Student - July 10, 2008

‘We are looking for experience and renewal’

The Executive Board decided on Monday 7 July to bring the publication of the weekly newspaper Resource under its own control again. For Cereales publishers there is no longer a role as a separate entity. Aalt Dijkhuizen explains why.

After Wageningen UR had lost the court case on the public tender procedure for the Resource weekly newspaper and Wageningen Update quarterly alumnus magazine to Cereales, the Executive Board was faced with the question: should we start up a new procedure? ‘After due consideration and consultation within the organisation we concluded that this would not be an attractive course of action,’ says Dijkhuizen. ‘A new tender would cost too much time, we would have to start up the whole procedure again and give everyone an opportunity, while the two most interested parties, Cereales and Hemels, have already gone through the procedure. Furthermore, at the end of each future contract period we would have to have a new public tender procedure, with the renewed possibility of commotion within the organisation. No, we thought, we should bring the publication of our weekly newspaper under our own control again, as is the case in most universities. This we will do for Resource at least; we have not yet made a decision about Wageningen Update.’

What now?
‘The Executive Board does not intend to become an inspector, we want an independent newspaper. This is possible with an in-house publication. We will form a new editorial staff, and we intend to include Cereales journalists in this. We are looking for a combination of experience and innovation in the editorial staff. We will ensure independence in two ways. First, we will work with the editorial statute that was drawn up in 2006. Second, an editorial board will be formed consisting of people from all parts of the organisation, which will oversee the content and development of the newspaper. We want Resource to appear again at the start of September.’

Several people wrote open letters to you after the result of the tender, and these were published in Resource. You have not replied to these. Why not?
‘I wrote a column which summarised my response to all of these, and this was placed in Resource Insite (in Dutch, Ed.). I regard this as an open reply to those letters. It was noticeable in the letters that there is a wish for continuity within the organisation. By bringing the publication in house, we are laying the basis for that continuity.’

Are there winners and losers in this affair?
‘Hemels is the loser, and nobody is the winner. I do not look back on the tender procedure with a feeling of satisfaction. I was particularly annoyed by how the issue of editorial independence came to play a role in the discussion about the tender. Even though I can say that I also want an independent editorial staff, this was not highlighted. Now it’s time for a change, we need to produce a good newspaper quickly, put together by motivated people and expressing independent opinions. I could say more, but it’s a question of showing we can – it’s the only way to put this behind us.’

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