Getting the right numbers: the Brussels press corps

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To get a better grasp of the amount of journalists covering ‘EU’ related topics, I searched my way around the Internet and found several articles about the decline of the press corps. Here and here for instance. According to the International Press Association (IPA) in Brussels, the number of accredited reporters shrunk from some 1,300 in 2005 to 964 in 2009 (source).

Numbers are always a great way to tell juicy stories. Leave the context out, tweak it a bit, and you can make several stories out of the same numbers. To start my little investigation on the numbers, I asked the accreditation office at the European Commission what their numbers are, and I received this list:

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amount2

The increase between March and July is partially due to a number of journalists being accredited temporarily for replacing their colleagues during the summer holidays, according to the office.

You see there’s a difference with the IPA numbers published earlier. You clearly see a peak around 2005, probably due to the elections in 2004. And you see a decline in accredited media over the years. Compare for instance 2003 and 2013, both pre-election years. According to these numbers the amount of journalists is fairly stable, and you probably can expect a rise next year when its election year again. Again, numbers are numbers. And, these are numbers from the Commission. The institution that, from all, is the one to be controlled. Make your own judgement on them.

The coming months I will talk with more journalists working in Brussels. But not only journalists. I will also try to talk to smart professors and other people who probably have their opinion on these numbers, the dilemma’s (already partly discussed in the good written articles above) about the press corps in Brussels and by doing that putting these numbers in to perspective. I will ask the IPA what their numbers are right now. And, I will ask for some more information on the countries these ‘accredited media’ are from.

Do you have your opinion about them, share it. Are you a journalist, professor and have something important to tell, have another perspective, or you think these numbers are just plain bullshit? Let me know. We can always sit down for an anonymised interview.

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