The newspaper spoke to more than seventy staff members of the talk show to investigate. More than fifty of them are eligible The behavior of Lieutenant-Colonel Matthijs van Nieuwkerk and some of the editors crossed borders.
It involved violent outbursts and public humiliation, ensuring that a culture of fear was maintained. “The feeling was always that the machete could fall off unexpectedly,” says one editor. “Without knowing why. Working in DWDD for so long was the ultimate recipe for burnout.”
The paper also contains medical records, communications with attorneys, confidential emails, conversations from app groups, and settlement agreements backing up the employees’ stories.
De Vara (later BNNVara) had been warned several times over the years by personnel management about the unhealthy work atmosphere in his success programme, but took no fundamental action.
In recent months, Broadcast Summit has had “very probing conversations” with Van Nieuwkerk, who has been making other programming for the broadcaster since the end of DWDD. In those conversations, according to BNNVara, he admitted that he crossed the border. “This is essential for us,” says Susan Kunzeler, content manager.
Incident in the office
De Volkskrant describes an incident in which Van Nieuwkerk insulted one of his more experienced editors. It happens in the “upstairs”, his office in the middle of the editorial office.
“Everyone knew the editor was about to collapse,” says one employee. He was given a topic that he himself found questionable, but then he was blamed. Mattis started screaming in the apartment. He said again, Mattis exploded, exclaiming: Oh yeah, you think that’s a good idea? It your way, right? Come on, get it, come get it!”
Just when he was about to grab his paper, Matisse threw it into the trash can before his eyes. Then the editor came out. He went home crying. Mattis shouted, “Bring him back!” It was coldly talked about the next day. Oh yes, it was said, never to come again.”
Reply from Nieuwkerk
Matthijs van Nieuwkerk did not initially respond to questions from De Volkskrant, but came up with a statement after reading the newspaper’s reconstruction. In this he did not express regret or respond to the fact that many of the employees fell ill. BNNVara then said: “Mattis’ reaction disappoints us and forces us to think.”
After a while, Van Nieuwkerk replied again: “I am very sorry that we were not able to give everyone a safe and pleasant feeling, and it even made our colleagues sick.”
He also says, “Now we’re having a number of uncomfortable exes. Sadly, they don’t take time, but they make you think. This mirror would hang in my room.”
The article in the newspaper was also called “a scathing caricature of fifteen years of DWDD”. “Sure, I was a bigot and stubborn and stern. And I can be ugly at times. Worthless. But for the sake of relief, I’m now back in an eternal tantrum. And I didn’t think that was it.”
Research by De Volkskrant shows that last summer during the recordings of his new program Chansons!! Another incident involving Van Nieuwkerk occurred in Paris. After an outburst of anger on his part, an employee indicated that he felt he had been treated in a way that crossed the line.
“Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Freelance organizer. Avid analyst. Friendly troublemaker. Bacon junkie.”