Adequate Information Management in Europe (AIM)

AIM Project Overview - A to Z: Results

The results of the AIM-project permit a direct insight into the daily news production in European countries. Several problems which get in the way of an extensive EU coverage in the newsrooms were localised. Also, the structural problems within EU institutions - as sources of daily information - were analysed. The results described here are only excerpts of the total results. For further information, please, consult our publications.

On the part of the media the following problem areas were pointed out:

Mainly national newspapers cover the EU. In regional newspapers and private television channels the EU plays only an minor part. The editorial offices lack manpower and knowledge for EU coverage. Newspapers and private television almost exclusively fall back on stringers, pool-correspondents, and newswire-services. Therefore consideration of individual readerships or a regionalization of EU news is largely impaired.
Meanwhile, the EU has a great impact on national politics, but EU coverage still mostly belongs to departments and desk of foreign politics. Thus news from Brussels have to compete with news from Washington, Baghdad or Moscow.

On the part of the political institutions the following issues hinder fluent communication:

As a public administration the European Commission has to rationalise its communication procedures. Only spokespersons of the Commission are allowed to communicate officially (on-the-record) with the media. The respective experts from the administration must not comment on issues and topical discussions in their role as functionaries. As a result, internal controversies and conflicts hardly reach the public, but mainly clean and softened media information which the journalists, as the project shows, abhor.
A considerable number  of the interviewed correspondents disagreed with the profile of the spokespersons of the EU institutions. Only in some areas there are experienced spokesperson and media experts who live up to the the requirements of the media.
EU-Institutions tend to bombard journalists with random information - without much insight into the priorities of journalistc work. AIM project research, sees an option for a different information policy that is more oriented towards target audiences. The links with the people's daily life in Europe are missed out in journalism as well as on the communication part of the EU institutions.
National politicians communicate EU matters from their national perspective or tend to use "Brussels" as scapegoat. This is contrary to the established supra- and multi-national structure and status of the EU. And it leaves out the wide spectrum of existing interests within the EU that have to be met on a daily basis.

A survey of journalistic work routines in the production of EU news collected at the national level corroborates the extreme weight of the national perspective in the daily European news process.

Studies at the meta level of practice that were looking into information processes outside the established traditional channels of newspapers and TV showed that the Internet, so far, has only been marginally included in the assessment of questions concerning (a) European public sphere(s). There is an increasing weight of Internet based information on the daily work routines of journalists reporting Europe.

Studies concerning the meta level of practice in the area of journalism training have shown that a focused and in depth type of journalism training regarding the reporting of Europe is widely missing. Furthermore, these studies gave evidence to a widespread level of lack of competence even within the sector of quality journalism with regard to the proper coverage of reporting Europe. Innovative new methodologies for new types of journalism training have been tested with remarkably good results.

The AIM project happened to take place during a time span in which the EU Commission (EC) developed, tested and implemented a new communications policy. This new policy reaches directly out to the EU citizens on local and regional level. A fundamental part of the reasoning behind this policy change is the active insight of the EC into the deficiencies of the daily media reporting of Europe from Brussels. The AIM project has arrived at the same kind of insight based on its empirical results. Though there is an obvious and unintended parallel, the AIM project, nevertheless, sheds a critical light on the underlying contexts of the situation that has, meanwhile, become rather evident. These aspects are laid out in AIM's Final Report.

© AIM 2004, 2005