The coverage of EU political and policy developments in the national media of many Member States is often poor if not dismal. However, providing high quality information about Brussels developments is challenging; which is why many national print and online media have responded by permanently basing journalists in the city to report on EU news. Additionally, over the last decade, an abundance of Brussels-centred and mainly online media have arisen, providing up-to-date news on what is going on in the hub of EU decision-making.
Faced with this multitude of information sources available to them, where do Members of the European Parliament turn for accurate and timely news about the EU?
A recent ComRes Europoll™ survey of the European Parliament asked 101 MEPs their views on media reporting of EU news. The BBC, and the Financial Times are the most consulted media outlets, with more than half of MEPs saying that they regularly consult each publication (52% for each). Interestingly, the BBC is most often referred to by MEPs from Eastern Europe, where 71% of them read its coverage of EU news at least once a week.
These two well-established media organisations are closely followed by European Voice (47%). This weekly newspaper and daily updated website, owned by The Economist Group, is dedicated exclusively to European Union news. The newspaper is delivered to MEPs free of charge.
Looking at the perceived quality of reporting on EU news among the same group of media, MEPs show fairly high regard for all the sources of information tested. Overall, they achieve a sector average of 3.06 out of 4, where 1 = very poor quality and 4 = very high quality. Interestingly, ALDE is the most generous party group in its MEPs’ quality assessment, with a sector average of 3.37 as opposed to the most critical ECR Group (sector average 2.84). The four most read media are also perceived by MEPs to be of the highest quality among those tested, namely Financial Times, The Economist, the BBC and European Voice.
These results show that all types of media have their place in the Brussels bubble. MEPs value the prominence, authority and credibility of traditional media with wider geographical and content focus beyond the EU sphere. However, online media specialising predominantly in Brussels politics enjoy a sizable share of readership too.
Having shed some light on where MEPs find information about EU news, where do you turn to find out about the EU?
Methodology: ComRes surveyed 101 MEPs between June – July 2011. Data were weighted to be geographically and politically representative of the European Parliament.