Population 17m
Internet penetration 96%

Irene Costera Meijer and Tim Groot Kormelink
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Faced with fears about disinformation, the Netherlands government has been encouraging its citizens to read critically. While trust levels remain relatively high, the government reserved €20m to support investigative journalism.

Although overall trust numbers are slightly lower in 2019, the Netherlands still has relatively high levels of trust in news from mainstream news organisations. Trust for most top brands has even slightly increased. This may be the most remarkable finding in this year’s survey. NOS News is still by far the most used source and also the most trusted brand.

There is increasing concern about people’s ability to differentiate between professional news sources and political information/disinformation. In December 2018, a state commission advised the cabinet to regulate digital political campaigns, for instance by forcing platforms to indicate clearly when advertisements were financed by political parties. The Minister of the Interior wants to try self-regulation before introducing legislation.

In March 2019, the Dutch government launched a campaign, ‘Stay Curious. Stay Critical’, to raise awareness of disinformation and to teach people how social media, algorithms, and filter bubbles function. For instance, research shows that videos from right-wing parties PVV and Forum voor Democratie are recommended on YouTube three times as often as videos from all other Dutch political parties combined.1 What’s more, collaborative research by De Volkskrant and De Correspondent suggests that YouTube paves the way for radicalisation, through recommendations which become more extreme as users watch more videos. Their data also show a much stronger presence of the extreme right compared to the marginal presence of the extreme left.2 The government campaign ran from March until the summer to include the Dutch provincial elections in March and the European Parliamentary elections in May.

Facebook and Nieuwscheckers, a fact-checking initiative at Leiden University, ended their collaboration over a dispute over legal liability: neither Facebook nor the university was prepared to bear liability for legal claims over the content, such as defamation or slander., the most popular online news platform, is the only Dutch organisation that still checks news items for Facebook as publisher Sanoma underwrites any litigation costs.3 In line with this focus on facts, their discussion platform, NUjij, banned comments that deny climate change, explaining that, while they encourage critical discussions about climate change, denying it constitutes spreading falsehoods.

Successful membership-based online news site De Correspondent has spent much of the year focused on how to adapt its formula for the English-language market. Their crowdfunding campaign raised (US)$2.5m within the first month, through 45,888 members from more than 130 countries. The campaign was backed by dozens of high-profile ambassadors, including Jay Rosen, Nate Silver, Judd Apatow, Rosanne Cash, and DeRay Mckesson. The Correspondent will start publishing content in September, but announced in March that their HQ would be remaining in Amsterdam, raising some eyebrows among (US) supporters who had been under the impression there would be a US office.

In line with rising podcast figures (up 3 percentage points), news organisations are investing in audio. Newspaper NRC will launch a daily podcast focusing on one main story, similar to NYT’s The Daily. De Correspondent launched a podcast version of a selection of their articles. Commercial broadcaster RTL News launched a WhatsApp 7am wake-up service in the form of a two-minute audio summary of the day’s main news. Digital news kiosk Blendle continues to be loss-making, but it says Blendle Audio – audio versions of articles – is successful and will receive further investment.3

NOS News launched NOS Stories on YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, bringing news stories targeted at 13-to-18-year-olds.

Dutch public broadcaster NPO received an additional €40m from the government to compensate for lower-than-expected advertising revenues. Though stressing that the Dutch media landscape requires solid public broadcasting, the cabinet says a ‘fundamental reflection’ about NPO’s future is necessary. A long-term vision is due to be developed.

The government reserved €20m to be spent over four years to support investigative journalism. Emphasising the increasing financial constraints of regional and local journalism and importance of their watchdog role, 75% of the new budget is earmarked for regional and local projects. So far, €2.7m has been divided between 23 projects.

Top Brands

Changing Media

Traditional forms of news such as TV and print have become less important in the last five years while online news has remained broadly flat. The smartphone is now the most popular device for digital news, switching places with the computer. The tablet is slightly on the rise again.


While trust is still relatively high in the Netherlands (4th place), overall trust in news is slightly in decline. This might be caused by increasing discussions about disinformation and fake news on social media, rather than by declining quality of mainstream news.