Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Just an idea (inspired by a few questions)

by Alexandra in WMass Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 03:12:40 PM EST

Barbara asked some probing questions in her diary "Just a few questions" yesterday and reading the responses gave me an idea.  

Afew outlined some of the tools ET has tried or discussed using to develop a voice and concluded "The hard thing is to say what we can actually do with the time at our disposal. Try doing all these things at once? I don't think it's possible."

I agree with the time constraint issue - after all I'm writing today because I've had to stay at home to nurse my bad cold. However, maybe there is a way to combine, to use Afew's list, community exchanges with some monitoring and influencing of the EU, the development of an ET think tank personality, networking, and building site membership and new narratives. Maybe even somewhat increasing ET accessibility to those for whom English is not their first language....


This will probably sound terribly academic but what if ET members started a guest diary series for which members of ET would invite someone who is doing concrete work, such as the Peruvian woman (Albina Ruiz) Barbara mentions, to post a diary. Here is how it could work:

  1. The inviting ET member would choose someone who does hands on work and they feel has a contribution to make. This person may well be someone you have never spoken with before but whose work you admire and/or feel is important and would be of interest to the ET readership.

  2. The inviting ET member would be a host to the new, perhaps one time, diary contributor and would assist them in setting up their ET account, understanding the ET audience and culture and the technicalities of posting a diary and handling comments. The host would also help get visibility for this diary if needed. The host could also choose to invite someone who has limited English but for whom they would act as translator or language mentor.

  3. If a version doesn't already exist ET members could develop a short  "The benefits of contributing to ET" or "what is ET?" piece that members can use when contacting people they want to invite. It might include some examples of past diaries and discussions.

  4. Guest diaries could be coordinated ahead of time so that we don't have 5 guest diaries one week and none for the following two weeks so as to ensure the diaries get visibility. Similarly, depending on ET member preferences, one could add more or less structure to how the guest diary series is organized.

  5. The ET membership at large would have a new diary to comment on and a series of perspectives and ideas from people doing the hands on work of building coalitions, implementing new energy policies, legislating or advocating in the EU, writing the news, or running a local farm or community based organization or any other hands on activity ET members might be interested in.

For the new members this may be a one-time contribution or may develop into an occasional or regular diary series or a lifelong ET addiction. It would be a way for them to share their knowledge and expertise and publicize their work.

Even one-time contributors would be beneficial since they might recommend ET to others and broaden the site's reach and knowledge base. The ET host member could maintain links with the one time contributors they invited and perhaps keep them abreast of ET contributions that might be of interest to them in the future, thus continuing to expand the reach of ET and bridge the gap between those who are online regularly and those who cannot be online often.

So what do you think?

Poll
What do you think of guest diaries?
. Your cold medicine is having a bad influence 0%
. Sounds good but too much work 0%
. That's not what ET is about 7%
. I know someone I'd like to invite for a guest diary 23%
. Good idea but I don't have anyone to invite 30%
. Let me think about it 38%
. Don't know 0%

Votes: 13
Results | Other Polls
Display:
If you add "Good idea" to the list, I can vote!

Well, no need.  I think it's a good idea.  Esp., anyone with a contact or more within the European Parliament.  It would be good to get a sense of how parliamentarians see things going, where they feel the tensions lie, what directions would be useful for them (as representatives) and how the european public can help (or hinder.)

I can contact Caroline Lucas, but first I'd like a list of questions from us to her.  I'd send the questions, see if she replied.  If she did, I'd then form it into a diary, send it back, get an okay, offer a link of course, ask if she's prepared to answer follow up questions...

(I'm assuming these are busy busy people who would love to talk with us, but would love to talk to their loved ones, friends, etc. first--busy busy people...)

So, what can we offer?  A listening audience who could (in their eyes) promote their agenda...which is partly what we're interested in hearing about, but through the medium of a sort of "when you're not talking in soundbites for the national press, how about X, Y, and Z?" way... etc...

So.  A list of questions anyone?  If the same list goes out to more than one MEP, then we can mention that we've sent the list to persons A,B, and C...  I think that might help, sort of semi formal but also personalised to them...

Well, thems are my ideas for now.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:19:09 PM EST
Good idea too. It would be interesting, at least to me, to get an MEP's take on how EU energy policy gets formulated, who the players are, how do they see their role, if any, in formulating this policy, what sources of information do MEPs rely on regarding energy policy, how they would describe the current EU energy policy. Maybe this could be part of preparing an Energize Europe Plan.

