Vive-la-vie, or how expensive ‘screen faces’ camouflage a narrow journalistic culture

Sports journalist Eddy Demarez is doing well. The man is now beaming where he can appear in front of the cameras again, his happiness radiating out into the living room after a successful ‘remediation project’. Nowadays, one must especially observe the sports editorial staff to understand how political correctness is a prerequisite for a good feeling that also benefits the viewer. That feeling the two ladies, who chatted privately at UA about the linguistic deficiency of immigrant students, do not have for the time being. She…

Sports journalist Eddy Demarez is doing well. The man is now beaming where he can appear in front of the cameras again, his happiness radiating out into the living room after a successful ‘remediation project’. Nowadays, one must especially observe the sports editorial staff to understand how political correctness is a prerequisite for a good feeling that also benefits the viewer. That feeling the two ladies, who chatted privately at UA about the linguistic deficiency of immigrant students, do not have for the time being. They therefore still have to start their repair process, but I assure you: it will be fine too.

Perfect middle class couple

Within the Flemish public broadcaster, the good feeling in front of and behind the camera is further enhanced thanks to gifted ‘screen faces’, the genre Tom Waes and Jeroen Meus, which the public broadcaster, the institution you pay for, does not want to communicate about. how much they earn. 500,000 euros a year according to the generally well-informed Dag Alles.

The greatest gross individual happiness, however, is reserved for the sports journalist Karl Vannieuwkerke, presenter and creator of the Tour program Vive le Velowhich merchandising (at a certain point you only get that kind of explained in English) is in the hands of Vive LaVie, a shop run by Karl’s partner Caroline Vereenooghe.

Vive la Vie !: it is more a pleasant alliterative cry of euphoria than a banal company name. It is not clear who calls it: the viewer, the presenter or the mother-wife at the cash register† The perfect Flemish middle-class couple sells products that stimulate our production of the happiness hormone, such as T-shirts, caps, water bottles, bicycle routes, you name it, all linked to Karl’s talk show. Anyone who thinks this is a problem, the sour Fleming can only benefit from this serotonin injection. VRT, through CEO Frederik Delaplace, expressly states that this will happen. “positive for the whole of Flemish society and economy ‘ (sic). Read: walking around with a Vive le Vélo T-shirt is a remedial process in itself.

celebrity addiction

More and more of the same: Lack of journalistic authenticity made VRT an alternative fun channel

Joël De Ceulaer, with whom I almost do not agree, hit a DM column when he found the story of the overpaid screen faces à la Vannieuwkerke typical of a ‘scared organization’ with an acute lack of self-confidence. It is true. But as usual, he neglects to complete the picture. The lack of self-confidence, the fear of his own shadow and of the zapped viewer, is the flip side of a distinguished journalistic culture on which the average Fleming has formed his opinion.

A public broadcaster must thrive with a strong editorially independent profile, which carries out critical journalism (ie critical of all) and exudes intellectual courage. On the other hand, such an institution should not compete with commercial channels that adopt strategies and business models necessary for their viability. Unfortunately, for decades, VRT has been a bureaucratic institution that has troubled similarities with state-owned broadcasters in less democratic regimes. When VTM was set up in 1987, thanks to the cable decree, it turned out that the public broadcaster was not able to make a difference as a platform for quality journalism. That fear of one’s own shadow has never gone away. And then the ‘red BRT’ from then on overturned in panic race to the bottom with the commercial television companies, and has been rebroadcasting The Champion for 30 years.

So one from two. Through its left-wing activist facial narrowing, VRT drove and drives itself into ruin in journalism and then tries to compensate for this with substandard entertainment and overpaid clean people. Celebrity addiction is a sign of weakness and lack of self-confidence. At one point, Vannieuwkerke was so bold as to block a critical Koppen report on his business model. Which actually worked. Why not put a young ambitious journalist in the chair for this money maker, someone who can learn the trade in sports editors? Because VRT does not dare. The institute smells of fear sweat for the public and gets stuck in an appraisal war that makes the commercial competitors feel comfortable, that’s the irony

Ivory tower syndrome

The consequences are many: speech formats such as’The agreement ‘ is a platform for people who have already been in the newspaper in the morning and are called up in the afternoon to explain it all again in the evening and make an appointment with each other. This is deadly to the landscape of opinion.

The crusade against the Flemish acidification is getting pretty boring and predictable, every day. What is particularly interesting is what is not being said. That ‘young people’ who attack recreational parks should not be profiled ethnically, as it is called, is a persistent taboo, confirmed in woolly formats such as FC United, where colored footballers complain about the racism of the ordinary flame. Who else will take this?

This makes VRT news editors even more isolated from society and creates a bubble effect or ivory tower syndrome. This is again another reason to ‘buy off’ the viewer’s favor with recognizable stars, a hopeless downward spiral. The kindergarten teacher tone, where certain anchors read the news, is also part of this. While the real means is of a very different nature: Invest in quality, free-thinking venture journalism, more truth-seeking and smaller frameworks, send the Cools and the Schols on early retirement† No, unfortunately.

One can not blame them that the smell of money is Waes, Meus and Vannieuwkerke. Their greed illustrates the weakness of the whole institution. Between the board of VRT, the Flemish government with the competent media minister and the Flemish parliament / media commission, there is a gray fog that just will not lift and that cunning people benefit from. Their absolute teacher is Wouter Vandenhaute, founder of Woestijnvis and not by chance also started as a sports journalist.

If there is no fresh journalistic wind blowing through public television, if taboos and self-censorship are not radically dealt with, and if corruption continues, then there is no reason at all to waste our tax money on this. To chat at a table with a good glass of wine in cozy company about the ‘course’, we have Vive le Velo really not necessary.

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