Digital, Journalist, Online, Writing

Dutch elections: How COVID salvaged Mark Rutte’s bid amid scandal

DW’s analysis ahead of the 2021 Dutch elections.

For so many, ringing in the New Year brings hope and a chance to start anew. But for Kristie Rongen, it marked the day she could no longer carry on. 

“I was walking alone and said: ‘This is enough.'” 

She made her way toward the frigid Dutch shores of Lelystad, intent on succumbing to the numbing currents when, suddenly, a dog raced toward her and distracted Rongen. She remembered her three children, drove back home, and sought medical help the next day.

Rongen is one of the 20,000 parents in the Netherlands who were wrongly accused by tax authorities of childcare benefits fraud, many of whom were also unlawfully discriminated against. The fraud probes crushed families both financially and mentally, including Rongen, who tells DW she was ordered to pay €92,000 ($110,000) — including €30,000 in interest — within two years.

Her monthly net income was €1,900.

Read more here.

Digital, Journalist, Multi-media, Online, Reporting, Writing

Are ‘booth babes’ no more in the age of #MeToo?

Cars and women. From Singapore to Detroit, the two are intertwined — sometimes literally — at auto shows around the world. But in the age of the #MeToo movement that began nearly six months ago, the brakes have been pulled on using so-called “booth babes” at the Geneva International Motor Show.

Or have they?

Many automakers, including Lexus, SsangYong and Nissan, responded to the pressure in the lead up to the show by changing the models’ attire or ousting models altogether.

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Storyful Oz’s Video Packaging

Iraqi Forces Launch Mosul Offensive
(Callum Van De Mortel)

At the Storyful Oz bureau, we work alongside two talented video producers, Callum Van De Mortel and Lachlan Brunton, who draft scripts and edit packages using only user-generated content that we have permission to use – and in a timely fashion. I oversee the production from Sydney, assigning stories, editing scripts and making fine-tune adjustments before firing off the packages to Yahoo!, AOL, and the News Corp mastheads, including, Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun.

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Digital, Journalist, Multi-media, Online, Reporting, Social, Writing

Online Concierge Service Helps Men Find Gifts for Their Partners


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition in Sept. 2014.

Dating is a serious business in Hong Kong. In an era of online dating and mobile matchmaking apps, every day thousands of single men and women in the city are busy searching for prospective partners through dating services. But what about those who have found true love and want to keep hold of it?

Enter the Butlur – an online gift-giving concierge service that describes itself as “helping discerning men delight women who have everything”.

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Digital, Journalist, Multi-media, Online, Reporting, Social, Writing

Have You Ever Wondered Why East Asians Spontaneously Make V-Signs in Photos?

Originally published on

Spend a few minutes browsing social media, or watch groups of travelers posing in front of a popular tourist attraction, and you’re bound to come across it: attractive young Asians flashing smiles and making the V-for-Victory sign (or peace sign). The raised index and middle fingers, with palm facing outward, are as much a part of Asian portraiture as saying cheese is to English speakers. But why?

To non-Asians, the gesture seems so intrinsically woven into the popular culture of Beijing, Osaka or Taipei as to make it seem that it was forever thus — but, in fact, its earliest origins date back no further than the late 1960s, and the gesture didn’t really find widespread acceptance until the late 1980s.

Some say it began with Janet Lynn. The American figure skater was favored to take home gold in the 1972 Olympics in Japan. But the 18-year-old’s dream came crashing down when she fell during her performance. The gold medal was gone. She knew it, and Japan knew it.

But instead of grimacing, the shaggy-haired blonde simply smiled. Lynn’s behavior ran charmingly counter to the Japanese norm of saving face, and in doing so earned her legions of Japanese fans.

“They could not understand how I could smile knowing that I could not win anything,” said Lynn, who eventually went home with a bronze, in a telephone interview. “I couldn’t go anywhere the next day without mobs of people. It was like I was a rock star, people giving me things, trying to shake my hands.” Continue reading