December 11, 2018

Bloomberg Honors OPC’s 75th, OPC Toasts Lederer

It was an early morning for those who attended the 7:30 breakfast on March 11 at Bloomberg’s midtown headquarters on the 28th floor. Fueled by coffee, breakfast staples and plenty of good cheer, 90 people saluted the OPC’s 75th Anniversary and Fay Gillis Wells Award recipient, Edith Lederer.

Matt Winkler, Editor-in-Chief of Bloomberg News and an OPC member, began the event by talking about how organizations like the OPC provide vital support to journalists and journalism. He noted that Bloomberg News’s editorial operations include 1,900 editors and reporters in more than 150 bureaus, which gives the organization daily reminders of the precariousness of reporting the news and the varying limits of press freedom around the world.

The OPC celebrates its 75th anniversary this year with special events to highlight the achievements of the Club and its members. The breakfast was sponsored by Bloomberg News and also allowed the Club to pay tribute to long-time member and Associated Press reporter Edith “Edie” Lederer.

Edie accepted the second OPC Fay Gillis Wells Award, which is given to a woman journalist of exceptional achievement. The award was established in 2009 to honor founding OPC member Fay Gillis Wells. The first recipient was Ruth Gruber who accepted the honor at the 2009 OPC Awards Dinner.

OPC President Michael Serrill presented Edie with the certificate and a check for $3,000. During her acceptance speech, Edie paid tribute to Fay Gillis Wells. She said she honestly did not know who Wells was until she learned she was to receive the award. “Now that I have investigated her amazing career I am especially honored to be receiving this award,” she said. “She had a life-long love affair with flying and was a founding member of the Ninety-Nines, the first organization of women pilots, along with Amelia Earhart.”

When a friend asked when Edie was going to take flying lessons, she replied, “In my next life.”

Like Wells, Edie has covered news all over the globe. Edie has worked for the Associated Press for 48 years and has visited all but one continent covering wars, famines and political upheavals. She is currently AP’s Chief Correspondent for the United Nations. She said, “I have had a privileged seat in that front row of history.”

After the speech, Edie sat down to talk with OPC Board member and 75th Anniversary Committee Chair Brian Byrd. He asked three questions and let Edie do what she does best: tell stories. She told the audience about how she snuck into Afghanistan while posing as a carpet seller. The customs agents scrutinized her while holding a 45-caliber pistol pointed at her temple. She later shared a laugh with a colleague who had also used the carpet sales alibi.

Bloomberg News provided a buffet breakfast menu of scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage, fruit cup, orange juice and coffee. Karen Toulon, OPC Foundation Board member and New York Bureau Chief for Bloomberg News, organized the breakfast.

Edie ended the program with advice to aspiring foreign correspondents: learn more languages; get a good background in economics and business and learn about technology and how to use it.