NL editie / World edition

Gift for a New Year


One/11, A Journalistic Present
Below, the original letter inviting journalists to join

Dear Colleague,

Listening to us, journalists, the first ten (eleven, really) years of the millenium had little good to offer. The economic crisis, climate change, a so-called clash of civilizations. At the same time we hear a growing chorus of complaints about the “numbing” and “toughening” of society, the worsening of health care and education. We report on these issues every day. And yet we see other trends and issues as well. But they often get lost in the crushing flood of major news events.

That’s why we feel this is the right moment for a journalistic gesture, as a new decade begins. Almost ten years have passed since 9/11. We are creating a “One/11”.

It’s quite simple. We will choose to look at the flow of current events from a different angle. We will look through the eyes of people who build instead of break. These are people who take on problems -- on occasion putting their lives at risk, often without rewards, and always against the grain. They may be teachers, doctors, nurses, farmers or entrepeneurs. They are people who inspire. They are folks you meet along the way, quoting them casually while not being able to forget them; people you would want to profile in depth.

This, too, will be critical, professional, balanced work. The 5 Ws --who, what, where, why and when-- remain the core of the story, but we add a 6th W: Now what? (Or: What is he or she doing about it?)

The result cannot and will not be a “good news publication”. The stories need to resonate. We intend to show reality, looking over the builder’s shoulder. We will show the resistance he encounters, his doubts, and his satisfaction, too. Every radio or television reporter is invited to submit a 5 or 10 minute item about a “hero”. The print reporters do the same thing. The length of their stories is flexible, and they will provide a photograph of their subject.

It is a gift, so everyone cooperates pro bono. If you would want to help, but do not have the time --or if you have previously profiled builders who should be part of One/11-- feel free to shine a light on these people once again. Remember to check with your subjects, and make sure the copy right allows for a re-print.

We will gather the stories on a new website, One/11, which is currently being built. Pro bono, of course. We will launch our builders starting on January 1, when the new decade begins. One/11 will serve as a “reset” moment.

Naturally, the participants will be free to publish or broadcast their stories in their own media outlets. If possible, please refer to One/11 -- but mentioning the project is not a pre-condition. We have received the intent to cooperate from several newspapers.

What do you think? Will you join? The first weeks of the new year we will flood the Netherlands with “builders” through our website and our media outlets. In addition to always following life and society with a critical eye, we also want to show how, along the way, we have been surprised by the way people struggle aginst the mainstream as they try to answer the “Now what?” question.

Who is your hero?

Best regards,


Bas Mesters, Rome
Diederik van Hoogstraten, New York
Marjon van Royen, Rio de Janeiro
Thomas Erdbrink, Teheran
Michel Maas, Jakarta
Olaf Koens, Moskou
Pauline Valkenet, Rome
Koert Lindijer, Nairobi
Arjen van der Horst, Londen
Wilma van der Maten, New Delhi
Robert-Jan Friele, Bogotá
Nicole Le Fever, Aman
Bram Vermeulen, Istanbul
Frank Renout, Parijs
Sander van Hoorn, Tel Aviv
Tijn Sadée, Brussel
Ilona Eveleens, Nairobi


The making of One11