De Roef in Huizen has been in the news for a week. There is a lack of good communication from the municipality and the police. There is no room for question. It is being made difficult for journalists, but despite that, the reporting continues. It resulted in a pedantic finger against the press. Reporter Ingmar Meijer gives an insight into the difficult relationship he built up last week with state authorities in search of answers.
‘Municipalities and administrators will increasingly decide for themselves what and when they send information to the world. Checking the story itself is the starting point. This often conflicts with free news gathering. The public wants to be and stay informed about what is going on. The media plays an important role in this.
Hardly anyone would say anything to the journalists present on Sunday evening after the meeting in Thomaskerk, where local residents were updated. The lone resident who said something still did not say much. It turned out later that local residents had been discouraged from talking to the press. A stammerer is followed by a councilor when asked why nothing should be said.
When the mayor is done inside and comes out, he immediately states that he will not answer any questions. The press is not welcome, so nothing is open for discussion. This solo dance has been going on for a week, while the violent events, such as the sudden removal of two families and an exploded bomb, still require clarification from the mayor. He is responsible for public order and security. Unlike many residents, he is also used to speaking to the media.
No responsibility, no answer. A cloth from the forehead of the small group of journalists present. According to the mayor, an often-heard mood during the soon-to-be-convened church meeting was that journalists and cameramen flooded Roef and its surroundings and behaved in an uneducated manner.
The threat and attack certainly attracted many media. All day media people on the sidewalk can actually be quite annoying. But the conclusion, according to the mayor, was that ‘decency standards have been exceeded’. The neighborhood is tired of it. End of communication, start of discussion.
Apparently, the bad behavior of journalists and cameramen is more of a concern than a serious threat that turned into brutal and harsh reality 20 hours earlier. Despite the fact that there was still ‘tightened surveillance’ on Roef, the bad guys still managed to put an explosive away and set it off in the middle of the night. On Friday, the mayor said it is safe in the area because there had been an arrest the day before.
The neighborhood is now in revolt. Fear has been instilled, the feeling of insecurity has grown due to an attack, and there are more and more questions among the residents about what the heck is going on. The consequences of the huge bang are much greater than damaged homes, but this can apparently not be questioned.
Five short messages
Since the immediate danger to Roef was known, the municipality has issued five short press releases. These messages address concerns about the residents of the two closed homes and the rest of the neighborhood and the impact of the threat. Not a single word about the people who were behind the threat and even unleashed an explosive charge.
After the meeting in the church, the mayor could have gone to the rostrum to condemn this attack in his municipality, on its citizens. Speaks words about strength, hope and community. In doing so, he could have used input from the ‘intense’ church collection as fuel. He could have chosen to speak briefly to the press with the disclaimer that he must speak with a lot of flour in his mouth, too little must be released. The latter is certainly understandable.
peace of mind
In the latest municipal press release, the mayor says the neighborhood is ready for peace. It is apparently mainly a reference to the ‘indecent journalists’. The mayor himself plays a major role in restoring peace. By keeping the cards less close to his chest, he can give the locals peace of mind. For reasons unknown to us, the jaws have been tight for eight days, which means that speculation about what is actually going on is only getting wilder. It creates unrest.
That journalists want to see the situation with their own eyes, talk to local residents about what they have experienced, how it makes them feel, is part of the job. Being where it happens is a basic journalistic rule; behaving like a guest is a maxim.
Report the place where the social impact can be seen and felt. This leads to better stories, insights and interpretation. Because you know what’s going on and what the situation is, it’s easier to question and test the people responsible for security in this case.
The mayor and the police chief have determined that assessment moment for more than a week; certainly not the journal. That was the message to Thomas Church on Sunday night. That there is a right to information, however limited it may be, has been forgotten for a moment. Keeping a grip on the narrative and the media therefore seems of a greater order than guarding public order. ‘