Covid and GeenStijl throw a spanner in the works

Covid and GeenStijl throw a spanner in the works

No survey, no freshly printed edition of Observant this week

19-10-2022 · Editorial

I have worked here for a long time. And yes, I still do with great pleasure. Never a dull moment. That is also why I hardly ever think that I have experienced it all before.

Today, Tuesday 18 October, I was halfway through my column for this week, when I was called by the person who does our layout and who is our illustrator. She had phoned previously, but then I was in a meeting with our editorial council that meets three to four times a year to give its opinion – often very animated and full of ideas – on articles, columns, photographs and the layout of the printed edition.


She is sick, so sick (normally she would just push through, coughing and sneezing, it wouldn’t matter) that she can’t work. “The letters are dancing before my eyes.” Covid is definitely not gone yet. To make matters worse, she continues, her regular replacement, who is familiar with our lay-out software (for the enthusiasts: InDesign) and our design, is sick too: also Covid. And no, she doesn’t know anyone else we could ask.

“I will call you right back,” I said. Ten minutes later, after a brief discussion with colleagues, the decision was taken: there will be no freshly printed edition of Observant this week in the familiar trays due to the layout staff being ill. A unique situation in the history of Observant.


A little later, an e-mail from the Kring van Hoofdredacteuren (Circle of Chief Editors) drops into my inbox. What? The survey on diversity and inclusivity at universities and universities of applied sciences, which started last week, is being stopped. Research bureau Newcom, which drew up the questionnaire in collaboration with nearly twenty higher education media and would process all the data, is pulling the plug. The reason: on Thursday, 13 October the riotous site GeenStijl put the link to the questionnaire from the Hogeschool Rotterdam online. A whirlwind of completed questionnaires ensued, coming from people who had nothing to do with the Hogeschool Rotterdam. There was also a lot more ‘traffic’ in some other cities, although it remained quiet in Maastricht and the data (232 completed questionnaires on Tuesday morning, 18 October) appears to be ‘uncontaminated’. But the damage has been done, the national data is unreliable, according to Newcom cleaning the data is impossible, so this means an end to the survey, an end to quantitative research.

Our student journalists, who were to create accompanying stories, will carry on. They interviewed their peers (whom they chose themselves) on diversity and inclusivity at the UM. What was noticeable this week: all female journalists (a total of eight) interviewed a woman. Coincidence or not, that must become more diverse.

Author: Riki Janssen

Illustration: Pixabay

Tags: covid,survey,diversity,inclusion,geenstijl

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