One year in, what are we trying to do here?

Drafting a vision for The European Perspective

Rafa Font avatar

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After a bit more than 1 year of activity (and 9 articles), The European Perspective has passed 100 subscribers. Is it good? Could it be better? It doesn’t matter, it’s something to celebrate! Let’s do it with a retro- and introspective post, tackling a question that both old and new subscribers might be wondering: what is this newsletter about? 

To write this piece, I’ve asked input from 3 European journalists (and friends – thanks Raluca, Raquel and Josep!). They’ve put the idea to the test: Who is this newsletter for? Do you plan to monetise, and how? Why are you writing such long texts? What’s unique about this? 

I’m only starting to find out myself. For now, this seems to be the gist of it.

One story

The first issue (This is The European Perspective) was a collection of 4 small stories about European people: the British philosopher Helen Steward, the Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Ek, the Bosnian journalist Nidžara Ahmetašević, and the French sociologist Philip d’Iribarne.

An early piece of feedback said: mixing several stories makes it more difficult to read. Since then, there is just one single story per article.

European people

When the media cover Europe, most of the time they refer to the political entity. Other outlets cover institutional affairs, and are great at it (find “What’s up EU” in the article “Join the competition of The European Perspective”). 

But that’s not the focus here. The focus is people: what they do, say and think. Every time we cover a topic, we might give a brief institutional background, but we will always feature the individuals.

Connections

At some moment, I switched writing method: from “desktop research” to interviews.

I feel naive saying this, but talking with people changes the whole article. They will mention things that can’t be found online. Their point of view is current, unlike the material you might find from them on the Internet, from weeks or months ago.

Sometimes I managed to get several interviewees in the same call. They didn’t know each other, and it felt useful to develop a “European connection”. How cool would it have been to interview, for instance, several comedians at the same time? 

Maybe in the future. For now, I’m still surprised (and grateful) that they reply to my emails and find time to talk to a complete stranger.

Trans-European

Our stories should have feet in three or four countries. It’s then that we can start to discover if there are common traits, if we can identify a European cultural layer.  

We will not hit it every time, and that’s OK. This is a discovery process, and the conclusion could well be that there is no such thing as a European perspective. Remember Anthony Locascio, saying that the label “European comedy” was not useful for him? This might happen in other areas too.

Filtering non-European content

The influence of the North American and British cultures is very high. But Europeans are still there doing their work. What happens is that their voices have less reach. 

We applied this to European Comedians: by leaving out the USA and the UK, we set the stage up to discover some hidden gems with European roots

The European Perspective is bright blue and crisp yellow
The European Perspective is bright blue and crisp yellow

One year from now

In summary, today, The European Perspective seems to be about filtering out non-European content, finding several relevant European people across the continent, and tell the stories about what they do and say, drawing the links that connect them.

There are 109 subscribers at the moment of writing. The most read article has been viewed 724 times (How to be a free European citizen online). A year from now, we will hopefully have doubled these numbers. But this can’t be the goal, it has to be the consequence of generating readable, shareable, quality material. 

Other aspects are still unclear

Would a podcast work, to complement the content provided by the article?

What about repackaging the content in other formats, such as shorter articles, or even TikTok-like 1-minute videos, to be published in other platforms?

Should we invest in graphic design to look more like a media outlet and less like all other Substack newsletters?

Should we commit to a given cadence of publication, be it monthly or bi-monthly, but fixed?

I have received specific advice for all of these (Spoiler: YES to all). But I’m not yet ready to tackle them. I might run some experiments, though. 

Some other ideas, such as if/how this newsletter could generate revenue, need much more reflection still (and a larger subscriber base). 

Connecting with readers

Something I know is that, to find out where we’re going, we have to get input from readers. I’m preparing two ways to get feedback: 5-question surveys, and 30’ online conversations, depending on how extrovert or introvert you feel. I will launch them soon(ish). 

And maybe, only maybe, after getting that feedback, the length of the articles could be reduced. 🙂

Logo The European Perspective
Logo The European Perspective

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