Brussels Media Express – volume 3

Hey there,

We are back after the summer break to bring you another edition of AEJ Belgium’s most novelty project: this newsletter. 

September is always a crazy month for everyone, but you know what? It’s also a super exciting time around here. Why? Well, it’s all thanks to our awesome new interns who have brought fresh energy into our team, and it’s pretty contagious!

We’ve got tons of stuff going on this month, and it can be pretty overwhelming, but we managed to put this newsletter together to bring you the latest news.

AEJ vice-president Dylan Carter will be attending the AEJ International Congress in Vlorë, Albania, next month. The expert panel of the conference will focus on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism. In the next newsletter edition, we will tell you all about it.

In the meantime, several organisations of the EU media advocacy network, including AEJ Belgium, organised a breakfast in the European Parliament on Wednesday (27 September) to discuss the implications of the European Media Freedom Act (#EMFA), ahead of the vote in the next October plenary session. 

The discussion focused on five main points: Rights of media service providers, including the right to protection from spyware (Article 4); Independence of public service media (Article 5); Media ownership transparency and fairness of state advertising (Article 6.1 & 24); Duties of media service providers (Article 6.2); and Right of customisation of audiovisual offer (Article 19), as well as the assessment of media market concentrations (Article 21).

During the meeting, MEPs promised to push for concrete wording on safeguards on the use of spyware against journalists. However, many organizations, including AEJ Belgium, are calling to ban the use of spyware against journalists. “Spyware can under no circumstance be considered necessary or proportionate under EU law,” said one of the campaigners from the advocacy group European Digital Rights during the breakfast. 

This edition includes the following topics:

  • How do AI developments affect youth democratic participation and journalism?
  • More on AI & media: The Irish Times case 
  • International Democracy Day – a special focus on Hong Kong
  • The Language Labyrinth
  • Sphera Media Lab
  • Talk of the Town


How do AI developments affect youth democratic participation and journalism?

AI algorithms have become an integral part of our lives, influencing everything from information dissemination to political campaigns. Attending the FARI: Local & Sustainable AI, Data, and Robotics conference (in Brussels?)intern Miquel Sánchez offers some key insights into the field. 

Have you ever wondered how AI advances affect the participation in democratic processes of our younger generation? Well, at the FARI conference,  Liliana Carrillo, founder and CEO of CollectiveUP, stated that AI advances have the potential to both enhance and hinder the democratic participation of our younger generation. They can provide access to information and platforms for engagement but also raise concerns about privacy and algorithmic bias.

To counteract these factors she presented a solution: CollectiveUP. This innovative company organises participatory workshops and transforms abandoned urban spaces into three-dimensional representations within the Minecraft gaming environment. Yes, you heard right: Minecraft! Who would have thought that saving democracy could be so much fun?

But let’s not forget journalism. In this era of AI-driven information dissemination, journalists find themselves navigating uncharted territory. With AI algorithms shaping news consumption patterns, CollectiveUP’s also explores ways to incorporate Minecraft into journalistic reporting. Imagine reading an article about a local event and, at the same time, exploring a virtual representation of it in the game. Users get to experience news in a whole new dimension.

So, dear readers, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a future where politics and gaming collide and journalistic reporting takes on a virtual twist! 

More on AI and media: The Irish Times case 

A few months ago, The Irish Times published an article discussing why Irish women wearing fake tan is problematic. The article had a formulaic feel to it, yet this isn’t unusual in online content, so Anna-Marie wrote down some thoughts:

Once I had read it, I didn’t give it much more thought. That was until the following day when I discovered that the article was created by artificial intelligence. It was submitted to the newspaper to bring awareness to the ease at which we can all be deceived by this software. Now the article has been deleted, with the Irish Times editor later having to issue an apology

What does the future of journalism look like in an AI context? Is it time to consider the possibility of written journalism being replaced?  

The Irish Times article displayed the fact that no matter what your opinion on AI use is, it is now present in the media and this needs to be addressed. To simply ignore it in the hope that it won’t continue, or that nothing negative will arise from it, would be irresponsible.

Artificial intelligence is an asset for us all, it makes many elements of our daily life more convenient, but it has its place. To figure out the limits for its use is a discussion of nuance, however, is it one that needs to be had?

International Democracy Day – a special focus on Hong Kong 

On the occasion of the UN International Day of Democracy, Interns of AEJ Belgium attend in mid-September the International Democracy Day event (#IDD) at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels. 

During this latest edition, activists from all over the world came together to promote the urgency of defending democratic governments, especially after the recent international increase of authoritarian regimes. 

In her article, Benedetta Zimone focuses on the critical situation in Hong Kong and the speech of Hong Kong activist and politician Nathan Law.

Sphera Media Lab

Sphera Network, a consortium of European media, is organising the second edition of the Sphera Media Lab on 12 October at Brussels cultural space Bozar. The event will take place during the 2023 Nuits Sonores, featuring a full day of panels, workshops and debates on how independent small and medium-sized media can contribute to the overall European media ecosystem. 

A full programme and registration link can be found here. Sphera Network will also organise an “Indie Media Speed meeting” so don’t miss the opportunity! Sphera Network has members in France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece, Poland and Hungary and it publishes on Youtube (in 7 languages) and Instagram.

The Language Labyrinth 

This week,  AEJ member and multilingual communications professional Julian Hale published his first column, which can be viewed here. The idea of the Language Labyrinth is to look at the use of language/etymology, particularly relating to English, French, Spanish, German and Latin (possibly also Greek). Julian Hale is open to looking into subject areas suggested by AEJ members. To submit ideas and suggestions, contact

Talk of the Town

People living in Brussels have known for a while that Gare du Midi, the international train station, isn’t exactly the friendliest place around. But it’s only recently that this issue started hitting the headlines every day. That happened when train passengers began sharing stories about robberies, and official police statistics hammered home the urgency of the situation.

Towards the end of August, things got so heated that Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo from the Open VLD party had to step in and cool things down. He came up with a ’22-point plan’ to make the stationsafer. Some ideas in this plan include banning alcohol, providing shelters for the homeless, erecting  a police station in the station, increasing patrols and cops on the ground, and cleaning more regularly.

The plan brought some relief to the mayors of Anderlecht and Saint Gilles in Brussels. They had been under pressure to deploy their local police patrols to the station, despite their forces already being understaffed and dealing with a substantial workload. It’s worth noting that train station safety falls under federal jurisdiction, after all.

For now, we will  keep an eye on the further implementation of these 22 measures and see if things change in the long run.

If you want to dig deeper into Brussels and stay in the loop, mark your calendar for October 4. That’s when The Press Club Brussels is hosting an event about the local media scene in the city. It’s organized by Restless Brussels, a group that’s all about bringing international residents in Brussels closer to the city.

Discover, Learn, Grow: Five must-read articles (in case you missed them)

  • MEPs likely to push back on plans to allow spying on journalists (free)
  • Press freedom means controlling the language of AI (free)
  • EU warns of Russian ‘mass manipulation’ as elections loom (possible paywall)
  • Media freedom: can Brussels agree on landmark law to protect Europe’s increasingly at-risk journalists? (free)
  • Slovakia: Six parties respond positively to RSF’s pre-electoral appeal for protection of journalists (free)

If you arrived here, thanks for reading.

Stay tuned for our next edition of Brussels Media Express coming soon!

AEJ Belgium

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