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The Netherlands – (C5) Journalists’ job security

Score in short:

In general, the Association of Journalists controls the basic working conditions for professional journalists in the Netherlands.

Score in detail:

In general, the NVJ (Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten, ‘Association of Journalists’) controls the basic working conditions for professional journalists in the Netherlands: negotiating collective employment agreements and author’s right contributions, providing legal advice to its members, discussing insurance issues, etc. More specifically, none of the journalists we interviewed had heard of conscientious objectors among their colleagues. As far as they can see, there are no legal provisions to protect them when they have qualms about the way they have to do their job. Two of them are aware that, should such a situation arise, they can turn to the editorial board. Journalists are not compelled to write articles they object to, and the medium concerned would certainly not be helped. However, generally speaking, a journalist does what he or she is asked to do. Still, De Telegraaf, for example, will make allowances for a journalist’s private circumstances: if he or she has had to suffer a family tragedy, the paper will not ask him or her to report on a similar event. Furthermore, objections stemming from religious convictions – for example refusal to work on Sundays – will usually have been dealt with during an intake interview. In Piet Bakker’s view, the editorial room of any Dutch news medium is an environment without very formal rules. Journalists do not tend to seek out borderline cases, they are ‘socialized’ by their colleagues in the newsroom.