Everything you wanted to know about the Brussels Press Corps but were afraid to ask

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Just over two years ago, we published a detailed breakdown of the Brussels press corps that shattered two myths: that the number of journalists reporting on the EU is shrinking – it has constantly grown – and that Brussels has the largest concentration of international correspondents in the world (that would be London.)

We followed that up with a piece on ‘10 Things You Need to Know About the Brussels Press Corps’ that contained such sparking nuggets of information as: almost half the correspondents based in the EU capital work alone, Chinese news agency Xinhua has 23 accredited correspondents and French reporter Jean Quatremer has the most followers on Twitter (still true.)

Since May 2012 the European Commission has stopped publishing its highly-prized list of accredited journalists to the EU, making reliable figures hard to come by. However, Clear Europe has obtained a treasure trove of up-to-date statistics from well-placed EU sources – who requested anonymity. Here are the highlights:

1.     There has been a spectacular rise in the number of freelance journalists. A decade ago there were just 11 freelancers covering the EU. In 2012 there were 64. Now there are 159 – more than double that of three years ago.

Number of Freelancers

2.     More journalists are accredited to Belgium-based media than any other country – 143. This is largely because of the arrival of POLITICO Europe, which is based in Brussels and is already the largest non-Belgian media outlet in town with 40 accredited reporters. Germany, the biggest in 2012, supplies 110, France 95 and the UK 87. Again, these raw figures are slightly deceptive – the British numbers are skewed by the fact that media such as MLex and Euractiv are registered in London. The figure has also raised eyebrows among French journalists, with the French Permanent Representation to the EU noting a much lower figure. Part of the reason might be a massive jump in the number of journalists working for Euronews, which has its headquarters in Lyon.

Accredited Journalists per country

3.     The total number of journalists accredited to the EU institutions was 955 as of late October 2015. This is marginally higher than 2012, when there were 931 reporters, and almost the same as after the big-bang enlargement of 2004.

4.     Of these 955 reporters, 599 are men and 356 are women. In percentage terms, 63% are male and 37% female, a slight rise in parity compared to the 2012 figures when 65% were men and 35% women.

Journalists by Gender

5.     In addition to the 955 journalists accredited to the EU, there are 358 technicians – cameramen, photographers, producers etc – bringing the total number of accreditation badges to 1313. Belgium supplies by far the largest share of technicians – 376, with Germany on 143 and France on 105.

6.     The 1313 accredited journalists and technicians represent 487 different media companies. Reporters working for written press make up just over a quarter of the total number, with news agencies and television just under a quarter each.

Type of Media

Finally, a word or two about the figures, which will no doubt be hotly contested by some overworked Brussels correspondents wondering where their phantom colleagues are:

·      They are official numbers from the EU institutions, not ours.

·      They are from 30/10/15. The advantage of figures collected later in the year is that all journalists have picked up their badges by then. The disadvantage is that reporters who have left may not have been struck off the list. The total number of journalists accredited on 01/05/16 was 839.

·      The numbers are inflated by the fact that some journalists based in capitals outside Brussels – often editors and commentators – have permanent accreditation.

·      Some journalists work for several media organisations from different countries.

Despite these caveats, we hope you find the figures useful and that they give you a better understanding of the pressures journalists in Brussels face.


About Gareth Harding

Gareth is the Managing Director of Clear Europe and head of the Missouri School of Journalism's Brussels Programme. He is a former journalist, speechwriter and political advisor.

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