Sander Warmerdam
Editor-in-chief Leeuwarder Courant

Sander Warmerdam - Editor-in-chief Leeuwarder Courant

Leeuwarder Courant has been the newspaper of and for all of Friesland since 1752, with ever-reliable and independent news. It’s the heartbeat of Friesland with a finger on the pulse of current events. Named after its capital but the newspaper of the entire province, the oldest in the country.


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(print + digital) 66.245

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A smile against loneliness

Editors Asing Walthaus and Kirsten van Santen explain how the Samen Thuis section kept readers connected with each other during corona. Children’s drawings, games – and how does long division work again?

Jettien van der Bij talks about her home office on the Golf 2.0 page. Photo by Hoge noorden/jacob van essen

In March, prime minister Mark Rutte announced lockdown (later: the first lockdown) and we thought: we need to do something as a paper. Everyone was at home, lonely and alone, but we were all, as readers, together at home. That became the name of our back-page section, to connect readers, let them communicate with each other and keep them occupied.

From this idea, the Samen Thuis page was launched in the spring of 2020. Every day we published readers’ letters, drawings and cartoons, in which they expressed their feelings about the strange turn their lives had taken. No hard news, but an impression, an image.

We worked with an art institution that delivered great pages for children two or three times a week, and we asked our readers to contribute. We published poets’ cries from the heart, the diary of a writer in a care home, and messages from a visual artist who was stuck in Italy. We made a photo strip of the life of a ferry boat captain, a lifeguard, a pastor and a politician Zooming at home.

And the rest was made up of the stories of normal people. Children’s drawings for Grandma and Grandad. Jokes, games and the occasional crazy quiz.

This craziness was expanded in the autumn of 2020, in the successor to Samen Thuis, which we called Golf 2.0. In the second lockdown, we focused less on readers’ personal stories and more on humour and interactive games. We gave tips for uninitiated homeschoolers (what is the personal pronoun again, and how do you do long division?) and gave people cartoons to fill in. We wrote about corona puppies and Happy Stones, and made the Coronapoly game.

We looked for and invented stories and perspectives on the news to cheer people up, with the message: we may be at home, but we’re not alone. And there is always something to smile about.

A project that we thought would last just a few weeks has been going on for months. Great fun – but we hope it will come to an end in 2021.