Meet the jurors: Jaap De Groot on the new challenges of journalism

  • June 15, 2020
Graphics by Nordcap Studio

AIPS Media

LAUSANNE, June 15, 2020 - Jaap De Groot is one of the most eminent personalities of Dutch journalism, thanks to his long-lasting experience for De Telegraaf. His reputation rapidly extended also across all continents, as witnessed by his contributions for some of the most appreciated international media - like BBC and CNN.

"Sports is no longer a matter of only 22 man chasing a ball. Sports has become an octopus with arms reaching to every facet of our lives".

The partial reopening still brings many uncertainties about the possibility of moving, even for journalists. In your opinion, what are the main risks that journalists will face in the short future?

Health is in the current situation still a risk, but also the limited amount of media that can cover events. For the coming start of the Formula 1 on July 5 in Austria, only 25% of the normal amount of reporters will be allowed on the circuit and only in closed areas. Via the internal tv-circuit there’s one communication line with the media, so independent media will have less control of the news. The risk is that organizations will adjust to this scenario, if in their opinion it showed that ‘this also can work…’

Do you think having to watch and work at home will help to enhance the "local factor" for the journalists that will participate in the awards, bringing in new participants?

Absolutely! Every country, every district and every city has it’s own story. Also about how was dealt with sports and athletes. Politicians have been dictating and managing the lives of olympic champions en sporticons, with different effects all over the world. This will definitely create a main topic for the awards.

Some European football leagues chose to resume, others, like the Eredivise, have cancelled the season. What was the feeling you had with your Dutch colleagues?

There were different opinions. Especially with the new kids on the journalistic block and the old school reporters. For me the discussion in the Eredivisie showed that the big clubs are getting more in power and the federation follows the pack lead by Ajax.

It was remarkeble to watch how the lack of being an entity like the Bundesliga, Premier League or the NBA created an Eredivisie that didn’t perform like a pack of 18 organizations, but as 18 individual clubs. In such a situation the strongest will get things done, as there is no collective opposition.

Therefore no powerful and relevant signal was given to the government and so Dutch football just let things happen. The lobby to start playing again before September 1, the deadline of the lockdown ordered by the prime minister, started only three months after the coronacrisis occured. There wasn’t even the intention to play the Cup Final. It looks quite bizarre if you’re not able to organise just one game between June 1 and August 3, the UEFA deadline for the Europa League, in a period that so many games are played in so many countries. Cup finalists FC Utrecht has now dropped an official complaint at UEFA and want the game to be played, to avoid that the Netherlands won’t present the winner of the national Cup Final for the Europa League.

As a top columnist, what do you think are the vital elements that can’t miss in a good column?

A good column must be based on authority. Your opinion, analyse or story should make people think. Even if they don’t agree with you.

Next to authority, think different!

I’m also in favour of analysing what the future can bring, instead of analysing what has happened in the past. Writing or talking about future effects is more challenging. After ‘90 minutes’ you have a result and know if you have won or lost. The more you ‘win’ the more respect you get. And it keeps you sharp as a columnist. Especially if you hate losing.  

Sports journalism showed that it was possible to produce quality stories even without sports. How do you foresee the future of the contents produced? Will the new normality also bring a new narrative?

Sports is no longer a matter of only 22 man chasing a ball. Sports has become an octopus with arms reaching to every facet of our lives: health, politics, media, commerce, globalisation, criminality, entertainment, integration and so on. I’m sure sports will have a main role in solving the effects of the current pandemic. Events like the Champions League, Formula 1 and the Olympics can inspire and create hope, at the same time sports can be used to create a bigger awareness of how to deal with the effects of corona. So the new normality will still bring sports in it’s pureness, but also bring a lot of options to use sports as an example or metaphore in discussions that will come.

JAAP DE GROOT Jaap de Groot has been a reporter at De Telegraaf since 1976, and Chief editor of the sports section since 2006 till 2018. Throughout his career he has covered 11 World Cups Football; 10 European Football Championships; four Summer Olympic Games and four Winter Games. He has had articles published in Die Welt, France Football, Newsweek Magazine, Soccer America, World Soccer and a number of other foreign media. He is also a regular commentator on Dutch national radio and television, and has had appearances on several international media, including those in England (SKY and BBC) and United States (CNN). De Groot is the author of the authorized biography of Johan Cruyff (My Turn), that was published in more than 60 countries and in 23 different languages. He is a member the Dutch Sports Council, member of FIFA Players Committee under Michel Platini and former member of UEFA Media Task Force.

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