It seems that a topic such as gas extraction in Groningen, although already exposed with all its positive and negative aspects, is also a source of documentary material that has not yet been exhausted. Which shows the first episode (Friday) of The ground is shakinga four-part special from NTR's Other timesin which presenter Winfried Bijens retells the more than sixty-year history of Dutch prosperity at the province's expense. A shocking amount of gasIt is called the first part.
Baijens settled into a picturesque house on the site to patiently investigate the history of gas extraction and other abuses of the clay- and peat-rich province, with the help of residents, whistleblowers and others directly involved. He admits that he has something to compensate for. Like many of his colleagues in the media, he has long averted his eyes from the deep scars that gas extraction has left on the people of Groningen.
Extraction, so profitable for the state treasury, not only caused subsidence, earthquakes and cracks in the facades of houses, but also gradually destroyed all the confidence of the unheard-of population in power. Which led to a lot of anger, frustration and downright trauma. Baijens is now drawing attention to this.
Baijen's approach is a personal one, following the trend set by the VPRO in public broadcasting: the reporter is the narrator and investigator over whose shoulder the viewer looks. For example, we watch Baijens waiting behind the wheel of his Mini for a group of cows to cross the road. How he exchanges his nice clothes for work clothes before visiting the construction site. He gives salvia bushes as a gift to singer Marilyn Packer. He sings about the soil of Groningen in a slightly wistful tone – one of many poets who make up the story.
Baggins' personal approach is sometimes off-putting, but he's little more than a rather trivial stylistic device here. And despite Baggins's stated affinity for Groningen melancholy – he was born in Zeeland, also a province with a dramatic history – it doesn't affect him. He does not appear to have suffered in any way from the long-term poverty, fears, or lack of hearing of the people of Groningen. He was and will continue to be the polished, friendly, professional reporter who gives troubled residents the space to tell their stories.
Baijens is laconic, he does not use bombast or spice up the drama. The look of shock on one resident as he talks about the tragic August 16, 2012 earthquake in Huizinge – a turning point in the case – says almost it all. Other witnesses tell of a tile floor that shook from vibration, pendant lights swinging, and a son who thought “a truck hit the back end.” Shocking, still. In the second episode: Peat extraction in Groningen. I look to the future.
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