Seven steps towards a new Delta

New look for Delta Magazine. The printed version is set to disappear and be replaced by a brand-new website, serving as a platform for constructive journalism.

Photo: Sam Rentmeester

Constructive journalism means journalism with the engineering mentality you’d expect in Delft, leaving room for new insights and ideas from students and staff. Why are we doing this? What will it look like? An explanation in seven steps.

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1. Roll

Delta’s task is to:

  • Connect students and staff to each other and to the university;
  • draw attention to developments and problems in research, teaching, student life and policy;
  • provide an independent platform for ideas, opinions, and insights.

These roles are defined in our editorial charter.

2. Reach

We have been writing great articles and producing interesting magazines for years, but we seem to be reaching increasingly fewer students and staff. The number of magazines printed and the frequency of publication have both dropped considerably, even though the TU community is growing. A readers’ survey showed that the website in its current form largely goes unnoticed, and that we are failing to reach potential readers because they don’t know what Delta has to offer.

Every week, the editors try to provide every student and every member of staff – Dutch and international, throughout the organisation, at every stage of their programme or career – with information that will interest them. But no matter how valuable the articles and features are, we don’t seem to be hitting the mark and coming across as a powerful, cohesive magazine.

3. Identity

The survey among readers also revealed that Delta misses an ‘image’, yet a clear identity would raise Delta’s profile among students and staff. So Delta intends to capitalise on the engineering mentality: we want to help solve problems and think it better not to only focus on what’s going wrong. Instead, we’ll explore how we can be bigger, better and more daring. This is what the new generations of students are also looking for.

4. Constructive journalism

Now for constructive journalism. In these days of social media, fake news and mistrust of the establishment, editors across the globe are racking their brains for ways of digging for the truth and restoring confidence. We are doing this on our own modest scale. Constructive journalism is a relatively new type of journalism but one with huge potential, as evident in the success of the Dutch pioneers, De Correspondent, Follow the Money and TC Tubantia.

Constructive journalism demonstrates an engineering mentality, helps editors to find new stories, sharpens up editorial decisions, and clarifies journalistic angles. It also helps us get readers more involved in Delta, as we can only move forward on the strength of their knowledge and ideas. ‘Delta makes the difference’ is our slogan, but we need our readers to help make this difference.

5. Making connections

We have recently been trying out this method of constructive journalism when writing about science, education, policy and student life.

  • We are holding round-table discussions with staff, to formulate ideas about solutions together.
  • We are publishing correspondence between Dap Hartmann and Tim van der Hagen about the future of the university.
  • We launched a sensor mania project so that readers can help us to create articles (and series) about the very latest developments and the impact of sensors on our day-to-day lives.

These are just three examples, but there are many more and the possibilities are endless.

6. Delta Lab

A Delta Lab will be set up to serve as a platform for co-creation, mainly for students. We will moderate this haven for creativity, where students will have plenty of freedom to share their creations, their work and their thoughts and ideas. It could take the form of journalism, but also literature, poetry, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, photography. Work on the first projects is ongoing and ideas are welcome. We will present the first examples shortly.

7. Online platform

If we want Delta to continue, we must now make clear, definite decisions that take all the previous points into account.

  • So this will be the very last printed edition of the magazine;
  • From now on, we will invest our time and money in a new website with the technical option of an online platform. The first version will go live at the start of the new academic year.

Until then, the editorial team will continue to run the current website and its social media. Using this as a base, we will start on the innovations we think necessary to turn things around for Delta and make it an interesting forum, which is relevant to TU Delft, its students and its staff.

Saskia Bonger,

Acting editor-in-chief

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