• Reading Level 5
Geography | Citizenship | PSHE

The shooting that rocked the Netherlands

Is journalism vital to democracy? Today the Dutch people are in shock following the attempted murder of a top investigative journalist – a reminder of how dangerous a reporter’s job can be. It was 5.30 on Tuesday afternoon when Peter R de Vries left the TV studio where he had appeared on a chat show. The 64-year-old journalist had no reason to think that anything was amiss as he walked along the leafy Amsterdam street. Then, suddenly, five shots rang out and de Vries fell to the ground. Wounded in the head, he was rushed to hospital, where doctors struggled to save his life. Within hours, three men had been arrested. Leading figures, including the king and queenKing Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy in which the ruler is officially part of the government but cannot overrule his or her ministers. and the president of the European Council, expressed their shock that such a thing could happen in a city regarded as a haven of art and civilisation. The country's justice minister called de Vries an "extraordinary journalist" and an "admirable warrior against injustice for the underdog". Amsterdam's mayorFemke Halsema, a Green politician who studied criminology at university. described him as a national hero. De Vries has long been celebrated for his persistent and fearless reporting. His most famous investigation was into the kidnappingThe two men were released after the payment of a 16m ransom. of Freddy Heineken, head of the international brewing company, who was abducted with his driver in 1983. De Vries helped track down the culprits, including one whom he located in Paraguay 11 years later. In 2013, the head of the gang was convicted after making threats against de Vries. In 2008 a programme he made about Natalee Holloway, an American teenager who disappeared on the Caribbean island of ArubaAlthough the island is nearly 5,000 miles from Holland, it is governed as part of the Netherlands., drew a record audience of seven million. The police had given up on the case, but de Vries's team secretly taped a confession by one of the suspects, Joran van der Sloot. When de Vries confronted him on television, Van der Sloot threw a glass of wine in his face. More recently, de Vries had been acting as an adviser to Nabil B, a former gang member who was giving evidence in a murder and drug-trafficking trial. In 2019, the lawyer representing Nabil B was shot dead near his home in Amsterdam. Just last week, de Vries launched a crowdfunding campaign to solve the disappearance of Tanja Groen, a 20-year-old student, in 1993. Because of its influence on society, the press is often referred to as 'the fourth estate'. In the Middle Ages, society was seen as having three parts, or 'estates of the realm': the clergy, the nobility, and the common people. Edmund BurkeIrish statesman, economist and philosopher. Often regarded as the founder of modern British conservatism. is thought to have been the first person to name the press as the fourth when reporting on parliamentary debates was made legal in 1787. Today, however, some people believe that there is a fifth estate - and a sixth. While the fourth estate consists of professional, trained journalists working for established media outlets, the fifth is made up of people using their own blogs and social media to report on events they witness. The sixth is a fusion of the two: encouraging people to report as individuals but holding them to professional standards of reporting by getting experts to examine what they say. Is journalism vital to democracy? Fourth force Some say, no. The media outlets that attract the largest following have little to do with serious news - instead, they are filled with gossip and trivia. The profession has lost its claim to integrity thanks to a series of phone-hacking scandals. And it can hardly claim to be objective thanks to the deep political bias of some newspapers and TV stations. Others argue that the eagerness of tyrannical regimes to shut down independent media proves that it is. The recent closure of Apple Daily in Hong Kong is a case in point. There are countless examples of journalists exposing government corruption, the most famous example being the WatergateOne of the largest scandals in modern political history concerning President Nixon. Two journalists were pivotal in breaking the story: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. scandal. Courageous reporters like de Vries expose crimes that the police fail to. KeywordsKing and queen - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy in which the ruler is officially part of the government but cannot overrule his or her ministers.

Continue Reading

The Day is an independent, online, subscription-based news publication for schools, focusing on the big global issues beneath the headlines. Our dedicated newsroom writes news, features, polls, quizzes, translations… activities to bring the wider world into the classroom. Through the news we help children and teachers develop the thinking, speaking and writing skills to build a better world. Our stories are a proven cross-curricular resource published at five different reading levels for ages 5 to 19. The Day has a loyal and growing membership in over 70 countries and its effectiveness is supported by case studies and teacher endorsements.

Start your free trial Already have an account? Log in / register