Richard Poplak is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker. Under his Trainspotter moniker, he has become one of the most widely read and controversial political journalists in South Africa. He edits at large for the Daily Maverick.
Richard has worked as a freelance journalist and writer since 2005 and has reported from over 25 developing countries. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail, The Walrus, and many others. His work has been anthologised numerous times, and he frequently appears on Al Jazeera, BBC, CBC, and elsewhere as a commentator on topics that range from world events to sport: he is considered a go-to voice on the burgeoning Sino-African relationship; on South African politics; and on international cycling.
He is a former Rockefeller Fellow, and a recipient of the Bookmark Award for the best journalist in South Africa. He is also a contributor in the innovative global investigative journalist collective Deca stories.
As a member in the GuptaLeaks team, he helped break one of the biggest stories in South African media history. The journalistic consortium won the Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism award, Vodacom Journalist of the Year, and was cited for a Nat Nakasa ‘Bravery in Journalism’ nod. The team is currently shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Global Shining Light awards.
He has published five books: ‘Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-era South Africa’ (Penguin Canada, 2007/Penguin International, 2007), ‘The Sheikh’s Batmobile: in Pursuit of American Pop Culture in the Muslim World’ (Penguin Canada, 2009/Soft Skull Press, 2010), ‘Kenk: A Graphic Portrait’ (Pop Sandbox, 2010), and an anthology of his Daily Maverick election coverage, ‘Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle’ (Tafelberg Press, 2014). His fifth book, ‘Continental Shift: A Journey Through Africa’s Changing Fortunes’, was released in Spring 2016 (Jonathan Ball/Portobello)
Before he became a journalist, Richard trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University (1992-1995) and has produced and directed numerous music videos, television commercials, and documentary films. He is currently co-directing a documentary feature film on the notorious public relations firm Bell Pottinger, called Influence, for CBC in Canada and ARTE in Europe.