Belgian journalists do their jobs, Belgian politicians cling to power

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Vifs débats autour de la RTBFInteresting journalistic aspect this week in Belgium, the country I’ve chosen to elect as the country I live and work in. My presence here remains the hazard of history and further explanation will be given following the tagging by Avinash Kaushik during the course of this week.

Thank you Avinash for this, I am very grateful and actually flattered but before I get into more personal stuff, some reflections about media and politics. It’s indirectly related to Web Analytics and I feel it is my civil duty to discuss this.

Belgium is a fascinating country. What I really like about Belgium is the fact that I live in the capital of Europe, Brussels. Brussels is one of the 3 regions that make up Belgium, together with the Wallonia region and the Flemish region. Add to that that you also have linguistic regions: the Flemish, the French and the German. Brussels is kind of majority French speaking sitting duck, surrounded by Flemish compatriots. 
Being Dutch, one can understand that the first course I flunked at university was Public Law: it’s darn complicated here in this little country of 10 million citizens, speaking mainly Flemish – which is almost similar to Dutch thus The Netherlands – and French thus France.
The balance of power in this country has seriously shifted of the last 50 years, giving economical power in favour of the Flemish camp. Wallonia lost a lot of competitive power, being based upon the industrial age’s coal mines.
Voices are growing in the Flemish region to separate.

Ah, and we also have a Royal Family. By “we” I don’t refer to the house of Orange.
Even though I would really love, as a female economist, to see Maxima and Mathilde get their heads together to support Micro Credit…
The Belgian Royal Families “mission” is “L’Union fait la force”, literally “Union makes force”.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. And of Europe.

So, what happened?
The public broadcasting company, RTBF, has aired this week on TV a fake News Flash, announcing the countries’ separation as the Flemish region supposedly declared its independence.
 After around 32 minutes, the hoax was exposed, reassuring one French speaking half of a countries population that had fallen into the media trap, as only the RTBF aired the hoax and not the VRT.
Also note that Belgium is facing elections in May of next year. The current parties in power, amongst which the socialist party, are under heavy gunfire following a political scandal in Wallonia, an ancient coalmining bastion.

Reactions fused. The RTBF’s website was down for at least 2 consecutive days. Blogs fused around the country. The population might push for debate about a possible separation before the elections. At least, there is serious ground out there, that has been spilled out by the RTBF to start this debate, together with the population that could give a voice to it’s rededications, before the elections.
As René mentioned this week, instead of imposing us their decisions, following the elections, political parties will now have an obligation to take stands and be the true representatives of what the Belgian population wants.
I love these Belgians! They do not hold the other Europeans nations’ flaws such as pride, bluff or messiness. Belgians are Belgians. They don’t take themselves seriously and the world should listen… and learn.
Belgian journalists showed a possible scenario about what it would mean to separate both regions. It steered the debate for the better of for the worse but it made people think.
Reactions at first were negative but after 24 hours, they moved to quite positive and the regions are once again talking to one another.

Independent of what the Flemish counterpart of the country says about this – Flemish newspapers have kept a pretty low profile – my stupor goes out to the representatives of the political parties.
How, in the love of everything that is so fine in this country can they truly imagine the population is going to be offended by what the RTBF proposed while we all darn well know that they are all playing political mathematics for the next elections?
Don’t offend my intelligence by telling me the RTBF is playing a very dangerous game while we all know some mess should seriously be cleaned up in the Southern part of the country.
I’m not Belgian. I didn’t grow up in that region but even I’ve heard the scandals and they do not date from last year, believe me.

Didier Renders veut des sanctionsBefore allowing yourselves to comment upon what Philippot and his fine team of professional, and very Belgian, journalists have done, look in the mirror and be ware that the next elections can be fuelled by new ways of communication and expression.
When I hear that the RTBF set-up a call-centre that could take into account over 600 calls simultaneously and were swamped, I wonder how the Belgian voice will reveal itself before the Spring.

New ways of communicating are getting easier to set-up as technology advances. Journalists are loosing credibility through more and more channels but it seems that here, the guys who have been working for the Streeptease team for over 30 years now actually cracked at doing their job: informing their listeners and urge them to think and debate.
Isn’t that the essence of a democratic society? Shouldn’t the public media time be spent on these kinds of debates, in all independence, free to express what journalists feel should be expressed within society at large?


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