Writing about television in a newspaper. Let us face it, people with more prosperous career perspectives became addicted to Prozac. One medium has been declared dead more often than the other, so how long would that best job in the world last for me?
A legitimate question when I see how my own family is gathering around the television on Saturday evening: we parents must do our best not to look at our phone for fifteen minutes and for the children the program must at least have the intensity of The Mole before they look up from their iPad and latest vlog from Enzo Knol, and even then, they just watch occasionally.
Yet I am not at all pessimistic. Just take an evening walk in a random residential area, listen to a conversation at the coffee machine, check what is trending on Twitter: everything revolves around television. That flat box on the wall largely determines how we look at the world and what our world (the living room) looks like.
That is nice. For now, but in ten years’ time you will talk differently, De Jong. But I don’t believe that either. Just like it does for newspapers, the internet offers countless opportunities and perhaps the solution to eternal life for television. Because of course my 12-, 10- and 5-year-old no longer hush their offspring at 8 p.m. when the News starts, as my grandfather did 20 years ago. Today, watching a program at a fixed time is already hopelessly outdated. Try to explain to a toddler growing up with the Netflix and YouTube treasure chest what a video tape is.
You watch something on your own time, except maybe for a football match or the MasterChef final. Although it does happen regularly that my oldest daughter points out a funny, emotional or special TV excerpt that I accidentally missed, but that she saw on all her social media channels.
It’s all about the content. About special, beautiful, amazing, startling programs that can lift you, learn you something, move you, raise you and create a sense of togetherness. Well made, with respect for the subject and the viewer. Then TV can effortlessly last for decades. Indeed, just like the newspapers. There is always a need for stories. But one of my editor-in-chief already said that ten years ago.
Angela de Jong
TV columnist for AD and the associated regional papers