Overseas Press Club of America Announces Annual Award Winners

Contact: Patricia Kranz, executive director, Overseas Press Club of America

patricia@opcofamerica.org – (917) 971-0746

82nd Annual Overseas Press Club Awards Recognize Finest International Reporting; The New York Times, The Associated Press and The Washington Post are Top Winners; Human Rights Abuses, Corruption and COVID-19 are Recurring Themes; Christopher Dickey Honored Posthumously with the OPC President’s Award; New York Times’ White House correspondent Maggie Haberman to Deliver Keynote Address.

NEW YORK, April 6, 2021 — Human rights abuses against civilian populations, corruption in business and government, and the spread of COVID-19 emerged as the leading storylines among the 22 winners of the 82nd Annual Overseas Press Club Awards. America’s oldest association dedicated to international news will honor the journalists at an Oct. 22 event.

“The 2020 award winners wrote eloquently and vividly about war and disease, discrimination and exploitation, and business fraud and neglect,” said Paula Dwyer, president of the Overseas Press Club. “They literally covered the globe, with stories originating from Afghanistan to India, Mexico to Brazil, and Russia to China. The depth and scope of their work is breathtaking.”

The seven OPC awards reporting human rights abuses went to: The Intercept for reporting a CIA-backed “campaign of terror” against Afghan civilians; BuzzFeed News for combining interviews with satellite images and 3D visualization to prove the existence of Chinese internment camps; The New York Times Magazine for a moving depiction of a Uighur family whose parents suddenly disappear; The Associated Press for a powerful story of exploitation in the making of palm oil in Indonesia; VICE’s exposé on millions of Muslim Indians at risk of losing their citizenship; Latino USA’s series on the Mexican government militarizing its border, blocking the free movement of people from Central America; and an NPR photo essay documenting the Filipina survivors of World War II sexual enslavement.

Four awards went to outlets uncovering institutional corruption in business and government, including The Washington Post’s story about narcotraffickers’ capture and control of states within Mexico; Bloomberg’s dramatic audio series on ruthless government and business forces in Honduras; the Financial Times’ takedown of fraudulent European fintech Wirecard; and The Wall Street Journal’s investigative piece into a dam collapse in Brazil that killed 270 people, revealing government neglect and faulty business inspections.

Three OPC awards covered the early stages of COVID-19. National Geographic visually documented the pandemic’s ravages in Russia. CNN was first on the scene in Wuhan, China, to interview Chinese whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang who eventually died of the disease. And an AP series revealed how the Chinese government set the stage for COVID-19’s global spread by holding off alerting the public for six days.

The New York Times led all outlets for the third straight year by winning three OPC awards. All three were captured by The New York Times Magazine. This marks a record 17th consecutive year that the Times has taken home at least one OPC award.

In addition to Sarah Topol’s compelling profile of a Uighur family in China, the Times’ magazine won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Kiana Hayeri’s powerful photos inside the Herat Women’s Prison in Afghanistan. ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten and photographer Meridith Kohut teamed up to deliver a sweeping series for the magazine on the present and future impacts of migration due to climate change.

The AP and The Washington Post won twice as the only other multiple winners. The AP for previously mentioned investigative stories on palm oil production in Indonesia and the Chinese government’s lack of transparency in reporting COVID-19 data. The Post added to its winning narcotrafficker story with a feature series on “Life in West Africa,” exquisitely told through the lives of ordinary people confronting the old and new forces shaping their countries.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provided financial support to four OPC winning entries as part of its mission to raise awareness of underreported global stories. They include the aforementioned winners from NPR, Latino USA, New York Times Magazine, ProPublica and BuzzFeed News.

Veteran cartoonist Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher joined some select company with his fifth career OPC Award for Best Cartoon as his crow quill found favorite subjects in China, Vladimir Putin, climate change and deadly conspiracies. Only nine journalists have more than five career OPC awards.

Mary Beth Sheridan and Cheryl Diaz Meyer won their second career OPC awards after long lapses. Sheridan combined with Washington Post colleague Kevin Sieff on the Mexican narcotraffickers story, marking her first OPC honor since 1997 when she won for Latin American coverage as a Los Angeles Times reporter. NPR’s Diaz Meyer won for documenting WWII sexual enslavement survivors to go with her 2001 OPC prize for post 9/11 Afghanistan photos while working for The Dallas Morning News.

Christopher Dickey will receive the OPC President’s Award posthumously after the renowned foreign correspondent and editor died in Paris on July 16, 2020. Dickey spent 40 years in the trade working for The Washington Post, Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He was a member of the OPC Board of Governors.

“Chris Dickey represented the best and brightest of our profession. As a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East and Europe for four decades, as the author of seven books, and as a news editor he dedicated his life to reporting and writing the truth,” said Dwyer. “He inspired colleagues who had the privilege of working alongside him, or of competing against him. He mentored many younger foreign correspondents. Chris was also a longtime member and true friend of the OPC. It’s not hyperbole to say that Chris embodied the principles the OPC espouses.”

Details for the Oct. 22 OPC Awards will be announced at a later date, though the keynote address will be given by Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for The New York Times.

