Accountability systems

If an audience member has a complaint about the content or behaviour of a medium or a journalist there are several options. One option is to file a legal issue in court (invasion of privacy, slander, harmful content) which can be time-consuming and costly.

An alternative is filing a complaint at the Raad voor de Journalistiek (RvdJ), that was founded in 1960. The RvdJ is a voluntary organization, media don’t have to be members (although they can) and it cannot ‘punish’ media in any way other than to ask a specific medium to publish one of its verdicts. Issues involve privacy, one-sided reporting, slander, interviewing with hidden camera or microphone and lack of offering the possibility to comment on statements by others. The RvdJ usually only handles complaints that are issued against member media and only after a complaint at the medium itself had no success.

Complaining to the medium itself is of course the fastest and easiest way. Some media in the Netherlands (De Volkskrant, NRC Handelsblad, NOS) still have a ombudsman (or woman) that handled complaints.