Journalists are Your Best Friends in Brussels
Living and working in Brussels, radio correspondent Jens Möller tells about where you find the journalistic drama, the engine of the EU and who to network with in Brussels. These are his three tips on sources you absolutely cannot afford to miss.
First – The Journalistic Drama
What: Briefings by Sweden’s permanent representation of the EU (before meetings).
How: The ambassadors Day Hartelius and Jan Olsson, and other talented civil servants, hold a briefing for all the Swedish journalists before each meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council.
”This is one of the most important sources of Brussels.”
The importance of the source is not only that they tell about Sweden’s position on various political issues – but also reveal the lines of conflict in the European Council, providing the journalists with priceless information. Knowing which countries are in disagreement is excellent for the journalistic drama, says Möller.
Second – The Engine
What: The European Commission’s daily lunch briefing
How: Everyday at 12 o’clock the EU Commission spokesperson department PK, which also is web casted live on the EU’s web-TV EBS ( HYPERLINK “http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm”http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm).
”The European Commission is the EU’s engine, it is from here that all formal proposals come.”
In connection with the lunch briefing, Commissioners talk about their latest proposals, which often raises news. Perhaps more important is that the lunch briefings are open to any question from journalists. Although Möller says that the spokespersons are good in answering meaningless and bland to sensitive questions, he points out that the briefing gives a lot of input on current affairs in different corners of the Europe.
Third – The Network
What: Other Journalists in Brussels
How: Walk around the EU’s institutions and among various press centers. Talk, question, make friends.
”My predecessor’s best advice was: “Jens, remember that in Brussels, other journalists are your friends.”
In Sweden, Möller points out, are other journalists potential or actual competitors, but in Brussels – everybody benefits from helping each other.
”For example, at the Ministerial meetings, there is no one who manages to capture the voices, opinions, etc. from more than 2-3 sources – we are therefore dependent on each other to ask “what did the minister say about case X or Y?”.
The same applies to the European Parliament, with its warren of parliamentarians of disparate opinions. To rapidly build up your network of journalist contacts from different countries, is something you absolutely can not afford to miss!