Migrants are brought aboard a Save the Children rescue boat in the Mediterranean. Richard Hall/GlobalPost Investigations

A Brief History of GlobalPost

A young boy peeks from behind his tent in Yemen. Rawan Shaif/GlobalPost

A Syrian refugee shelters inside a converted farm building near Zahle, Lebanon. Sam Tarling/GlobalPost

“There is an enormous appetite for knowing what’s happening in the world … it’s just not being met by traditional media.”

Philip S. Balboni
Philip S. Balboni

GlobalPost CEO and Co-Founder

Our Story

The History of GlobalPost

When GlobalPost launched in January 2009, its CEO and Co-Founder Philip S. Balboni told Reuters: “There is an enormous appetite for knowing what’s happening in the world … it’s just not being met by traditional media.” That sentiment was at the core of GlobalPost’s mission to fill the void being left as mainstream media outlets pulled back from vital international reporting.

Shortly after GlobalPost launched, The New York Times described it as “offering a mix of news and features that only a handful of other news organizations can rival.” The mix of content was designed to offer visitors intelligent, fair, and courageous location-based reporting and analysis from throughout the world and especially from those geographic areas that had been consistently ignored or underreported by the American news media.

By 2010, GlobalPost’s correspondent network included some 70 journalists spread across more than 50 countries who provided reports in text, photo and video, and the site had received millions of visits from more than 200 countries.

It wasn’t long before GlobalPost’s ambitious reporting made its way into the national conversation on international issues. In February 2010, GlobalPost reported that U.S. military laptops were turning up in markets in Pakistan, containing sensitive material on the drives and showing weaknesses and flaws in American military vehicles being employed in the war in Afghanistan—the story was featured on the CBS Evening News. Also that year, a year-long probe into USAID funding in Afghanistan found that Afghan subcontractors had been funneling millions of dollars in American taxpayers’ money to the Taliban. U.S. officials confirmed that the probe was sparked by the findings of a GlobalPost investigation examining a Taliban “protection racket” that was taking place in Afghanistan development projects.

GlobalPost quickly became known for its steady flow of hard-hitting video reports. Each episode of its weekly “On Location” video series took viewers to a remote location—from deep inside Syrian dungeons; to the war-torn Libyan city Sirte; to the illegal adoption rings in Shanghai; to the burning streets of Tibet, the flood-ravaged shores of Japan, and the frontline of the drug war in Mexico. The reports introduced viewers to extraordinary characters and compelling stories that provided context to key global issues.

When “On Location” was honored with a 2011 George Foster Peabody Award, the Peabody Board praised it for focusing “on news and events neglected or ignored by other media outlets.” The series was also the recipient of back-to-back Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2011 and 2012.

At the same time, GlobalPost was gaining a reputation for consequential international business reporting. In 2011 it was honored with ten Best in Business Journalism Awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), which recognized top publications and websites and the best business news reporting during 2010. That year, GlobalPost received the second highest number of awards, ahead of The New York Times, which received eight, and second only to Bloomberg, which received 20 awards. The site would go on to win more than 30 SABEWs.

In 2014, the site was honored as the recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for its multimedia series “Myanmar Emerges,” which took a hard look beyond the fairy tale narrative of a reform movement in Myanmar with uncompromising reporting on how decades of oppression were casting a long shadow on the country’s economy and people. GlobalPost received the award, which is given to work that provides “insights into the causes, conditions, and remedies of human rights violations and injustice, and critical analyses of the movements that foster positive global change,” in the New Media category. The series also won the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence from the National Press Club.

By the start of the Syrian Civil War, GlobalPost was home to a rare breed of journalist—the trained, experienced, and courageous conflict correspondent dedicated to giving face and voice to victims and to revealing the human toll of war. GlobalPost’s Tracey Shelton was among the few journalists with the diligence, courage, and journalistic skill to deliver consistently from a war zone.

Throughout 2012 from her base in Turkey, Shelton made frequent trips inside Syria—often being smuggled in and out under the cover of darkness—where she opened channels of communication, built a network of sources, and through months of on-the-ground reporting, produced a steady stream of authoritative writing and gripping video. Her most viscerally- engaging work came from the use of powerful video and images to tell poignant stories born from the violence of war that were at once shocking and mesmerizing.

