I am a foreign correspondent and investigative journalist
Here I will post a selection of archived published articles and random musings. It is a work in progress so there will be frequent new postings as I gather and enter what amounts to several thousand published documents, in over 200 publications and mediums which include print, radio, broadcast, photography, video, and online in various mediums, and a number of languages, from my files. I have lost track of many of the original files and will post them as they become available to me.
Please feel free to comment on the individual posts or blog, contact me directly, or subscribe to the blog. I own the copyright to each of the articles I have posted here. Please request permission before republishing. And any republishing of portions or quotations of the material under 'fair use' clause of Copyright law must include sourcing and citation.
The purpose of the blog is to provide access to the small part of the historical record of the issues I have written, researched, and contributed to, and I encourage its use if it contributes to a more empirical record of these events. I also encourage any criticisms, comments, corrections, or any communication that fosters civil, legitimate debate. I can be contacted throught the comments section on this blog, Facebook, or by email at: email@example.com
I am an award winning freelance investigative journalist and foreign correspondent with 25 years of experience reporting from around the globe, with a focus on Asia, and a specialization in modern Cambodian political history, with a noteable expertize on the Khmer Rouge. I specialize in military conflict, politics, civil unrest, human rights, corruption, defense, intelligence, transnational organized crime, and transitions from dependency political cultures to nation states attempting to establish political stability through rule of law and emerging democratic structures. I have covered all of Asia, as well as Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Cuba, Albania, North Korea, and Mongolia, among many others areas. I have been a special correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, The Associated Press, Jane's Defence Weekly, the Phnom Penh Post, the Washington Post, Agence France Presse, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In addition I have published, written and reported for more than 200 other print publications, television, radio, and online media, as well as documentary films, in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. I have published more than 500 photographs and video in various mediums. I was a visiting scholar in residence at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC. My work has been recognized with the World Press Award; the Overseas Press Club of America Award; the “Scoop of the Year” British Press Award; the Francis Frost Wood Award for Courage in Journalism, given to a journalist "judged to best exemplify physical or moral courage in the practice of his or her craft."; The Center for Public Integrity's, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting. The judges noted: "He illuminated a page of history that would have been lost to the world had he not spent years in the Cambodian jungle, in a truly extraordinary quest for first-hand knowledge of the Khmer Rouge and their murderous leader. His investigations of the Cambodian political world required not only great risk and physical hardship but also mastery of an ever-changing cast of factional characters." According to the BBC, "Many of the region's greatest names in reporting made their mark in the pages of the Review, from the legendary Richard Hughes of Korean War fame, to Nate Thayer, who found Cambodia's Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot"; A Peabody Award as a "correspondent" for ABC News' Nightline, which I rejected for ABC's unethical journalistic behavior, the first person in 57 years to turn down a prestigious Peabody Award; The SAIS-Novartis Prize for Excellence in International Journalism for "exposing the inside story of the Khmer Rouge killing machine."; Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Wall Street Journal; and the Society of Asian Editor's and Publishers Award for Excellence in Reporting, among several others .......I lived and was based in Asia for more than 30 years, but am now based in Washington, D.C.
Politics, Writing, Journalism, Current events, International affairs, History, Civil and Military conflict, Reading, Swimming, Humour, Civil debate and dialogue, Smiling.
Selected Reviews and Commentary of Nate Thayer's Work:
*BOMBORRA ..."East Asia: The Last Foreign Correspondent" By Dan Boylan on August 30, 1997 : "Considered the decade’s biggest international scoop and the last major interview in Asia, Thayer’s meeting was Pol Pot’s first with an outsider in 18 years and ended up being the last...Thayer’s stories forced world leaders to finally consider trying the murderer before international courts for crimes against humanity. A week before Pol Pot’s death, Bill Clinton even admitted serious interest in the issue. Now, it’s too late. Thayer hunted 10-years for the story. During the quest, he trekked 700 kilometers of jungle, was hospitalized 16 times with cerebral malaria, suffered land mine injuries, and led a now mythical hunt for Cambodia’s bizarre endangered cow – the Kupray. Thayer once finagled $478 out of the Associated Press for gin and tonics. “Medical reasons,” he said with a laugh. “You know, tonic contains anti-malarial agents.” He split UMASS Boston in 1988. “I looked at my life – school, a job and a fiancée from hell – and decided it was all wrong…it was fucking boring.” Thayer scraped by month-to-month, working for Soldier of Fortune magazine and the AP before freelancing for the Far Eastern Economic Review weekly magazine. For the Review, Thayer linked Cambodia’s key political figures to Southeast Asia’s massive heroin trade, and uncovered the last army still fighting the Vietnam War. “I was the first white guy they’d seen in 17 years,” he said. “When I showed up the head of the tribe asked, ‘where are our guns?’” People here say Thayer’s an inspiration. His Pol Pot story took 10 years of grunt work, an impossibility for reporters who drop into Cambodia only when it’s on the verge of war.......Thayer believes everyone, including corporate types, want to know more. According to the Review’s sales figures for 1997, the two Pol Pot cover stories were last year’s best sellers. “It’s complete bullshit that business people are only interested in investment news,” Thayer said. “People everywhere want to know what the hell’s really going on in the world.” Michael Hayes, editor of the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia’s leading English language paper, who arrived lacking journalism experience himself, said fresh blood can be a good thing. Since the Post’s first edition in 1992, he’s relied largely on a pool of freelance talent, led by Thayer, to put out a bi-weekly paper that’s tackled issues no one else will touch. “These guys are the lifeblood of reporting coming out of the third world these days,” he said.... Back at the Foreign Correspondents Club they know this. They’ll tell you Thayer may have been passed over for last year’s Pulitzer Prize earlier this month, but everyone knows it was his work that brought the tragedy of Cambodia back into the world’s headlines. Pol Pot may be dead, but his legacy lives – child soldiers, rocket launchers, jungle warfare…senseless death. Those stories will likely come from the freelancers."
