RNW journalist wins prestigious prize

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide journalist Robert Chesal and his colleague Joep Dohmen from the national newspaper NRC Handelsblad have been awarded the H.J.A. Hofland Tile, a prestigious Dutch journalistic prize. The two investigative journalists received the prize for their reports on child sex abuse among Roman Catholic clergy in the Netherlands and the former Netherlands Antilles.

About The Tile

The H.J.A. Hofland Tile was awarded for the first time this year. It was created because the existing Tiles did not include recent developments such as joint contributions from different media. In 1999, veteran Dutch reporter Henk J.A. Hofland was proclaimed Dutch journalist of the 20th century by a jury of his peers. The Tile was named after Tegels Lichten (Lifting Tiles), a book on journalism which Mr Hofland wrote in 1972.

The prize was presented by former RNW editor-in-chief Joop Daalmeijer at the Lucent Dance Theatre in The Hague on Monday night. The best journalistic productions of 2010 in printed media, radio and television were awarded a Tile in the categories News and Background. Separate Tiles are awarded for on-line journalism and journalistic talent.

Close collaboration
A large number of facts regarding church child sex abuse were brought to light as a result of the close collaboration between Robert Chesal and Joep Dohmen. The two journalists tracked down many of the victims and others involved, many of whom shared their often horrifying stories about sex abuse at Catholic boarding schools and parishes in the Netherlands and the former Netherlands Antilles.

Robert Chesal (1965) moved from the United States to the Netherlands in the 1980s and joined Radio Netherlands Worldwide in 1991. Robert Chesal initiated the research into church child sex abuse but soon approached Joep Dohmen to take the research further.

Joep Dohmen (1960) is an investigative journalist with the national quality newspaper NRC Handelsblad. He wrote a book about sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church called Vrome Zondaars (Pious Sinners).

Earlier, Mr Chesal and Mr Dohmen were lauded by a professional jury as Journalists of the Year 2010.

Andy Clark, head of the RNW Central News Desk, who accepted the prize on behalf of Robert Chesal, praised the excellent cooperation and journalistic interaction between RNW and NRC. In his acceptance speech, Joep Dohmen expressed admiration for the courage of the abuse victims who came forward and talked about their traumatic experiences, often for the first time in decades.