In the Polk Award-winning video report “Life and Death in Aleppo,” Shelton took viewers on patrol with a group of rebel soldiers, telling the story of Issa, Ahmed and Qasim in the days before—and then at the very moment—they were killed in their back-alley post by a tank blast. The images she captured were among the most extraordinary to emerge from Syria, leaving those who see them with a searing impression of the suddenness and devastating speed at which tragedy strikes in a conflict.

In 2011, GlobalPost was on the ground from the first moments of the conflict in Libya, following Libyan rebels from Benghazi as they marched toward key cities and, eventually, to the capital Tripoli. In April, GlobalPost correspondent James Foley was captured by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Foley was held for six weeks before being released and then returned to Libya that September, where he continued to cover the conflict and contribute reporting.

GlobalPost was on the scene at the rebellion’s bitter end, obtaining the earliest reporting and most complete video of Gaddafi’s capture and death in Sirte, which dominated the news cycle, running on major television networks around the world. The reporting of Gaddafi’s fall received a prestigious Overseas Press Club (OPC) award for Online Coverage of Breaking News.

James Foley, Life on the front lines. GlobalPost compilation

When Foley was kidnapped at gunpoint in northern Syria in November 2012, conflict reporting was a deep part of GlobalPost’s journalistic DNA. Balboni, who was instrumental in helping secure Foley’s release after he had been taken prisoner the first time in Libya, worked tirelessly once again to find him. Foley was also an example of that rare breed of journalist: willing to go into harm’s way to shine light in the dark places, tell the human stories of war that would otherwise go untold, and advance the conversation on issues that for too many seem remote and tangential. It was that courage and dedication to his craft that led him to want to show the world the humanity of the Syrian people. James Foley was executed by the Islamic State on August 19, 2014, in a still unknown location near Raqqa, Syria. His remains have never been found.

GlobalPost’s commitment to courageous, in-depth reporting continued. In 2015, after the publication of “Fugitive Fathers,” a year-long investigation into how the Catholic Church had allowed priests accused of sexually abusing children in the United States and Europe to relocate to poor parishes in South America, two of the priests profiled in the series were suspended from their posts.

In September 2015, GlobalPost announced its most ambitious-ever reporting initiative, a year-long in-depth series called “Longreads on Conflict,” which sought to reveal the full extent of the humanitarian toll from major conflicts raging in the Middle East and investigating the responsibility borne by governments and leaders in the region and by major world powers.

The inaugural report in the series came from one of the world’s leading war reporters, Paul Wood, who wrote powerfully about the humanitarian impact of the war in Syria, then in its 4th year. The report, which The Poynter Institute called an “engrossing, painful debut to yearlong series on Middle East conflicts,” investigated the plight faced by Syria’s refugees, following the story of one particular family that paid the ultimate price.

For seven years as a standalone news site, from 2009 to 2015, GlobalPost delivered on its mission with the highest-quality reporting from a network of credentialed international correspondents based in countries across the globe. Whether the goal was to shed light on the overcrowding, pollution and poverty that are rampant because of the “Rise of the Megacities,” or to take a deep look at the darker side of production at major technology companies in “Silicon Sweatshops,” GlobalPost has raised the bar for international reporting in the digital age.

“We are dedicating this new chapter of GlobalPost to the investors and staff who brought it to life originally, and especially to James Foley, our correspondent in Syria, who gave his life to the cause of journalism, and to Amos Hostetter of Boston, the former Chairman of GlobalPost’s Board, whose belief in our mission allowed GlobalPost to be born in the first place.” – Philip S. Balboni

At the end of 2015, ownership of GlobalPost was transferred to the WGBH Educational Foundation of Boston. The Board of Global News Enterprises, the owner of GlobalPost, recognized that funding an ambitious international reporting organization was no longer possible given the realities of the advertising market and the increasing dominance of social media in that market.

WGBH is the producer of many of the most esteemed programs in US public television, like American Experience, Nature, Frontline, and Masterpiece Theater. GlobalPost operated under the wing of Public Radio International, which was owned by WGBH, and subsequently by The World, a distinguished nightly radio news program distributed to public radio stations across the United States and owned by WGBH and PRX.

In the fall of 2022, Mr. Balboni reacquired ownership of GlobalPost, hoping to return it to life. He is dedicating this new chapter of GlobalPost to the investors and staff who brought GlobalPost to life originally, and especially to James Foley, our correspondent in Syria, who gave his life to the cause of journalism, and to Amos Hostetter of Boston, the former Chairman of GlobalPost’s Board, whose belief in our mission allowed GlobalPost to be born in the first place.

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