Dutch media in action for St. Maarten colleagues

THE HAGUE–Conscious of the fact that the St. Maarten media has also greatly suffered from the impact of Hurricane Irma, the international press centre Nieuwspoort in The Hague is organising a special benefit event for the island media on November 9.

  “Nieuwspoort for St. Maarten” is the name of this event that will be attended by media personalities, politicians and well-known persons from the cultural scene. The fundraising event aims to assist the continued existence of independent, critical and active media which are considered of great importance for the Windward Islands. The newly established Nieuwspoort Rotary Club plays an instrumental role in organising the evening.

  The heart of the programme on November 9 at Nieuwspoort forms a talk show presented by Elles de Bruin of broadcaster Max and Jaap Jansen of broadcasting organisation BNR. De Bruin and Jansen will engage in talks with eye witnesses of Hurricane Irma and prominent representatives of the media and politicians.

  Discussed during the talk show will be, among other things, the consequences of the hurricane for the island and its media, the importance of local media, the reporting by the media post-Irma and the manner in which the Dutch media organisations can support the St. Maarten media. Comedian Vincent Bijlo, singer/composer Orville Breeveld, dance teacher Peggy Reiziger and salsa DJ Dura Ruben will take care of the musical and cultural part.

  Some of the persons contributing to the programme will be: Chairman of the Dutch Association of Editors-in-Chief and Editor-in-Chief of the NOS broadcasting company Marcel Gelauff, press officer Heleen Haverkort who has been working in St. Maarten for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, The Hague Mayor Pauline Krikke, Director of DSM Netherlands and former Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Atzo Nicolaï and Chairman of the Dutch Association of Journalists NVJ and BNR News Radio anchorman René de Monchy.

  Also present will be Editor of The Daily Herald Gordon Snow, journalist Martijn de Rijk of BNR News Radio who was one of the first Dutch journalists to arrive in St. Maarten after the hurricane, Secretary of the Committee Kingdom Relations Ron van der Veer, Director of the Foundation Democracy and Media Nienke Venema and cardiologist and Rotary International Governor D1600 Harriette Verwey.

  A special website has been created for this evening, www.nieuwspoortvoorsintmaarten.nl.

  Comedian Jörgen Raymann of BNR, Sheila Sitalsing of deVolkskrant newspaper, singer Izaline Calister, EO broadcaster show host Tijs van de Brink and journalist Martijn Visser of the Telegraaf newspaper have expressed special support for the event.

  “St. Maarten is small, vulnerable and truly beautiful, and it is our brotherly task to help now that the island is in shambles. Not only money and assistance is needed, but also the assurance that the government is duly monitored. Independent media are indispensable in this process, to also be a watchdog of a fragile democracy in times of crisis,” stated Sitalsing, who has lived in Curaçao and Suriname.

  According to Ron van der Veer, the local media were already small and vulnerable before Irma. Van der Veer, who coordinated Dutch aid after Hurricane Luis in 1995 and who has lived on St. Maarten, said that independent quality media are very limited in St. Maarten.

  “That is not a good thing in the social and political context. Irma has only made it more difficult. It would be great if the Dutch media can assist in creating a sustainable future for the local media. The Dutch Government and other organisations are helping to restore the island’s infrastructure. But no one thinks of the media, and especially for the necessary checks and balances in their role as watchdog. They will become the victim without assistance,” said Van der Veer.

  The Daily Herald remains the only newspaper in printed version after the hurricane since the Today has ceased its operations. The Daily Herald is facing tough financial times with a steeply declined advertising market. St. Maarten also has a number of radio stations that mainly focus on music.

  Nieuwspoort for St. Maarten is an initiative of the Rotary Club The Hague Nieuwspoort, which was recently founded. “Nieuwspoort is a unique meeting place for journalists, politicians and communication professionals. Nieuwspoort is also an advocate of freedom of expression. That is why it is only logical that we commit ourselves to a goal that matches our mission,” said Jan-Willem Wits of the Rotary Club Nieuwspoort.

  “Not only by collecting funds, but also by bringing people in contact with each other and by gathering know-how and expertise. This evening makes Nieuwspoort move. We have noticed from the reactions that everyone agrees this initiative is very necessary. With this project, we as journalists and others who work with the media on a daily basis can do something that is close to their heart,” said Wits.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/70267-dutch-media-in-action-for-st-maarten-colleagues