Ink-stained fingers

Every day, the editorial staff at the UK wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? A weekly look behind the scenes.

In the world of journalism, there is still quite a bit of whining about the demise of The Paper. Famed illustrator Peter van Straaten once made a brilliant drawing of a man fussing at his wife for throwing out the newspaper: ‘Don’t do that, it’s so beautifully printed!’ That was back in the paper era, but it was very funny at the time.

A real magazine or a newspaper is something you can hold in your hands and smell – it should leave your fingers ink-stained, they cry. What an exquisite experience!

Exquisite? What a bunch of melancholic babbling. The future is digital, and there is no turning back. As former RUG journalism professor Jeroen Smit once said (roughly paraphrased): in an age with rockets that can reach Mars, we’ve got to stop longing for the days of the steam engine which moved in fits and starts and was powered by dirty coal (which also resulted in blackened fingers).


It has been nearly four years since the UK bid farewell to paper and became a fully digital publication. It was not easy, and it remains a challenge. We used to be physically present once a week with an edition of the paper on the newsstands, an item that got shuffled around during a working lunch at your desk, something that could be used to wrap up a fish at the market or worn as a silly hat – but now, the UK is one of many organisations that has to compete for attention in the digital world, with no guarantee of success.

It’s a struggle at times. But it’s also a positive challenge that pushes us to reinvent ourselves through more interaction with our readers and greater utilisation of visuals.

In that vein, we appealed to our readers last week to create a ‘hip’ playlist for the RUG’s carillon player Auke de Boer, who is celebrating his 20th anniversary of playing the bells in the Academy tower (and we received plenty of suggestions). On Wednesday, we published a video of him practicing the songs that he may be slightly less familiar with (mark your calendars: Auke de Boer will perform a one-off concert of the UK carillon hit list on 6 December from 10 to 11 a.m.). You can’t do that on paper.

We are also exploring other new possibilities. That includes ‘new forms of story telling’: multimedia productions that combine text, photos, videos and animations.

I don’t want to give too much away. But stay tuned.

Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief



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