Sixth EU Framework
Programme - Priority 7

3rd AIM-Workshop in Tartu

Review on the the third AIM workshop in Tartu, Estland, from May 31 to June 3 2006.

The first day started with the introduction of the Romanian team. Mihai Coman, the new consortium member from Romania, and his team gave a brief overview about mass media in Romania and their results of the first fi eld study.

Olivier Baisnée and Julia Lönnendonker presented the results of the case study which examined the working conditions of journalists during the EU-summit in march 2006. One of their major fi ndings is that although journalists of all countries focus on their government's representatives, they try to include other countries' perspectives. Consequently, international cooperation seems to function unexpectedly well during summits. The reason for this is pretty obvious: "You do not know what an o. cial statement means before you have talked to the journalists from other countries", Julia quoted an Irish correspondent.

Information overload

The presentation of the "first impressions" of the interviews with Brussels correspondents by Sigurd Allern and Pia Nitz indicated a rather negative assessment of the Commission's communication efforts. Correspondents complained about the bureaucratic language and the information overload. The Commission's spokespeople, on the other hand, pointed to the fact that this is inevitable because they only communicate the decisions that have been made by others, as the report by Karin Raeymaeckers and Aukse Balcytiene indicated.

Mihai Coman (Romania) and Peter Golding (Great Britian) at Tartu-Workshop.

The following conference day was dedicated to the topic of "Theories on (the) European Public Sphere(s)". According to Paolo Mancini's presentation, the emergence of European public spheres is largely determined by the question whether media systems are driven by the market or by political interests. Similarly, Heikki Heikkilä observed: "We have a green house here: the national public spheres take the light and heat from the EU, but they do not let it out, there is no two-way effect."

In order for us to be able to judge the National Reports of the first field study published results of the AIM project adequately, Risto Kunelius gave a short introduction to existing theories and criticism on the public sphere. Ristos's lecture was complemented by Peter Golding's presentation on "Contradictions between existing realities and existing theories". Peter brought forward four "tests for an EPS", indicators for the existence of a European Public Sphere: a growth of the European public, European media, a common discourse, and vehicles for citizen's interaction.

Approach the theory building

In the discussions following the presentations it became clear that there is no single notion of (the) European Public Sphere(s). The different concepts did not only seem to depend on individual preferences, but also on the national scientific c context, which the example of Habermas demonstrates. In Scandinavia, Habermas' Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere has often been the starting point for any work on the public sphere, whereas in Germany there are decisive theories on the public sphere that do not even touch on Habermas. Another focus point of the discussion was the question how to approach the theory building part of the AIM project. Paolo Mancini, for example, argued that we cannot use Habermas to explain what is going on at a European level because Habermas developed his model on the basis of the nation state. "We are going beyond the nation states and therefore we need to use new tools", Mancini said.

Risto Kunelius vehemently opposed this idea: "I think that we are on the wrong track when we think that we can instantly find something new, we cannot disregard what has been there before."