Paul von Zielbauer

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Paul von Zielbauer
Paul Von Zielbauer.png

Paul von Zielbauer is a journalist, social entrepreneur and public speaker.[1][2] In 2008, he founded Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy, a for-profit social venture that combines challenging outdoor adventures with sustainable, hands-on volunteer projects for impoverished communities in Vietnam, Tanzania, Peru, Nicaragua and Argentina. From January 1999 to September 2009, Zielbauer was a staff reporter for The New York Times, reporting on the Iraq war and the U.S. military in 2006 and 2007. The Times nominated his series on the privatization of prison medical care for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize.


Zielbauer founded Roadmonkey and coined the phrase "adventure philanthropy"[3][4][5] in 2008, while still a reporter at The New York Times. Roadmonkey has been called "a new kind of travel"[6] because of its intent to blend off-the-path adventure with hands-on volunteer projects that benefit people and communities in need. O: The Oprah Magazine, writing about Zielbauer, called him "a guy we like"[7] because it said Roadmonkey seeks to "combine physically challenging expeditions with humanitarian efforts."

At The New York Times, Zielbauer worked primarily for the Metro desk, where he covered the New York City jail system and reported on the intersection or organized labor and organized crime.[8] During periods in 2006 and 2007, he covered the war in Iraq[9] and the aftermath of the September 2007 killings of civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square by Blackwater military contractors.[10] In 2007, Zielbauer became The Times' beat reporter on the military justice system,[11] covering high-profile military prosecutions[12][13] of alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Zielbauer's extensive coverage of the 2005 Haditha killings in Iraq generated criticism from some conservatives.

From 2000 to 2003, Zielbauer was The Times' Connecticut bureau chief,[14] covering politics and the state's lesser known corners.

Zielbauer's Pulitzer-nominated series on privatized prison medical care focused on the practices and performance of Prison Health Services Inc., the Tennessee company (now doing business as PHS Correctional Healthcare, a subsidiary of Corizon, Inc.) that provided care to jail inmates on Rikers Island.

Zielbauer began his journalism career in 1992 at the City News Bureau of Chicago, covering homicides, fires and, on the overnight shift, the Chicago Police Department. He left the wire service in late 1993 to embark on a 4-month, 1200-mile solo cycling trek from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he wrote a front-page article[15] for Crain's Chicago Business about American businesses in Vietnam preparing for the end of the U.S. economic embargo. From 1994 to 1995 Zielbauer was a staff reporter for The Orange County Register, covering Orange County's large immigrant Vietnamese community. While in graduate journalism school in New York City, Zielbauer worked part-time as a researcher for the Committee to Protect Journalists. From 1997 to 1998, he was the environment reporter for The Times-Union of Albany, NY, and wrote about pollution threats to the Hudson River.

Media & Public Appearances[edit]

Zielbauer has appeared on CNN and National Public Radio[16] to discuss his New York Times reporting. He and Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy have been featured by CNN, O: The Oprah Magazine,[17] Outside magazine,[18] ABC News,[19] The Wall Street Journal,[20] El Diario and other national publications.

Zielbauer frequently writes about self-leadership and has been a speaker at thought-leadership conferences including Summit Series and the KIN Global Conference.

Education & Awards[edit]

Upon graduating[21] from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism with honors in 1996, Zielbauer was awarded a Fulbright Young Journalist scholarship to spend a year in Germany. Based in Berlin, he filed numerous articles for Newsday on European affairs, including the 1995 large-scale student-led protests in Belgrade, Serbia, against then-president Slobodan Milošević. Zielbauer received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Iowa State University in 1988.

For his 2005 investigative series on Prison Health Services Inc., Zielbauer won the New York State Associated Press award for Depth Reporting and World Hunger Year's annual Harry Chapin Award[22] for reporting on poverty-related issues. The New York Times nominated the series for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize, in the Public Service category.

Early life[edit]

Zielbauer grew up in Aurora, Ill., the first member of his German-Hungarian family born in the United States.


  1. ^ "List of Speakers, Business & Economic Reporting, 2000-2009". NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. 
  2. ^ Thomas, Amanda (April 14, 2011). "Changing lives through adventure philanthropy". Times-Georgian. 
  3. ^ Baer, Adam (September 30, 2009). "NYT Iraq Reporter Quits, Becomes "Roadmonkey"". The Faster Times. You call Roadmonkey a travel company that offers "adventure philanthropy." What does that term mean to you? 
  4. ^ Wilkinson, Brook (July 8, 2009). "Volunteer with Roadmonkey in Vietnam". Conde Nast's "Adventure philanthropy": That's the idea behind Roadmonkey, a new tour operator that combines physical feats with volunteer work. 
  5. ^ Nanos, Janelle (Apr 22, 2010). "Tours of a Lifetime: Hike Kilimanjaro with Roadmonkey". The unique tours, which are included in National Geographic Traveler's Tours of a Lifetime issue this year, are a combination of athleticism and do-gooderism that he's branded "adventure philanthropy." 
  6. ^ Chapman, Cheryl (July 22, 2009). "Roadmonkey provides new route to volunteering for travellers with a taste for adventure". Philanthropy | UK. 
  7. ^ Silvester, Jessica (December 2010). "Philanthropic Globe-Trotting With a Guy We Like!". O: The Oprah Magazine: 56. 
  8. ^ von Zielbauer, Paul (June 3, 2009). "Two Accused of Extorting Bus Companies". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "New York Times articles database". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ von Zielbauer, Paul; Glanz, James (October 25, 2007). "Under Siege, Blackwater Takes On Air of Bunker". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "NYT articles database". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ von Zielbauer, Paul (April 20, 2007). "Killings of Afghan Civilians Recall Haditha". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ von Zielbauer, Paul (September 28, 2007). "Testimony in Court-Martial Describes a Sniper Squad Pressed to Raise Body Count". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ von Zielbauer, Paul (March 23, 2003). "BRIDGEPORT MEMO; An Embarrassment of Riches". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ von Zielbauer, Paul (January 24, 1994). "Time To Ask: Why Aren't We In Vietnam?". Crain's Chicago Business. 
  16. ^ Gladstone, Brooke; Garfield, Bob (May 11, 2007). "On The Media" (transcript). National Public Radio. 
  17. ^ Silvester, Jessica. "Philanthropic Globe-Trotting With a Guy We Like!". O: The Oprah Magazine. p. 56. Retrieved December 2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  18. ^ Kessler, Mike (December 2009). "The Giving Trip". Outside Magazine. 
  19. ^ "Hit the Road With Roadmonkey: Paul Von Zielbauer explains how we can explore some adventure philanthropy.". August 20, 2009. ABC News. 
  20. ^ Marte, Jonnelle (November 19, 2009). "'Voluntourism' Trips'". The Wall Street Journal. 
  21. ^ "Columbia Journalism School E-News". Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. July 5, 2006. 
  22. ^ "Media Awards Honor Excellence in Hunger and Poverty Reporting". World Hunger Year. 2006.