By Johnell Woody
Our second lecture in Brussels was delivered in the Hogeschool University Brussels. Our little band of eager scholars arrived right on time! We were met by Hedwig Desmaele, our lecturer. We took the stairs to the 2nd floor (which is actually two flights up, since the ground floor here is “0.” She had coffee and water for us and began to share some of the unique challenges of media in Brussels.
First, Belgium is divided into three regions, the Dutch speaking Flemish region to the North, the French speaking Walloon region to the south, and Brussels. Because of these differences, each region has its own media outlets. Our professor gave a quick overvview of the geo-political structure in the for the day brought in a stack of newspapers. As a resident of Brugges, Dr. Desmaele brought Dutch language papers from the Flemish region and began to share some facts and figures. Newspaper readership is very high – 65% of the population in Flanders read the newspaper – literally….50% have never read an online newpaper, 40% read online one time per week, and 10% less than one time per week….printed newspapers are still very much in vogue here, unlike the US.
The language, religious, cultural, and I would think political, differences between the regions affect readership, as well as content. In the Flanders region, the Catholic newspapers have the highest readership, while the Walloon region highest readership is first socialist papers, with Catholic publicatons second.
The languages and associate cultures seem to me to be the factors that divide Belgium.