The OPC also awarded runner-up citations in 20 of the 22 categories. Al Jazeera English led with three citations followed by AP, Bloomberg and The New York Times each with two.

The annual awards process, overseen by OPC Head Judge Scott Kraft, involves more than 100 jury members from across the profession with deep experience in international journalism.

Please follow us on Twitter @opcofamerica and tweet using #OPCAwards82.

Please contact the OPC’s Patricia Kranz at patricia@opcofamerica.org or (917) 971-0746, if you have additional questions.

For a full list of award winners, see below.

To see citation (runner-up) winners, click on this link.

A list of all our awards judges is posted here.


2021 OPC Awards Winners List

(for work in CY2020)

Newspapers, News Services, Print or Digital


Best newspaper, news service or digital reporting from abroad

Sponsor: Norman Pearlstine in memory of Jerry Flint

Andrew Quilty

The Intercept

“The CIA’s Afghan Death Squads”

Judges: Quilty’s reporting revealed essential context about how the CIA operates Afghan militias – dangerous proxy forces who stand to take on a greater role in America’s longest war.


Best newspaper, news service or digital interpretation of international affairs

Sponsor: William J. Holstein and Rita Sevell

Mary Beth Sheridan and Kevin Sieff

The Washington Post

“Losing Control”

Judges: Narcotraffickers’ capture and control of states within Mexico could not be a more important story, but it is also one whose telling is fraught with danger. By uncovering the shocking truths of how pervasive corruption and violence has become in Mexico, The Washington Post’s “Losing Control” series epitomized great foreign correspondence.


Best magazine-style, long-form narrative feature in print or digital on an international story

Sponsor: Michael S. Serrill

Sarah Topol

The New York Times Magazine

“Her Uighur Parents Were Model Chinese Citizens. It Didn’t Matter.”

Judges: With intimate and meticulous reporting and elegant prose, Topol creates a haunting depiction of a family tragedy, shedding light on the little-understood plight of China’s Uighurs.


Best international business news reporting in newspapers, news services, magazines or digital

Sponsor: Forbes Magazine

Dan McCrum, Paul Murphy, Sam Jones and Olaf Storbeck

Financial Times

“Inside Wirecard”

Judges: The remarkable multiyear takedown of a European fintech high-flyer, Wirecard, by a Financial Times investigative team culminated in 2020. From this courageous and resourceful journalism have followed arrest warrants, resignations and a gaping insolvency.


Best international reporting in the print medium or digital showing a concern for the human condition

Sponsor: Linda Fasulo

Danielle Paquette

The Washington Post

“Life in West Africa”

Judges: The series is remarkable in its breadth of time and place, showing how powerful forces from colonialism to social media shape lives throughout West Africa.


Best story or series of stories on international affairs using creative and dynamic digital storytelling techniques

Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek

BuzzFeed News with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

“Built to Last”

Judges: BuzzFeed’s reporting was notable for its combination of hard-to-source interviews with innovative use of satellite images and 3D visualization. The result was a powerful project that showed conclusively that China is operating a massive and industrialized internment system.

TV, Video, Radio or Podcast


Best radio, audio, or podcast coverage of international affairs

Sponsor: Deborah Amos

Maria Hinojosa, Julieta Martinelli, Fernanda Camarena, Benjamin Alfaro and Marlon Bishop

Latino USA with support from the Pulitzer Center

“The Moving Border”

Judges: Maria Hinojosa and team first reveal that a “paper wall” has been a stronger barrier than a physical wall at the U.S. border.  Then, the team went further, uncovering how Mexico has become “a wall itself.”


Best TV or video spot news reporting from abroad

Sponsor: ABC News

David Culver


“Coronavirus Outbreak in China”

Judges: David Culver and producer Yong Xiong were first on the scene in Wuhan, China, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, scoring a world-beat with the only interview of Chinese whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang, who died of the disease, then braving the government lockdown to get the story out to the world.


Best TV, video or documentary interpretation of international affairs with a run time up to 30 minutes

Sponsor: CBS News

Isobel Yeung, Jackie Jesko and Ahmer Khan

VICE on Showtime

“India Burning”

Judges: Moving and illuminating, VICE captures this underreported story with humanity and clarity, in just 15 minutes. By venturing deep into remote communities, the team exposes the disconnect between millions of Muslim Indians at risk of losing their citizenship, and the denials of top officials.


Best TV, video or documentary about international affairs with a run time over 30 minutes

Sponsor: The Jennings Family

James Bluemel and Jo Abel


“Once Upon a Time in Iraq”

Judges: A searing documentary narrated exclusively by the most authoritative of experts: ordinary Iraqis who survived the tumultuous history unleashed after the fall and execution of Saddam Hussein. In telling us how they endured, these Iraqis have brought a new depth of understanding to America’s legacy in their country.


Best international business news reporting in TV, video, radio, audio or podcast

Sponsor: Marc Lemcke

Monte Reel and Topher Forhecz

Bloomberg Green

“Blood River”

Judges: Through dramatic storytelling and deep reporting into the murder of an environmental activist in the Honduras, Bloomberg Green reveals (in a 7-part audio series) how corrupt corporate and government forces will do anything to get an international development project launched in that country.


