“We want to surprise Flanders in a journalistic way”
“If you add up how many readers, surfers and viewers are reached by our brands, you get a staggering number. Certainly more than 3 million Flemish people. Imagine what we can achieve if we join forces. Then we can inform the Fleming 24 hours a day, on all platforms (print, digital, TV, radio) and with a full range of news items (general news, sports, showbiz, regional). That is News City’s ambition,” says An Goovaerts.
“We come from a time when all editors performed the same basic tasks. That is a waste of time, a duplication of work. It is much more effective to consider the ‘basics’ of our activities as a group effort and to spend the released energy on what makes each brand and platform unique,” says Frank Depoorter.
Yesterday a competitor, today a colleague
Frank Depoorter realizes that News City is a learning process. “It is not easy for journalists to forget that they were competitors not so long ago. But we are open to change. A good example was the news gathering around toddler Julen in Spain. We have sent a journalist from Het Laatste Nieuws on site. In the past, VTM NIEUWS would also have broadcast a reporter, but now our journalist went on camera for VTM NIEUWS and it worked remarkably well. After each intervention we gave her feedback and she followed that perfectly. HLN.be also benefited by going live with a reporter on site. Such spontaneous success is what News City stands for: joining forces and deploying the talents of our collaborators wherever possible.”
“It makes sense for our editors to look at News City with a healthy critical eye. The starting point is that we do not steal a march on each other, but that we work together for the viewer’s and the reader’s benefit. If we reinforce each other in terms of content and organization and thus increase our news impact, I am sure that we will prove the reason for existence of News City on a daily basis,” says An Goovaerts.
“When we report a scoop on all our platforms, the whole of Flanders sees that news. Isn’t that every news maker’s ambition? Our media reach 85% of the Flemish people every day. That is a huge potential. ”
More space for your own emphasis
“We have to stop thinking in boxes”, confirms Frank Depoorter. “Why should a report by VTM journalist Robin Ramaekers about North Korea or Yemen not be on the HLN.be platform or in Het Laatste Nieuws? We have so many talented people in our staff, it would be a shame to curtail them. Thanks to News City, our brands can reinforce each other. The videos on HLN.be attract a lot of viewers. Isn’t it fantastic that VTM NIEUWS can ride on this success.”
“The ambition is to work together structurally and thematically. Experts working for each brand will be assembled around the same table to direct the content. With News City we want to surprise the Flemish people in a journalistic way many times a year,” says An Goovaerts.
“But news cannot be predicted. That is why we want to motivate all our collaborators to work together spontaneously as much as possible. In Antwerp that will become easier because we share the same work floor and coffee machine.”
“The May 2019 elections are a perfect case. The editors of VTM NIEUWS, Het Laatste Nieuws, the regional house and the video cell will look at how they can best organize this reporting together. The sports editors of VTM NIEUWS and Het Laatste Nieuws will work on the same work floor. So much know-how together: that will make great things happen,” says Frank Depoorter. “Every brand will be able to put its own emphasis on things. There will be even more time and space for it because the basic news gathering becomes a shared effort.”
Nicholas Lataire, editor-in-chief VTM NIEUWS
“News City will without a doubt become the beating news heart of Flanders. No other news organizations reaches 8 out of 10 Flemish people. Nowhere else in our country more has been invested in news, literally and figuratively. I am convinced that the journalists from our different editorial teams will inspire each other to bring more and better stories. This strong journalism is the best weapon against the competition – also against Google and Facebook – and certainly a guarantee for a bright future. “
Exciting new story
“When we visited together the construction site of the new building where News City will be housed (De Persgroep will move to a new headquarters in the Antwerp train station area in the fall of 2019, ed.), it immediately felt good,” says Frank Depoorter. “It is a pleasant building that lends itself to collaboration. We cannot put all journalists together in a single room, but we all work literally within a few meters of each other.”
“That will make News City the attraction pole par excellence for young people,” says An Goovaerts. “Who doesn’t want to be part of the journalistic team that is omnipresent in every day’s news flow? Moreover, we are progressive and challenging. We invest in new technologies and innovations, such as the Kubus app for Het Laatste Nieuws. And because of the wide range of brands our collaborators will have sufficient career opportunities. This is a place where you can climb the career ladder or give your career a new turn.”
“We must also remember that News City is simply fun,” concludes Frank Depoorter. “It is a new world that is opening up. I am very happy that we can formulate a positive response to digitization, which is nevertheless a huge disruption of the classical media world. It is not a matter of doing less with fewer people, but of doing better and more with the same number of people.”
Paul Daenen, Director News City
“In times when news has become a free commodity and surfers, readers and viewers are more than ever looking for guidance, News City comes none too soon. Focus becomes the key word. The news consumer will find answers to his questions in this complex but fascinating world at any time of the day on the platform that is best suitable for him.”