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Jan Segers

Columnist for HLN


Don’t ask me when we ‘celebrated’ Equal Pay Day or Earth Overshoot Day in 2022. But Personal Betrayal Day, that’s a day that’s etched into my memory. Personal Betrayal Day is the first day of the year I cheat on my employer by paying for a title that isn’t published by DPG Media. In 2022, I lasted until 2 April.

When I’m at home, I’m usually able to avoid temptation. Last spring, the postman erroneously dropped De Standaard in my letterbox two days in a row. I call that harassment, and I believe I was well within my rights to sic the dog on the miscreant, as indeed I did. He retaliated this past autumn by delivering De Telegraaf. That really crossed the line, as I’m sure the judge will agree.

But when I find myself in Italy, I have no choice but to cheat. So, on 2 April 2022, I stood in front of the newsagent’s on Piazza Carlo Marx in Tavernelle, Umbria, which is run by a woman named Simona who knows me as ‘that Belgian’. I paid 2 euros for the Saturday edition of the Gazzetta dello Sport. “I do so love that pink paper,” I said. “You’re in luck,” Simona replied. “Soon that paper will be yours.” A bewildering statement. “What do you mean?” I asked. Simona laughed. “Haven’t you heard? Your DPG Media is acquiring RCS MediaGroup, which publishes the Gazzetta and the Corriere della Sera.”

She had learned this from her sister-in-law, she said, who runs an ice cream parlour in Rome. One of her customers was a Volkskrant journalist with an insatiable appetite for ice cream, among other things. “That Dutchman told her,” Simona said. So I rang de Volkskrant. “That’s right, our investigative unit is working on a story about this. We don’t have a primary source yet, but rumours are flying around at De Morgen, that’s where we got it.” So I rang De Morgen. “Funny you should ask us that,” they say. “This isn’t our scoop – we got it from you guys at HLN.”

So I rang HLN. “It’s a bit complicated,” I’m told by one of my own colleagues. “One of our showbiz reporters is the sister of a producer at Qmusic, and that producer is friends with Libelle’s creative content manager. That’s where we got the lead.” So I rang Libelle. “The thing about the Gazzetta? We got that from a very reliable source.” Do tell. “It was in last week’s Donald Duck.”

Long live investigative journalism! Long live DPG Media! I’ll never betray you again!