Archive for the ‘Bitching at the boss’ Category

Hearts and minds

January 11, 2008

It’s all about changing hearts and minds.

That’s the motto one continues to hear when trying to figure out how to establish the Internet Newssite as a valid medium. Of course the whole world knows that, but not your colleagues who work for tv, radio or for print.

This link to an excellent article by Steve Outing is meant for my folks back home by way of saying Happy New Year. (Yes, that’s you NOS!)

Click on the pic for the piece, which lays out the Rules of Engagements. Because the battle never ends.

resolutions for 08

Fifty years later…

January 10, 2008

My favourite joke in my politically incorrect Dutch childhood: Where do you go when the worlds comes to an end?

Answer: To Belgium. Why? Because they run fifty years behind.

Ha ha.

Since this week the tables are turned, at least new media-wise. See for yourself how the Belgian public broadcaster (VRT) stepped into the online future. NOS should be ashamed.

VRT online

Click on the pic to enter the site

You don’t need to understand Flemish. The site speaks a universal online language.

I would do several things very differently, but hey, who am I, and besides, that’s a whole other story.

In her New Year’s message, Mieke Berendsen (VRT New Media director), explains the future.

(By the way, in an innocently heated discussion with a Belgian friend, who shut me up when I questioned her about great Belgian historical figures upon which she consequently rattled off a whole list, I learned that the saxophone (yes, the instrument) was invented by Adolphe Sax. Hats off to our southern neighbours.)

Are you bl**ging serious?

December 20, 2007

We’ve been doing it for ten years now. We blog at NOS Dutch public broadcasting. But next month it’ll be bl**ging serious. No sh*t.

Blogged about it on (Dutch) new media blog De Nieuwe Reporter.

De Nieuwe Reporter

Click on the logo for my blog blabbering. 

Signing off for now, packing up, and heading for the U.S. Will be sitting on the couch for most of the time, watching football and plotting a silent revolution.

Stay tuned for what a co-conspirator calls ‘a quick fix’.

Value for money

December 9, 2007

Millions of viewers laughed at this joke, but about a thousand colleagues probably threw their biscuit at the telly. Jonathan Ross’ claim that he is ‘worth a thousand BBC journalists’ wasn’t particularly appreciated within the beleaguered media company. 

A bit inappropriate, some thought, since the BBC is laying off 2,600 employees. So Ross better shut up with his 6 million pound annual salary. Which was exactly his funny point.

(The Guardian actually did the math and concluded that Ross was the financial equivalent of about 300 journalists.)

The brilliant Jonathan Ross

One might argue that one person’s worth is primarily based on his or her output. My job here in London used to be spread out over three (parttime) people. Besides that, filming and editing myself also cost some people a bit of income.

My salary obviously doesn’t cover five positions. That’s okay. What slightly pisses me off, though, is that the savings are not re-invested in the London operation. It just disappears in the big budget at HQ.

And it’s not pocket money. Per year I save the NOS about 50,000 euros by not hiring a camera crew, by editing myself and by traveling alone. So how much is that at the end of my five year tenure?

Certainly not a laughing matter.

Just for the website? What?!? (2)

November 30, 2007

A month ago I drove up to Cambridge to interview dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, as part of a NOS web special about the upcoming Russian elections. Packed up my whole kit, because I meant to do more than just the requested question & answer article.

Wondered aloud about it on this blog that day (‘let’s try and do something crossmedia’), and the result can now be seen by clicking on the pictures below. I don’t think it came out exactly as I had hoped and tried for, and would appreciate your feedback on improvements.

This first photo leads to the actual interview about renewed fear in Russia with a brief video compilation.

Russian elections

The second to a text and audio entry about Bukovsky’s thoughts on his poisoned friend Alexander Litvinenko.

Bukovsky in his study

Holy moly, the boss listens

November 27, 2007

So the boss actually listens. (See comment #6 in yesterday’s post.) Talk about speed of light, I pointed out my missive whilst on a trip in Wales and he responded stepping off a plane from Geneva. I’m typing this in my hotel room in Hay-on-Wye, where my mobile doesn’t work but where high speed internet is no problem.

Dank u Sinterklaasje

Now that I’ve secured my early Sinterklaas-present, what am I gonna do with it? In the discussion last night at Reuters I raised some concern about quality of video, audio and composition. Some BBC buff (okay Paul Brannan) argued that it wasn’t really that important since the advantage of being able to report right now and right here outweighs those concerns.

Besides, he remarked, it’s not just us (journalists) who will be interviewing people and reporting the news with this amazing MJT, but also the consumers. It’s the User Generated Content, stupid!

Yeah sure, but especially because of that I still believe that we have to stay committed to the highest possible standards. And that means getting the facts right, duh, but also getting the delivery right. If you type it up, Reuters at the core, you make sure you don’t lose yourself in typos or grammatical errors.

If you tape it, and this video is to be published on the web, you make sure that it doesn’t resemble your mom’s brave attempt to record baby’s first steps. At least get that shot right, think of the light and don’t forget the audio. Speed is of the essence, but my question remains: At what price?

Leave your estimates in the comments below.

Yo boss, listen up!

November 26, 2007

Yo boss, listen up! I want one! And I want it now! Right now!

Got it? Enough exclamation marks? This is it…

Now! Now! Now!

From now on we’re gonna do things a bit different. It’s more than just this Nokia N95. It also comes with:

– Fold out blue tooth keyboard

– Mini (but very good) microphone

– Tiny tripod (very cute)

– Solar panel (yes, I might need to be transferred to the Bahamas)

And listen to this, boss, the whole thing doesn’t cost much more than hiring a television crew for one day. Gotta like that, boss.

I saw this MJT at the Reuters’ London headquarters tonight, at an ONA gathering. Bet you don’t know what that means, boss. MJT stands for Mobile Journalism Toolkit. They like it very much.

Me too, boss. Me too.


You heard it from me first, boss. So get me one. Right now. In the meantime I’ll keep on hauling my multimedia backpack. Remember how we used to slap each other on the back two light years ago, boss?

Future of journalism, we bragged. Well, boss, I’m a dinosaur compared to these MJT folks. So get me one, boss, right now.

(ps. We had a silly discussion about ‘redefining quality’, which I argued was a fancy way of saying ‘cutting corners’, but that’s a whole different story, boss, I won’t bore you with that.)

NOS Journaal goes 24

November 19, 2007

The news came via email. Something to celebrate and therefore: Cake for everybody! Thanks but no thanks, since we are all foreign correspondents. In spirit we party along. Especially this time. NOS Dutch public broadcasting has gone live 24 hours a day.

You may check out the livestream here:

NOS 24 Uur

Of course, one can think of many things to bitch about, but today I choose not to. It is a good initiative, and proof of the steps forward my folks back at headquarters are taking. This is what NOS Journaal 24 offers besides any newsworthy live stream:

1. NOS Journaal Plus, news bulletins with additional background, continually updated.

2. NOS Journaal Reportages, with the best or most interesting features of the past week.

3. NOS Journaal Weekoverzicht, which offers a weekly overview of all the news.

4. NOS Journaal Chat, the opportunity to ask questions to a news maker through our website.

Not bad for a Monday morning. Not bad at all. You may leave any whining in the comments below.

Seeking Sound (2)

November 11, 2007

Panic is too big a word. They’re getting nervous, that’s for sure. Less listeners tune in, so the flagship is heading for stormy waters – or worse a sand bank. They’re trying new formats for the NOS Radio Morning Show, which is great. But I wonder, shouldn’t they also focus on different ways of reaching out to listeners?

Everybody is suffering from declining numbers. Inevitable, with so many options at hand. It’s not just the endless frequencies and websites, but also new pick and choose opportunities and -most importantly- the customization of getting news.

We listen to you

BBC Radio 4 started something fascinating in that last category. Their PM show literally asked the listeners: Okay, you tell us what news you want to hear.

Share what you know is their new mantra, where bloggers can add questions, knowledge, information, criticism to the PM-blog. On Saturday it all comes together in a 24 minute compilation. It’s like Frank Sinatra calling out to his audience. Okay, what do you wanna hear, and I’ll sing a great tune to it.

I’m not saying this iPM thing is the way to go. Listening to it I felt the authority of news makers and news bringers was slipping away. But that’s probably the point. Listeners aren’t running away, they just need to be engaged. We radio makers need to open our eyes to seek their ears.

Below, the running sheet for the iPM show (

iPM running sheet (

UGC in good Dutch

November 2, 2007

What’s a good Dutch term that sums up User Generated Content (UGC)? NOS bosses decided to let their subjects come up with something. The winning brainwave:

Samen Nieuws Maken (SNM)

Find a dictionary for yourself. Ah well then, it means: Making News Together. It covers the broad definition of UCG, which NOS is finally embracing as a rather useful and necessary part of a modern website. Because:

1. The user is an eye witness. Open the upload door for pictures and video.

2. The user is opiniated. Let him or her respond.

3. The user can supplement with his experience, which can lead to follow-ups.

4. The user is a news source.

5. The user will debate. A new topic every day, discussion open for no more than a week.

6. The user is an expert. He or she makes us smarter

Other good, but not good enough terms for the ‘dinner for two’ prize: Publieksbijdrage (this one got an honorable mention), MeeDenkTank, ProductiePopuli (propop), Eigen Inbreng, ‘Stuur’, MGM (MediaGebruikersMateriaal), ‘n Jan-met-de-Petter’, XI (IkZie) en IK (Inbreng van de Kijker). Damn, they didn’t even mention mine (Gebruikersmateriaal).