Mediacafé #5: the customer is always right! Archive
Does the consumer of media always get what he wants?
Wednesday 23 February 2011 - 20:00
Keynotes in English, debate in Dutch
Kunstencentrum Vooruit | Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, 9000 Ghent
Investigative journalism seems to be on the way down. According to media companies it is time-consuming, unattractive and inaccessible to advertisers and consumers, and therefore too expensive. Will future generations still know what high-quality investigative journalism is all about? Is there money to spend and do we still want to spend it on this kind of journalism? What kind of democratic role do our media want to play, and is there a regulative role laid out for the government? An international panel searches for answers, solutions and a few rays of hope.
Our media are big business. The three largest historical newspaper groups in Flanders (Persgroep, Corelio and Concentra) have developed into media companies that are active in written and audiovisual media. Top businessmen like Christian Van Thillo rule with a firm hand and keep an eye on the biggest market shares. The average media consumer (for the time being) seems to be getting what he wants in the continuous stream of information, disinformation, infotainment and entertainment.
Then what seems to be the problem? Nick Davies proves in his highly praised Flath Earth News that our news isn’t accurate. Articles are uncritically copied from PR ‘wizards’ and press agencies, and facts aren’t being checked anymore. What's more, he states that journalists have to ‘produce’ news nonstop and are working under enormous time pressure to do so. In his book Je hebt het niet van mij maar… the Dutch journalist Joris Luyendijk attacks the political culture in The Hague, in which the press seems to pay more attention to players than to content (source: www.standaard.be). According to Tom Van Hout (University of Ghent), who was able to spend six months at the newsroom of De Standaard, we haven’t reached a similar situation in Flanders yet, but we must be on guard.
On the internet, however, there are more and more journalists who fight back against the powerful media giants. Apache.be in Flanders brings “news that really counts. Critical and independent. Because it is necessary”. In Italy there is Il Fatto Quotidiano, a newspaper that does bring investigative journalism and is very successful because of it. In the United States you can find ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that wants to serve public interest, and The Huffington Post, one of the most famous news sites and weblogs in the world. In Iceland you can find Birgitta Jonsdottir, spokeswoman for Wikileaks and cofounder of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative that advocates for absolute press freedom in Iceland and the rest of the whole wide world.
Will future generations still know what high-quality investigative journalism is all about? Is there money to spend and do we still want to spend it on this kind of journalism? What kind of democratic role do our media want to play, and is there a regulative role laid out for the government? Keynote speeches and a debate with, amongst others, Leo Sisti (Il Fatto Quotidiano), Birgitta Jόnsdόttir (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative), Rik De Nolf (CEO Roularta Media Group), Marc Reynebeau (De Standaard), Daniël Biltereyst (University of Ghent), Ernst-Jan Pfauth (NRC Handelsblad), Nico Haasbroek (ex-VPRO en VARA) and Ingrid Lieten (minister of Media).
In collaboration with Vooruit and the University of Ghent. Mediacafé is an initiative of deBuren, VVOJ, the Pascal Decroos Fund and Mediakritiek.be
Keynote speech by Leo Sisti of Il Fatto Quotidiano
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