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Brussels: My experience in a local team

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Cafébabel

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We’re launching a series of informal articles written by Cafébabel staff to explain the changes the magazine is going through. Most importantly: a new editorial line, new sections, new plans, new faces... in short, it's a whole new world!

Didn’t you know? Cafébabel is a mini State. While we started off this year with a “decentralisation” strategy, we are also working on “concentration” strategy at the same time. Everyone is in his or her respective countries, but there is only one leading entity. No more multi-headed Hydras.

Our team in Brussels is dynamic and autonomous. We have our own offices, services civiques, motivated volunteers, editorial meetings every two weeks, several events each year… In other words, we like to think that we’re doing pretty well on our own. Our blog, Cafébabel Brussels, has reflected this autonomy for 10 years. We’ve attended events like the European council or festivals in summer, keeping a rather institutional tone due to the famous “EU bubble” that surrounds us.

But as Cafébabel’s editorial line became clearer, the difference between articles published on the Brussels blog and those published in the magazine was getting bigger. In September, when I had just arrived in Brussels as the newest service civique, I was immediately briefed: there was too much noise on the line; we had to make sure we were all in tune. What I understood? We needed a common editorial line.

I understood that it wouldn’t be easy from the get-go. Along with the Brussels team, we are thinking about the best way to adapt. We are changing the structure of our editorial meetings; we are explaining to our contributors that some subjects are off the table; we are putting an end to partnerships that are too “institutional”.  At the same time, we are getting as close as we can to the newsroom in Paris to get as much of the “babel touch” as possible. For its part, Paris includes us in its weekly editorial meetings and allows us to feel more integrated and understand each other better. We know that if we want to keep publishing in Cafébabel, we’ll have to adapt.

Luckily our volunteers are enthusiastic, happy to have a variety of subjects on the table and are willing to spend more time on long-form articles. They are happy to finally be part of a ‘real’ magazine. I have just finished my contract, and I have the feeling we overcame this challenge with a touch of grace, thanks to the good will on both sides of the border. In Brussels, everyone is ready to tackle Cafébabel’s transition to an ever more European media – more and more participatory and on point. 

Translated from Bruxelles : mon expérience dans une équipe locale

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