Best international TV, video, radio, audio or podcast reporting showing a concern for the human condition

Sponsor: David A. Andelman and Pamela Title


The Wall Street Journal and Gimlet Media

“Vale Ignored Warnings”

Judges: Ultimately, The Wall Street Journal’s work helped pave the way for regulatory changes in Brazil, strengthened industry guidelines world-wide and gave voice to the countless people whose lives were upended by the collapse. With this award, we honor The Wall Street Journal’s staff for deep investigative reporting and skillful translation of a complex print story into compelling and moving audio.

Any Medium


Best reporting in any medium on Latin America

Kate Morrissey, Lauryn Schroeder, Nelvin Cepeda and Alejandro Tamayo

The San Diego Union-Tribune


Judges: This whip-smart series by the San Diego Union-Tribune offered a fresh, reader-friendly exploration — by a regional newspaper working its own backyard — into what really happens to those seeking the promise of asylum at America’s doorstep.


Best investigative reporting in any medium on an international story

Sponsor: Marcus Rowan

Dake Kang and AP Staff

The Associated Press

“China Cracks Down”

Judges: The AP disclosed how specific actions by China all but assured the spread of COVID-19 around the world and inflicted draconian human rights abuses on the nation’s Uighur minority. Led by AP Beijing reporter Dake Kang, the series revealed that for six days China’s leaders held off alerting the public as to the great danger posed by the virus, setting the stage for its global spread.


Best commentary in any medium on international news

Sponsor: Paula Dwyer

Peter Beinart

Jewish Currents

“Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine”

Judges: Beinart writes a powerful essay with a lot of original thinking and draws on an impressive depth of knowledge about the history and politics of the conflict. The jury understands that his vision may be a fantasy, but it is a vision against which the likelier outcomes can be measured.


Best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues

Sponsor: Robert Serio

Abrahm Lustgarten and Meridith Kohut

The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

“Refugees From the Earth”

Judges: The writing is spellbinding, the scope ambitious and the result scary, as Lustgarten contemplates a not-too-distant future in which one-fifth of the world’s surface area will be uninhabitable and tens of millions of people are forced to leave their homes. Kohut’s photography brings into sharp focus the people and the ways in which a changing climate is driving their movements.


Best international reporting in any medium dealing with human rights

Sponsor: Philip Dine

Margie Mason and Robin McDowell

The Associated Press

“Fruits of Labor”

Judges: A powerful story of exploitation, slavery, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and greed in the making of palm oil—an ubiquitous ingredient which Americans consume daily. As one source interviewed for the series put it: “When Americans and Europeans see palm oil is listed as an ingredient in their snacks,” he said, they should know “it’s the same as consuming our sweat and blood.”



Best photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise published in any medium

Sponsor: Getty Images

Kiana Hayeri

The New York Times Magazine

“Where Prison Is a Kind of Freedom”

Judges: Kiana Hayeri’s unprecedented look into the Herat Women’s Prison in western Afghanistan exemplifies the photographer’s extraordinary courage and enterprise: not only to overcome physical and access barriers at personal risk, but to challenge the status quo in the visual portrayal of underrepresented communities.


Best photographic news reporting from abroad in any medium

Nanna Heitmann

National Geographic

“COVID Russia”

Judges: Heitmann’s stunning photographs documented the ravages and contradictions of the pandemic in Russia with a powerful but sensitive visual voice, pairing images of crowded churches, with portraits of isolated elderly, and mournful, surreal scenes of hospitals battling the virus.


Best feature photography on an international theme published in any medium

Sponsor: Sony Images

Cheryl Diaz Meyer

NPR with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Yunghi Kim

“Comfort Women”

Judges: The jury was immediately moved by Cheryl Diaz Meyer’s powerful and emotional work documenting the survivors of World War II sexual enslavement. She captured heartbreak, humanity and healing in the expressions of this incredible community of survivors. This body of work is the perfect example of an impactful story amplified through the caring and intentional eye of the photographer.



Best non-fiction book on international affairs

Sponsor: Friends of Richard Threlkeld

Declan Walsh

W.W. Norton & Company

The Nine Lives of Pakistan: Dispatches From a Precarious State

Judges: Walsh’s deep knowledge of Pakistan, lively writing, his ability to mesh certain kinds of stereotypes with the reality of the situation, his gorgeous descriptions of the scenery and historical and intellectual asides and tangents, along with his personal commitment to the story, give the book the weight of truth.



Best print or digital graphic journalism, including cartoons, on international affairs

Sponsor: Daimler

Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher

The Economist, The Baltimore Sun, Counterpoint

Judges: Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher seems like a cartoonist transported from a bygone era, while still creating compelling work that resonates with today’s audience. His impeccable pen and ink cross-hatching and weaponized bobble-headed caricatures might look at home on newspaper editorial pages of a century ago, which seems fitting since that was the last time we saw a global pandemic on the scale of COVID-19.

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