Copyright on the Internet

Next week, I have my French exam. So this weekend, I decided to start preparing the exam. I need to read some pages in a French book: ‘Journalisme en ligne’. And isn’t that convenient? Because if you understand French, you know that I’m reading a book about digital journalism.

More specifically, I need to read the part about copyright. As we all know, citizen journalism has expanded since the arrival of the internet. That’s good because now people can give their opinion. But the down side is, that most professional journalists have a hard time protecting their written content. Some people believe that everything’s possible on the Internet, and that the copyright rules don’t apply on Internet content. Well, think again, because it does.

At school, we had a course last year, named Legislation and ethics. In the course, we learned about copyright and about who can be held responsable for plagiarism. But, in the course, we never spoke about copyright on the Internet

I think it’s important that everybody who writes on Internet makes sure to never copy something without permission. first, it’s unethical, but it’s also a criminal offense. Although, the copyright rules on the Internet are much less strict, I think it’s important to know that you can’t copy content from another person.

While I was reading the part about copyright, I started to think about my own writings on this blog. I tried to remember if I had used content from another journalist or writer. The truth is, I don’t know. When I write the articles for this blog, I mostly write about my own opinion. But that opinion is based on things I read. So, then I was confused. And now, I don’t know if I have broke copywright rules or not. I’m guessing I didn’t, but I’m not sure.

I’ve become aware of the fact that most people think the Internet has no rules, but I think it’s important that people know that rules are everywhere, also on the Internet. You can copy content from another writer, and you can post it on the internet and you may not get punished, but it’s just unethical. Keep that in mind!


New paper version of news magazine NewsWeek

In December 2012, the last paper version of the American news magazine NewsWeek appeared. The board decided that the paper version wasn’t profitable anymore. The sales figures kept on decreasing. So since then, the news magazine only appeared in a digital version.

But now, NewsWeek has decided to bring back the paper version. They hope the paper version will be profitable again. They want to gain that goal by making it a magazine for subscribers. In Januari or Februari 2014, you can read the magazine again in the paper version.


This is a very interesting turn in the print media. Print media isn’t doing well, and so more and more newspapers or magazines decide to bring their content via a digital platform. But now, NewsWeek will try to regain its readership by bringing back the paper version.

Only time will tell if NewsWeek will have made a good decision.

Tips & tricks for online journalists, good or bad?

For new journalists who are entering the world of digital journalism, it’s not always easy to just start working with the new media. Therefor, has posted an article  about tips and tricks for newbies entering the field.

Tip 1 – Build your own brand

In the article, they say journalists have to build their own brand, by using social media for example. Peter Bale, vice president and general manager of CNN International Digital, says Twitter is by far the most important source of news now, and it’s about the individual.
But my question now: if journalists will start to build their own brand, will their news coverage still be independent and neutral? In my opinion, it’s very hard to post neutral news when you’re the only one writing and controlling it. When you post an article on your own blog, I believe it will always be coloured with the own thoughts of the journalist. There’s for example no editor in chief who can control the article.

Tip 2 – Be good storytellers, but understand the business

The article states that journalists, of course, need to be good storytellers. But they also have to understand the business and the economy they’re working in. And the journalists need to be able to work with the new technology and the new designs.

Tip 3 – Be a curator

Journalists can be a curator and offer their audience a wider look on the world.

I agree with this tip. Because of the internet and the use of digital journalism, it’s much easier to link to other articles, and so the audience will get more information. And hopefully the audience will learn more and will have a more open look on things.

Tip 4 – Interact with the community

The article here says that journalists often fail to keep contact with their audience online. I agree that it’s often true that online journalists don’t talk with their audience, but I understand it must be very difficult. If an article or a post gets a lot of response, it’s not simple to answer to the needs of the audience. And as I said before, the journalist needs to be carefull with what he says, because actually, he needs to stay neutral.

Tip 5 – Ask questions

Journalists need to be curious and ask questions all the time.


I think it’s a very good article, but I do have my doubts with some of the tips. All the tips are true, but I think the biggest problem with online journalism is that the journalists aren’t being controlled. And I think that will colour their content.


“Is there a difference between online news and printed press?”

