Multimedia Journalist Without Borders
Journalism should make an impact.
As an investigative journalist and researcher who errs on the side of humanity, I often get the Objectivity Question: “How come you’re so opinionated—aren’t you supposed to be objective?” It should be clear by now that all ethical journalism boils down to the same ingredients: opinions based on facts. The more facts you have to shape your opinion, the better. Journalists (and their editors) will always have to choose some bits of information over others. Neutrality doesn’t exist in journalism, and I wish this poor horse that has been beaten to death would just die already.
Some of the best public interest journalists didn’t make waves by shying away from moments of truth: Egon Kisch, Oriana Fallaci, David Frost, Greg Palast, Matt Taibbi, Amy Goodman, Hunter S. Thompson. What makes (or made) them great journalists? They became part of their stories, and they were transparent about it. The examples that come immediately to mind are Taibbi’s undercover exploits of the Christian right in The Great Derangement; Kisch and his famous adventures in Australia; Fallaci ripping off her chador in front of Khomeini.
I got my start as an editor and producer.
I began my career as a video editor in ‘88, and continued working as an editor even after entering the wonderful world of advertising. During my year or so as a freelance producer at McCann-Erickson, I worked on radio and TV commercials for major brands: Coca-Cola, Black & Decker, World Wildlife Fund, Canon, GoodYear and the Reynolds Tobacco Company. I then moved on to directing. I oversaw numerous episodes of “Taxi,” the highly successful TV show that IDTV produced for the NCRV with Maarten Spanjer as the taxi driver, and which would become a worldwide hit. “Taxi” won a Golden Rose at the prestigious Montreux Television festival, and subsequently the format was sold all over the world. In the US it’s known as “Taxicab Confessions,” produced by HBO.
- After “Taxi,” I went on to direct several TV shows and documentaries for the Dutch market:
- “Urbania,” which won the Prix Iris Europe and is now a European format known as “City Folks”
- “Spanjer,” a comedic series with actor Maarten Spanjer dabbling in new age therapies
- “Nieuw Nederlands Peil,” a magazine-style program about sustainable development and responsible entrepreneurship
- “Mayday,” a documentary series about the Royal Lifeboat Service
- “Post 4,” a documentary series best described as the reality version of BayWatch
- “Gefundenes Fressen,” an alternative cooking show with popular biologist Midas Dekkers
- “Handelaar in Jongensdroom,” a documentary about Porsche salesmen
- “De Bus,” the highly controversial reality show first aired by SBS6; best seen as “Big Brother” on wheels
My TV and documentary work led me to journalism.
I wound up in Panama in 2000 to produce a feature TV report for RTL News about Thea “Godmother” Moear. The famous Dutch mafia boss had been arrested in Panama on accusations of XTC trafficking, and in addition to the TV report, I wrote a magazine piece about her for Het Parool. Traveling from Holland to Panama quite a bit, I eventually made Panama my base. From here I broke many stories that media in Panama and elsewhere picked up, including: a teak investment scam promoted by the Panamanian president, Tom McMurrain’s noni swindle, the involvement of a former KKK chief in the Emerald Passport MLM scheme.
My journalism work has appeared in various outlets:
- The Panama News, El Siglo (Panama)
- Het Parool, Joods Journaal, Radio Netherlands, NTR (Holland)
- Narco News Bulletin (U.S.)
- NewsMax (U.S., reporting from Afghanistan and Panama).
In case you want to know anything else:
- I report in English, Dutch and Spanish
- I speak 6 languages (but don’t ask me to start writing in French—disaster!)
- I know how to sail a boat, and I’ve lived in house boats
- I’ll pursue a story under water, if necessary (I’m an advanced scuba diver)
- I’ve won 100% of the libel suits filed against me in Panama (is it 8 or 10 lawsuits? I’ve lost count, and I no longer give a F__ about keeping track)
- I run the blog Bananama Republic
- I was a co-publisher at Paraguas Books
- I sometimes work for free! I use this flowchart to decide if you’re eligible or not.
Read more about what I do.