I looked up Caroline Lucas's web site here is how she describes herself:

Elected in 1999, Caroline Lucas is the Green Party MEP representing the South-East of England. She sits on the European Parliament Trade and Environment Committees as well as being Vice President of the Parliament's Animal Welfare Intergroup. Her work - both within the Parliament and in her constituency - includes peace and human rights, international trade and development, transport, planning and health issues and animal welfare.

Caroline has also recently worked on the campaign against aviation expansion, worked with farmers affected by the Foot and Mouth crisis, and campaigned against GMOs and in support of local food markets in the South-East. She is currently fighting against the GATS as a part of her work on globalisation/ localisation.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can ask my connection - my sister who works for a MEP in Brussels: Thijs Berman. She'll hate me for it if this idea pans out, because it will probably be she who will have to do the typing and formulate the answers.

Here's my part of the deal in which I will echo rg: First let us produce a list of questions chiseled up by the community and a proper invitation to use the ET soapbox, and I'll pass it on personally.

Like the idea. Let's hear it.

by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:52:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like both the MEP and the list of question ideas. Lets see what others think.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:04:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May I suggest the question list be presented here and whittled - by vote?  gnome fiat? inviter veto? the invited? - down to one.  The easy we make it the more likely someone is to accept.

Might also want to ask the invitee what we could do for her/him.  This would help in establishing an ongoing relationship rather than a one off Q/A session.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 09:15:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg, you have been trying to get an e-mail interview with Caroline Lucas for a while... I take it there has been no progress on that front?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 03:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I sent her assistant our two letters and in the course of one of my e-mails I asked if it Caroline would be okay to do an e-mail interview; at the same time, I asked if e-mail was the best communication medium.  As I remember it, her assistant (the lovely....I'd have to check; but she was very friendly) said, "Yes, e-mail is the best way to create communication."

So I have taken that as

"We don't want you NOT to communicate with us via e-mail."

But also

"We are VERY busy.  No time to chat.  No time at all."

So I think if we have a few questions (one sounds too few; six sounds too many, somewhere in between?), think them through, give them a certain resonance where she can sort of say her piece but also forcing (encouraging etc.) her to think new thoughts, ponder in postive directions (etc.  If we can write such questions!)....and also put the questions onto our luvverly ET-headed .pdf paper, to be sent by all and sundry (e.g. I expect you have a different MEP to me, ditto ceebs, Drew, In Wales, ThatBritGuy, DoDo, etc. down the line)--and obviously it is essential that no one feel in any way obliged to do anything whatsoever, as Colman mentioned lo these many whiles ago, but when he typed it, it stuck with me as a pure and correct statement of intent:

Ach, I'm sure it had "volunteer" in it somewhere, but I cannae find it using search...The gist was: Unless you enjoy doing something, just don't.  Or: Ach!  He phrased it so well, I can't do it justice.  Anyway, whatever it was, I hold it to be my E.T. motto in re: participation beyond diaries and comments.

Did I answer the question?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 04:27:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Happy to see the creativity buzz is with us. Barbara, Alexandra, Helen, not to mention Poem (sorry, too sleepy to have the other names top of my head right now, and apologies in advance).
I guess the old debate are women active enough on ET is definitely passe

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 06:12:46 PM EST
Hi Agnes - nice to see you are still around ET once in a while.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:34:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am afraid you are likely to see more of me on a regular basis here ;-)
Tried a solo-blog experience, which I found supremely boring. Much more fun and heart warmth to have you all around here.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:37:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well welcome back.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:47:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agnes, you definitely have to come back! I think that there is a serious shortage of women on ET, and you were one of the prominent contributors when I first signed on... I really looked forward to meeting you in Paris but it didn't work out. So, let's try to balance the heavily alpha-nerd(male) scales here... :)!

"If you cannot say what you have to say in twenty minutes, you should go away and write a book about it." Lord Brabazon
by Barbara on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 07:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I invited Agnes to dinner, by the way...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 07:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am back on track (no longer mentally challenged, that is  <snark at me>) so will drop you an e-mail, as your address is displayed and mine is not (you surely remember the stalking thing, which is why I am kind of privacy freak).

