Tag Archives: Twitter

What’s going on

The member of the team here that deals with regional issues has just come back from a couple of days in Northern England, talking to regional press and other media actors about what they need from us and what is of interest to them. One interesting point that came up was that journalists wanted to know what was being written about elsewhere in Europe. Since I moved back from Brussels, I haven’t had the overview of Europe’s press that I had there, but there are a couple of useful websites for those that would like a more Europe-wide perspective on the media.

The first is Presseurop. Their approach seems to be briefs on a particular issue, pulling together the approach from across Europe, and highlighting the main trends of comment. They link to the principal articles quoted. Certainly worth checking out. And if you’re on Twitter, they are worth a follow (@presseurop) – it’s a real person tweeting, complete with cheeky comments, rather than a feed.

The second, recommended to me by the excellent Jon Worth, is Eurotopics. They do a daily press review drawing on sources from across Europe. Rather than a precis by topic, they do English- (and other-) language summaries of articles, which opens up sources of comment and analysis that would otherwise be closed off for linguistic reasons.

Are there others? It would be good to hear about them if there are.

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Ben

Was at a great event last night – a debate between Science Minister Lord Drayson and Ben Goldacre, of Bad Science fame, at the Royal Institution. The Times Higher carried it as a webcast and it should be online for a while. It was great for several reasons:

Firstly, it was about  the quality of science reporting, an issues I’ve had an interest in since 2004 and which was an important part of my Eisenhower Fellowship. I think both made some good valid points and both didn’t. The problem was that they were talking about apples and oranges. The debate came about as a result of comments that Lord Drayson made about British science reporting being the best in the world, which Ben Goldacre challenged him on. But when the minister starts by saying “I’m of course talking about specialist science reporting” that does kind of change the remit of the debate, because Ben’s point about the problems of reporting science issues is that it isn’t always the science people doing it. There was a very (ahem) spirited defence from Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre at the Royal Institution, and the audience certainly had some distinguished science writers there (I spotted Clive Cookson of the FT and Simon Singh was pointed out at one point). But that isn’t really where the problem (such as it is) lies.

The second fascinating issue was that this was the first truly social media event I have ever been at. The challenge to hold the debate was issued over Twitter. I, like others, heard about it through Ben’s twitter feed, and tickets sold out in 90 minutes (“the science equivalent of a Take That concert” according to Simon Mayo who was really good in the chair). So many people were tweeting about it that it (#scidebate) trended as a twitter topic (leading to a deluge of spammy tweets!).

The third issue for me was for most of the debate, you could have taken the word science, replaced it with Europe and the arguments would have been the same. But would we ever sell the tickets in 90 minutes?!

Anyway, if you are in anyway interested in science reporting, or social media as a communication tool, I recommend looking more closely at the event.

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The Tweety Song

I’m a big fan of Twitter. As you’ll have seen from the feed alongside, while I wasn’t writing the blog very often, I was still Tweeting. There’s been a lot of introspection about it recently, with blogposts like this one.

My gut feeling is that asking if the Commission should Twitter is as daft as asking whether it should use the phone or write. Twitter is a means of communication, not an end in itself. What the Commission, like any organisation, has to consider is HOW it uses it. One of the basic rules about communication is identifying who you want to talk to and how do you best talk to them. Twitter is just part of that. Here’s some advice I gave to one of my colleagues in the Commission who is considering using Twitter.

With Twitter you a) talk to  a self-selecting audience and b) have to be pithy. For those reasons it’s got an edge over a website. Plus you can, maybe even have to, be a bit more personal – if you look at even the very official ones (Parliament, Conservatives, Lib Dems) there’s a personal tone. So I would say it’s best to have  just one or two people who are really up for doing it. It’s the most interactive of all the social media and it needs upkeep and someone who finds it useful and sees the value in it.

I find it good more for what I learn (breaking news, good EU gossip) than what people get from me. It has helped me find quite a lot of people interested in EU issues. Reading Jon Bernstein, that’s true for people at the other end of the news telescope. I’d be interested to know what you think.

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Think

A whole load of bloggers are in Brussels today for the launch of Think about It, a blogging competition linked to this year’s European elections. There are a few Brits at the launch, some of them well-known blogs on EU subjects, such as Jon Worth, others up-and-coming. They’ll all go live on the site on 1 February, apparently. It’s also been launch day of bloggingportal.eu, which is an aggregator for EU-related blogs (and given the overlap between its creators and the Think About It project, I suppose that’s somewhere to look for them befoe 1 Feb). I should be clear that this is a project by individuals, nothing official from the EU, but it’s a great idea, and a first stop for anyone interested in seeing what EU issues are being talked about. There’s also a twitter feed going on from the conference, if you’re keen for a blow-by-blow account.

I’ve just got into Twitter and it is pretty addictive, though I’m not as crazy about it as Stephen Fry, who seems to send a tweet every two minutes!

I, like many others, have been perturbed by the decision of Sky and the BBC not to broadcast the appeal for Gaza. Never mind the rights and wrongs of the situation, people need help and it threatens the neutrality of the humanitarian space to bring the political in, no matter how well intentioned. This is from the EU’s consensus on humanitarian aid, and while not the most wonderfully drafted piece of prose, I think it shows why so many people are concerned:

Humanitarian actors today face a number of major challenges. There has been an increasing tendency for International Law, including International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law and Refugee Law, to be ignored or blatantly violated. The ‘humanitarian space’ that is needed to ensure access to vulnerable populations and the safety and security of humanitarian workers must be preserved as essential preconditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid, and for the European Union (EU) and its partners in the humanitarian field to be able to get assistance including protection to crisis-hit people, based on respect for the principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence of humanitarian action, enshrined in International Law, in particular International Humanitarian Law.

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