Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Editor-in-Chief Rik Rensen and his deputy, Ardi Bouwers, are to leave the organisation. They say they will not serve as part of the new slimmed-down RNW which is to become operational from 1 January 2013. RNW’s annual government subsidy of 46 million euros was slashed last year to just 14 million.
Earlier this week, Rensen and Bouwers wrote to RNW’s board of commissioners, saying they had “serious worries about the lack of vision and urgency” in turning RNW into a more flexible and market-orientated company. The board failed to answer the letter and this has lead to Rensen and Bouwers’ decision to leave RNW.
A statement to staff explains:
“Rik Rensen and Ardi Bouwers have unfortunately decided not to put themselves forward for positions in the new RNW and also to resign from the steering group - which is overseeing the restructuring process. They will remain in their posts as editors-in-chief until replacements can be found.”
The statement says that Rensen and Bouwers have “insurmountable doubts” about how the preparations for the new company are going. They are most worried about the lack of explicit guarantees of journalistic independence, the tempo of building up the new organisation, and its eventual make-up. They also believe that issues including the development of new programme formats, the search for additional funds – besides government subsidies - and clinching contracts with media partners should now be addressed with urgency.
The editors of all editorial departments at RNW say they share the criticism. In a letter written a fortnight ago, the editors brought the crisis within the company to the attention of the board of commissioners. The board has still not replied to this letter.
The departure of the editors-in-chief has led to RNW’s Editorial Council losing confidence in the steering group. “We believe journalistic independence is no longer sufficiently guaranteed – neither in the ‘new’ RNW, nor in the steering group which has to shape the new company.” The council is also critical of the board of commissioners: “So far, it has showed too little understanding of the worries of RNW staff”.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide