Photo by Iris Planting
Mediahuis’s core business is journalism. And reliable, independent journalism proved more important than ever in 2020, the year in which a virus shut down the world. It was a daily support that came in many different guises.
Never waste a good crisis. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reminded of this quote by Winston Churchill since March last year. Any crisis is a gift for the media; that’s always been the case. And it was no different when a new virus from China set about conquering the world in early 2020. Covid-19 brought the world grinding to a halt. But it also forced us to focus.
The past year was supposed to be a special one for Mediahuis, something we had all worked towards for a long time. It would become much more than that: 2020 was a pivotal year. Thanks to its digital reach, consumption of our news media went through the roof. People turned to us en masse for accurate reporting amid the information chaos. We were the guide that people needed to safely navigate through their daily life. More than anything else, however, our readers valued our reliable, independent journalism. After years of declining sales of print newspapers, our titles, or rather their digital formats, posted good results. The cautious trend of recent years received a major boost across all our titles. And that’s how our journalism tipped convincingly towards a sustainable digital model.
I am, of course, proud of our superb results after such a turbulent year. But, above all, I’m proud of the large group of driven men and women, who give the best of themselves in the most difficult circumstances. Because it’s their passion and their mission.
With this first annual report on Mediahuis journalism, we go to the heart of our place in society. We are a company of journalists, with leading titles that play a crucial role in the society in which they work. Each with its own voice, working in complete editorial independence.
Our editors-in-chief have shared their experience of the past year in The Biggest Story of our Life. While society was undergoing enormous change, they touched readers’ hearts with human interest stories. Getting the tone right proved a delicate exercise, remaining critical of policy decisions while showing responsibility. In the deluge of virus-related news, there was also room for strong investigative journalism. There were also more innovations than ever, starting with the podcasts our readers could listen to on their many Covid walks.
The concept of ‘fake news’ reached new levels in 2020. Even our traditional media were unwittingly dragged into this fierce infodemic. Unfortunately, this phenomenon will not disappear with the virus. Mediahuis has become a major media company, and that brings great responsibility. It’s now up to us to prove we are worthy of this trust.
Enjoy your read
Gert Ysebaert CEO Mediahuis