Friday, 13 February 2015 - 14:13
No hyperlocal news in Netherlands leaves millions uninformed
Almost 8 million Dutch people get little or no relevant news about their hometown, especially in smaller municipalities with fewer than 50 thousand inhabitants. This is according to the Incentive Fund for Journalism. "There are places in the country where readers, viewers and listeners are almost devoid of socially relevant news from their hometown", said René van Zanten, director of the Incentive Fund for Journalism. The Incentive fund presented an alarming study on regional and local journalism to Minister Ronald Plasterk (Internal Affairs) in the Hague yesterday, NRC reports. According to the Incentive Fund, there is very little local news in small municipalities such as Langedijk, Appingedam and Bunschoten. Despite many citizens seeming to be interested in news about their hometown. News consumers in large municipalities get four times as much general news and news on local policy. The fact that many consumers are "digital", preferring to read their news online, has not translated into weekly newspapers and local broadcasters making more use of websites. According to the Incentive Fund, hyperlocals (private websites with local news) does not offer an alternative, as they usually recycle news. The Incentive Fund thinks that regional media falls short because of cutbacks. In small communities the sharing of news about local policy remains far behind that of large municipalities. According to the Fund, reporting on politics and policy in small communities is just as important to the residents as in large communities and "demands as much journalistic focus and control".