Today I ran into an interesting opinion piece from De Standaard, written by Tom Naegels.

After the promotion around the new Belgian newssite NewsMonkey, on which already an article has been written on the blog, Tom Naegels would like to share his opinion about the online journalism in Belgium.

First, he doesn’t believe that the Internet will enhance the quality of journalism. He gives some examples of mistakes made on online news sites. He believes too many errors are being made on online platforms. Of course, that is not only the case on news sites, the actual printed press makes mistakes as well. That’s why he doesn’t accept the saying that online is better than print. They both make the same mistakes.

Second, he also argues that some news sites aren’t real news sites. Some of the online platforms don’t bring news, they bring opinion and in-depth stories. So there’s a difference.

Moreover, he cannot know if the information on the news sites is correct. There is less monitoring and control on what the sites publish, and there are no real competitors who place an opposing view.

Tom Naegels thinks that news on the internet is going the same way as news in the printed press. There are professionals and amateurs, correct and incorrect information, sensation and depth. That’s normal. And so there’s not really a difference between the two.

You can read the entire article (in Dutch) here

New Belgian news site NewsMonkey

As said before, the printed press is in trouble. Partly because of the decline in advertising revenues. Advertisers are not interested anymore in funding printed press.

Newspapers and journalists need to find new ways to bring their news to the people. A new initiative in Belgium shows us how we can change our ways of news gathering. is a new project by Mick Van Loon, Wouter Verschelden and Patrick Van Waeyenberge, and supported by several Belgian journalists, who ‘lives to the rhythm of the web and social media‘. It’s a news site who hopes to survive by crowdfunding. The site looks for small shareholders. Starting from 50 euros, you can become a co-owner.

The site’s goal is to strengthen their bond between journalists and news readers. They have promised to keep their content free. Everyone who’s interested can access the content of the site.

Newspapers need to change their way of working

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.

The rise of the paywall industry

Starting the 1st of November, readers of the Daily Journal, a local newspaper of Northeast Mississippi, will have to pay for the online content of the newspaper. The Daily Journal is certainly not the first newspaper to insert a paywall. It is in fact just following the flow.

Lloyd Gray, the executive editor of the Daily Journal, says “newspaper industry made a big mistake back in the late 90s by giving our product away free online. In order to sustain the level of content you’ve come to expect from the Daily Journal, readers will be asked to pay for our online content. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. “

The Daily Journal follows some big newspapers that already have a paywall. The Wall Street Journal was the first big newspaper that inserted a hard paywall in 1997. That means their online readers were allowed no access to content without a subscription. Nevertheless, The Wall Street Journal remained popular. This because they provided added value to their content.

Over the years, many others followed the example of The Wall Street Journal. When The Times inserted their online paywall in 2010, it was a very controversial choice. The Times is a general news site, and many believed their online readers would turn to other free sources of online news. Many readers did. They turned to The Guardian, which is one of the most popular English newspapers, and that doesn’t have a paywall.

Newspapers are forced to insert a paywall because of the decline in print subscriptions and advertising revenues. Especially the young, for whom digital is their way of life, search for information and articles on free online news sites. Sites like and have used a paywall to increase their revenue and the number of print subscribers, by offering a full package subscription. That means subscribers still get the printed newspaper, ánd they have access to the online content.

But, the use of the paywall also brings up ethical questions. News coverage needs to inform the people, and when it is put behind a paywall, people don’t have free access to information, which is contrary to the freedom of speech and democracy.

The Guardian is one of the quality newspapers that has resisted to the insertion of a paywall. “Belief in open internet and care for community” is their reason to not insert a paywall. Katharine Viner, deputy of the Guardian and editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia, stated in a lecture given in Melbourne, that “paywalls are antithetical to the open web. A paywalled website is just print in another form, making collaboration with people formerly known as the audience much more difficult. You can’t take advantage of the benefits of the open web if you’re hidden away. It’s an illusion that the future of journalism is safe behind them [paywalls], when the future of journalism is going on outside them?”

So, the conclusion? Many newspapers are forced to use paywalls. It’s not a choice, but a necessity. However, there are still so many other free news sites, will the paywall save the newspapers?