Brussels Center for Journalism Studies


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

ECREA November 2016BCJS poster r.png

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.

BCJS staff

BCJS stafflogo kuleuven

The staff of the Brussels Center for Journalism Studies (BCJS) in a clockwise order, starting from the upper left corner: Chris Verschooten (expert in international journalism and Indian news media research), Koenraad Du Pont (research interests in international journalism with a special focus on  Italy and France), Hedwig de Smaele (journalism culture and in-depth knowledge of Russian news media), Lutgard Lams (expert in media discourse studies, Chinese and Taiwanese press narratives), Stefan Mertens (senior researcher in journalism culture and expert in news diversity) and Rozane De Cock (director of BCJS, expertise in news analysis, news production and news effects studies).

News research

The Brussels Center for Journalism Studies is specialized in journalism research and it studies as well news production, news content, as news reception in a global perspective.

Book: Representations of Islam in the News: A Cross-Cultural Analysis

book BCJS representations Islam

Representations of Islam in the News

A Cross-Cultural Analysis

Edited by Stefan Mertens and Hedwig de Smaele


The representation of Islam is unquestionably a critical test for comparing journalistic reporting across countries and cultures. The Islamic religion has weight in international reporting (defining what we termed “foreign Islam”), but it is also the religion of numerically important minority groups residing in Europe (“national Islam”).The first part of the book is “setting the scene.” Three chapters provide insights in dominant patterns of the representation of Islam as detected by various authors and studies involved with Islam representation in Europe.

Part two, the core section of the book, contributes to the development of the field of comparative journalism studies by comparing several countries and six media systems in Western Europe: the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (Flanders), the French-speaking part of Belgium (Wallonia), the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the U.K.

Part three of this book presents two reception studies, one qualitative and the other quantitative. Equally important, as the bulk of attention goes to Western Europe, is the extension towards the representation of Muslims and Islam outside Western Europe.

Part four of the book is devoted to the representation of Islam in Russia, China, and India.

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