Malcolm J. Brabant (born 1955) is a freelance British journalist. Having trained with the BBC, he was employed by them for more than 20 years, reporting from various locations. Described as the "King of the Stringers",[1] Brabant has also worked for UNICEF. Brabant is now a PBS NewsHour special correspondent based in Europe; in 2016, NewsHour earned a Peabody Award for his and others reporting on the 2015–16 European migrant crisis.

Malcolm Brabant
Malcolm Brabant in 2016.jpg
Brabant in 2016
Malcolm J. Brabant

1955 (age 63–64)
EducationNorthgate Grammar School, Ipswich
OccupationFreelance journalist
Years active1975–present
Spouse(s)Trine Villemann
ChildrenLukas Brabant


Early lifeEdit

Brabant was born in 1955 in Willesden,[2] in the London borough of Brent, and raised in and around the large town of Ipswich in Suffolk in the East of England.

Brabant was educated at Northgate Grammar School for Boys (now part of Northgate High School), a former state grammar school in Ipswich, from 1966 to 1973.


Brabant started his journalistic career at the Ipswich Press Agency with Terry Lloyd. He began broadcasting at Radio Orwell in Ipswich, and moved on to Independent Radio News in London from 1978 to 1982. His first television job was at About Anglia.[3] He subsequently worked for Central TV in Nottingham, Thames Television and BBC Radio Four's Today programme. In 1989 he went freelance as the BBC's Athens correspondent. Working as a "Stringer"[1] – a journalist paid by the news organisations on a per-piece basis – for 22 years he reported from various overseas territories and on numerous news stories, including Sarajevo,[3] Montserrat,[4] Denmark,[5] Greece, the United States[6] and the Middle East.[7]

In 2008 following a BBC corporation wide review led by Mark Byford, BBC News introduced new money-savings contracts. Previously, BBC News had bought all material from their contract freelance journalists, in whatever form: written; sound recorded; television media; editorial. Under the new contract, it was proposed that the BBC would only buy the required pieces, while restricting contracted freelancers solely to working for BBC News.[8] Brabant led the orchestrated opposition,[8] which resulted in him and other freelance journalists being allowed to sell the non-required pieces to other news organisations. Hence in 2009, after BBC News bought Brabant's written follow-up piece on the Danish cartoon controversy for their website, Brabant sold the visual recording to other news organisations. Other freelance journalists later commented that Brabant had single-handedly saved British freelance journalism.[1]

Brabant also worked for UNICEF, providing bespoke news reports on key issues which the organisation could use to highlight defined issues.[9]

Brabant can currently be seen regularly on PBS Newshour, where, as a special correspondent, he reports from Europe on the Syrian refugee crisis and other events.

On 27 December 2016, PBS NewsHour broadcast a segment by Brabant titled "Water to Power", in which Brabant appeared to take seriously fantastic claims by Greek inventor Petros Zografos. Hari Sreenivasan introduced the segment by saying, "Imagine a mini power supply in your house or car that made it possible for you to be off the grid. What if that source of energy was totally clean and powered by simple tap water? Well, a Greek scientist claims to have created a machine that converts water into power. As part of our occasional innovation series, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant traveled to the inventor's island home."[10]

Quickly after the broadcast, at the PBS NewsHour page streaming the episode, scores of viewers left comments harshly critical of the segment’s journalistic integrity and alleged lack of scientific sophistication.[11] On December 28 2016, the segment was removed from the “Full Program” streaming page with the explanation, “NOTE: The story about a Greek inventor and clean energy has been removed temporarily while it is being further reviewed by our staff.”[12] A full transcript[10] and full streaming segment[13][14] could still be found elsewhere on the Web.

At the end of the 28 December 2016 episode, Sreenivasan made a statement on the situation, saying, “the NewsHour acknowledges that our reporting of this segment should have been more skeptical….We are examining each step in our process, and we apologize to our audience for the lapses in this report.” Further controversy ensued as some commenters accused NewsHour of "censoring" the segment and practicing "blackout tactics" to squelch "divergent science."[12] PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler in a blog titled "How Do You Say 'Oy Vey' in Greek?" said the incident was "painful to describe," and that "what happened last night will undoubtedly provide fodder for those who use the term 'fake news' these days to tarnish a news program that does not engage in such things."[15] Malcolm Brabant has not commented on his role in the story and has neither defended nor disavowed its journalistic integrity.

Reaction to yellow fever vaccineEdit

In 2011, Brabant become seriously ill following a routine inoculation against yellow fever.[16] Asked to report from Ivory Coast by UNICEF, Brabant was administered the yellow fever vaccine Stamaril made by Sanofi Pasteur in April 2011, at the Vaccination Centre East Attica in Pallini, Athens.[17] Suffering an adverse reaction, he has since suffered three psychotic episodes, and spent more than three months in the intensive care units of psychiatric hospitals in three countries.[18] The family are currently resident in Denmark while Brabant receives additional care and assessment.[3][16] He was replaced in the autumn of 2012 by the BBC's then-Balkans Correspondent, Mark Lowen.

Personal lifeEdit

Brabant met the Danish journalist and author Trine Villemann in Sarajevo. The couple married, and have a son Lukas (Luki). The family were based in Athens for 16 years until mid-2011.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "The King of the Stringers". 15 April 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  2. ^ "FreeBMD Entry Info". Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Malcolm Brabant (1 January 2012). "How a routine jab sent me so mad I sobbed (and saluted) through the Royal Wedding – then became convinced I was the Messiah..." Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  4. ^ Brabant, Malcolm (5 November 1997). "Despatches: Americas – Montserrat". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  5. ^ Brabant, Malcolm (5 April 2009). "Danish cartoonist remains defiant". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  6. ^ Brabant, Malcolm (5 January 2001). "Bush's brother to face vote inquiry". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  7. ^ Brabant, Malcolm (14 July 2010). "Israel warships monitoring Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship". BBC News. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  8. ^ a b Roy Greenslade (11 September 2008). "BBC freelances across the world protest at new contracts and pay cuts". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  9. ^ Brabant, Malcolm (7 February 2011). "Children and families face increasing challenges in aftermath of 2010 Pakistan floods". UNICEF. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  10. ^ a b Power from Tap Water, retrieved 2016-12-28
  11. ^ Full Program: PBS NewsHour full episode Dec. 27, 2016
  12. ^ a b Full Program: PBS NewsHour full episode Dec 28, 2016
  13. ^ Ο Πέτρος Ζωγράφος και η εφεύρεση στο PBS News Hour, retrieved 2016-12-28
  14. ^ Could this water molecule splitting gadget power the world?, retrieved 2016-12-28
  15. ^ Michael Getler, "How Do You Say ‘Oy Vey’ in Greek?" posted Dec 28, 2016
  16. ^ a b Glenda Cooper "Malcolm Brabant: 'I suffered psychosis after a routine injection'",, 25 May 2013
  17. ^ Joanne Lock (3 December 2011). "Veteran BBC journalist's family takes on pharmaceutical titan". Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  18. ^ Roy Greenslade (16 November 2011). "Why Brabant of the BBC has been off the air more than on". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2012.

External linksEdit