On Wednesday, 24th April 2024, LCL Data Centers is hosting the annual Media Inspiration Sessions, in collaboration with MediaNet Vlaanderen. This year sees a fresh format: an exclusive recording of a thought-provoking talk show, followed by a lively networking event. The focus? Media in transition: a battle for talent and audience. This promises to be an unmissable debate, so secure your front-row seat now! In the meantime, Robert van Beurden (LCL Data Centers) and Jonathan Van De Velde (MediaNet Vlaanderen) offer the inside scoop on why you must attend.

This isn’t the first edition of the 'Media Inspiration Sessions': Where did the concept originate?

Robert: The concept already existed when I joined LCL, but reaching and engaging the right media entities was a challenge. We looked for a partner with a renowned and impartial standing within the sector. With MediaNet Vlaanderen, we found that synergy. The power of this event lies in our combined networks and expertise: we're well acquainted with the landscape and know whom to approach to bring together the right voices.

Why is it crucial for the media sector to come together and share inspiration?

Robert: There's definitely a need to come together. Our aim is to strengthen the segment in Belgium and talk about what is needed to achieve that, a conversation we can perfectly facilitate with MediaNet Vlaanderen. Yet, our vision extends beyond Belgium, as the competition spans Europe and other continents, home to numerous major players. Our goal is to elevate Belgium's profile as a media hub.

Why is this year's theme, "Media in transition: a battle for talent and audience", such a pivotal challenge?

Jonathan: Largely because of the strong supply of young media professionals. Belgian educational institutions are highly esteemed for content production and technology, which is a significant advantage but also presents the very challenge: the international community takes notice, leading to a brain drain of some highly sought-after profiles. The way we consume and produce media today is fundamentally different from just 5 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. The platforms, the pacing, the storytelling have all evolved; it's more concise. The sector's transition opens numerous opportunities to align these emerging talents with the ecosystem's needs. Moreover, the rapid evolution of the media ecosystem necessitates that the skills and expertise of media professionals continuously adapt. This poses the challenge of identifying those talents who can innovatively translate new needs and possibilities into creative media processes.

Robert van Beurden (LCL Data Centers)
Robert Van Beurden (LCL Data Centers)
Jonathan Van de Velde (MediaNet Vlaanderen)
Jonathan Van de Velde (MediaNet Vlaanderen)

So, the issue isn't a lack of talent but retaining it?

Robert: The media sector needs to demonstrate its appeal as a workplace, showcasing the breadth of opportunities available. Media entities must adopt a new approach in their outreach, moving beyond the "here's the news, take it or leave it" attitude. It's about interaction, not just technologically but in the narratives they craft.

Jonathan: Exactly, the landscape has become incredibly fragmented, creating a need for a certain level of structure, clarity, and transparency. A few years ago, no one could have predicted that TikTokkers or YouTube content could overlap with news, and that it would be listened to. The entire underlying process unveils numerous untapped possibilities. AI, like ChatGPT, is frequently mentioned, not as the sole technology but as an example of how young content creators can leverage their creativity to unlock virtually endless opportunities, which can also be done perfectly in collaboration with the Flemish media ecosystem.

Is that where the battle for talent and audience intersects? Should one follow the other?

Jonathan: It's somewhat of a chicken-and-egg scenario. They beautifully complement each other.

Is this already a significant concern within the sector, or does it require more attention?

Jonathan: It's a bit of both. The industry must build upon what exists while unlocking new potentials, without forsaking its foundations.

Robert: Technology offers vast possibilities, yet content remains king. Technological innovation is impressive, but the narrative is what truly resonates. I see this as yet another possible area of interplay.

Is there a ready-made solution at present?

Jonathan: No, but that wouldn't be particularly interesting, would it?

Robert: It sets the stage for a nuanced debate, featuring diverse perspectives, moderated by Francesca Vanthielen. We strive for a balanced discussion; differing viewpoints are welcome, but the dialogue must remain constructive. It's not imperative to reach a consensus; the aim is to provoke thought and personal reflection.

Robert van Beurden and Jonathan Van de Velde

Can we reveal any hints about what to expect?
Jonathan: The discussion won't be limited to media companies; we'll also explore the realms of entertainment, which increasingly intersect with media today.

Robert: Media, entertainment, gaming - they're no longer separate entities. Imagine the potential if youngsters could create new content with the support of existing infrastructure and media entities. Merging the energy and creativity of the young with the wisdom and experience of the seasoned, doesn’t that sound amazing? That should be the winning formula.

Why should people mark the 24th of April on their calendars?

Jonathan: It's set to be an open, diverse debate, shedding light on various perspectives on the evolving landscape. Attendees will have the privilege of experiencing the debate firsthand and contributing their own voices during the subsequent networking event.

Robert: Far from a heavy debate, expect an upbeat, energising discussion brimming with new ideas, all accompanied by a refreshing beverage!

You can sign up for this edition of the LCL Media Inspiration Sessions here.

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