Starting Monday afternoon, the approximately 50,000 international residents of Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland will have their very own news site. The Northern Times will publish daily news out of the three northern provinces for expats, students and knowledge workers from abroad. The site will also feature stories on Dutch culture, lifestyle and human interest pieces, and the latest academic and economic developments in the region. The site was officially launced at a well-attended Top Dutch Talent meet up in Eelde.
The idea behind The Northern Times has been a few years in the making. “In the conversations that we have had with internationals here, it’s clear that they want to read more regional news – preferably in their own language”, says Karen Prowse, operations manager at the International Welcome Center North (IWCN), one of the parties behind the site. “So we took that idea and ran with it.”
There are around 52,000 non-Dutch residents living in the northern provinces, including many knowledge workers and international students. According to IWCN, which provides assistance to expats in the visa process and other important services, that number continues to rise each year. “That growth means that the need for English-language news is also growing”, says Prowse.
The Northern Times will publish daily stories covering the most important regional news, including economic and business developments. When the site launches later today, readers will find stories about earthquakes in Groningen, “The American Dream” exhibit at the Drents Museum, and what it means for Leeuwarden to be the European Capital of Culture 2018. The site also features an events calendar, pieces by internationals in their own words about their experiences living in the north, and stories about Dutch culture and traditions. “We also want to emphasise the business opportunities that are out there for internationals”, says Prowse.
Another objective of the site is to be a place for internationals to connect. Readers can comment on stories via social media, “but we would be happy to see The Northern Times become something like a business card for the North”, says editor Matthijs van Houten. “We hope that our international readers will share our stories with their network abroad. If a company like Tesla comes to the region, then our stories about it could really help to put Groningen on the map.”
The news site is a collaborative effort among the International Welcome Center North, the Groningen-based Tammeling Press Agency and American journalist Traci White. The site is also supported by the Top Dutch Talent project, an initiative for institutions in the north to attract more international talent to the region.