“The media’s role in the Iraq War was my awakening,” Jurgen Vlaar on his pursuit of journalism

By: Austin Devaraj

Jurgen Vlaar, 20, lives around thirty minutes north of Amsterdam. Vlaar grew up in Heiloo with his brother and sister, a town which he describes as homogenous. He is a third-year student at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and is studying Public Management.

Vlaar was inspired to take the International Journalism minor because of his fascination of politics and the media’s impact on society. He says this is something that intersects with his study of Public Management. “The media’s role in the Iraq War was my awakening,” Vlaar says. Although the war happened when he was about three years old, it’s something he analysed when he got older.

He feels the news really had a huge impact on forming the public opinion surrounding the war. According to watchdog Fairness and Accuracy Reporting’s Iraq Crisis report in 2003, there was a visible bias. “Such a predominance of official sources virtually assures that independent and grassroots perspectives will be underrepresented.”

When Vlaar read about the coverage of the war and the subsequent revelations made, he became more conscious about the news he consumes.

Vlaar isn’t a fan of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. “It’s like they are milking the story for headlines,” Vlaar says. He usually listens to independent media outlets like The Intercept because he feels that they do a better job at pursuing authentic journalism. Vlaar also works for a political party, The Democrats 66. There, he contributes branding and marketing ideas to improve their social media presence.

Vlaar has a dog, a mixed breed, who happens to be barking during our interview. “Seven years old but still and acts like a puppy,” Vlaar says, with a grin. During the COVID 19 pandemic, Vlaar has made efforts in coming up with a workout from home routine, investing in some weights. Vlaar is also a fan of football and has taken weekend trips to Belgium and Germany with his friends. This, along with many other things, he hopes to be able to do more once the pandemic comes to an end.