Brussels Center for Journalism Studies


Political humor as social action

Panel participation at the 15th International Pragmatics Conference, Belfast, 16-21 July 2017

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Professor dr. Lut Lams gave a talk on ‘The pragmatics of humor and ambiguity in Chinese society: political and cultural aspects’. Here you can find one of the slides on neologisms, code words and online censorship in China’s mediascape.

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China: Economic magnet or rival?

Framing of China in the Dutch- and French-language elite press in Belgium and the Netherlands

BCJS member Lut Lams published in the special issue of The International Communication Gazette (78 (1-2), 137-156) on  Mass Communication and EU-China Relations. Given the increasing attention China has attracted on a global scale over the last few decades, ample academic research has been conducted into the types of China discourses, spread through the media.


Studies have pointed at a mounting Sino-phobic discourse in some US media, which prompts the question whether similar attitudes and frames emerge in non-English media narratives. Hence, this study examines how the Belgian as well as the Dutch elite press engage with the new world player. It combines a content analysis, looking into thematic hierarchies and tone/perspective with a critical discourse analysis, retrieving discursive practices, such as evaluative positioning and framing of the country and its main actors.

Refugees in the News: Content Analysis of Belgian and Swedish News Media

BCJS Paper presentation @ ECREA conference Bilbao, 2-3 November 2017.

Diaspora, Migration & Media Conference

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At the beginning of November, BCJS members Rozane De Cock,  Lut Lams and Stefan Mertens will travel to Bilbao (Spain) to present their work on news coverage on refugees at the Diaspora, Migration and Media Conference.  This work is one of the first results of the intensive collaboration with Willem Joris, Leen d’Haenens (IMS KU Leuven) and Ebba Sundin (Halmstad University, Sweden).

As previous research showed, a significant effect of news coverage about the migration issue on the public opinion, it is recommended to investigate how the refugees are portrayed in the news. Our content analysis of Belgian and Swedish newspapers, television news and online news before and after a carefully selected set of key moments between 2015 and 2017 includes responsibility indicators and suggested solution items, the gender structure of news items and news actors, collective actors versus individual actors, and the religious and national identity of the actors covered. Comparisons between the representations of blame attribution, demography, geographic identities, religious identities and degrees of individuation will be compared with real world indicators.

BCJS @ Worlds of Journalism Convention Cardiff

A Diverse View on Diversity:

Four Clusters of the Press

WJS logo

September 16 2017

Mertens S., Standaert O., Löfgren Nilsson M., d’Haenens L., De Cock R.

The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) gives an account of the level of integration policy in 38 mainly Western countries. A score ranging from 1 to 100 is attributed to each country. The Worlds of Journalism Study presents an analysis of the role conceptions of professional journalists throughout the world, including a variable measuring the extent to which journalists conceive promoting tolerance and cultural diversity as one of their tasks. Our hypothesis that journalists would be more supportive of cultural diversity in societies with a more diversity-oriented policy proves to be untrue, as no significant linear correlation could be found.

Cluster analysis reveals that the inexistence of a linear correlation is the consequence of contradicting profiles among the different countries under study: four distinct clusters emerge from our data. A first group of countries scores very low on MIPEX and has a strong inclination towards promoting tolerance in journalism (Latvia and Turkey), while a second group, consisting of the two countries topping the MIPEX index, also stands out as having a tolerance-oriented journalism culture (Sweden and Portugal). However, a third cluster of continental and Anglophone countries (including Belgium, the UK, the US, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands) known for their fairly strong multicultural policies, does not show a journalistic workforce oriented as strongly in favour of promoting tolerance. Finally, a last group of countries (mainly eastern and central European countries) scores low on both MIPEX and journalistic tolerance orientation.

Children’s self-reporting of nightmares after news coverage Charlie Hebdo attack

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Reporting on mental concerns

During a BCJS lecture on Thursday evening the 24th of November, VRT journalist and psychologist Leslie Hodge talked about reporting on hidden mental concerns. Throughout her talk, she showed several of her excellent news productions on the topic to our interested public. As one out of three people will have to deal with mental problems in their lifespan, mental concerns are no minor news issue. Therefore it is important that journalists do report on mental health topics, breaking  instead of feeding the taboo and systematically refer to professional help in their news items.


