photo: Freek Staps, Elles de Bruin and Tim van Dijk

PHILIPSBURG – “Sometimes saying nothing is the best thing you can do as a journalist”, according to presenter Elles de Bruin from Omroep Max concerning interview techniques. She is one of the three guest lecturers who for six days provided local journalists and the local media with workshops on Sint Maarten.

Together with Freek Staps, a former correspondent for NRC, and cameraman Tim van Dijk (Caribbean Network), De Bruin gave workshops last week at the request of the Dutch Rotary Club Nieuwspoort.

A lot of journalistic media enterprises on Sint Maarten experienced financial difficulties after hurricane Irma in September 2017 because advertisements – their main source of income – were cancelled after the hurricane.

The newspaper Today shut down which left The Daily Herald as the only newspaper on the island. It also experienced difficulties after the hurricane. The Dutch government did not make funds available to help media companies in need.

‘The Hague shouldn’t turn a blind eye to media companies in need’

The recently founded Rotary club Nieuwspoort in conjunction with Dutch media decided to help out. They organized a benefit evening in November 2017 and raised 10.000 euros. The week of
workshops was organized with these funds.
(Story continues after the video)

A report from 2017 by Laura Bijnsdorp

Local journalists, bloggers, radio personalities, camera men and women, photographers, freelancers, marketing and sales professionals, and even real estate agents followed the workshops. Picture: Tim van Dijk

Media scene Sint Maarten 
Staps focused on digital journalism trends and strategies. The group actively participated in the discussion. Is everything applicable on a smaller Caribbean scale? The media scene on Sint Maarten and the islands is vastly different than that in the Netherlands or Europe, the participants exclaimed. Print media and radio are still big on the islands and the internet connection isn’t always great.

Staps: “The world-wide trend is that ad-revenues for online media is going up, while it is decreasing for all other types of media. If Sint Maarten is behind on this trend, I would advise you to get on the online-train early.”

‘No funds or newsroom can be an advantage’ -Elles de Bruin

De Bruin discussed interview and conversation techniques. Using different fragments, she demonstrated how she operates. In the studio, confrontational, or with an anonymous source. The argument about scale was also brought up during her workshop.

No funds or newsrooms
Sint Maarten, with its 40.000 inhabitants, doesn’t have the funds or newsrooms of the size like that of the NRC or Omroep Max. De Bruin: “This can also be an advantage. Using my smartphone, I film a blog with my dad. People feel less intimidated then if I were standing on the sidewalk with a cameraman, director, and a boom operator. They are more forthcoming this way.”

The participants might organize a recurring media café in the future, to continue to share knowledge.