Mathew Lowry

[Happy Birthday, BloggingPortal! For the birthday present, scroll down]

Last Thursday I finally caught up with Eric Maurice of PressEurop, which recently had its plug pulled by the EC following their decision to cancel its renewal tender some weeks after publishing it (sign the petition, check out the team’s volunteer blog).

For those who don’t know it, PressEurop selected articles about Europe from newspapers across the continent and translated them into 9 other languages. As they point out, it was unique:

Nowhere else could you go to read Greek newspaper editorials, headlines of the Hungarian press or stories published by Baltic, Romanian and German newspapers. Nowhere else could you compare analyses from the most influential journalists in Europe. And most importantly, nowhere else could you read and write comments in all these languages, translated automatically.

It was unique, and uniquely expensive – human curation is one thing, human translation is something else, and their approach to handling multilingual user-generated content was brilliant. While a huge fan, however, I was not entirely surprised to see it disappear:

  • any such effort to stimulate the emergence of the EU online public sphere with EU funds is going to be targeted as biased even when it’s not (exhibit A: Blogactiv’s birth, which was pilloried for being EC-funded when it wasn’t);
  • as set out in Do we need more EU platforms, or sustainable EU media?, relying on public funds makes one uniquely vulnerable to both bureaucratic project management procedures (as shown), and bureaucrats’ ideas of what makes a successful media business (although the EC seemed to commendably keep a ‘hands off’ attitude during PressEurop’s first 4 years).

Salvage strategy

savepresseurop image [What the press say about PressEurop’s closure]

PressEurop was thus a mirror image of BloggingPortal, launched the same year – where BloggingPortal aimed to help alternative voices on Europe find an audience, PressEurop focused on established media; and where BloggingPortal was a 100% volunteer effort, PressEurop spent millions on professional editors, translators and web designers.

Today, Le Courrier International sits on a database of 1000s of translated articles, many thousand more comments, and the site code. All paid for from the public purse.

Immersed as I am in the BloggingPortal reboot, I can’t help thinking that there’s something to be salvaged from this. What sort of site would come from combining the legacy content of both PressEurop and BloggingPortal? Would it be a shambling Frankenstinian monster, or something brilliant?

Both Eric and I are going to explore this question over the coming weeks, possibly via a Hangout on Air. If you’d like to share your 0.02c, before, during or afterwards, leave a comment below.

– Mathew

PS. This Sunday is BloggingPortal’s 5th birthday. Our birthday present is a dedicated “reboot” tag, allowing us to aggregate together all posts about the BloggingPortal reboot. As I write this I’m hoping my posts won’t be the only ones there on the day.

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  1. As someone who liked and respected PressEurop in its four years (as President of the European Information Association I was instrumenal in PressEurop winning an award for an impiortant new Europea information service at its inception), and who read it every day, I also regret its demise.

    A couple of additional points:

    We indexed / tagged many of the translated articles in PressEurop into the electronic information service European Sources Online based at the European Documentation Centre at Cardiff University (so yes, I hope there continues a way of keeping existing translated articles available). (By the way, we also index some of the blogs appearing in Blogging Portal as they seem so ‘substantive’ and useful).

    While wanting a service like PressEurop to continue in some format, I would like to draw to your attention a somewhat similar service called Euro|Topics
    Admittedly, it does not translate articles into nine languages but it essentially translates summaries or extracts from articles in 300 news sources in Europe into English, German and French on a daily basis. It is very well indexed. It seems to be funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education in Germany.

    Since January 2014 ESO has changed from being a subscription service to a free access European information service
    We try to make ESO another information service to fulfil peoples’ needs to find information about the EU and the countries of Europe in an efficent and timely manner

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