The rise of online threats

By tradition, press freedom is highly valued in The Netherlands. The government supports a free press inside and outside the country. Journalists are generally protected by a robust legal framework that extends to the confidentiality of sources. Most Dutch journalists are members of the Federation of Journalists (NVJ), an active union with a legal department and educational programs. Reporters nevertheless sometimes find themselves in dangerous situations. A 2017 NVJ report 'A Threatening Climate' stated that over half of all journalists have faced physical, judicial, or online threats in the course of their career. Holland is not immune to the deteriorating political and social tendencies throughout Europe. Several disturbing international trends are visible in the Netherlands, albeit on a smaller scale. The rise of populist parties on the right and left is a growing challenge to press freedom. These parties question the legitimacy of traditional media, call for the resignation of individual journalists and sometimes restrict press access to their meetings. In this atmosphere, journalists who address issues of national identity or immigration often find themselves facing intimidation on social media platforms. Yet the large majority of voters still support press freedom. In this time of powerful online internet platforms, journalists are more visible than ever. This has resulted in worrying violent online attacks, including death threats against journalists and their families. Aggression against female journalists and reporters with a minority background is particularly vitriolic. In recent years several people were prosecuted and found guilty of threatening reporters online. A new government policy has taken effect in 2018: every police complaint filed by a journalist now has to be investigated thoroughly. Particularly worrying are plans by organised crime for murderous attacks on journalists. In 2018 two crime reporters were granted full-time police protection. Last summer an anti-tank missile was fired at the Amsterdam office of two magazines that often report on organised crime. The building of a national newspaper was attacked by a van that was driven deliberately through its facade. In spite of these disquieting developments, the Dutch media remain confident and independent, firmly embedded into Dutch society and by international standards free from governmental or other interference.

in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index



3 in 2018

Global score


10.01 in 2018

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2020
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2020
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2020
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