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The European Daily is a bold project to create a daily newspaper for Europe. Written in English, its website currently appears in the beta stage with both original and aggregated content. We interviewed Christofer Berg, co-founder of the European Daily about starting a newspaper, the current crisis and building a public space in Europe.

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Photo: Christofer Berg (all rights reserved)
Christofer Berg, co-founder of the European Daily.

E&M: So, how did the European Daily project come about?

CB: Johan Malmsten and I were living in Paris, frustrated that we had no daily newspaper to read. As a Swede living in Paris you could read a French newspaper, but it would have Sweden, our home country, next to Saudi Arabia and Japan in the international news section. Or a Swedish newspaper that would treat France in the same way! So we started looking into why there was no daily paper which treated Europe as the domestic space that we move around in.

E&M: And how do you actually go about setting up a newspaper?

CB: Usually people create a dummy newspaper, patch articles together and then take it to a publishing house or a media group. We decided that instead of doing a mock up, which would be outdated two days later, we'd create an online dummy which aggregated content, so that people could have a morning coffee, browse through it, and get a feel for the concept. Gradually, we got 50 people volunteering, updating the site, and we expanded it. We also got advertisers as well, who were more positive then we dared hope.

On 15 June 2011, we did a print run of 40,000 copies of a newspaper which was basically the European Daily coming alive for one day, and putting together a temporary newsroom with experienced editors and journalists who were writing for other mainstream publications.

We plan our in-house newsroom to be in Amsterdam because we do not want to be Brussels based, or an EU newspaper, like European Voice or the equivalent. We think that Amsterdam is good, central, open minded and has many English speakers.

"There was no daily paper which treated Europe as the domestic space that we moved around in."

E&M: That's interesting, where are your freelancers going to be based, and what kind of reporting coverage are you hoping to get across the continent? 

CB: We don't have a geographical bias in that sense. One of the reasons this project is possible in a way that it wasn't 20 or 30 years ago, is that there is now good quality journalism being produced all over Europe in English. There are two trends here: firstly, a lot of national dailies have started doing English editions, and then there are also a lot of local language English publications popping up all over the place like The Prague Post, Helsinki Times, Sofia Times, or Sofia Echo, in Bulgaria, by Bulgarians. Secondly, there is a network of English language journalists that just wasn't there 20 years ago and they are not all Brits or Americans. We think that one of the exciting things we can do is give a European perspective on the US elections or Russia rearmament or a disaster in wherever.

E&M: Your colleague Daniel has previously talked about selling this European perspective to the China/US market. But what exactly is a European perspective? 

CB: It would probably be wrong to say that there was just one single philosophy in that sense. We would think that the European perspective is basically taking Europe as a starting point, assuming that our reader is a European who is moving around Europe and that we take that reader seriously, and we try to find out, how does it affect him or her, or how does it affect him or her as a German or a Brit. 

If you imagine, for example, there is a story about 8 people kidnapped in Syria, then the BBC might have 5 Brits kidnapped in Syria, we would cover it as, 8 Europeans kidnapped in Syria and you would read on that it's 5 people from Manchester and 3 people from Hamburg... It basically means that you are not alienated as a reader and that if you are on a flight from Helsinki to Madrid, it includes you in that perspective.

E&M: But that also excludes a lot of people. Beyond travelling Europeans, like you and me, I wonder how an East German farmer and my friends back home in Britain, who don't consider themselves European, would react. Why couldn't they just learn this from a national source? 

CB: We might be getting ahead of ourselves, the European Daily is not necessarily as much for the French person living in Paris who has read Le Figaro for his entire life and loves it. The chances are that this person will not read the European Daily. If you take the same person living in Berlin for 6 months or staying in a hotel in Helsinki though, whether he feels European or not, it makes more sense to provide him with a perspective that is not just French or German.

E&M: But can you then package that up and sell it to a Chinese market as a common European perspective?

CB: Well, yes. It can also be about European debate and how different strands and conflicts come together. Our starting point is that there are common points of reference in Europe today, although we are far from any kind of European state. Our project is not based on people putting their hand on their heart and saying "Yes, I am European and I am going to pick up the European Daily," but the fact that they live Europe every day. For a lot of people it will be having the same currency, or that they cross borders, and have one common language, usually English.

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