| ||organisation: Babel International NGO|
country: France (local offices in 18 cities across Europe)
product: online magazine
type of biz: cultural studies
what: café babel represents a new genre of European media. Available exclusively online, it is the fruit of the efforts of a network of more than 350 voluntary contributors in 16 cities and 11 countries, from Madrid to Brussels, including Prague, Berlin and Paris.
The challenge was to create a multilingual European magazine on current affairs designed to reach across national borders, analysing the political and intellectual evolution of the continent. Its aim is to go beyond national politics and traditional media coverage. Every week café babel offers its readers a critical analysis of European current affairs on the internet in six different languages.
A forum for reflection, café babel is free media, unbiased and independent when it comes to its goals, its spirit and its operation. Pro-European, it contributes to the emergence of a European public opinion. A platform for Europe’s civil society, café babel is the place where the voices and cultures of the entire European continent are heard. It is the only media outlet in Europe where authors write in their mother tongue: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Catalan.
who: having met at the Institute of Political Science (IEP) at Strasbourg University through the Erasmus programme, four Italian and French students decided to create the Babel International association. They developed the Babel European Network, supported by the European Commission throughout 2001, whose objective was to set up a network of European students and to create an arena for virtual debate on European issues. The idea of creating a European magazine on line was quickly approved by all the members, who devoted themselves to the creation of the first version of the café babel internet site.
The network of contributors to the café babel magazine grew and the members of Babel International began to create local café babel editorial offices in their respective towns and extend the network of translators and writers in the association. Today 350 young people from across Europe contribute to the production of café babel. Their work is co-ordinated by a central office in Paris.
why: in a global society where distances are becoming ever shorter and horizons ever wider, we need to extend the scope for debate and create international interaction so that we make the most of every cultural, economical and political change. This is why the Babel International NGO was created. Its purpose is to create an interactive open platform. The ‘webzine’ formula seems to be the most effective way of achieving this. In other words, as the promoters state: “It is the best way for others to hear about our ideas and for us to hear theirs.”
how: café babel articles are not simply about spreading information. They aim to analyse and criticise the status quo and, where possible, suggest alternatives. The hope is to inspire innovation and creativity by discussing the European angle (and not just the national one) in every article. The topic for each issue is taken from current affairs and must always be viewed from the European perspective.
getting involved: all contributions are welcome. When you write, you must always remember that you are addressing the European public and not just the Spanish, Italian or British one. Numerous national references must be avoided and when discussing foreign policy issues, you must look for the role that Europe has or could have in each case.