Various journalists experienced annoyance on Monday 7 October and Saturday 12 October during two demonstrations in Amsterdam. They found that they had limited insight into the assigned press areas. The Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) considers this a violation of freedom of the press.
The police installed special boxes for photojournalists on 7 and 12 October, from which they had to work. The courses were used for an Extinction Rebellion climate protest and a citizens' initiative protest. The police and journalists disagreed about the location of the press sections. This led to several conversations between the NVJ and the Amsterdam police.
According to the NVJ, photojournalists were kept at a distance and placed behind vans, as a result of which they had no good view of the demonstrators. The NVJ believes that these press sections could potentially compromise free news gathering.
"We have the suspicion that the police would rather not take pictures because it is sometimes hard going," says Rosa García López, who represents the interests of photojournalists on behalf of the NVJ, to NU.nl. It was unclear to the police who was a journalist and who demonstrated. "Photojournalists are wearing a vest that clearly has the press on it and they have a press card on. So they are very distinguishable from the activists," says García López.
"Journalists were not hindered in their work"
Ruben Sprong, a police spokesperson, disagrees. "You arrive at a location where journalists and activists are mixed up. The journalists also often do not have their jackets on and such a press card is not visible. It is then only shown afterwards."
The police state in a statement that they deliberately wanted to prevent a free passage to the activists. In this way, agents wanted to prevent the group from expanding. The police also call it "not workable" when journalists roam free during the protest. "The police operation takes precedence," says Sprong, "in this case we do not think we were obstructing journalists."
"Press section" was rather a press crack. Here the view from the press box at the ABN @nvj @Politie_Adam #ExtinctionRebellionAvatar