Farewell message from António Buscardini: Obrigado Brussels Express!

Today I’m retiring as Editor-in-Chief of Brussels Express and I’m very pleased to announce that the job will be taken over by my friend Pascal Goergen.

Creating Brussels Express was an incredible journey. The idea started growing in my mind one week after my wedding back in September 2016. While enjoying our Italian honeymoon in Puglia, I shared with my wife that I would like to create an English-speaking news platform in Brussels in order to help expats, like us, to get to know the city of Brussels. During my first three years in Brussels I spent my time in the European bubble, sadly, between Schuman, Place Luxembourg and home. I was so focused on my job that I never felt the need to get to know the city I was living in. And I knew I was not alone. This phenomenon happens to the majority of expats. Through Brussels Express I wanted to discover Brussels. That was the first selfish reason to launch this project.

The real bread and butter

Back to Brussels, and to reality, I tried to figure out the best way to move forward. I gathered two former colleagues from the Assembly of European Regions and explained to them my vision. If Brussels Express is alive today it is exclusively thanks to these two persons: Alain Fritsch and Lucas Tripoteau. Alain took care of designing and creating the website and Lucas was the first support to get sources, ideas, information, pieces and interviews. The logo was the most difficult part. In the end, I decided to delegate this responsability to both my mother and mother-in-law. It was a wise decision if I may say so.

After 3 months of hard work – and ignoring all the naysayers that predicted the death of this project within two months – we decided that the website would be online on January 9, 2017. Precisely 2 years ago.

The first challenge was to announce the happening. The birth! It was very important for me to transmit the right spirit. I wanted to make clear that we were not a boring traditional media, enslaved by sponsors. Thanks to the famous Belgian cartoonist Sondron we created a lively banner for the website and a 30-second video teaser announcing our arrival.

Bonjour, Hallo, my name is Brussels Express

Next January 9, 2017, a new Brussels friend will arrive in town. I'm a daily online news platform where Expats based in Brussels and Bruxellois de pure souche can find out what’s happening in their city. #brussels_express In 48 hours you will be able to discover me by typing www.brussels-express.eu Until then, have fun with my video presentation.

Publiée par Brussels Express sur Vendredi 6 janvier 2017

 

2017: Growing, growing, growing!

The first 12 months were so challenging. Hard work. Incredible schedules. I was working from 05:00 to 00:00 every day. Saturdays and Sundays. Lucky for me we started gaining brilliant, competent and hardworking colleagues. The first one was Laura Franceschin. Brussels Express’ first intern. A brilliant colleague whom unfortunately we couldn’t hire at the time. She came with me to Tunis for Brussels Express’ first mission abroad. It was also with Laura that we released our first magazine in 2017. We spent days and days doing the distribution.

James Wilson started writing for our Diplomatic Bag and still covers multiple political issues. Thanks to James, we got high level exclusive interviews – such as with the President of Albania. It was also during this period that he obtained the Belgian citizenship and shared his joy with our readers. Potverdekke!

Boro Milovic, WeLoveBrussels founder, became a true friend. It was thanks to Boro that we grew so fast on social media. With Boro’s help, we reached 1 million visitors to our website in a record time. Every week, Boro inspires – his favourite word – our readers with his Best Brussels Moments.

Kaja Hengstenberg became our food expert. Brussels has 179 nationalities and obviously multiple restaurants from all origins. Kaja has so far written more than 100 reviews. Always concrete and punctual. Thanks to her I got to discover lovely restaurants.

Mauricio Ruiz was in charge of Cult’Art, a section that we pay a lot of attention to. We announced cultural events, happenings in bookshops (particularly at Librebook), art centers, embassies etc.  and always conducted fair reviews. Thanks to Mauricio we increased our visibility with multiple relevant stakeholders in the Brussels arena. I’m happy to see that Mauricio is now deeply engaged with Brussels Express thanks to his new position as Executive Editor.

Rosetti Rivera was responsible for covering the communal elections in 2018. We were the first media to pay attention to this issue. Together with VoteBrussels and 1bru1Vote, we worked hard in trying to convince expats to register and vote for the October 14, 2018 election. Rosetti prepared a bible for this election: Brussels Express’ 2018 magazine. She reviewed all the 19 communes and listed its candidates. Furthermore, she is the author of multiple stories about Brussels’ heritage, history and fun facts. Those pieces were precisely what I was looking for when I decided to launch Brussels Express.

2018: “Hey! this is going well!”

It was in early 2018 that I understood: “hey, this is going well!”. We started to be invited to important events and international trips, to work with Brussels’ communes, multiple Embassies, the Press Club Brussels Europe, more partners, more contributors, and more readers! One fun thing to do was to explain to our competitors from BRUZZ who we were. Fair game from their side.

BRUZZ Buscardini

 

2018 was also the year we organised the first festival dedicated to the Portuguese expats in Ixelles: I love Portugal. The festival took place at Place Sainte-Croix with more than 40 000 visitors.

I’m retiring as Editor-in-Chief of Brussels Express in order to pursue my career as a Television Director. It was very challenging to combine both jobs. Plus, now that I’m a dad there isn’t room for more adventures such as this one.

The new Editor-in-Chief, Pascal Goergen, invited me to move to Brussels back in 2013. At the time, I was working in Strasbourg for the Assembly of European Regions, he was the Secretary General. He believed in my competences to join the team in Brussels and to be in charge of press relations. I know him well and now it’s  my turn to trust he will deliver, and take good care of Brussels Express.

As part of my television work, I’ll continue to travel a lot and will be in charge of coordinating Brussels Express’ travel pulse section. I’m happy to say that this is not a definitive goodbye.

Muito obrigado to all that contributed to the success of Brussels Express.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank you, Lieke, my wife, for the incommensurable support and patience.

 

 

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