More and more celebrities go to court to tackle the gossip kings and queens. For example, Samantha Steenwijk took Yvonne Coldeweijer to court over a video that Coldeweijer previously published on YouTube. In it she accused Steenwijk of using illegal diet pills.
In summary proceedings Steenwijk demands a rectification and 5000 euros, Coldeweijer also has to give up her sources. Coldeweijer took the video offline and mentioned on Instagram that Steenwijk denies the story and thinks that is sufficient rectification. The singer does not agree: she wants Coldeweijer to say plainly that she was wrong.
gossip vs. Famke Louise
It’s not the first time a juice channel has been sued. Singer Famke Louise previously won a lawsuit against Gossip talk, the format of Dennis Schouten and Jan Roos. They shared an unreleased song by the singer and suggested that she had been abused and mistreated by Ali B. The judge ruled that Gossip talk had to take the video about Famke Louise offline.
Schouten and Roos said afterwards that they were not surprised about the verdict. According to him and Roos, there was ‘nothing wrong legally with regard to freedom of expression’.
“We never said she was abused. We speculated about what she might mean by that diss track. It was never said she was abused. It was topical and in the news, it’s not surprising that you let hear.”
Do they have a point? Yes and no, explains lawyer Charlotte Meindersma. “The same rules apply to juice channels as to other media and, for example, tabloids. They have freedom of expression, but must take into account someone’s honour, good name and private situation.”
With every gossip, it is therefore necessary to consider whether the news is more important than someone’s image and private situation. If a piece of news is newsworthy, it may be shared, but ‘that is a difficult decision’. “Often we only look at whether something is ‘nice’ to share,” says Meindersma.
According to Stefan Kalff, lawyer for Samantha Steenwijk, juice channels go way too far in this. “Everything seems lawful on juice channels. The practices of these gossip channels and what they trigger are transgressive.” According to him, the channels also move on a slippery slope due to commercial interests. “All this leads to operators believing that they are in a rightsless vacuum. The benefits, but not the burdens.”
Reputation specialist Willem van Lynden agrees. He thinks that juice channels go further than tabloid magazines like Story or Privé, “although they don’t exactly have journalistic standards either.” “Juice channels position themselves as an outsider from the rest of the media. They see themselves as just a conduit for gossip.”
Moreover, juice channels are not dependent on celebrities for an interview, like the magazines are. “They don’t have to build a relationship with the celebrities and can therefore be tougher.”
Hear and hear each other
By positioning themselves as a conduit, the juice channels thus withdraw from journalistic norms and values such as hearing both sides of the coin and the use of multiple sources. Unjustified, according to lawyer Meindersma. “They too should stick to the basics: one source is not a source and the more serious the accusation, the more you need to know that it is true.”
Coldeweijer says she will check the tips she receives herself. She would not say exactly how she does that, also to protect her sources. “I bring gossip into the world, showbiz. People like that and you should take it that way. It’s entertainment,” she told RTL Nieuws prior to the summary proceedings.
“I started this because I find many celebrities hypocritical people. Hear both sides? Should I call Samantha to ask if she uses those pills? Well.”
What also plays a role is the range. Something shared on Instagram Stories is gone after 24 hours, but a YouTube video always remains. “If something is shared nationally, it is also different than if it is only in the local newspaper,” says Van Lynden. “Television and video also weigh more heavily than the newspaper and Instagram Stories weigh less than a video on YouTube.”
In addition, every citizen of the European Union has the right to be forgotten. In short, this means that you can force certain outdated or incorrect privacy-sensitive information to be removed by organizations that distribute this data.
“The juice channels are looking for the limits of what is possible and it is now up to the judge to make it clear that the rules that apply to journalism also apply to them,” says Meindersma.
Barbara Streisand Effect
She believes there is a good chance that more celebrities will go to court, although it is questionable whether that is always handy. “When it comes to gossip, celebrities have to beware of what we call the Barbara Streisand effect, where you focus attention through lawsuits on something you didn’t want to get out.”
That happened to Streisand with an aerial view of her Malibu home. The singer filed a lawsuit against a website that published the photo. The case then made headlines, eventually allowing everyone to see the photo.
It remains to be seen whether Samantha Steenwijk will win the summary proceedings against Yvonne Coldeweijer. The judge will rule on this on April 29.