2012 OPC Foundation Scholarship Luncheon
by Jane Reilly
Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News and Executive Producer of “60 Minutes,” will be the keynote speaker at the annual OPC Foundation Scholarship Luncheon on Friday, February 17 at the Yale Club. At the event, the Foundation will award a combination of scholarships and funded internships to 14 graduate and undergraduate college students aspiring to become foreign correspondents. The scholarship recipients, who emerged from an incredibly competitive field of 175 applications from nearly 70 different colleges and universities, are from American University in Cairo, Columbia University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Missouri, University of Oregon, University of Southern California and University of Texas.
The OPC Foundation scholarship program has grown dramatically in the past two decades and is now considered the most prominent scholarship program in the country for aspiring foreign correspondents. This year’s applicants came from the largest pool of academic institutions and from every region of the country, demonstrating the program’s broad and extensive appeal. William J. Holstein, OPC Foundation president, noted, “The fact that we received applications from 70 universities across the country further establishes us as the dominant force in seeking to identify the next generation of foreign correspondents and launch their careers. No one else is doing what we are doing on the scale we’re doing it.”
The OPC Foundation awards are given in the names of eminent journalists and media organizations. Besides addressing a distinguished audience of more than 200 luncheon guests, the scholarship winners also tour the Associated Press and meet with veteran international journalists at a breakfast hosted by Holstein. On the night before the luncheon, Reuters will host its traditional reception for current and past winners at its Time Square headquarters. For many, says Holstein, the opportunity to meet and observe prominent journalists in action is as valuable as any monetary awards.
Media organizations have continued to cut back their international operations and, to the extent they do cover global stories, their coverage tends to be sporadic. Correspondents parachute in, and then depart almost as suddenly. “We’re trying to identify the next generation of correspondents who have the right values,” Holstein noted. “We think the people covering the world ought to speak languages and ought to make commitments to live in-country, not just get on a plane from New York or London.”
It is precisely to help these students launch overseas careers that the Foundation began and has now expanded its internship program. Begun in 2006 with one AP intern, the program in 2011 funded six interns — who are chosen from among the scholarship winners — to AP bureaus in Cairo, Bangkok and Johannesburg, and Reuters’ bureaus in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei. The Foundation picks up the cost of the airfare and one month’s living expenses for the winners. Interns usually use their own funds to extend their stays.
Holstein is especially pleased that someone of Fager’s stature in the industry will be addressing this year’s winners. An award-winning journalist in his own right, Fager became the first chairman of CBS News last February after more than 30 years experience at every stage of the television news business, including 15 years at the executive producer level, seven of those at the helm of “60 Minutes.”
For his work, the Producers Guild of America voted him best producer in non-fiction television four times and TV Week named him to its top 10 list of most powerful
television news executives. Broadcasts that he executive produced garnered 33 Emmys, eight Peabodys, eight RTDNA/Edward R. Murrow Awards, four Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University batons, three Sigma Delta Chi Awards and three Investigative Reporting and Editing Awards.
As executive producer of the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” from 1996 to
1998, Fager led the broadcast’s highly praised rededication to hard news, enterprise reporting and increased foreign coverage. As the senior broadcast producer for the “CBS Evening News” (1994-96) he covered many major international stories, including the war in Bosnia and the
assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A graduate of Colgate University, he began his career in 1977 at the CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston.
Holstein is grateful to Bloomberg, which hosted the judging this year, and to the dedicated panel of judges who chose the 2012 recipients: Allen Alter, CBS News; John Daniszewski, AP; Eddie Evans, Reuters; Allan Dodds Frank; Jonathan Gage, Sharon Gamsin; Felice Levin; Jeremy Main; Larry Martz; Kate McLeod; Steve Swanson and Karen Toulon, Bloomberg.
Luncheon tickets are $75 for OPC members and $125 for non-members. The Foundation encourages media and corporate support at its three levels of giving: Benefactors $8,000; Patrons $5,000; and Friends $2,000. Tables seat 10. The reception begins at 11:30 a.m.; the luncheon ends promptly at 2 p.m. All proceeds benefit the OPC Foundation.
For further information, contact Jane Reilly at 201-493-9087 or email.