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 10:50:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you can explain to Barbara why it is a bad, bad idea to have more explicit profiles on the site ;-)

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 10:55:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be honest, I still have not gone through the whole of her diary and comments that followed.
Even a remotely internet and computer-literate person, meaning me, can confirm it IS dangerous.
A friend of mine, who "published" a book on MySLQ -so I guess he should know better- asked me though why I refused to fill in the personal info page on MSN. Nobody's perfect...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 11:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that there is a serious shortage of women on ET

This changed just lately: eternalcityblues, metavision, deviousdiva, In Wales...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 08:16:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Taken together with the prevailing assumption that if you don't say you're female, you're male.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 08:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. Though, I made the opposite experience: I was frequently taken for a female (more often with my other ID on internet forums, Daneel).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 09:13:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm trying to wrap my mind at what level people can invite other people. I think your whole idea plugs into a fundamental stumbling block for the development of ET: growth in readership has constantly be the first criteria for the numerous initiatives suggested over the year. How often haven't I seen that comment...

Too much stuck in national politics to get other bright ideas, but I'm intrigued by rg upping the ante for inviting MEPs.

And bless you on fighting the cold, Alexandra!

by Nomad on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:02:28 PM EST
I guess at a certain level my guest diary idea is an ET membership and PR campaign all wrapped in one and combined with increasing contributions to ET in areas of interest to members.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:15:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As such I think it's a great idea, Alexandra. (Swat that cold! ;))

MEPs seem to be be a good level to start, especially if we have a constituent (or other contact as in Nomad's case) who is willing to act as go-between.

<wet blanket warning>
Each invitation and contribution, if successfully carried out, will be a lot of time-consuming work (mostly out of the community's sight ie e-mail exchanges, etc) for those who volunteer to help.  
</wet blanket warning>

The first thing, it seems to me, would be to collectively think of why an MEP would think it worth their time writing for or being interviewed on ET.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 02:17:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first thing, it seems to me, would be to collectively think of why an MEP would think it worth their time writing for or being interviewed on ET.
You know, Ritter probably knew just about everyone in Brussels and didn't (successfully) invite a sould to post on ET. I wonder why.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 04:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they're just too busy and wouldn't see a political logic to spending time here.  As individuals, they might enjoy the chat, but I think they don't have the free time.  Indeed, I would like one of the questions to be something like:

"If you halved the time you spend working as an MEP, do you think you could be more effective?"

Sommat like that--to break the perspective.  Why is it more useful for them to sit through a pointless committee rather than post interesting thoughts here (and receive interesting comments) and then go vote when the bell rings?

But at present, I think ET's weight is quality, and I don't feel the urge to grab as many eyeballs as possible.  Keep the quality consistent, store the data somewhere safe (i.e. not on some crappy U.S. server!  <---Maybe prejudiced; I not no techie!), and as an when it can/will be used as a resource.

And while I'm here (might as well shove it in, someone else can tell me where else to shove it...

I think we need some core thoughts we can all agree on re: sustainability.  That may be our schtick, that's what changes us from "concerned citizen X" into "member of ET X".

That would give focus to the questions.

And what I mean, among other things, is that we have time...  No MEP is waiting for us to contact them.  We're not expected to do anything, so we can do anything we want.  So, for our first core idea, how about?

We believe "sustainability" is Europe's key requirement at the beginning of the 21st Century.  All other requirements pale before it.  All the monies, time, materials, and energies created by Europe should henceforth be dedicated to making it a sustainable place to live.

Cough cough!  But first we have to define Europe, no?

Ergo, MEPs, sorta.  However, I think a working definition is necessary coz it will have knock on effects.  Does Europe include North Africa, or would we have a programme called Energise Europe -- And North Africa -- And the Caucuses -- And, you know, everywhere!?

So how about: all members of the EU (including countries who are not members but are bounded on all sides by either blue seas or EU members.)  For these countries "We believe...etc."

That's enough of my yacking.


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 04:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they're just too busy and wouldn't see a political logic to spending time here.  As individuals, they might enjoy the chat, but I think they don't have the free time...

...

But at present, I think ET's weight is quality

So ET is more than a chat room, and so it might be worth it for MEPs to post their ideas here for discussion.

The issue, really, is that MEPs (and even the EP as a whole) have no legislative initiative of its own, though they can and do amend legislation drafted by the Commission. What do you think they do at those "pointless" committee meetings anyway?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 04:51:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: what do they do at those pointless committee meetings.  At the pointless ones I imagine they try not to look bored while thinking of something else.  At the useful ones I'm sure they take part and get things done...

