Press Review - Tuesday 5 February 2008
Radio Netherlands gives a roundup of the day's press.
Press Review - Tuesday 5 February 2008 - by David Doherty
The televised confession by Joran van der Sloot, the main suspect in the Natalee Holloway case, confirms its status as the biggest story to hit the Dutch media in years. Today's newspapers devote pages and pages to the issues raised by Sunday's broadcast but can't seem to agree on its significance: AD leads with "Joran now a murder suspect" while the headline in the NRC Handelsblad cautions "A televised confession still isn't proof".
The two-hour TV show that crime reporter Peter R. de Vries built around the hidden camera revelations attracted over seven million viewers, more than any Dutch TV programme this century. "Princess Máxima's tears pale by comparison" says the NRC Handelsblad, reporting that Sunday's show attracted over one million viewers more than Máxima's marriage to Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. Sister paper nrc.next describes the broadcast as "a national event".
De Telegraaf says the show had "an overwhelming impact" on Dutch viewers and presents the results of a poll among its readers, 88 percent of whom now think Joran is guilty of murder or manslaughter. But at the same time, 53 percent also think the authorities don't have a strong enough case against him.
AD reports on a bizarre twist to the Holloway story in the town of Drachten, where rumours circulated that Joran van der Sloot had been sighted entering a local apartment block. This turned out to be bad news for one of the residents, named Johan.
The paper describes how a crowd of "Joran hunters", some curious and some furious, "laid siege" to the unfortunate Johan's home. The situation went from bad to worse "when a television report showed the number of his flat and his protestations of innocence through the intercom didn't sound very convincing". When a number of the "Joran hunters" managed to get into the building, the housing association was forced to call in a security firm.
With public sentiment against the real Joran van der Sloot being so strong since the broadcast, AD quotes Professor of Criminal Law Ybo Buruma as saying "he has a right to government protection".
While the TV show seems to have made Joran public enemy number one, it's had quite a different effect on Patrick van der Eem, the man who befriended Joran and got him to confess for the hidden camera. "Undercover man given hero's welcome" is the front-page headline in De Telegraaf, describing how floral tributes were pouring in and the telephone was ringing off the hook.
The paper reveals that in the midst of all the congratulatory messages he received a call from Joran van der Sloot himself. "He was in tears", the undercover hero revealed. "He's a broken man. But I don't have a shred of sympathy for him."
Fudging the issue
De Volkskrant features a story on the system for measuring the noise generated by Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Ahead of tomorrow's parliamentary debate on the issue, the paper argues that "the system to measure noise pollution around Schiphol is incomprehensible to non-specialists ... and does not use recording equipment ... but calculations that give policy makers more room for manoeuvre".
It quotes one Labour MP as saying "the system is bankrupt and should be thrown overboard". A GreenLeft MP says he hopes Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings will "take a stand for once" and that for too long "incomprehensible technology has been used to fudge the issue of noise levels".
Even the minister's own Christian Democrats are calling for change. "We need to put an end to the war of statistics" he said, referring to a recent conflict between the Environmental Planning Agency and the National Aerospace Laboratory, both of whom seized on the same data to support opposite views.
Trouw leads with the story that children from single-parent families do worse at school according to figures published by the Dutch statistics office yesterday. The paper reports that "12 percent of kids from single-parent families drop to a lower level in the course of their schooling compared to 7 percent of those raised by both parents."
Income also plays a part, say the statisticians, with children from lower income groups being three times more likely to fall from intermediate to lower levels of education than their fellow pupils from high income families.
The paper reveals that "in the Netherlands more than in many other European countries, a pupil's background determines what level of education they receive." It points to research that this is due partly to the relatively rigid Dutch school system "in which pupils have to choose a school level at the age of twelve".
AD reports that the Party for the Animals is in danger of rubbing fellow politicians up the wrong way. The party came up with no less than 60 motions in yesterday's debate on animal welfare, including one to ban the sale of fish bowls. They were only able to read out 39 of them before the chairwoman stepped in to prevent what she called "an embarrassing spectacle".
The paper reports "sighs of irritation" at this new parliamentary record and reveals that the Ministry of Agriculture has already had to take on two extra members of staff just to cope with all the parliamentary questions put by the animal rights party.
The party itself remains unbowed by the criticism. "A normal debate simply wasn't possible ... the minister has known our position for a long time, but refuses to take any action."
Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg does cut the party some slack on the burning issue of the fish bowl. "It's true. Round ones are not good for the fish." She stops well short of a ban, however: "Since it's difficult to distinguish a round fish bowl from a round vase, I don't see how we can ban them."
Soothing sea creatures
De Volkskrant's front page features a heartwarming photograph of a frail elderly woman meeting the gaze of a massive walrus at the Dolfinarium marine world in Harderwijk. Apparently encounters like these have a soothing effect on elderly people with dementia. "They find interacting with the walruses particularly fascinating. It makes them less anxious and restless for a while."
De Telegraaf also features the story, describing the old people's marine encounter as "a successful form of therapy for those old people with whom it's difficult to make contact".
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]
Subject: Dutch news