Friday, July 01, 2005

In Brussels Fields, Where Journals Grow

Two of the conclusions of this week’s bloggers dinner in Ghent were that one-man web logs (like Instapundit) are difficult to maintain, and that serious blogging requires an almost professional devotion. Both combined, it means that group blogs are the way to go. One-man dead tree publications are scarce; in Flanders we only have Mark Grammens. After the hype, web logging is just another low threshold publishing medium. Group blogging is an inevitable trend. City blogs (like Gent Blogt) or thematic blogs (like Edublogs) gain momentum, and the opinion column blogs seem to head the same way.

We had In Flanders Fields already as a selection of entries from existing blogs, and of course Belgiantransfers (which is not a proper blog), and now we will have The Brussels Journal. The Brussels Journal will be an English-Dutch conservative-liberal group blog with a number of writers that earned a considerable amount of credit already in blogging, in journalism, and in politics.

Luc Van Braekel currently maintains Flanders most visited one-man opinion and IT web log. I suspect he is the geek behind the initiative. Paul Belien is an independent journalist and writer (A Throne in Brussels) for conservative and Flemish-independentist media as ‘t Pallieterke, and for The Wall Street Journal. But his site feels pretty old-fashioned on the fast track of geeky web logs. Jos Verhulst is active in the Flemish movement for Direct Democracy that aims to return the political decision process from the political parties back to the citizen. It is not a coincidence that all three combine Flemish independentism with a conservative-liberal and a Eurosceptic view.

The non-Flemish members of The Brussels Journal didn’t contribute entries yet. Eliab Harvey is a British conservative MP that has worked for Major, and is well known for his Euroscepticism. Carlo Stagnaro is a libertarian publicist. He has been recently appointed Director of the Istituto Bruno Leoni, the Italian think tank that promotes extreme free market policy and privatizations. He is also fellow of International Council for Capital Formation, a Brussels-based think tank with strong links with the American Council for Capital Formation, and fellow of International Policy Network.

As for now, Luc Van Braekel and Paul Belien make up the duo that seems to provide the main thrust behind the Journal. Judging from the first drafts, one of the goals is to present an alternative Flemish view on Belgian and European politics in English, a view that is now strongly biased and even dictated by the Belgian press in French. Judging from the background and track record of its members, one can also expect this blog to be conservative, liberal, libertarian, pro-US and Eurosceptic. As such, it looks as if it is going more to be a blogged think tank than a thinker’s blog. A favorable wind blew the URL in our direction, although the blog now is still in its test phase and it is extended with new features and fine-tuned daily.


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