Sixth EU Framework
Programme - Priority 7

4th AIM-Workshop in Toulouse

Wrapping up the research results for the publication of the final report and other dissemination activities was the AIM consortium's central task during the fourth and last workshop in Toulouse, France.

Before looking back at the entire AIM research in preparation of the final report, the opening day of the Toulouse workshop was dedicated to the discussion of the 2nd field study results. Sigurd Allern chaired a "Q&A-session" as a sort of informal summing up of the research conducted in Brussels in spring 2006. A number of issues were discussed in detail; among them:

- The autonomy of correspondents. Considering the relation with the newsroom, this can be due to a certain prestige. But it can also imply the correspondent's marginalisation, "with a lack of feedback and evaluation being the disadvantages", Piia Tammpuu said. The question of autonomy was considered to be of interest also with regard to sources and to the (size of the) correspondent corps.

- The conception of the audiences filtered through the home news-rooms. "The element of audience is always present in newsroom policies and in the negotiations between the correspondent and his home newsroom", said Heikki Heikkilä. The audience "is one currency in which correspondents sell their stories". Nevertheless, Finnish correspondents seemed to be not very well informed about the audience's interests, whereas some British cor-respondents "felt they were less alienated from their audience than the home newsrooms", according to Peter Golding's findings.

- The system of on- and off-the-record information applied at the news site Brussels. As Julia Lönnendonker explained, the German journalists are familiar with this system. They consider unofficial information to be "as important as official information for covering the EU, if not more so". In contrast, the Italian correspondents are not used to this system, Paolo Mancini said; they try to adapt to it while they are in Brussels but don't bring any of the routines home with them. Thus, Risto Kunelius brought up the question "according to which journalistic tradition the system in Brussels was designed".

These and other issues will be further discussed in the multi-authored transnational report about the 2nd field study.

In order to wrap up the research results for the final report, several working groups - each of them responsible for a different chapter - came together on the second day of the workshop. The outline of the final report resulted from the fruitful discussions within the working groups as well as with the whole consortium. It foresees six chapters that will include

- a description of the EU institutions' news management and news organisations' news process management,

- key findings from the AIM project's empirical material in order to explain what factors prevent or foster (a) EPS(s), 

- a description of obstacles in EU reporting and first ideas for remedy,

- insights into how the data from both field studies relate to national communication cultures (e.g. how does the Brussels news site affect the different journalism cultures and vice-versa?), 

- insights into how the AIM research illuminates or possibly modifies the understanding of EPS (and other concepts, e.g. agenda-setting), and an examination of how the concept of EPS has travelled (from the academic to the political context).

Besides reflecting about theoretical concepts like EPS, the central AIM research results and their publication, the workshop participants also explored the city of Toulouse (e.g. the Capitole square and the St. Sernin basilica) and the finesse of the French cuisine. Some additionally enhanced their expertise in oenology - during the wine-tasting organised by the host Olivier Baisnée and concluding the workshop.

All pictures are made by Deike Schmidt (Germany), Mart Raudsaar (Estonia).