Kasper Goethals is a Belgium journalist who loves getting around the world and collecting stories on the way.

written by

Hannes Köhle

Kasper Goethals‘ fascination for texts started when his parents read him one of his favorite books every evening.

Later, even though Goethals had trouble understanding everything, he would read with his flashlight under the sheets until the late evening hours. In high school, Goethals loved writing book reviews and essays.

And when Goethals started thinking about what he wanted to do as a profession, a lot of things came on his mind - politics, history, culture, theater and screen writing.

„When I gave it a little more thought, I realized that journalism combines all of that,“ Goethals said.

Full of energy and highly motivated, Goethals started at the Arteveldehogeschool in Ghent. It was a school that offered a practical journalism bachelor’s degree. For Goethals, it was the perfect choice. But as soon as he met his fellow students he got disappointed.

„They weren’t really motivated,“ Goethals said.

For him, journalism is connected with fire and enthusiasm. Furthermore, the people told him that there is no future in journalism. But Goethals wanted to (and still wants to today) change the world. One of his idols is Hugo de Ridder - a Flemish journalist.

„A journalist without an engagement is a sad one,“ said Goethles quoting his idol.

Within the first semester at the university, Goethals showed exactly that engagement. He became editor-in-chief at the student magazine „Tank“ and dropped his first exclusive story which brought the university some difficulties.

„The school got periodically official reviews about its education quality,“ Goethels said. „I was able to get a document, which made clear that the school had a very bad rating.“

Goethals conducted an interview with the highest chief to the school.

„No one knew that I was dropping a really big story,“ Goethals said.

That lead to his first investigative piece.

Journalism abroad - finally!

In 2015 Goethals got the chance to discover how journalism is taught abroad. For Goethals, it was a lucky strike.

„I really didn’t see a future, but that changed in Denmark and the Netherlands,“ Goethals said.

Goethals studied foreign corresponding at the Danish Media and Journalism School and European journalism in Utrecht.

Goethals had professors who were former correspondents in Africa, which gave him positive support. It also allowed him to meet people who shared his enthusiasm for journalism. In that year, he made two friends, who from that point became his best supporters.

„We were motivating each other, and pushed ourselves always further,“ Goethals said. „I got more confident then and I knew you can do everything, when you aim high.“

After he graduated with an honors degree, Goethals and his two friends started a collaboration. By traveling around Europe and the world, he did stories in Russia, Venezuela, Uganda, Bosnia Herzegovina. He speaks three languages, which are Dutch, English and French. Goethals even got the chance to interview a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He also followed the famous pianist Ai Weiwei through a refugee camp in Greece.

The step, becoming an independent journalist, was for Goethals the best way of fulfilling his ideal:

„I always felt the need of traveling,“ Goethals said.

But sometimes it is hard.

„I did not make a lot of money in the beginningg,“ Goethals said.

The feeling how and for what price one could trade his stories took him a while to learn. But even when he had to write for a Belgium union paper - he stayed positive.

„I’ve learned to appreciate people who have worked their whole life,“ Goethals said.

But with determination, he later managed to work as an international reporter for Vrij Nederland, Knack, Die Welt, De Morgen, Le Vif and De Standaard. The last paper offered him his first contract. But Goethals didn’t want to settle - he wanted to travel.

„It was just a gut feeling,“ Goethals said.

A few years later, his gut feeling gave him an even better job - feature writer at DeStandard. It offered him a secure job, but he was still able to travel around. For example, he wrote a story about a Belgian entrepreneur who supported illegal gold mines in Uganda.

Goethals also uncovered a story where workers went unpaid at a the construction site for the new building of the European Council in Brussels.

Now, Goethals is doing research about people without a home in Belgium and how they deal with the coronavirus.

„I think regarding what I like the most in journalism – I got the best job in in Belgium,“ Goethals said.

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