Monday, August 29, 2005

Hart van Nederland: Changing the Dutch news landscape forever

This is a personal story (about a Dutch news adventure):
10 Years ago I just finished my study communication sciences at the University of Amsterdam. It was a time of recession and not easy to find a job, so I hopped from one temp job to the other. In the summer of 1995 in Amsterdam there was also a small group of people busy with the start up of a new television channel. At the time it was regarded an absurd idea, because there already was public television and two large commercial channels, RTL 4 and 5. There will not be room for more then 6 channels…! Fons van Westerloo, leading this small group had made another calculation for SBS6. News is an important anchor in your schedule. And as a former journalist Fons van Westerloo very much wanted to have a news programme but he knew he never had the budget to make that in the next coming years. He talked about his wishes with producer Marck Feller and senior editor Jean Mentens and an ingenious idea was born. If you do not have the budget to sent your reporters all over the world, why not focus on national news, the small news items everybody is ignoring, but that is very much at the heart of the lives and homes of everybody. And so..the initial idea for Hart van Nederland was born. Soon they were setting up an initial team to produce the programme. Profile: young and cheap people with enormous drives to create something new. I just happened to walk into the building in July 1995 to become one of them. It was one of the luckiest things happening in my life and it was to become one of the most intens periods too. Now Hart van Nederland is an institute in Dutch television, changing the way we look at news at the very core. A month ago someone of the old group noticed it was almost ten years ago that we started on this adventure and soon everybody was e-mailing we needed to meet. In Eik en Linde off course, centre of our lives at that time. And it was a heart warming meeting last Friday; some of us had become regular stars by themselves. Some of us had chosen or rolled into quit different paths (me for instance) and also a lot of us where still there working at the program.
Now, ten years later there is also someone who makes a different calculation about there being enough channels in the market. And as you need news for an anchor, another news programme, NSE is born. It looks like the same adventure.. But there is a big difference. Hart was not only bringing a new form of news, like NSE, the big change was in the point of view AT MAKING THIS NEWS. NSE is adopting new forms at bringing the SAME news, which is its Achilles’ heel. People want to see something they cannot see anywhere else. This is the also the same reason why Boulevard is a great success, the content of the programme is different, not only the form. How is NSE going to renew the content of its news? That’s really the question they should ask themselves. It’s a great adventure, let me tell you that!


Beijaflor da Amazônia said...

Hi Monique,
it is a very pleasure thing to find you! In fact I was at net, lokking for an old friend of mine Jean Mentens, and your blog was the only I could find in English.... And it was very good because I think I do a work like yours here in Brasil. I work in Small Wave radio that talks to people that lives in Amazon. It is not any radio, it is a very special one, and we've been listen for a loooot of special people. Indigenous in their village, for example... I would like very much to know your work there and send my congratulations for this progress under this wiew and look.
Well, I was with Jean in Texel many years ago, and would like very much to write him and tell the news. When I was young,working in the radio yet I always thinked I wanna do a beauty job as Jean... Now I wanna tell him about this beauty. Hope you can send me a mail adress. Gonna save your blog. You have a new reader now. To listen my radio, choice amazônia. My show is at 8 o'clock am till 10:00, in the brasilian time and is called Amazônia Brasileira. Thank you for all, sorry for my english that is lost because is never used.
Um abraço
Beth Begonha
Brasília - Brasil