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The day when...

What I really wanted to say.

Today, we had one of those important meetings, when the full Directorate for the Media gathers. We’re talking about 200 people, all colleagues belonging to technical, editorial or press teams, together in the same room to discuss important matters. It doesn’t happen that often, to be honest. It doesn’t really belong to the institutional culture to call for such grande messe more than twice a year. The topic was the coverage of the Elections Night, an event scheduled for the 7 June, during which the European Parliament, together with a contractor, will gather datas and figures from as many Member States as possible to provide the public with the first estimations of the Elections’ results.

As I am sure you know, even if those elections we’ve been talking about and working for for so long are European, the electoral procedures (e.g. who can vote, how and when to vote) are handled by Member States under national laws. This explains, amongst many differencies, why some countries will vote on 4 June, others on 5, 6 or 7 June. You may imagine that gathering the datas from all 27 Member States, sorting out the elected Members of the European Parliament in existing political groups and drafting a clear picture of the new hemicycle’s balance of power will be nothing but a tremendously difficult task. So, that was the point of the meeting, as well as presenting the editorial coverage of the event by the different editorial teams.

Some members of our Web Team before the meeting.

Some members of our Web Team before the meeting.

Since Steve is in a personal mission to evaluate the real chances of a candidate country to join the EU, I was designated to speak in the name of our Unit. I sat in the front desk, next to the members of the Heads-of-Unit-secret-society, and I was written down as the last speaker on the agenda. Our Director made it clear he didn’t want us to be speaking for too long. Pressure. Last one to speak after six talkative others. Stress. When my time came, I could see in the audience’s eyes the tiredness, the hungriness, the deep desire to throw at me whatever they had to hand in order to shut me up and be on time at the cafétéria. Or maybe those were just my personal feelings. So I spoke, fast, and of course I forgot to say what I really wanted to. Hence this post.

A year ago

Last year, at the same period, our web team was producing content in 22 languages for one online platform: the Headlines of the European Parliament. True, we also wrote and published contents for some other sections of the website, but our bread and butter were the Headlines. Last May, a small team (Gaëlle, Eirini, Fred and Sophie) was finalizing the concept and design of the Elections website we opened last January. Our colleagues from the tech team were proposing a new content management system to feed the Election section. Steve and I were working on workflows analysis and new ways of coordinating things. In our minds, we had this blog project and some vague desire to go further online, to extend our presence outside of the main website. The editors, gathered in small team, were working on projects with potential: e-ambassadors, podcasts, partnerships, new editorial products. Our direct authorities were both interested and sceptic when we were mentionning Facebook or Web 2.0.

And look at now: the same team is publishing daily on no less than six editorial platforms: our Headlines, the Election website, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr. We also maintain a Googlemap with all locations of 3d installations and choices boxes in EU and a Delicious page with all websites dedicated to the European Elections we’ve heard about. We have the YaBs project – they all left the nest and some are super close to reach their target. We have a banners campaign running (2 200 different kind of e-banners shown in 27 Member States). We have interactive features where people can leave comments, vote, propose – and moderating those take a lot of time. We have multiplied our daily frequentation by three – and only a third of those new visitors comes from the e-banners campaign.

We secured a twelve-can-fit-in-room for the thirty of us. We’ll be seated tight, elbows to elbows, but we know each other well enough. You don’t need much space to twit, do you?

But six wasn’t enough. So we decided to create 22 Twitters accounts (one by language, as you guessed) to cover the Election night. From 4 to 7 June, we’ll tell you everything about this event, which is as close as covering the Cannes festival as we will ever get, in 140 signs at a time. We’ll lead you to the most interesting debates: Euronews, France 24, europarltv and some Spanish television will organize live debates at the European Parliament on Sunday, June 7th. 80 different TV channels have planned to come to Brussels to cover the results. They’ll do stand-ups in every corners of the main buildings – except in one. Our own little corner. We secured a twelve-can-fit-in-room for the thirty of us. We’ll be seated tight, elbows to elbows, but we know each other well enough. You don’t need much space to tweet, do you? We’ll be at the heart of things, we’ll update Facebook and Flickr and we will publish slideshows of voters, of backstages, of TV crews and stressed journalists. If you like men in denim carrying wires, you sure don’t want to miss that. And of course, come 22h00 and you’ll get the first results. The first comments. The first analysis.

If you like men in denim carrying wires, you sure don’t want to miss that

We are very excited by the prospect of this Election night. And I am very happy and proud of the team. It is true that we’ve been working real hard and we all would like our life back. But we’ve never been so close to our readers. While I can read everyday on the French blogosphère that people are not interested in those elections, that nothing is available to know more and other pessimistic analysis, the appetite for our content has never been so high. And we actually feel it.

That’s what I wanted to say, during this meeting.

Meanwhile, we’ve opened our Twitter’ accounts. Here is the link to the English one (you don’t need a Twitter account to follow it). If you’re interested in one specific language, they’ll all soon be available on our Election website. If you can’t wait, drop a comment below and we’ll answer with the correct url.

Oh, and don’t forget to vote.

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