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For those of you who are waiting for their much loved column, Alternative/Life Story, not seeing it on these pages 20/21 will be a stinging reminder of the vicissitudes of the free press. Mrs. Pipi, whom we had to meet, is probably afraid… afraid of being caught by her boss of the fast food belonging to the international chain for which she indirectly works. She is afraid, and we understand her. We will go back to her and try to convince her that she will not get into trouble. In the meantime, here is a portrait of the Association of Journalists of the Periodical Press (AJPP), and their curious tacit definition of journalism… 

It’s not that we wanted to be considered as « journalists », far from it, but we thought that if this recognition allowed us to get some compensation for the voluntary work we do (press card that allows us to have the free train, to enter press conferences — and to question the « journalists »… — and other events), we had the right to ask for it. So I did a little research on the website of the Association des Journalistes de la Presse Périodique, with the nice acronym of AJPP (not to be confused with the French acronym « allocation journalière de présence parentale », although the reader may find some associations there…). 

At first, I kind of believed in it, since they said on their website: « Any person who exercises, even part-time, the profession of journalist can become a member of the association and obtain a membership card », and moreover, benefit from the press card as long as he is « active in the general information press ». We are  » active », and not really part-time for Kairos, we are, how can I put it… full time, without however working — voluntarily — more to earn more, since the principle of volunteering is that we earn nothing! And so, with an increased workload, the income remains the same, that is to say… non-existent. So we try to work less — as an employee — in order to work more — as a volunteer. Well, I don’t know if you follow: basically, the days are not extensible, so it’s a bit like two communicating vessels, what we take for an activity empties the others proportionally. 

No luck, we quickly realized — and they were sure to remind us — that to be part of the band you had to be paid. So for the AJPP, « working » — in this case doing alternative periodicals — is like for the Onem, synonymous with getting a salary, the rest is a bar in the box: if you work, it’s good, even if it’s at an arms dealer in Herstal or at Monsanto; if you grow potatoes, support a local cinema or.… try to do real journalism, but don’t get any money for it, it’s like doing… nothing! Bad luck! 

But we tried anyway (especially for the funny investigation). It started out that way so(1):

« Hello,

For the past two years, we have been publishing a critical news journal that aims to provide objective content in a world where the impartiality of the mass media is clearly lacking. 

Kairos, an anti-productivist journal for a decent society, is not the result of unrealistic radicals who, as dilettantes, would produce a few pages of paper every two months. On the contrary, it is the work of a professional journalist, a bimonthly magazine of 24 pages containing articles by various authors (scientists, journalists, teachers, activists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, trainers…), illustrated by artists who are often professionals, corrected, and laid out by graphic designers whose job it is. 

After almost 15 issues, we can be proud of having achieved a result that, in form as well as in content, makes Kairos a real newspaper and a title that has taken, and will continue to take, its place in the Belgian media landscape (we are, for example, the best-selling newspaper in the renowned Tropismes bookstore in Brussels, and the title is distributed by Tondeur throughout Belgium). 

The fact that we are all volunteers should not be seen as a flaw that would prevent Kairos from being recognized as a « real » newspaper. On the contrary, in the face of the single thought distilled by most press titles, Kairos can pride itself on offering an indispensable critical point of view, which is too often lacking. 

However, if it is not possible for us to make a living from our activity, there is an explanation: to make an alternative, critical press, without advertising, does not always please the political power, and does not attract money. 

Does the mere fact of not being paid allow us to denigrate our title, to give it less value? Shouldn’t the Association of Journalists of the Periodical Press take into account the state of the press in Belgium and in Europe and the importance that titles like Kairos can and will have more and more? 

If we are eligible to benefit from the French Community’s aid to the periodical press, why are we not recognized as such by the AJPP, and why can’t those who are the pillars of the newspaper benefit from a press card? 

Hoping that you will pay attention to this mail, 

Sincerely  »

That was in September 2014…with no response from them, we followed up with them in October: 

« Hello. Did you receive our mail regarding the press card? ». 

The next day, the president answered us: 

« Sir.
Concerns: your affiliation to the A.J.P.P.

The Board of Directors of the Association of Journalists of the Periodical Press reviewed your application at its last meeting. Unfortunately, he was unable to comply with your request. [ah merde!]. Based on the current status of your file, you do not meet the admission criteria (cfr. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF AJPP AFFILIATION [SIC], item 5.3. « He must provide proof of remuneration for the last 12 months » and art. 3 of the Royal Decree of 12 April 1965 establishing identification documents for the use of members of the periodical press — « …may only be issued to journalists who, as their main profession and for remuneration.… 

Yours sincerely Claude MUYLS,
President AJPP.
The AJPP Board of Directors 

In the meantime, the months passed, we had a few things to do, Saint-Nicolas, the Christmas turkey and some newspapers to shoot… But we didn’t forget, and we started the thing again, this time no longer with the original « deeply interested » purpose, but with the purpose of deconstructing the association and seeing who was pulling the strings of this seemingly relaxed and press freedom defending box. 

So we contacted the AJPP again by e‑mail via its president, who seemed to have forgotten who we were and answered us three hours later:  » I am happy to meet with you. Thank you for first identifying the problems and giving me a phone number. Best regards « .

Yes! I said to me, and I answer: « Thank you for your response and your enthusiasm. It would be to develop the subject of the mainstream press and the place of other presses in the media landscape; but also more simply to see what journalism is basically for the AJPP ».

There, the promptness to answer had, how to say… taken a few wrinkles: 18 days later, the President was contacted again, to this day no answer (we write these lines on June 3… and we close on June 22, and still nothing!) 

