#EU09vs19 – What has changed in the EU blogosphere since 2009?

As I’ve decided to blog again after a long pause (last personal post dated 2013), I’ve let euroblogger friends know on Twitter, which naturally led to a conversation about the good old days of our early blogging and a comparison with the reality of euroblogging today.

So in a truly old-fashion euroblogger style, I’ve decided to try and launch a blog chain like we used to (is that still a thing?). I challenged former bloggingportal.eu bloggers to write their personal views on what has changed between 2009 and 2019: did (some of) our dreams for the EU online sphere come true? Did reality exceed expectations? Or are we old(er), bitter & disappointed?

I started blogging exactly 10 years ago, just before the 2009 elections. Blogging was in its infancy in the eurobubble and I rapidly got to know other eurobloggers -i.e. individuals sharing comments about the EU in personal blogs- thanks to Twitter, which was also a nascent tool in Brussels. As I previously wrote this rapidly led me to start and/or join exciting adventures: cooperate with Bloggingportal.eu, campaign for a gender balanced Commission, co-found the EU Girl Geeksbe one of the two first bloggers to get an accreditation to cover an EU Council meeting, to mention but a few.

These were exciting years. Euroblogging was hype. It was new and triggered a lot of attention and curiosity. We were able to launch campaigns easily and get heard. We felt free, powerful(ish), and able to change the world. I started my blogging when I had a job with no responsibility and time available. Initially I was blogging anonymously, which allowed me to feel freer in my writing.

Then I started a job with responsibilities, advising on EU politics in a public affairs consultancy and as a consequence had little free time left. At the same time I became being quite active in a political party. For transparency reasons I decided to start a new blog where I wasn’t blogging anonymously. The conjunction of these three things led me to having no time anymore to write on a personal blog and to lose the feeling of being able to speak freely in public: on the one hand some of my views might have bothered clients of my firm, and on the other hand some of my views could have gone against my party line. Soon, the inspiration dried out and as I stopped writing on a personal blog, I started blogging occasionally for my job or my party’s campaigns.

Why am I starting to blog again? I’ve always liked writing and I miss it. I also miss the freedom of a personal blog. I stopped the demanding job and decided to go on the free-lance route. On the political front, I’ve stopped being active in my party. I joined it to try and change it from within as I thought the problem with political parties was the lack of participation of the many. 10 years later, I failed to change the party (daah!) and like so many voters, I’m disappointed and have lost hope in politics, at least in our current political system. Expect more posts on this topic from me.

So 2009 vs 2019: that’s in nutshell what has changed for me as a blogger. What has changed in the EU online sphere? From the way I see it, it has been taken over by professionals. Blogging and using social media is now mainstream in the eurobubble. This means journalists do not have the monopoly anymore on broadcasting views about the EU to the many. Social media in general has certainly given the power to new groups and new generations to express themselves and be heard by the mainstream. But I’m told Twitter and Facebook are now networks for old people and Instagram and Snapchat are cooler amongst kids. I don’t know many kids in their 20’s. I’d be curious to hear their views about my veteran post. Political parties, activists and elected politicians have embraced blogging as well. But as for professional blogging, I think it lacks the natural touch that made it fun to blog in its early days. Back in 2019, we hoped the emergence of social media would lead organisations (or the people within) to be more authentic online. Some probably have. But aren’t they a minority? For the rest, I’ll let Eurobloggers who have been more constant in blogging than me over these 10 years give more experienced views.

I now challenge other eurobloggers to write their views about what has changed between 2009 and 2019. I think it goes without saying that there are no rules for these posts as we learnt a long time ago that trying to organise volunteer bloggers is like herding cats. Just take the topic and see how it inspires you. Hey, you can even chose the hashtag depending on what inspires you most : #EU09vs19 like I suggested or #EP09vs19 like Ronny Patz suggested?

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It’s time to blog again

It’s been exactly 10 years since I started my first blog. It was also a little less than two weeks before the European elections and two events triggered my decision then. First a friend of mine suggested I opened up a blog on Le Monde’s then brand new blogging platform. He had noticed my ranting on Facebook about the lack of coverage on EU politics in French media and thought I had the right profile to start blogging, an activity that was then relatively uncommon, even less so in EU affairs. What gave me the ultimate nudge was witnessing that two weeks before the European elections the 20:00 news programme on the main French TV, France 2, would only mention the upcoming elections at the 19th minute*. Yes I counted.

So I started my first blog on EU politics in May 2009. It led me to join the vibrant -and slightly crazy- community of bloggers called Bloggingportal.eu, whose objective was to identify, make more visible and grow the emerging EU blogger scene. It got me to campaign for a gender balanced Commission, to co-found the EU Girl Geeks, to be one of the two first bloggers to get an accreditation to cover an EU Council meeting, to speak at many events on blogging around Europe and to even advise MEPs on how to blog. These were exciting years. I was young(er), childless, had a rebel soul,… and I was also an insomniac. I had a job with zero responsibility. I could make it work. Then.

After I started a demanding and stressful job in a large public affairs firm, little by little, I lost inspiration. I had less time and I didn’t dare anymore to show strong public opinions on politics as surely there would be some client somewhere in the world that would be upset by my views. It was purely self control as my employer encouraged freedom of speech but it killed my creativity. During these years I’ve kept on blogging regularly in a professional capacity but it just not the same.

What has changed? I now have more time. I’m also at a point of my life where I want to find my freedom of speech again and nurture the things I really like doing. I’ve become a freelance consultant, which means I also need to get known. And finally, the European elections will open up the dance of exciting times for the EU nerd I still am : selection of the top EU jobs, designation of the future Commissioners and their grilling by the European Parliament, as well as the 5 year policy plans the appointed Commissioners will develop.

I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed writing, sharing thoughts, giggling and plotting with fellow EU nerds online.

I’m back.

PS: for those of you who remember my last blog, it’s undergoing technical difficulties which should be solved in a week or so.

*Update on 21st May 2019: I’ve watched the 13 o’clock news on France 2 yesterday and guess how late started the story about the European elections? At the 19th minute too! No kidding! Considering this story was about the challenge it is to print and send to French voters the paper documentation about the candidate lists, I’m not even sure it counts. The topic after that explained how the EU works and started at the 21st minute. It means we don’t seem to have made much progress on the coverage of the European elections on French TV. Although tempting, this shortcut is unfair as things have changed, at least a little. Expect another post from me on that topic in the coming weeks.