The Italian town of Perugia is sadly known because of the 2007 murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

What is less known is that an International Journalism Festival takes place in Perugia every spring.

The last one took place from 30 April to 4 May 2014. It was the eight edition of the Perugia’s festival and it counted 60 thousands visitors besides 544 speakers coming not only from Italy but also from Europe and the USA.

Among the speakers, the director of digital strategies at the Guardian Wolfgang Blau held a talk entitled “Still no pan-European media. Are we nuts?”.

He started from an easy question: how can it be there is no single, large media organization from the Continent that addresses Europeans as such? As Blau explains in his speech, some media organizations coming from Canada and the USA are investing in creating pan-European media.

But how it comes European countries do not set up such medium by themselves? Why don’t they team up and change the media landscape in their own Continent?

“The European project is dead”, European news organizations say according to Blau’s analysis. This is the main argument that prevents them from investing in a new, cross-continental medium: the difficult situation Europe has to face these days has led many to think that the idea of Europe has failed and that the whole project was only about economy.

When it is not all about money, as Blau replays: “Europe is commonly framed as something that started after the WW2. Its roots, instead, go back in the years and involve history, philosophy and a common sense of being European”.

According to the German-born Blau, there are all the requirements to have a pan-European medium. Europe’s citizens recognize themselves as Europeans and there is a high degree of fluency in English, which could be the common language for such a pan-medium.

There is already an European readership: we just need to address it.

Euronews and EurActiv are some of the pioneers working on this new European-reader target. Nevertheless, Blau stresses how we still miss a big, single medium addressing the European readership on a large scale.

 

How to build up this medium then?

The ingredients of the Blau’s recipe are basic ones. First of all, in the Internet era, a pan-European medium should be digital, taking advantage of all the possibilities the Web offers also in terms of putting in contact journalists based in different countries.

Second, the medium should address a general audience, covering from lifestyle to culture, from actuality to sports and tech.

Third, the journalistic project should not be funded by any kind of European Institutions.

Fourth, the medium must employ journalists from different countries.

What Blau forgot to cite is that the Guardian has set up its own cross-borders European project: Europa. The project involved six European broadsheets and has been analyzed by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. After a period of good health, the project is somehow still running but the lack of journalists hired solely to look after Europa is turning it down into a non-updated and content-poor website.

The Europa’s adventure demonstrates that some investment is needed to create this pan-European medium. And, in a period of bad economy in which media have to re-brand themselves, it may be difficult to collect money for a project that is perceived as controversial and on the deathbed also due to the recent political events (one for all, the current position of the UK towards its European membership).

It is a bit sad though to see that many spectators were using earphones with simultaneous translation during Blau’s speech. It is a sign that the path of unifying Europe under a unitary journalistic coverage is still long. But, I believe, not impossible. 

"Still no pan-European media. Are we nuts?"