The other night I was watching PBS Newshour and saw a new face: Nadja Drost.
A few days later, I sat down and flipped on PBS. There she was again. I wondered why.
PBS is a risk-averse outfit. Every one of their news anchors and senior reporters has spent years working his or her way up though the ranks. Many of them have made lateral transfers from other mainstream media organizations, often later in their career. Nearly all have reported on a wide variety of topics and can reasonably called "generalists". People on the Newshour are vetted.
In Drost we have someone completely new to the scene who is neither vetted by nor a generalist. It struck me as odd that buttoned-up PBS would invite her to do headline stories when there must be hundreds of reporters they could chose from.
I did 5 minutes of Googling to learn more about Ms. Drost's background. Here's what I came up with...
1.) A YouTube video titled "Meet the Journalists: Nadja Drost and Bruno Federico" was posted more than 900 days ago, yet had been viewed 131 times with zero comments, likes, or dislikes. Those numbers indicate no one in the modern world cares to find out more about Ms. Drost.
2.) Over on IMDB, there is no biographical information on Drost whatsoever. This struck me as particularly strange for someone dedicated to making documentary films.
3.) Another YouTube video titled "Meet Nadja Drost: La Toma Miners' Gold Wars" had received fewer than 1000 views and exactly one comment in the more than 2500 days since it was posted. Again, numbers like this indicate very little public interest in the person or the subject matter. For comparison, "Jiggin' and Froggin' Ronan, MT" created by some high school dudes has accumulated 790 views since going live. Watch that hard-hitting expose on rural life here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILt0XkcWU8o
4.) Finally, Google's Knowledge Panel has gleaned almost nothing on Drost from its own information archive. Google urges someone to "claim this" profile.
Nadja Drost and her partner/cameraman, Bruno Federico, came out of nowhere. They now occupy center stage on the PBS Newshour. I have watched several of their long stories on South American politics, one of which shows her conducting a one-on-one interview with the incoming President of Venezuela. This is remarkable access for someone with such a thin resume. Her press credentials consist of little more than college awards, graduate fellowships, a few published articles, and some short films about certain social struggles of rural people in South America.
Who tapped Drost for the PBS job? Tough to say. Drost is clearly ambitious, but how does someone like this find herself thrust so abruptly into the limelight? On camera, she comes across as ordinary in every way, but never particularly authentic or all that likeable. Her wardrobe appears borrowed from the set of Globe Trekker. Perhaps in person she is bubbly and persuasive, though its difficult to imagine this is the case. More likely, there is an undisclosed family connection to PBS's inner circle or a behind-the-scenes philanthropist working on her behalf. Maybe there's a media connection somewhere in Federico's family. Perhaps this was a ham-handed attempt by producers to attract millennials. Who knows? The public record provides little clarity on the matter. Its a curious case.
* Nadja Drost pronounces her name with a long "a" (nad) and a short "o" (draw).