Eurovision Fans Are Hungry for News. These Superfans Are Here to Help.


Magnus Bormark, a longtime rock guitarist in Norway, said his band had gotten used to releasing music with little publicity. So nothing prepared him for the onslaught of attention since the band, Gåte, was selected to represent Norway at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The phones have not stopped ringing, Bormark said — not just with calls from reporters from mainstream media outlets, but also from the independent bloggers, YouTubers and podcast hosts who provide Eurovision superfans with nonstop coverage of Eurovision gossip, backstage drama and news about the contest.

Casual Eurovision observers may tune in once a year to watch the competition, in which acts representing 37 countries compete in the world’s most watched cultural event. But for true fans, Eurovision is a year-round celebration of pop music, and since the winner is decided by viewer votes as well as juries of music industry professionals, fan media hype can help boost those artists’ profiles.

The rise of websites and social media accounts dedicated to Eurovision news follows a broader trend in media, where nontraditional media organizations, like fan sites, podcasts, newsletters, new video formats and publications dedicated to niche interests, are expanding in size and influence.

A report published last year by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat users paid more attention to social media personalities, influencers and celebrities than journalists when it came to news.

“Someone can sit in their bedroom, being passionate about Eurovision, but suddenly they have 40,000 followers,” Bormark said.

One of the most followed Eurovision news sites, Wiwibloggs, was founded by William Lee Adams, a Vietnamese American journalist who works for the BBC.

“The fan media is sort of covering this year round, breathlessly, because they recognize that it’s an underserved topic,” said Adams, whose site’s YouTube channel got more than 20 million views last year. “This is the World Cup of music, this is the Olympics on steroids, and it deserves attention.”

A lot has changed since Adams founded the site 15 years ago. At the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2012, Adams said he and a friend, dressed in hot pink pants and tight white shirts, were among a small number people in the media room who were not representing traditional outlets.

“Things kind of snowballed from there,” he said. Today, Wiwibloggs has a volunteer staff of more than 40 writers, editors, videographers and graphic designers from 30 countries.

This year, about 300 members of the fan media, representing nearly 200 publications, social media channels and podcasts, are registered to cover the Eurovision finals in Malmo, Sweden. Another 200 fan journalists have access to the competition’s online media room, according to the European Broadcasting Union or E.B.U., which oversees the event. That’s in addition to the more than 750 journalists from traditional media outlets expected to attend, including one reporter from The New York Times.

Alesia Lucas, a Eurovision commentator from the Washington, D.C., area, said she started a YouTube channel in 2015 as a way to find with other people who were passionate about Eurovision — not easy for an American. As her audience has grown, so has the role of bloggers in setting the tone of conversations about the artists, she said.

“We start banging the drum earlier than even the E.B.U. to start getting Eurovision back into the zeitgeist and highlight the moments that are notable,” said Lucas, who uses the name Alesia Michelle for her YouTube channel. She records content at 6 a.m., before her daughter wakes up, and edits video after she’s finished her day job of handling communications for a labor union.

The Eurovision commentator Gabe Milne produces videos for his YouTube channel when he’s not at his day job at London City Hall. “Often I’ll do eight or nine hours there, come home, and then spend six or seven hours of research, getting everything ready,” he said. Compared to past years, “you’re seeing a lot more professional-style content,” he said.

Yet fan media has mostly stayed away from a topic that mainstream media outlets have covered extensively: a campaign to exclude Israel from the competition because of the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.

“We’re not journalists,” said Tom Davitt, an Irish physical therapist who records Eurovision YouTube videos on evenings and weekends. “We’re not even amateur journalists, we’re just amateur content creators, so wading into this kind of stuff — we’re just not trained for it.”

While reporters from mainstream media outlets tend to be impartial observers of the competition, many fan media are not aiming for neutrality. When USA Today hired a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter who was also a self-proclaimed Swiftie, it raised questions: Is it possible for a fan to maintain objectivity? Would someone who is not a fan understand the subject well enough to cover it?

Charlie Beckett, the head of a think tank focused on journalism at the London School of Economics, said objectivity was not the goal in Eurovision.

“The whole point of Eurovision is that you’re incredibly biased according to your nationality and which singer you like,” Beckett said. The growing numbers of fan media sites reflected the growth in hype around Eurovision, even nearly 70 years after its first edition. “It seems to ride out any kind of fashion reversal,” he said.

Lucas, from the D.C. area, said that while mainstream media outlets report on Eurovision as a circus, it was now more mainstream than people credit. “Yeah, it’s camp, a little bit,” she said, “but you can’t tell me that Katy Perry’s halftime show was not camp either.”



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