Several Dutch media outlets are unhappy about the “charity fee” journalists must pay if they want to cover the Lowlands Festival. NOS, AD, and ANP will not report at all if a “charity fee” has to be paid, they claimed. Concert organizer MOJO charges accredited media 10 euros per person in return for access to the festival site. According to MOJO, the money goes to charities the festival works with. Those who do not pay will not be allowed to enter the grounds.
“The NOS doesn’t pay for access to resources, so it doesn’t pay for coverage of an event like Lowlands,” argued Giselle van Cann, editor-in-chief of NOS News. “Free sourcing of news also means there is no quid pro quo.”
AD editor-in-chief Rennie Rijpma called the decision “remarkable” and “an undesirable development.” She says she will not send journalists if MOJO continues with this decision. “It’s a strange decision by Lowlands. That a festival that has become very big in recent years, thanks also to the media, keeps us at a distance. As a journalist, you’re there to report, and for an even bigger audience than just the festival.”
The ANP news agency also declines to pay Lowlands. “Our (photo) journalists don’t pay for sources or access to events,” said ANP Editor-in-Chief Freek Staps. He added that ANP does not want financial relationships with reporting organizations, “even if they pass the money on to third parties.” We have also let Lowlands know that.”.
NRC editors had previously expressed that they believe “that journalists should be able to do their work without having to pay for it.” NRC, however, is not talking about a possible boycott. The editors-in-chief will reconsider if the “charity fee” is eventually implemented. The NVJ is not happy with the “charity fee” either, calling it “wrong in principle” and a “bad signal,” as NVJ Secretary Thomas Bruning said earlier.
The request to pay the “charity fee” applies not only to journalists but also to other guests, such as people from record companies, radio stations, or partners of Lowlands, who get free admission. People “who are at work, such as singers, do not have to pay the money,” according to the spokesperson of the festival. In a statement on the Lowlands website on Friday afternoon, the organization stated “we have no intention whatsoever to impede freedom of the press or free news gathering.”
Reporting by ANP