Logos removed from vans and equipment as Dutch public media journalists face increased threats to their physical safety.

The Dutch Broadcast Foundation (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting – NOS) has announced that it will be removing its logos from its vehicles, in response to growing threats, intimidation and harassment towards its journalists. Threats ranged from obscene gestures and throwing rubbish to banging on vehicles and verbal assaults.

The announcement also follows reports from the country’s national counter-terrorism agency, which warned of heightened risks from far-right violence.

“And it is not only about what actually happens, but also about the fear that something will happen or will be done to you,” NOS News Editor-in-chief Marcel Gelauff said in the announcement.

The decision comes after months of consideration. Noting NOS’ role as a public media organisation, Gelauff said the organisation wanted to be “visible and approachable” but the attacks on its staff could not allow for that visibility and approachability.

News reporter Kysia Hekster: “This feels like giving in to terror and violence.”. Source: NPO: Een Vandaag

“Journalism is under attack from people and groups, who only want to see their own world again, try to make every other perspective impossible and thus erode freedom of the press. This decision is a defeat for the NOS, but especially for journalism. Press Secure have received more than 100 reports of aggression against journalists within a year. Journalism is a foundation for our democracy and must be able to function without hindrance and be supported in this” Gelauff said.

Read more: NOS removes logos to threaten journalists: ‘This feels like succumbing to terror and violence’

But steps to protect workers has not stopped at removing logos from vehicles. NOS is considering bodyguards not just for its journalists but for all its staff, Deutsche Welle reported. NOS journalists who cover potentially dangerous events, such as protests, are already regularly accompanied by bodyguards.

The attacks come despite the position of NOS News as the Netherland’s most used and trusted source of news, with its 8PM bulletin, NOS Journaal, attracting around 2 million viewers every night, according to recent Reuters Digital News reports.

Threats like those aimed at NOS journalists go beyond physical safety; they can inspire self-censorship and affect the way in which news organisations choose to report. Threats, harassment and violence towards journalists jeopardise press freedom. To fulfil their role effectively, journalists must be able to work freely and without fear.

Header Image: Hilversum, the Netherlands. February 2018. Entrance to the Dutch Broadcast Foundation or NOS (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting). Credit: Dafinchi/iStock