European Federation of Journalists

Netherlands: Public Broadcaster NOS removes logo from vehicles following increased attacks against journalists

On 15 October, the Dutch Public Broadcaster NOS announced they are removing NOS logos from their cars and trucks due to the number of attacks against their employees and elevated fear of further harassment. The logic behind this step is that journalists’ safety increases when it is not immediately recognisable who they are working for.

The measure, which was taken after thorough consideration, is described as a “defeat for the NOS, but especially for journalism” by Marcel Gelauff, editor-in-chief of NOS. “However, almost daily aggressions towards journalists, such as calling names, threats, cutting off on the highway or banging on the car, have made journalistic work much more difficult,” Gelauff added.

“It definitely shows that the safety of media workers must be on top of the agenda, not only of media organisations but of politicians and police”, says Renate Schroeder, Director of the European Federation of Journalists.

Aggressions against journalists has risen at an unprecedented level in Western Europe, in what we call ‘safe’ democracies like Germany, Sweden, France and the Netherlands. It is frightening to see that a responsible media organisation such as the public service broadcaster NOS has decided to remove their logo, a logo which is a sign of trust and quality journalism.

The removal is yet another precaution by NOS following the decision to use surveillance cameras when reporting. Just in one year, over 100 assaults against journalists were reported to the Dutch platform Persveilig. Persveilig is an initiative of the Dutch Journalists’ Union (NJV), the Association of Editors-in-Chief, the Police and the Public Prosecution Service to strengthen the position of journalists against violence.

Previously, in December 2018, the NVJ signed an agreement – which was unique in Europe – with the Minister of Justice and the National Police to improve the safety of journalists. Measures included prevention and training programmes for journalists and employers about clear procedures to report attacks and intimidation, as well as agreements to give high priority to cases concerning violence against journalists.

This statement is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project, co-funded by the European Commission, provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers.