By Gabrielle Bellamy
No, seriously, there is no such thing as Belgium Media. I learned this today when my classmates and I went to hear a lecture by professor Hedwig Desmaele at the Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel (HUB). During the lecture, we learned about different aspects of media in Belgium. I learned that the media here is very segregated between the Flemish and the French. People only care about the media in their own language. So, the Flemish don’t care about French media and vice versa.
Flemish Media is broken down into federal media and community media.
– Press Freedom
– Ether Police
– Media posts from the federal government
– Bilingual radio and TV
– Press subsidies
Interesting facts about Flanders print media:
– The Flem have been using newspapers since the 17th century
– The Mass Press was established in the late 19th century.
– There are 3 newspaper companies: Corelio, De Persgroep, and Concentra. Between these companies are 10 publications. Hedwig showed us the difference between quality newspapers and popular new. Quality newspapers have the hard news, and popular newspapers have stories about celebrities and pop culture. She brought in many examples of different papers and allowed us to look through them. The quality papers had longer articles and larger photos compared to the popular papers with shorter articles and smaller photos. Most of the papers were both wider and shorter than the average American paper. Another thing I noticed was that the papers were, in their entirety, in color! I’m talking photos and advertisements. Clearly, these papers are making money.
About German print media:
– There is only 1 German publication in Belgium called Grenz-Echo.
** An interesting fact about the people of Belgium is that many people still read the actual newspaper. As a matter of fact, half of the country has never read online news. Coming from America, that almost seems utopian… and crazy! Hedwig did note, however, that more young people have started reading online news BUT they also still read physical papers.
As a real journalist, I was very intrigued with the information I learned about broadcast journalism. The Flems began radio broadcasting in 1930 and TV broadcasting in 1953. Unlike Americans, 40% of Flems watch PSB (Public Service Broadcasting) daily. They also have several PSB channels instead of just one. The Flems have very conservative viewing habits when it comes to TV, and they watch fewer hours of TV than Americans do. A similarity between Flems and Americans is that TV watching occurs mostly in the evening. People in both countries watch the evening news, then they watch other TV shows (primetime).
Overall, I enjoyed the lecture. It was interesting to visit the HUB, sit in a classroom, and listen to a foreign teacher. I also learned some things about the culture at the HUB. For example, the school is a Dutch-speaking school. Also, the average undergrad student takes about 20-26 hours each semester. This is way more than what many American students take. I learned that tuition for the school is MUCH cheaper than what I’m paying in the United States. Who knows, I may learn Dutch and attend school at the HUB myself. However, I’m not sure if I would want to be a journalist here. The pay is only decent if you work as a professional journalist and have a contract. Unfortunately, many young journalists struggle to get a job with a good, steady, promising contract. A lot of journalists are unprofessional, or freelance, writers. (They aren’t exactly cashing out). Sadly, some journalists are experiencing the struggle and losing their jobs, but many of them are reinventing themselves by becoming PR practitioners.
Below: Photos from our visit to the HUB