Six countries, six leading newspapers, a huge audience and one common theme: Europe, how to explain it better, how to understand it better, how to build it better. This is the aim of an editorial project which saw six papers joining forces to produce a joint special edition on the situation of the European Union.
"The state of the Union", echoing the State of the union speech US President Obama gave on 24 January, is the angle of the first issue of Europa (more will be expected in future) produced by El Pais, the Guardian, Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Gazeta Wyborcza and La Stampa.
This joint special editorial supplement aims to give a "more nuanced picture of the EU and explore what Europe does well and what not so well", as the Guardian explained.
The idea underlying the project is that different eyes give different perspectives ("La croisée des regards" says Le Monde's title) and different perspectives can all contribute to build a more comprehensive understanding of the crisis, both economic and ideological, that is facing Europe.
Sylvie Kauffmann on Le Monde wrote: "Before becoming an economic union, Europe was a community linked by shared values". A community - she explained - whose daily reality consists of the experiences of European citizens everyday, commuting internationally for working, immigrating and emigrating and whose stories are the subject of this Europa issue.
The issue is built around conquering euroscepticism as well as national stereotyping which is reflected in the countries' leaders portraits viewed from one of the other foreign countries: Mario Monti viewed from Spain, Donald Tusk from Germany, Mariano Rajoy from Poland, David Cameron from France and Nicolas Sarkozy viewed from Britain. But the main article is a longer interview that Angela Merkel gave to the six newspapers jointly.
The Editors Weblog spoke to Marco Bardazzi, managing editor at La Stampa, who explained how the project was born and how it has been developed from an editorial point of view.
The table of contents has been chosen by the six newspapers together: Europa has been realised with a continuous discussion amongst all. Each paper suggested stories and wrote three articles for each thematic session, such as "The Europe which moves forward" and "The Europe which thinks."
Commons guidelines have been developed for layout, photos and content but each paper decided independently how to publish it. The Guardian published two pages on different days inside the usual daily edition while Le Monde, El Pais and La Stampa created a supplement, within the paper for Le Monde, external for La Stampa.
Readers from the six different countries can find the same content, translated into each language, in the package which was most suitable for each newspaper.
As the project's name suggests, the focus of next editions will remain Europe-centred although they could be built around specific topics as immigration or the common monetary politcs.
The role of newspapers is to offer readers different ways to understand the world and the project wants to help in create a common European identity through telling the stories of what brings us together and what tear us apart, Bardazzi said.