Re: posting ideas for discussion.  My supposition is that they already have political party discussion forums (whether face to face, e-mail, web based, etc.), and like I said, I don't think they have the time to post here.  If we have useful ideas to propose, ideas beyond our outside of what their parties are already discussing, and if our ideas have weight and validity, then they will be drawn to comment (or have their assistants read) relevant diaries and comments.

As an ET reader, I like diaries to have that personal edge, where the writer engages personally with their subject.  MEPs, I assume, have already been through this kind of process somewhere (how else did they become MEPs but by being part of an activist network?)

So, I see MEPs as a starting point because they have european legislation...effects.  National po,itics seems too vast a subject for ET to delve into as a group...I dunno.  I'm throwing ideas out, let's see which ones bounce, which go pop, and which go thud.

Top o' the morning to yez!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 05:13:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should research whether there are MEPs who are personally interested in building a European Public Sphere, or have voiced concerns that there isn't one.

One thing that ET cannot offer an MEP is millions of readers.

Also, it is quite likely that we won't be able to reach MEPs directly but that their published e-mail addresses will be read by staffers. I think it might be more feasible to get MEPs staffers and mid-level Commission staff to join ET than any of the people at the top.

Personally, one person I'd like to invite is Margot Wallström, who already ignored our open letter. But as we don't have millions of readers, what's in it for her?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 04:06:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In one of the previous post about Liberation, it was shown that many newspapers have relatively small readership... probably more than ET, but still not large.

ET does have a contact base. There is Booman, there's Atlantic Review, and of course the behemoth Kos -which does have millions of readers. I am sure there are others that one could sell as "distributed readership."

Jerome is a skilled writer and I am sure, if he were interested in doing so, could shape the results of an interview to have relevance for American politics. While the interviews may be Euro centric, my hunch is that they will be globally relevant and thus relevant to Kos readers.

These interviews might be an ET audience building tool as well. Instead of posting the interviews directly on Kos, post editorials about the interviews on Kos and invite people to read the interview in its entirety on ET. The editorials help a US based Kos readership understand why the issues being discussed are Kos relevant.

I think there is a way that one could put a little spin on the readership.

I am a contributing writer to the online journal and political forum European Tribune.

I would like to conduct an interview with __ concerning the topic of __.

Eurotrib has a daily readership of __, with a weekly hit rate of _
Eurotrib has a sister online publication the Booman Tribune, a forum that focuses primarily on US political matters. Articles are shared regularly between the two publications. Booman has a weekly hit rate of _
___

There are several other non-affiliated online publications with which European Tribune exchanges articles.

The managing editor of European Tribune is a regular contributor and one of the most read writers on the largest political blog on the Internet the Daily Kos. Kos has a daily readership of __, which surpasses the NY Times web based readership.

Our readership is diverse and globally distributed though mostly European and US based ... etc

by aden on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 12:54:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Kos really the best place to attract new readers with a view to building a European Public Sphere?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 01:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No probably not for building a European Public Sphere.

Again though, my take is that ET while taking a Euro centric perspective is making arguments that are globally relevant.

Sustainable development, energy independence, reduction of carbon emission, immigration/ migration, the ignored classes in society, Chris Cook's writings on LLC (something I am still trying to ramp up on), building strong economies and maintaining social protections, health care, etc....

These are not European only issues.

I have said this before, I believe that there is a very large debate that is going on right now within the global public sphere. The European debate I believe is a very important collection of voices that should get more attention within the US.

Many on Kos are asking is the direction that the US is going, the right direction? I have looked at those questions being as much a global question as it is a US relevant question. Is the US brand of economics the direction the world should be going?

Look at Jerome's recent post Gold in the Head, Lead in the Stomach, followed by Nyceve's follow up. That was a European's personal story put within the context of European vs. US policies -or one could say visa versa, the European vs. US healthcare policy debate put within the context of an extremely personal story.... to which an American built upon it; very personal, very powerful, very political, & extremely relevant to people on both sides of the Atlantic.

This debate is not only relevant to people on both sides of the Atlantic, but people every where. We can write and talk about child labor, child soldiers, forced labor, labor abuses etc.... as a wrong because these debates have taken place here years ago and were integrated into law & policy.

On ET the debate is often highlighted through the deconstruction of various Economist and FT articles, usually referred to as the "Anglo" perspective of the debate. Jerome, you, and many others present very strong fact based arguments against this Anglo perspective.

