By Anthony Mendicino
Students visited former anti-Nazi underground newsletter turned Amsterdam based daily newspaper, Het Parool, which literally translates to The Password in English.
The paper was printed in resistance to the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam during WWII. It was wildly successful during the war, considering the circumstances. Some members of the newsletter were even killed by Nazi forces for their involvement in the resistance paper.
Vincent Smits, current chief news editor, met with students to talk about how the paper operates on a day-to-day basis and what the staff covers. With a circulation of 64,000, mostly in the city of Amsterdam, the paper focuses on the city in which it began.
“We write a lot about housing, tourism,” Smits said. “We have a different tone about refugees and things like that.”
Like most newspapers around the world, Het Parool is beginning to rely more and more on its website to spread news. That goes hand in hand with social media.
“Some of our reporters are quite popular on Twitter in Amsterdam. We tell you where to go, which festivals to see,” Smits said.
Journalism around the world has taken a hit with the advent and domination of digital reporting. However, contrary to the United States, the Netherlands has too many journalists looking for jobs. Virtually everywhere else in the world has seen a decline in journalists coming out of school.
Nonetheless, Smits gave students tips on how to break into the journalism industry in the Netherlands, tips that apply just as much in the United States.
“You have to stand out. A lot of people who work at the paper begin as trainees,” he said.
Trainees would be the equivalent to interns in the U.S. except it is a two-year position with better-than-average chances to be hired by the company.
“With trainees, we sort of just throw you in the water and see if you can swim,” Smits said. “It’s really the only way, just go out and do it.”
He discussed the major changes the newspaper has implemented to stay current, from content to design.
“Lists always get read well,” Smits said. He added that the shift to digital news outlets plays into what is read and what isn’t.
Design is also an important aspect of Het Parool’s operation.
“We’ve always had an artsy paper,” Smits said of the design of the paper.
The design is due to the help of Jacek Utko, an award winning news and content designer that Het Parool brought in to help design the paper.
While its design has changed, the content the staff covers does not.
“We try to give people a good feeling and that reflects Amsterdam itself,” Smits said.
“Amsterdam is its own city, and we look at news through that scope.”