*"Rebel Who caught Pol Pot", The Times of London,July, 30, 1997, By Andrew Drummond: Last Friday, Nate Thayer achieved every journalist’s dream when he scooped the world by meeting, and obtaining footage of, Pol Pot....So how did this self-deprecating American journalist become the first Westerner to see Pol Pot in almost 20 years? By those most old-fashioned of reporting methods, he says — a combination of having the right contacts and “being in the right place at the right time”. It was not his ambition to become a journalist. He arrived in South Asia in the late 1980s, initially as an academic... soon switched his interest to rebel armies....his intimate knowledge of the rebel factions in Cambodia could be put to other uses, and he filed freelance stories to the Associated Press bureau in Bangkok, the Phnom Penh Post and the Far Eastern Economic Review....Thayer had already built up many contacts among the rebel groups on the border before the UN-brokered peace deal in Cambodia in 1991. He marched with two rebel armies for months through the Cambodian jungle....Thayer — his father was a former American Ambassador to Singapore — has always played down the dangerous side of his work. “I don’t go looking for danger, but it sometimes happens,” he says. Perhaps this sang froid is in his genes. Five years ago, while travelling on top of a six-wheel truck in Cambodia the passengers either side were killed when it ran over a landmine. More recently he had to pack his bags quickly and depart Phnom Penh after naming a Cambodian businessman as an international heroin trafficker. Thayer has been described as a “wild man” — an image he cultivates, with his head shaved bald. He does not mind that this leads to inevitable comparisons with Marlon Brando in the film, Apocalypse Now. Old Asia hands — myself included — remember his days at the Phnom Penh Post well. It was said that you could get to the office by following your nose: “Just follow the whiff of marijuana,” newcomers would be told. Thayer was star player at a party in which a soup was concocted that laid out several newspaper bureau chiefs for more than 48 hours...Despite wearing combat fatigues and acquiring a nickname — “The Don with the Gun” — Thayer has become known as a stickler for detail and he has a healthy cynicism for government authorities and non-governmental organisations alike. In the past he has upset people by being too close to the Khmer Rouge but his knowledge is taken very seriously in journalistic and academic circles.
By Andrew Sherry, Former Far Eastern Economic Review Regional Editor, on his blog: http://bit.ly/q3LmlB: "As much as I loved reporting, the highlight of my years at the Far Eastern Economic Review was editing Nate Thayer, one of the greatest investigative reporters of his generation. Nate broke the story in 1997 that Cambodia's ex-dictator, Pol Pot, was still alive and had been purged from the Khmer Rouge, the movement responsible for the deaths of some 2 million Cambodians when it held power from 1975-1979. He followed up a few months later with the first interview with Pol Pot in 18 years, shedding light on how utopian leftism absorbed in university classrooms and cafes in Paris translated to genocide back in Cambodia. Pol Pot committed suicide after he heard Nate's report, picked up by the Khmer service of VOA, that the Khmer Rouge were about to turn him over to international authorities for trial. In an era of instant communication, when scoops are matched in hours and sometimes minutes, the Pol Pot stories went unmatched for months. That's because Nate had spent years developing contacts within the Khmer Rouge, Thai intelligence, and elsewhere to gain this access, and seized an opening when the movement turned in upon itself. By no means a Khmer Rouge apologist, he presented a straight, unvarnished picture of the past and present, and confronted Pol Pot with the evidence that he was a mass murderer. With journalism dominated by repackaged content, reporters spoon-feed by anonymous sources with agendas, and few publications besides The New Yorker and The Atlantic willing to back long investigations, these stories stand as journalistic monuments I feel privileged to have helped build. With the Pol Pot exclusives, Nate came exhausted out of the jungle, disgorged his notes, pictures and video, and we shared the writing. It was great teamwork, and it would not have been possible without the support of another legendary journalist, then Review editor Nayan Chanda. The stories... represent an important contribution to the historical record on Southeast Asia and on genocide. I also hope to see Nate complete his book about that era -- the chapters I have read are very strong. Nate and I actually first met when we were competing reporters in Cambodia in 1991, him for AP and me for AFP. Then after we both joined the Review, I helped him pull together a package of stories that exposed how Cambodia was failing as a state, with a major Sino-Thai drug dealer paying a third of the defense budget and using the apparatus of state to grow his business -- much the way Al Qeda took over Afghanistan a few years later. We remain close friends."