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Television news criticised over booby trap story

10 November 2007 - The NOS television news committed a ‘journalistic deadly sin’ by reporting that a dangerous ‘booby trap’ had been found in an evicted squat, without reporting the squatters’ denial, said the NOS’ Ombudsman. He is also surprised at MPs’ uncritical acceptance of the police accusation.

The NOS Journaal first reported the accusation in its 2 November morning edition. The squatters’ response was not reported until the 6 pm edition. Newspapers het Parool and de Telegraaf and news agency ANP had also reported the police story without reporting the squatters’ response, according to the Ombudsman.

In response to the booby trap story, a majority of MPs are now in favour of making squatting illegal. The Ombudsman finds it ‘remarkable’ that they draw conclusions on the basis of an unproven story. “Apparently, politicians themselves do not check the facts either. This makes it all the more important that journalists report both sides of the story”.

“It does not matter who will eventually turn out to have been right, the police or the squatters; both versions must be heard. The Prosecutor’s investigation will later reveal what really happened”, the Ombudsman stated.

Squatters had published photos at Indymedia to show that the ‘booby trap’ was innocent. Last Thursday, police showed their own photos to the city council. These photos convinced council members that contraptions left in squats had in fact been dangerous, het Parool reported.

NOS Ombudsman (in Dutch), squatters’ version, police version (in Dutch)


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