For almost half a century, Marynissen was a respected journalist for Het Volk, the newspaper that had been inextricably linked to the Christian labor movement ACW since the end of the 19th century. Marynissen experienced both the heyday and the fall of the historic newspaper.
After several years at the Ghent and Antwerp regional editorial offices, Marynissen moved to the political editorial office in 1975. There he succeeded Miel Van Cauwelaert, Rik’s father, as political editor-in-chief and commentator. In that position he had weekly lunch with the top of ACW. It was a time when newspapers were still firmly attached to a political movement, but Marynissen said he still tried to be as neutral as possible in his reporting. He told De Standaard: “Those dinners were a way of gathering information for us. They were well informed, also about politics. But one of the big misunderstandings about this is that I slavishly adopted the positions of the CVP (the predecessor of CD&V, ed.). ‘We look at something on journalistic grounds,’ I always said.”
The decline of Het Volk
As the newspapers became more and more independent, Het Volk became more difficult. Although Christian ideas increasingly faded into the background, the newspaper failed to attract new readers. A takeover followed by VUM, a media group that later changed its name to Corelio and is now part of Mediahuis. And when Het Volk was transferred to Het Nieuwsblad in 2008, Marynissen spoke in De Standaard about the chronicle of a foretold death. “The old-fashioned image of a pillarized trade union newspaper played tricks on us. It was a very difficult period. Great efforts have been made to renew the newspaper, but we continued to suffer from a bad image. Young readers no longer wanted to read Het Volk.”
News as passion
Marynissen already had 74 springs at that time and had been retired for a while. But news, and especially politics, remained a great passion. “I still read the newspaper every day,” he confided to Knack in 2008. “I no longer have a newspaper subscription, because I like to change far too much. When something remarkable happens in our country, I always want to compare how the different newspapers report on it. A political crisis? Tiens, what would the commentator of De Morgen think about that, I wonder. In any case, that has become less predictable than, say, twenty years ago.”
Marynissen, who in addition to his journalistic career was also chairman of the Antwerp construction cooperative ABC, died on Sunday at the age of 89. “Strengthened by beautiful memories, we say goodbye to Leo Marynissen,” reads the funeral message that his family sent into the world on Monday. The journalistic figurehead leaves behind three children, 9 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. His wife died two years ago.