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“Concerns in journalism” (1) Journalist & psychologist Leslie Hodge talks about reporting on hidden mental concerns*

The Brussels Center for Journalism Studies’ (BCJS) of KU Leuven Campus Brussel kindly invites you to its lecture  “Concerns in journalism” (1). Journalist & psychologist Leslie Hodge talks about reporting on hidden mental concerns.*


Thursday 24th of November 2016 – Programme:

 18.30 uur:  Welcome and introduction –   ­Rozane De Cock

18.40-19.40 uur:  Reporting on mental concerns  – Leslie Hodge

19.40 – 20 uur:   Q & A

 Venue: KU Leuven Campus Brussels, Hermes building, room 6303, Stormstraat 2, 1000 Brussel.

You are most welcome after confirming your attendance to Rozane.Decock@soc.kuleuven.be

* The lecture will be in Dutch

BCJS in Taiwan: prof. Lams studies election campaign discourse

As a fellow at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung (Taiwan), Lut Lams (BCJS) conducted research on the 2016 Taiwanese presidential/legislative elections with a special focus on the campaign discourse. She was hosted by the Graduate Institute of Political Science, where she also gave lectures on political communication in the Taiwanese context (15 Jan – 15 April, 2016). She joined the international observer’s committee to the Central Election Commission’s headquarters where the poll results were made official on Sunday, 16 January. Thanks to the 6-hour difference between Belgium and Taiwan, Lut found herself working double shifts, collecting research material during daytime and coaching KU Leuven students back home.


Succesful freelancing according to journalists in Flanders


Hedwig de Smaele presented the output of the research she and her colleague Rozane De Cock conducted on the topic of freelancing as a journalist in Flanders on an international conference meeting in Louvain-la-Neuve in Mai 2016.  The general theme of the research conference was  “L’ emploi par soi-même: auto-entrepreneuriat, journalisme entrepreneurial. Nouvelles pistes, nouveaux risques pour la profession.” The study of both researchers of the Brussels Center for Journalism Studies focuses on the preconditions for succesful freelancing  in Flanders according to freelancers themselves, based on a qualitative in-depth interviewing approach among 22 Flemish journalists.

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Interviews were built around three main research questions: 1) What are considered the advantages and disadvantages of working as a freelancer in Flanders? 2) How satisfied are freelancers in Flanders with their work and lives? What are the reasons for their (dis)satisfaction? And most importantly: 3) What are the preconditions to make entrepreneurial journalism ‘work’ in Flanders?

The results show that there is no such thing as a ‘fixed’ list of advantages and disadvantages as most features of freelance work (e.g. flexibility in working hours and assignments) can be considered in both ways.

Irregular working hours have the advantage that freelancers can manage their own time. They do not have to stick to the 9 to 5 rhythm but can follow an alternative daily schedule, better adapted to their personal life and the needs of, for example, their children. It can foster the combination of work and family life:

“I make it a point to pick up my children from school at half past three. So then I stop working and I start working again in the evening and at the weekends.” (Freelancer E)

“We had children, so the combination of work and family became more complicated. My wife also had a career. So I decided: ‘I will stay home and look after the children and work as a freelancer’.” (Freelancer F)

At the same time, irregular working hours can be perceived as difficult to live with and consequently a disadvantage:

“For example, news stories about the police, firemen,.. (..). It can wreck you. With three or four hours sleep at night, you are a wreck at the end of the week and this has an impact on your social life.” (Freelancer S)

“Actually, it never stops. You always work. It’s okay for family life, but for yourself, personally, you are never done. It’s very stressful. You are really never done. And if you decide not to work, you don’t earn anything.” (Freelancer C)

Curious to read more? See one of the BCJS next blog posts or go to:

De Cock, R., De Smaele, H. (2016). Freelancing in Flemish news media and entrepreneurial skills as pivotal element in job satisfaction: perspectives of masters or servants?. Journalism Practice, 10 (2), 251-265.

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