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The Dutch Telegraph: reclaim your independence

by Marthijn Uittenbogaard


The Belgium media company called Mediahuis wants to buy the largest Dutch newspaper called Telegraaf. Well, not only the newspaper itself but the whole company Telegraaf Media Groep. Besides the Telegraaf this company has many more newspapers under their wings. But the times are very hard for TMG. Every year the Telegraaf loses 5 percent or more of their subscribers. And advertisers tend to walk different paths: the old newspapers are losing ground rapidly.

Mediahuis is a large company that some years ago bought the Dutch newspaper NRC. Of course they always promise that the newspaper they buy will keep their independence. This is never the case. I believe the head of the editorial resigned because she was forced from higher up to change things. In a democracy you need independent media. In our civilization more then 90% of the mass media is in the hands of ten huge media companies. So a few people - Rupert Murdoch is one of them - have the power. This is terrible. We must fight for more independent journalism.

Rob Wijnberg started a new newspaper. He started NRC Next. The little sister of the bigger NRC. It was a huge success. Many young people subscribed. The newspaper grew every year, against the trend: most newspapers lost subscribers. Then people above him decided he had to go and the newspaper should be more newsier. Wijnberg and 'his' paper were different from most other papers: NRC Next dared to print frontpages with background stories. Not just only the breaking news, more what's behind it all. He had to go and after he left the newspaper it lost almost all of her subscribers. Maybe he did upset some people with power, who knows. But I cannot believe NRC really did think it would be a good choice for the paper itself. What did Wijnberg do afterwards? He started an internet newssite where people have to pay to read the articles. Again he was very successful. The Correspondent.nl as it is called now exists for years. People have to subscribe for 6 euro's a month. Problem is that how can you get new subscribers when all articles are behind a pay wall? A media campaign in the future most likely is needed. And will he get the same attention as he got before?

The Telegraaf - comparable with the English tabloids - has a problem. Why do they not copy what Rob Wijnberg did and collect money for a new project? They think they are doing that already because you can get a digital subscription. They should think out of the box and start a website with news and background articles for everyone to read. Nothing behind a pay wall. Collect money from people who want to donate, who want to give the Telegraaf independency.

The Telegraaf can only exist in this internet era when they will bring honest news. In this era you cannot only feed prejudice. You cannot bring lies to the public. People will reply, they will criticize articles online, where in the old days you needed a paper to publish your criticism. In the end everyone has read complaints about your newspaper. You can be a very conservative newspaper but you cannot fool as much people as before. Not for years in a row. More honest media like Volkskrant, Trouw and Groene Amsterdammer are doing fine, less honest media like Telegraaf, Elsevier, NRC, Vrij Nederland are losing many subscribers every year. Internet-effect.

People from the Telegraaf now are depressed. Their newspaper is dying. But they can still save it. There are enough people who want to be part of saving this newspaper. How to do this?

My recommendations:
- Start a campaign and collect money. Start tomorrow: people like spontaneous action instead of activity after many boring meetings behind closed doors. Minimum: 25 euro's a year. Recommended: 100 euro's or more.
- Make a website dutchtelegraph.com where you publish your news articles. Do this in the English language only. All journalists working for you from now on write in English. Hire a few people who can correct this English in more readable English. So it reads better for the rest of the world then my article here. But keep the grammatic simple, so Dutch people can easily understand it all.
- Keep writing about Tietjerksteradeel even when the whole world now is your audience.
- Translate the English text to Dutch - yes in this order - for the printed newspaper and send this to the members at home. This group will shrink every year. - Give all donating people once a year a printed text - not by email, no on a real piece of paper - with an update on how the company is doing. And give a small surprise. Let them know they are a part of it.

When you as a news'paper' have a lot of people financially supporting you then you can critically write about the people in power. That's what we need in a democracy. When the Telegraaf chooses to do as I propose, then I will donate the first 1000 euro's. We still can save journalism.


15 December 2016