“We have to set our own boundaries and guard them”

Eric Molenaar (61) is a news reporter and editor at the Noord-Hollands Dagblad. He has been working there for 43 years, when it was still named the Schager Courantand before the merger of several newspapers. He applied there for a journalism learning job and has never left after that. During his years as journalist, he has seen a significant change in the workload, but he also found a way on how to handle it.

Do you think the workload of a journalist has change much since you first started working as a journalist?
“Well it is different from back in the days, but I think that only makes it more interesting. As a journalist you are responsible for more things nowadays. When I just started out in 1978, you sent in your article and someone else would put a heading above it. I always thought that was weird, since the writer knows the essence of the article the best. And journalists now have to write their own complete articles, take pictures and sometimes even video’s. But it has been very interesting to grow with these changes.”

Do you experience more stress due to your workload?
“I don’t think so. It’s hardly ever the annoying kind of stress. Of course, there is always some kind of tension, even though you know it’s going to be fine. The only thing might be the time pressure, because newspapers are a rush product. However, you just have to choose what you spend your time on because you can’t do everything. I’ve learned through the years that it all comes down to setting priorities and boundaries.”

And how do you think the workload for journalists change in the future?
“I wonder about that too sometimes… When I started out as a journalist, I never expected to be writing a news story as easy as on my smartphone and sending it straight from the news location. I wouldn’t be able to think what will happen to the workload for journalists in the future. There will always be some pressure and stress, but I think it’ll be fine if you guard your own boundaries. I have done that, and still do, by setting my boundaries and making them clear with my boss and colleagues. If my boss asks me to do something extra, I ask him which task has the priority and which task I can drop, because I can only do so much.”

Since you started working in journalism, what is the strangest story you’ve written?
“I’m not sure what the strangest story would be, but I do have one memorable story that I’ll never forget. It’s about a World War II bomb thrower that had been found in Berkhout in 2004. One of the crew members on board during the crash was an Irishman and when the wreckage was found, the Irishman’s family requested for the grounds to be consecrated. When the Township declined this

request, the family reached out to the newspaper. So, I started writing about this topic, with a total of 107 articles, and eventually the family succeeded. In a documentary about this story, the family even thanked me for my help and said they couldn’t have done it without me. I think that’s the most special story I ever got to write.”