Platform for Authentic Journalism

Platform for Authentic Journalism is a collective of researchers who aim to contribute to a just and democratic society through critical investigative reporting.

While it may sound complicated, it is quite simple in practice. We conduct research on significant political and economic actors in the Netherlands (and sometimes beyond) and write stories about them. Our expertise lies primarily in the areas of climate change, energy transition, disinformation, and the Right to Information Act (Wet open overheid). PAJ is financially independent and ad-free.

The Team

Jilles Mast

Jilles Mast

Jilles Mast is a co-founder of Platform Authentieke Journalistiek. He conducts research on the energy transition, Shell/NAM and the Dutch government, international trade agreements, and hidden corporate lobbying.

Alexander Beunder

Alexander Beunder

Alexander Beunder taught economics at secondary schools and the University of Amsterdam before starting as investigative journalist at Platform Authentieke Journalistiek in 2017. He publishes on politics and economics, as well as (the history of) disinformation.

Merel de Buck

Merel de Buck

Merel de Buck holds a Ph.D. in political anthropology and has been working as a investigative journalist at Platform Authentieke Journalistiek since 2019. She specializes in the relationship between Shell and the Dutch government, the Dutch coal lobby, gas extraction in Groningen, and more recently, the social housing sector in Utrecht. She is also actively seeking for ways to involve the public in her journalism.

Nina Tea Zibetti

Nina Tea Zibetti

Nina is originally from Italy. She moved to the Netherlands in 2017 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in politics and economics at the University College Utrecht. After graduating, she spent some time as an intern in the field of sustainable finance. Currently, she is doing a master’s in Climate Studies at Wageningen University and Research, focusing on environmental economics and policy. Her research interests include the socioeconomic impacts of climate change, the politics of climate and sustainability transitions, and the role of corporate lobbying in climate policy. Through her internship at PAJ, she is approaching investigative journalism for the first time, and she looks forward to applying her academic background to journalistic work.

English Publications

About us

Platform for Authentic Journalism

The founders of Platform Authentieke Journalistiek (Platform for Authentic Journalism) first came together in 2013. From a shared love for research and societal engagement, a new investigative journalism collective was born, with roots in Utrecht. The name was chosen as a tribute to a movement within Mexican journalism: periodismo auténtico, or authentic journalism, which remains true to journalistic core principles regardless of the circumstances and potential repercussions.

Telling the story behind the scenes ultimately became the essence of our journalism. In the attic of a monumental building in the heart of Utrecht, we conduct in-depth research. How are political decisions made in the Netherlands? Who is listened to and who is not? Where do the ideas come from? Has the public interest been taken into account, or have private interests prevailed? What are the consequences for people and the environment? Are alternative paths conceivable and necessary?

PAJ works in the spirit of investigative journalism by conducting research over an extended period. The result is stories that, like the research itself, require some time to digest but provide new insights into overlooked topics or topics that transcend the daily hype.

Investigative journalism

‘Woo’-requests and archival research

For those who want to take a peek behind the scenes, relying solely on press spokespersons’ questions won’t suffice. Therefore, we heavily rely on Woo-requests (FOIA-requests) and archival work for our investigations. Few things bring us as much joy as large datasets or meters of paper to sift through in search of that one gem. For the story on Frits Böttcher, a Dutch climate skeptic funded by the business sector, we went through more than ten meters of paper in the North Holland archive until we found that one document we were looking for in an inconspicuous folder in archive box no. 53. Our research on the elite society De Tafelronde also stemmed from archival work.

In addition, PAJ makes extensive use of the successor to the Freedom of Information Act (Wob) called the Woo: Open Government Act. This law establishes the right to access government documents. Anyone can request copies of emails, memos, minutes, and more on almost any imaginable topic. Submitting a Woo-request is relatively simple, but actually obtaining the documents is a skill of its own. Sometimes, this can lead to prolonged legal battles, as we have discovered in recent years.

The PAJ team has based several investigations, either partially or entirely, on documents obtained through this process. This includes research on the collaboration between Dutch multinational corporations and the government in the Dutch Trade and Investment Board, as well as the ongoing Shell Papers investigation, which focuses on the ties between the Dutch government and Shell.

These requests often result in a vast amount of data. Our combination of a slight obsession with meticulously reviewing government documents and the right software to organize them allows us to find the needle in the haystack nonetheless. In the case of the Shell Papers, we also collaborate with our readers. A dedicated website provides access to and allows searching through all the documents we have obtained so far, and readers can send us tips if they come across anything of interest.

(International) Fieldwork

PAJ is not solely focused on devouring paperwork. The team also ventures into the field to listen to voices that need to be heard. People facing exclusion, exploitation, fraud, or political mismanagement become involved in our journalism. Merel de Buck and Jilles Mast, both trained anthropologists, apply their academic skills in this regard. Our research on the impact of the “gas boom” in Mozambique on the country’s citizens serves as an example.

Data research

Statistics play a role in many of our investigations. Sometimes, we rely on public statistics (such as those from the Central Bureau of Statistics) or other scientific sources. At other times, we perform our own calculations and demonstrate how we arrived at them. Alexander Beunder, PAJ’s in-house economist, conducted an extensive analysis of the tax burden on multinational corporations. And recently, we revealed that the NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij) earns billions from gas storage in the Dutch soil.


No PAJ investigation would have come to fruition without engaging with other experts, organizations, academics, journalists, or involved readers who share their tips or personal experiences with us. Collaboration is highly valued by us, including with other (research) organizations from civil society.


To continue our projects we are dependent on donations. Help us guarantee our independence and quality.

Our bank details are:

Platform Authentieke Journalistiek
Utrecht, The Netherlands

IBAN: NL12TRIO0198320299
Paper form: NL12 TRIO 0198 3202 99
Bank: Triodos Bank N.V.

If you are located in Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands you can also use our online payment method.


If you have something to share or would like to collaborate with PAJ on a specific topic, feel free to send us an email: info [at]

PAJ is affiliated with Publeaks. The Publeaks website is specifically designed for whistleblowers who want to report societal misconduct to the press. PAJ journalists thoroughly investigate your tip while ensuring your anonymity.