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The Netherlands – (C7) The watchdog and the media’s mission statement

Score in short:

The media themselves decide on the basis of their distinctive characteristics to what extent they play their role as watchdog seriously.

Score in detail:

It goes without saying that it is the media themselves that decide to what extent they will play their role as watchdog. In the view of De Telegraaf, for example, its task is to report the news and also provide the reader with a measure of entertainment: as the paper no longer looks upon the Guidelines of the Press Council as its framework of reference, it can be assumed that they take their watchdog role less seriously. De Volkskrant, for its part, sets as its aim to provide open, honest and serious reporting, and looks upon the continuous innovation of its approach as a major value. NRC Handelsblad/ has a statement of principle in which it is stated that the paper has no links with any “political or religious groups or with interest groups”, that the paper “seeks to provide objective news reporting” and that “it has a critical role within the Dutch parliamentary system”. Finally, the regional De Gelderlander gears its selection of news, analyses and comments to a very high degree to what it takes to be the fields of interest of its readers and the concerns of the region it considers to be its market.

The chief task of the audio-visual media is to provide information via different platforms and thus address the widest audience possible. Both NOS and RTL consider this task to be of great importance, but obviously the two channels interpret it on the basis of their distinctive characteristics as a public broadcaster, on the one hand, and a commercial one, on the other. For NOS it is essential to mainly emphasize its public functions and to take its role as watchdog seriously. The commercial BNR radio addresses the entrepreneurial groups in society, and it follows that its news, background analyses and comments are in close keeping with the outlook of the target group.