I have looked at those counter arguments as perspectives which need to get more attention, because they are important for the global debate.

This was my argument during the student demonstrations in France... I felt Jerome's writings on employment were very relevant to the specific events of the demonstration, but also could help break the US view that  those spoiled French, afraid of globalization, afraid of "flexible economies", living in their welfare state & blah, blah, blah....

I am bouncing around a bit, but am I making sense here?

by aden on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 02:14:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have said this before, I believe that there is a very large debate that is going on right now within the global public sphere. The European debate I believe is a very important collection of voices that should get more attention within the US.
That is the task that Jerome has taken upon himself, and I admire him for this quixotic pursuit, but if the US won't listen to its own progressives [and here I mean possibly the 5% extreme left] it's not going to listen to us. Well, DKos is listening to Jerome as long as he stays in the narrow box they have conceptualised him into.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 02:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

DKos is listening to Jerome as long as he stays in the narrow box they have conceptualised him into.

When I get out of my box, I get a lot of hostility, but I also get a lot more support, so I would not be so pessimistic. Lots of people are waiting for this box-shaking to happen, and it may be easier for me to bring it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 06:05:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On ET the debate is often highlighted through the deconstruction of various Economist and FT articles, usually referred to as the "Anglo" perspective of the debate. Jerome, you, and many others present very strong fact based arguments against this Anglo perspective.
By being an English-only site, ET is leaving out about 50% of the EU's population, as well as allowing the "Anglo" perspective to dictate the frame of much of the debate.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 02:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

as well as allowing the "Anglo" perspective to dictate the frame of much of the debate.

That's the case anyway, so we first have to fight it there first. We do have arguments, so that's okay. If we beat them on their ground, we'll look good out of it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 06:03:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason I keep bringing the fact that ET has a small readership is that this was a point made by Ritter on his departure:
We can do alot of things, Mig. It takes time.

You say: "Do you have any feedback that we might find useful to raise our appeal to those kinds of people?"

Two things:

    * a German friend of mine writes for 13 regional papers, every article of his reaches a public of 4 million readers - every day,

    * when I worked for the Socialist Group at the EP I spoke to MEP Vetter, head of the German Trade Unions Federation (20 million members) about something (I forgot what) of a UK MEP unionist colleague (membership 2.500). Negative response.

You got it - SIZE matters.

Where "those kinds of people" was a reference to
You also drop names all the time. You have drinks with this or that MEP. Have you bothered to introduce the site to your contacts? Do you have any feedback that we might find useful to raise our appeal to those kinds of people?
In other words, when rg asks "what's in it for the MEPs?" the answer ritter gave is "not much until you get a coupe hundred thousand readers".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 01:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I would respond: No!  What's in it for the MEPs are new ideas, formulated concisely, and completely relevant to overwhelming objectives.  If this is a debate club, fine.  No MEP needs another debate club.  But if we are throwing out new ideas...ideas with resonance, then our quality...our quality of intent, of escriture, of focus, of dynamic, will create a gravitational force...gravity as active, not passive...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 08:11:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but that didn't stop Ritter from reproaching us with not going to Brussels for him to introduce us to his influential contacts. I can't help being suspicious of that insider attitude. There's a possible motive of the head-hunter or talent-scout kind: just look at the pearls I dig out of the internet, that you people are too busy to dig out for yourselves. The fact that Ritter left in a huff when he saw he wasn't getting anywhere didn't alleviate that suspicion -- he obviously wasn't interested in discussing things here, or participating in other projects.

My point above about why MEPs should consider it worth their time coming here wasn't innocently made. It's the real limiting factor. (Pols started appearing on DKos because of traffic numbers, not because they thought it was otherwise good for their image). ET's international spread is also somewhat against it, as far as MEPs are concerned, since few of them project themselves towards a broader European career, worrying far more about their profile in the home country than what may be thought of them across the EU (or elsewhere).

I also agree with rg (just above) that if we're nothing but a debate club we have little to offer. We have to have more: coverage of what the media don't cover, or not in the same way, not at the same speed, better collation of a wide spread of sources -- but that is standard (good) blog fare. A developing voice with a clear point of view, a future influence: the place it will be cool tomorrow to say you picked out yesterday, that sounds like a better argument. And in order to develop a voice... We're back to my comment on Barbara's thread,  that Alexandra bounced off from in this diary...

So many things to do, so little time to do them. Yet maintaining the quality of discussion, at the same time as increasing original content covering issues and angles the media don't handle, will attract new readers and contributors. More people around to join in work projects like Energize Europe will make those projects much more feasible. And, if we can persuade some higher-profile persons (MEPs or not) to post or be interviewed here, that would certainly be a step forward. If all that sounds like I'm going round in circles, that may be so...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 03:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me first way that we seem all to be basically in agreement, just looking at the same elephant from exactly different angles. Regarding Ritter, the problem was twofold, people consistently say here that they are wary of associating too closely with a political party [and that that would be very bad for ET even if not for individual ETers], and we were definitely afraid that ET was a too young, too small group and hadn't yet found its voice and so wasn't ready for Brussels. "We'll be ready when we're ready" we said, and apparently a year was too long for ritter to wait. A pity, but what can you do?

Now, what's in it for MEPs has two sides, what's in it for them to give interviews, participate or contribute [or have their staffers contribute, as happens on DKos often]? Only if ET can offer large readership numbers in a constituency they care about is there anything for them. With a penetration of at best 1 per 100,000 English speakers, ET cannot offer that. But maybe there is something for them [or their staffers] to read here, and that is all we can hope to do: provide valuable content, reports, fact-based debunking, and our own position papers.

So I think our best bet right now is to continue with our debate club, with our mutual education (the excellent Dutch Election series is an example), and with the production of letters and reports for (solicited or unsolicited) input to politicians. If we word our cover letters in a less dry manner and write them in a way that encourages the staff (not the politicians) to join ET, we will gain penetration where it matters. The most effective way to read an MEP is not to e-mail them, but to have a staffer say during a discussion "you know, I was just reading this really professional discussion of this topic on a blog called European Tribune..." (and mean it).

There are 732 MEP. There have to be some (maybe half a dozen?) that have an interest in the European Public Sphere. Those are the ones we should solicit interviews from, among other things because the rest won't care. We should also solicit interviews from the MEP president, the chairs of EP committees, etc.

I should stop yapping and try Borrell, the MEP president. He's a Spanish Socialist and had I been a PSOE member I would personally have been a Borrellite around 1998, when he ran as the outsider and won the PSOE primary.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 05:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't think we disagreed, in fact. Just two points on this last comment: on the "cover letters", the reason why they didn't "sell" ET more was that they first had to respond to a demand on the part of the EC to describe the ONG (in order to be accepted in consultations as an ONG). But that can be got round in future by annexing a sort of ID piece as a separate document, and speaking another language in the cover note itself.

Second: I'd like to think staffers would say to boss (MEP or other) "I learned this yesterday on this good blog, European Tribune", but I fear nine times out of ten they'd keep the source to themselves and take the kudos. Such is life. So we have to hope for no more, I think, than one out of ten staffers of one out of ten MEPs.

But that is not hopeless, not at all. And perhaps you're right that we should aim for the top right away. Who knows?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 09:17:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.. so little time. I could not agree more. I wrote my diary a felt a bit akward afterwards given that I myself have limited time for ET these days however I will try to see if I can get at least one person I now in France to contribute as a guest in the next month or so.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:00:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? You think it would be easier to remove all the people from Europe?  ;-)

Kevin

by kevinearllynch (mr_kevinlynch@sbcglobal.net) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 03:01:16 AM EST
Great idea, though as implied in Barbara's thread, I don't have anyone to invite. On the other hand, I add a connected proposal I talked about with some before.

Guest diaries could be good not only for MEPs and other well-connected people, but just to give special attention to friends who are hesitant to participate.

Many of you mentioned friends who either think that their English is insufficient, they are not up to ET's level of discussion, or miss ET content dear to them (this came up often in the is-ET-male-centered context). And saying "just go ahead and post" doesn't seem to work on them.

So, in parallel to what Alexandra proposes, people could do this: invite such a friend to post one diary on a theme of their choosing, and before that diary would be posted, alert regulars who might be good commenters on the issue, so that it gets a proper welcome.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 03:49:02 AM EST
You don't need a lot of readers. You just need to be influential. Monthly circulations for comparison:

New Statesman: 25,000
The Spectator: 60,000
Prospect: 25,000 (that's the UK, not the US version)

There's also The Liberal, which I don't have a figure for, but probably only just scrapes into five figures.

