Monday, 26 July 2010

Missing policy expert Eurobloggers: Motivation and rewards?

Sometimes we go over board when we try to explain things through clear contrasts. I did, when I described “business as usual” blogging on the European Union as petty, limited and low road, despite my intention to explore the need for subject specialists blogging on EU policies in later posts.

Online communications specialist Mathew Lowry had painted the existing Euroblogosphere as a tiny hyperspecialised bubble, talking about EU arcana no one else understands.

In a comment to my previous blog post, Lowry accepted that EU specialists and policy specialists are complementary, not mutually exclusive.

Despite appearances, Lowry and I seem to agree on the absence of subject specialists focused on EU policies.

The influential policy blogger

Mathew Lowry referred to the description of an influential policy blogger put forward by Steffen on Public Affairs 2.0:

An influential policy blogger is an authority on a policy area who has a professional interest in it. They represent an organisation – be it a single issue pressure group or a global corporation – that is one of many stakeholders on a set of policy areas and present that organisation’s positions in blog format. The level of expertise and relevance of the blog is such that it is read by all or at least most other relevant stakeholders including policy makers and key influencers. At this point, the blog can arguably be called an “influential policy blog” ...

In my view Steffen’s description is a good starting point, but too narrow. Advocacy organisations should use the opportunity to engage openly and long term on the battlefields of EU policy debate, but expert academics, journalists or citizens without the need to toe the corporate line are not to be forgotten as potential influentials.

Building bridges?

According to Lowry, it is up to the Brussels Bubble to build bridges outwards if we want to create a European online public space, but specialists blogging intelligently about specific subjects are still notable by their absence.

In a way, I think, bridges have already been built, although it is less clear if the builders can be described as (part of) the Brussels Bubble. EurActiv has created the blog platform Blogactiv, which is open for new bloggers on EU affairs. Citizen bloggers have launched, which already aggregates the posts of 630 blogs related to EU affairs (Euroblogs).

You can offer a policy expert a bridge, but you can’t make him cross it.


Lowry was right to open the discussion on the motivation for a specialist to blog.

Corporations and associations may open their eyes to the opportunities in terms of advocacy goals. Some citizen Eurobloggers may steer from EU institutional coverage towards policy and issue expertise. The growth of the Euroblogosphere leads to more issues being covered, but something still seems to be missing for a major breakthrough.

Expert knowledge and blogging require hard work. Is it a question of motivation and rewards?

Where are the missing links?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Multilingual comment policy: For easier interaction in the Euroblogosphere, feel free to comment in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish, even if the Grahnlaw blog and my possible replies are in English.