Het Mediahuis, the joint venture between two big Belgian mediagroups (Corelio and Concentra) is in trouble. 205 jobs will disappear. This news shows us once again, how much the printed press is in trouble.
Het Mediahuis owns two big national newspapers, Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard, and two big regional dailies: De Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg.
The downturn is necessary, but I believe Het Mediahuis needs to change some other things.
First of all, the four newspapers have an online website that is accessible to everyone. Everyone who is interested in news, can go to the website and has free access to the content. I believe that if the newspapers want to stay strong, they will have to change their site. I am, for example, in favor of a paywall. But… I myself search and read articles on the site of Het Nieuwsblad. I never buy the actual paper. Why?
Well, I am in favor of a paywall, if the content on the site is different from the content in the printed version of the paper. Now, all the articles are the same, so I don’t think it’s necessary to buy the newspaper.
I believe the newspapers have to add more interactivity to their websites, and more in-depth content to the printed version. Only then, I believe a paywall will work, and the printed paper will stay strong. The focus in the printed version needs to be on opinion, analysis and real-life stories. The websites just need to give the breaking news, and more interactivity. I would like to see some more pictures and video reportages on the sites.I would also like to see that social media gets more involved. Now, you can ‘like’ an article, but it would be nice if you could comment on the article via facebook, post and share the article on other social media and that you can talk to the journalists via social media. People want their opinion to be heard, and I think newspapers should use social media to interact more.
An added advantage could be that if the newspapers will add more video reportages to their website, they can hire some real video journalists. Journalists who are trained in video news coverage. So the newspaper staff will be more varied, and so there will be more varied ideas and opinions, which I believe will add to the quality of the content.
The above stated ideas are my opinion. I am of course not an expert, I am just a journalism student. But, I am strongly convinced that today’s newspapers will not survive unless they change their way of working on the websites.