ET manages around 40,000 visits a month. I'd guess the active regular readership is around 5,000. But this is comparing a project that's been around a couple of years with publications that have been around for more than a century.

In any case, ET is a big fixture on the EuroBlog scene, and gets some traction in the US too. So although it's a small pond, it's a relatively big fish, and there's no reason to apologise for or try to justify the 'European Tribune' label when approaching pols for interview.

Some good outreach journalism will have an inevitable bootstrap effect. So even if a ticket to the top table isn't a likely option right away, cultivating the next tier or two of nearly-theres and wannabes among professional pols and staffers is a good way to build future influence - and possibly some current influence too.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 07:52:16 AM EST
Great idea, Alexandra, I agree. I think ET would definitely benefit from some prominent "guest bloggers". Maybe it's time to expand Et's "columns", so to speak? I do want to add, though: although it would be fantastic to have MPs and other big animals that come and contribute, I think there are also plenty of people that might be very interesting to listen to, even if their status is a bit more humble. I think that, if ET ever wants to put together a project or two in the future, it would be great to talk to various people who could serve as an inspiration for us as a group. For instance, I mentioned in my diary Albina Ruiz who is an Ashoka fellow. She is doing very well and has just won an award as the Latin Environmentalist of the year. There are many other, perhaps not as famous, Ashoka fellows working on various project around Europe that might be worth talking to. I am sure all of you could think of someone who's made some positive difference in their environment.

I do think a series of set (and tailored) questions would be great, also also a warm welcome so that such people would be more willing to participate in our discussion. Also, it would definitely help to come out with a clear definition of what ET stands for. We have the great advantage that we are a truly multilingual group, and we could bring in people from just about anywhere.  

I have one more suggestion: I think it would help if people updated their profiles, and maybe include a photo of themselves, too? Many of the profiles now are very incomplete, to say the least. It might give a better impression to the new ones who have not figured out who is who yet :).  

"If you cannot say what you have to say in twenty minutes, you should go away and write a book about it." Lord Brabazon

by Barbara on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 08:07:55 AM EST
Perhabs that also has a benefit: less prejudices?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 08:15:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps. But we don't really want prejudiced people on ET anyway, do we? ;) If someone knows more about you based on what you've said in your profile and is therefore more prejudiced against your comments, it's entirely his problem. Do we need to hide behind anonymity?

"If you cannot say what you have to say in twenty minutes, you should go away and write a book about it." Lord Brabazon
by Barbara on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 08:57:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we don't really want prejudiced people on ET anyway, do we?

Well no; but to some extent, everyone is prejudiced. So when another person learns something about your persuasion only when s/he already knows more about you, that might help. Say, crude example, if I discuss some green issues with Jérôme, he won't assume I'm a techno-phobe who'd advocate an eco-terrorist attack on his bank; or if I gave my hard-left smpathies, you wouldn't assume I am of former Party member longing back for the dictatorship.

is therefore more prejudiced against your comments, it's entirely his problem

As with all prejudices, it could be my problem, too -- if a lot of people do it or a few do so with annoying persistence.

Do we need to hide behind anonymity?

I wouldn't go as far as 'need', and it's not necesarily 'hiding'. But apart from this nuance, I would agree on this if this were an off-line community. But on-line, we are exposed to the entire world (I think it was Agnes who discovered that this can cause problems), don't necessarily want to bring our full person into a discussion, lack the mimic and gesticulation and eye-contact and instant-response quality of live exchanges, as well as the interacting nature of introduction.

But I am only quibbling here. Regarding your proposal, maybe we should look into making it possible to write a more complete profile for those who want. A picture could also be on the table, though I guess that's also a function of storage capacity on our (that is Booman's) server.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 09:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All valid points, DoDo. When I thought of making a profile, I wasn't quite thinking of putting one's entire biography up there. I do understand people's need for some privacy. Maybe just saying a few things about oneself that will not compromise you in any crucial way. Perhaps say something about one's participation on ET, time you've been around etc. Many ETers don't even have that. You are already encouraged to write something about yourself in the profile settings, and many people don't. Photos should of course be entirely optional...although many of us were already made public when Colman posted his great portraits' collection from the meetup in Paris.

"If you cannot say what you have to say in twenty minutes, you should go away and write a book about it." Lord Brabazon
by Barbara on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 10:05:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and will try to give it a try.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 11:42:53 AM EST


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