Media can threaten democracy: Princess Mabel

5th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

5 May 2006, AMSTERDAM — The media can threaten democracy, Princess Mabel said during a speech on Friday to mark Liberation Day.

5 May 2006

AMSTERDAM — The media can threaten democracy, Princess Mabel said during a speech on Friday to mark Liberation Day.

"Much of the mass media is driven by circulation and viewing figures, and not by unrestrained critical analysis, truth-finding or simply the provision of quality. Creating an image supersedes content," she told the audience during the H. M. van Randwijk reading in the south-western city of Vlissingen.

Initial news reports on 5 May failed to mention the princess was speaking as director of the Open Society Institute. This a private foundation created by philanthropist George Soros to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform.

"The mass media plays an essential role in an open society for our orientation on the world and is of real importance for our image of reality," she said. "If that image is deviated from - for political or commercial reasons - that has unavoidable consequences for democracy. Why do we accept that this media logic is more important than adequate information and qualitative truth-finding?"

Mabel experienced the sharp pen of the media during the 'Mabel-gate' controversy sparked by her engagement and marriage in 2003-2004 to Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende decided not to seek permission for the marriage from parliament when media reports made it clear Mabel had been less than frank with him about a previous relationship with drug baron Klaas Bruinsma.

Although she still maintains she did not have a sexual relationship with Bruinsma when she was a student, she was forced to concede the relationship was not as casual as she had originally said it was. Mabel and Friso married in April 2004. As the union was not sanctioned by parliament, Friso automatically lost his right to the throne.

Reacting to the princess's remarks about the media, Professor Gerard Schuijt of the Media Law department at the University of Leiden said: "It is rather silly what Mabel has said."

"You can't speak about 'The Media'. Who is that then? Even within a newspaper there are journalists who differ in approach."

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news + Princess Mabel

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