Michael O’Dwyer on City University of London’s visit to the European Parliament in Brussels

In December students on the MA in financial journalism course at City University of London spent three days visiting the European Parliament in Brussels. During the trip the students received briefings from EU officials on how the organisation is structured, the work of the European Parliament and about the upcoming European elections, which are scheduled to take place in May 2019. They were hosted in Brussels by the European Parliament’s UK Liaison Office.

During the trip, the students had roundtable discussions with several members of the European Parliament (MEPs), including Mairead McGuinness, currently the vice president of the European Parliament and a former journalist (member of Fine Gael from Ireland), Daniel Dalton (Conservative, West Midlands), Richard Corbett (Labour, Yorkshire and the Humber) and Jean Lambert (Green, London).

With less than four months until the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU, there was spirited debate about the form Brexit is likely to take and possible paths to either a no-deal outcome or a second referendum on EU membership. Students also asked about the effect Brexit would have on politics in the UK and the EU, and about policies that the MEPs had worked to support during their time in office. The group, which included students from four EU member states (as well as non-EU citizens), also reflected on the causes of Brexit and the UK’s occasionally turbulent relationship with the EU.

A number of news reporters took time out of their schedules to meet the group and share their experiences of reporting in Brussels. Adam Fleming of the BBC, Jennifer Rankin of the Guardian and John Rega of MLex Market Insight gave advice to students about establishing a career as a reporter and answered questions about the opportunities and challenges of writing about European issues.

The students were also given a tour of the European Parliament’s media facilities, including the television and radio studios. The group was also given access to the European Parliament’s press centre.

The trip took place in the first week after the end of the autumn teaching term and was led by Jane Martinson, Marjorie Deane Professor of Financial Journalism at City University of London, and Tom Felle, a senior lecturer also at City. A number of the students will be getting work experience at various media outlets over the Christmas holidays. Later in the academic year, the students on City’s MA in financial journalism course will travel to Fudan University in Shanghai and New York University for summer schools on journalism and the global economy. These trips will be financed by the Marjorie Deane Financial Journalism Foundation.

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