In the meantime, we went to see who was deciding who did or didn’t do journalism in a periodical press, and who populated their clique. Let’s start with the President of the AJPP, the one who signed the rejection letter. On the site, a presentation by Claude Muyls tells us: « Claude Muyls has a degree in sociology, psychology and journalism from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Interviewing them was the best way to approach them and give them a voice. For more than 30 years, she has been meeting the personalities and the anonymous people who make up the diversity of our society ». His Dutch-speaking counterpart is Louis Weenen, who started out in the 1980s as editor-in-chief of « Flash Motor/motorensport », and later of « Belgian Business ». It’s all good for him! 

Well, then we thought that Kairos might not be « anonymous » enough to benefit from Claude’s interest and passion, or that those who write in the pages of a Belgian anti-productivist newspaper might not be expressing things that would scare the president… A coincidence no doubt when we see that  » she has worked for many media such as Elle Belgium, Marie Claire Belgium, Vogue Belgium, L’Officiel France, Paris Match Belgium and La Libre EssentielleShe is currently a contributor to Carnets de Paris Match and Talkies in Dutch, as well as editor-in-chief of Guy Issue and Mode Flash. She is also preparing a French version of Talkies?« Well, noa priori I said to myself « it is necessary to be open to all the tendencies »… but who sees Kairos enthroned beside these great titles of press which sharpen the critical spirit and which wonder in summer watch: « the jersey is soon, what do I do right now to be at the top » (Elle Belgium, May 2015) or whether in the area of  » sex, are we really more liberated » (Marie Claire Belgium, June 2015)… existential questions, next to peccadilloes like being « Against Haren prison and all modern prisons  » (Kairos April-May 2015). Be careful, at the next Steenrock Festival, we may see, next to Kairos and all the associations that support undocumented migrants and fight against the closed centers: Mode Flash! (we will ask the president if the magazine can sponsor the event…). 

Well, we said to ourselves, maybe it’s a mistake, they made a mistake at the AJPP and the president has been unchallengeable since 1997, the whole board of directors trying to kick her out… no luck, at the end of the presentation of Claude Muyls on the site, we can feel that they are buddies like pigs, because « to help her, she is surrounded by a Board of Directors that is as efficient as it is available. And here we go! Among the Board of Directors of the AJPP we find : 

- the editor-in-chief of Transpo magazine (« The Belgian official transport and logistics magazine, published eleven times a year, on the 5th of each month »);

- a freelance « passionate about photography » who « has immortalized many sporting events such as the soccer world cups, the European cups, the Olympic Games, the fashion shows in Milan and Paris »;

- a journalist specialized in « new information technologies in the pages of various specialized magazines »;

- a doctor of law from UCL, former « editor at L’Ergot, the official organ of French-speaking students during the events of May 1968 in France ». From there, he started his career plan from which comes « no doubt, a little side « anar » (sic) which he could never get rid of. Specialized in consumer protection and the automobile industry, he has successively collaborated with Sport Enginein the Moniteur de l’Automobile and in the television magazines « Au nom de la loi » and « Autant Savoir » of the RTBF. (…) After a brief passage through the general information (…) he has definitely settled in the print media (sic): editor and director of Transpo [encore!]a monthly magazine specialized in transport and logistics until January 2011, he has been a regular contributor to the automotive pages of the DH-Les Sports since 1992. A founding member of the Association for the Self-Regulation of Journalistic Ethics (AADJ) in 2009, he has been an effective member of the Council for Journalistic Ethics (CDJ) since 2010. He is also an honorary member of the Belgian Union of Automotive Engineers (UBIA);

- an « early retiree » from the luxury hotel sector; 

- « uformer journalist of Le Pourquoi Pas? Le Vif (at its launch), Tele Pro, Le Soir, La Libre Belgique, Paris Match,… former Editor-in-Chief of Park-Mail (a free newspaper distributed mainly in cinemas and parking lots in Brussels) and PC WorldHe has contributed to the « technology » pages of numerous written and broadcast media ».

Afterwards, we went to see the  » cinematographic gala » that AJPP organizes every year, where a film is projected for « the member journalists, their relations and different guests ». In the choice of the last films, no Pas vu pas pris, Les nouveaux chiens de garde, La fabrication du consentement… no, don’t dream, but: Brabançonne (2014), Marine (2013), The words (2012), The ides of march (2011)… enough to feed his critical reflection on journalism? Or rather, something to entertain and prepare for  » the cocktail party afterwards « …

Technology, cars, fashion… diversity in the same, shoddy pluralism. Don’t you think it’s quite amazing to be considered a journalist when you work forthe« Belgian transport and logistics official », but not when you try to provide critical information about this world and propose something else? And isn’t it even more so when our judges are those who work for the conformist press, even if they can always hide behind their « orders »? 

If that doesn’t surprise you, you can subscribe to Transpo or, in desperation, Elle Belgium! Or both… if you’re planning to go to the beach in a truck! 

Alexandre Penasse

* With the support and approval of Jean-Pierre L. Collignon, AJP member since 1992 AND volunteer at Kairos.

Journalist (Le Petit Robert)

1. The one who makes, publishes a newspaper.
è vx gazetier. 

2. Mod. A person who contributes to the editorial staff of a newspaper. 

3. A person who deals with information in a media system. 


Court. Information, information. A fact or judgment that is brought to the attention of a person or an audience by means of words, sounds or images. 

(early 20th century) Information. All the information, and by ext. Action of informing the opinion on the public life, the recent events.
è communication.

Notes et références
  1. Tout est identique… à part des petites fautes d’orthographe que nous avions laissées dans le courrier original envoyé (c’est honteux!), que les correctrices avisées ont bien sûr identifiées.

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