Report of mayor's death 'greatly exaggerated'

11th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

11 August 2006, AMSTERDAM — Utrecht City Council has complained to the police after media outlets were duped into running a bogus report that Mayor Annie Brouwer had died.

11 August 2006

AMSTERDAM — Utrecht City Council has complained to the police after media outlets were duped into running a bogus report that Mayor Annie Brouwer had died.

News service NOS published a story on its teletext service on Friday saying she had died as a result of a Legionella infection. The erroneous story was removed 20 to 30 seconds later, a NOS spokesperson said.

But this was enough time for business radio station BNR to take up the story. It broadcast a rectification a short time later.

Brouwer is being treated for Legionella she picked up while on holiday abroad, but she is very much alive.

City council officials are in possession of an email in which the sender "announces" Brouwer had died from Legionella. The 'press release' was sent from a Hotmail address and is said to be teeming with typing and spelling mistakes.

It is unclear whether this email was a factor in the NOS report. The NOS spokesperson said the news report was based on several sources.  "One of these was an email, but I can't say if it is the same email the City Council has."

The spokesperson admitted the broadcaster was not careful enough in checking the sources. "That was very careless and therefore we offer our apologies to the Brouwer family and Utrecht City Council. We will check our sources more carefully in future."

The City Council is taking the matter seriously and has asked the police to investigate what happened.

Brouwer was admitted to a medical centre in Utrecht on Thursday due to the Legionella infection. It is expected she will be allowed home in a few days.

The mayor was in the media spot light earlier this week after several people were seriously injured when a canal stairwell collapsed during a concert on Sunday. One of the victims died later.

The story made headlines for days as there is little hard news on the national level during the summer.

Newspapers and broadcasters often rely on quirky human interest tales and items that would not normally make the grade, such as the price of cucumbers.

Hence the Dutch media call this period 'komkommertijd' (cucumber time), while it is known as the 'silly season' in English.  

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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