy, but growing rapidly. now aggregates more than twice the number of blogs (628) it did a year and a half ago.

In a natural way, growth leads to coverage of more policy areas and variety of views being expressed, including national angles on EU issues.

Both Fleishman-Hillard and Waggener Edstrom have, however, highlighted the relative absence of influential and professional Eurobloggers on (more focused) policy issues.

The public affairs consultancies have a natural interest to generate client interest in EU social media, but this does not mean that they are wrong.

Companies and business associations, Europarties and their foundations, think tanks, as well as “organised” civil society (NGOs) have a golden opportunity to start building credibility through blogs and other social media in order to advance their long term interests, outside the traditional channels of quiet lobbying.

However, turning on the volume and utilising more channels to reach a wider audience are not enough. Without credibility and interaction, megaphone politics turn off viewers and listeners.

The emergence of professionalism and lucrative interests are no hindrance to the continued appearance of engaged citizen bloggers, on the contrary. Independent minds and outspoken persons are needed even more than before, in order to keep the deference factor in check.

Ralf Grahn