Tuesday

27th Feb 2024

Editorial

EUobserver in 2024: a year to watch out for

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2024 will be nothing short of a historic year for democracy.

Around 2 billion people worldwide are slated to vote in national and EU elections, with, among others, the United States, Russia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Ukraine, Bangladesh and possibly the United Kingdom heading to the polls.

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In the EU, not only will citizens elect a new European Parliament in June, but also member states Belgium, Austria, Lithuania, Portugal and Croatia will hold national elections.

How will the world look at the end of next year?

The past few years have taught that making predictions on such a grand scale is virtually impossible; from the global pandemic to Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the conflict between Israel and Gaza, events unfolded that wouldn't allow for any rational person to confidently say what's next.

What we do know is that in many of the countries choosing new governments or presidents, nationalist and/or nativist parties have become more prevalent and more accepted. Parties that might not take the rule of law, equality and human rights as seriously as needed for stable political order. Parties that undermine long-held ideals of liberal democracy and organised global cooperation.

It's a potential shift that comes at a time in which global concerted efforts are more needed than ever; first of all, and most blatantly obvious, on mitigating climate change, but also on safeguarding human rights and ensuring more equal distribution of wealth, food and resources.

Compounding these issues is the fact that they're all interlinked, with a worsening of one leading to the worsening of others. Inequality begets inequality.

Chances are that the world will be significantly more unstable if the trend of democratic backslide continues — and a more unstable world will mean less possibilities for working together on issues that affect us all, at least on a governmental level.

At EUobserver, we've prided ourselves on being part of civil society. Not only as journalists reporting on news that really matters to citizens — regardless of commercial or 'brand safety' considerations — but as a kind of informational bridge between policy makers and non-governmental organisations representing the collective concerns of groups of people.

We believe that a strong civil society acts as another voice in the democratic process, one that can keep policy makers informed of the concerns and issues of people; the consequences of policy choices and the way those affect people with specific commonalities. And do it in an ongoing way, rather than at set times during elections.

This works the other way around as well. By reporting on the policy making process, we provide civil society with the accurate information needed to take action — the informational tools that can underpin reports, protests and participation in the creation of policy.

Of course, all this doesn't mean elections don't matter. They do, and that's why we've been reporting on European national elections closely over the past year, and will continue to do so in a dedicated section on the website.

But we'll mostly keep publishing about what happens after the elections, what policies affect which people in what way and where collective concern is due. Because elections are just a reflection of a point in time, but the policies implemented (or attempted to be implemented) afterwards are what really matter in the end.

We do this with a small but experienced — and dedicated — team of journalists who care about the topics we report on, and thanks to the support of members, foundations and supporters.

Over the past year, we've made a few changes to our editorial strategy, choosing to double down on the expertise of our journalists to create more ambitious stories that add more context, rather than trying to compete with better-resourced publications to cover everything.

We've added sections reporting on labour policy and the relationship between the EU and the African Union, and started working with a wider pool of on-the-ground journalists (mostly quite young) to report from across Europe and abroad.

We're also very grateful for our partners, who have chosen to share their reporting and investigative work with EUobserver to publish; Investigate Europe, DeSmog, Corporate Europe Observatory, Africa Confidential, Green European Journal, SOMO and more to come.

And finally the many, many, many op-eds we meticulously select, edit and publish, that provide perspectives and opinions about both major and undercovered events around the world.

All of this is leading up to an even bigger shift — a move to a completely member-supported model.

Right now, about 40 percent of our income comes from members (both individual and institutional), who contribute financially to the continued existence of our reporting. The aim is to grow that to 90 percent in the next few years.

That might sound ambitious (and it is, quite honestly, in an ever-more saturated media subscription ecosystem) but as a non-profit, we have barely any overhead and can be solvent and even grow with around 8000 paying members (and if you're not one yet, consider a membership!).

To get there, we've received the support of a number of foundations, which will allow us to not only invest in a completely new website, but also in expansion of some of the topics we already cover — and some we don't yet.

First, the new website is going to be great, if I may say so. It won't only present our reporting and op-eds in a completely new (but also old) way, the aim is to change the paradigm of publishing and distribution as well.

Rather than relying on just the website to offer content, we'll be slowly building it out to provide what we publish where you want it, when you want it. So if you want every article as it's published on Signal, we'll give you that. If you just want the top links in the morning via Whatsapp, done. Or if you'd like to keep things the same and receive the daily newsletter, also fine.

Like this, we hope to not only offer a more convenient and efficient news service, but also to be less dependent on the whims of social media oligarchs and algorithms.

On top of that, we'll be offering a few more affordable tiers aimed specifically at the younger segment of our audience — who, like the recent elections in Poland have shown — can help democracies make choices for the future rather than the past.

All in all, next year is shaping up to be quite the rollercoaster.

As a citizen, I'm concerned with all that could happen. As a journalist, I feel a responsibility to help citizens make more informed choices. As a publisher, I couldn't feel more excited.

And as a person, I really hope you'll go on this ride with us.

Opinion

How will the Ukraine/Russia war pan out in 2024?

Many Russians are confident in their army, believe it will win the war, approve of their government, and Vladimir Putin has high approval ratings for the presidential election in March. So where does that leave Ukraine?

Opinion

Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Opinion

2024 will be a momentous year for election observers

Our role is not to 'judge' the elections, but observation does provide an additional level of transparency, scrutiny and public accountability, writes Matteo Mecacci, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Feature

Ten dilemmas for the EU in 2024

The upcoming European Parliament elections will be a make-or-break moment this year, when decisions (or the lack thereof) will significantly shape the trajectory of the EU. These are the 10 key questions that the EU is facing this year.

EUobserver's Top 10 stories of 2023

Selected by our team of seven reporters and editors, these are the 10 tales we thought best showed the breadth, depth, and originality of EUobserver over 2023, and its quest for original, investigative, off-diary stories about European politics.

Okay, alright, AI might be useful after all

Large Language Models could give the powers trained data-journalists wield, to regular boring journalists like me — who don't know how to use Python. And that makes me tremendously excited, to be honest.

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