Brexit - a million different stories
WHAT HAPPENS to our many EU national colleagues after Brexit? That was the question posed at the June LFB meeting - roughly two years after the EU referendum, and on the eve of Parliament's EU Withdrawal Bill amendments omnishambles. Our speakers included Claudia Delpero, founder of Europe Street News (www.europestreet.news) and a former European Parliament press officer on constitutional affairs. We also heard from barrister Adrian Berry.
Claudia described in the weeks immediately after the EU referendum an atmosphere of "disbelief" around her. People were were asking, "What is happening now?"
Since then, there has been a largely "dehumanised debate" on our relationship with the EU, about trade, for example, but "not so much about the people involved" - the 3.2 million EU nationals in the UK and the 1.2 million UK nationals in the EU, plus families, friends, employers and colleagues, who add up to "a large group of people". There was a lot of reporting on "agreements on paper... when it meets reality there are a million different stories."
There quickly emerged a big "demand for information" said Claudia, which wasn't initially being fulfilled except by some Facebook groups in which EU nationals in the UK shared information, including information and articles sourced from other EU countries. People felt a need to be "aware of what is happening to them... how it affects their rights and their families". So Europe Street News started, with a mission to focus on people, "what is happening to people in real life". It is independent and has no political affiliation.
A year on, there are now 40,000 unique users. Claudia is proud of the fact that its readership is roughly "50/50 men and women".
Europe Street News includes information from different countries, in different languages, "quality information," not "soundbites... cheap quotes". After the website started, Claudia encountered a phenomenon which "tells me about the state of journalism," she received several approaches offering to write opinion pieces. She replied, "we do facts". There seems to be plenty of opinion about Brexit but a lot less by way of actual fact - quality, factual pieces are more difficult and more expensive to produce.
A member asked about revenues from Europe Street News. Currently "there aren't any" but since they've established a readership in five figures, "now we can afford to go after advertising".