Paper apologises for Prince Friso coverage

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Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad says it regrets having given too optimistic a picture of the condition of Dutch Prince Friso a week ago. Editor Peter Vandermeersch says on the paper’s website that, in judging the information, fact and interpretation got mixed up.

Part of the problem was an article written by journalist Jannetje Koelewijn the day after Prince Friso’s skiing accident. She had heard a conversation between her husband, neurologist Kees Tulleken, and the doctor treating the prince in an Innsbruck hospital. An NRC Handelsblad report based on the information said that the prince had not suffered a fracture to the base of his skull.

Asked why he had breached medical confidentiality, Professor Tulleken told the paper on Monday that he had wanted to set straight the incorrect idea going round at the time that the prince had this sort of fracture. “I found it reassuring that Friso didn’t have a fracture to the base of his skull, given the news reports at the time.”

On the paper’s website, Mr Vandermeersch says this was how the NRC Handelsblad “unintentionally contributed to the picture that the medical facts about Prince Friso were reassuring”. He adds that “we should have evaluated this better”.

He says an external expert will examine the paper’s coverage of the story to see whether mistakes were made. However, he acknowledges the paper gave a too positive picture of the prince’s condition and expresses his sincere regrets about this.


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