9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Political Communication, Media and the Public Sphere Building I, 2E10

Between European dress and national shirt - EU-correspondents as trailblazers of a European Public Sphere?

Every day in Brussels hundreds of journalists gather at the "Rendez-vous de midi", the European Commission's press briefing. In the pressroom of the Berlaymont building, press officers and in many cases Commissioners themselves inform the international press corps of upcoming political plans and decisions. For the correspondents this event is not only an important source of information, it is a social event where they meet and discuss current political issues with their colleagues from other member states. It can therefore be considered the first instance of a European public sphere.
Yet the results of numerous content analyses show us that this European public sphere is not mirrored in national mass media. These national public spheres indicate processes of Europeanization, i.e. a growing interest in the European Union and its political actors. But transnational links between political actors of different European nations as well as between national media discourses are rare and a truly European perspective is unusual.
In this context the research question arises, what the preconditions of building a European public sphere are. Hence I analysed working conditions and working routines of Brussels' EU-correspondents in the area of conflict between European information access and national editorial offices. As the gatekeepers of EU-news and producers of EU-media coverage they have great influence and fulfil an important role in shaping national public spheres.
In my presentation I will focus especially on the information access and the assessment of the EU-institutions from the correspondents' perspective. Furthermore I will exemplify the structure of news production in relation with the national home offices. Based on results of an analysis of journalistic organisations and documents as well as on qualitative interviews this case study of German EU-correspondents and EU-journalism contributes to a deeper understanding of the emergence of Europeanizing trends in the political news coverage of national mass media.