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Covering the EU: Alone or Together? Cooperation Patterns of Brussels Press Corps

Alena Sobotova

Brussels features one of the biggest press corps in the world. Its multi-cultural character mirrors the very nature of the EU. However, inequalities exist. Smaller and newer Member States tend to have fewer correspondents in the European capital than their bigger and more influential counterparts. For most of the post-2004 countries, media outlets often have to rely on a single person to cover all EU politics. This isolation from the home newsroom may be a strong rationale for greater cooperation between correspondents. Do Brussels journalists cooperate or do they compete for scoops? Are New Member States' journalists equal partners to their Old Member State's colleagues?As many content analyses suggest, national perspective remains central in the coverage of European matters. It adds an angle to the supposedly dry and abstract EU news. Thus, cooperation might be restricted to the sole group of compatriots. What are the nodes of cooperation at work? Are they nationally defined ? Organized by media types or subregional groupings sharing a common history? The paper applies qualitative content analysis on a series of interviews with foreign correspondents, complemented by an observation period in the Brussels newsroom. Its central hypothesis posits that there is indeed strong cooperation across nationalities in Brussels that is however experienced differently by various national groups. This variance can be explained by the overreaching power hierarchies existing on the European level (impact of the date of accession but also size, influence, history etc. of different Member States).

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