August 9, 2020

Event Coverage Highlight

Blumenstein to Address Scholars at OPC Foundation Awards Luncheon

Rebecca Blumenstein

Rebecca Blumenstein

By Jane Reilly

Rebecca Blumenstein, who formerly served as deputy editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal and was recently named as a deputy managing editor and one of the highest-ranking women at The New York Times, will be the keynote speaker at the annual OPC Foundation Scholar Awards Luncheon on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at the Yale Club. She is the highest-ranking woman to lead the Journal’s news organization to date has and also served as page-one editor, deputy managing editor, international editor and China bureau chief, overseeing China coverage for the Journal.

Bill Holstein, president of the OPC Foundation, was especially pleased to see Blumenstein headline the Foundation’s signature event. “Rebecca has earned her way to the top of a major news organization, having started out at regional newspapers and climbing the ladder at the Journal in part by living in China and winning a Pulitzer Prize. She thus has a commanding view of the news media’s challenges today,” he said. “She has come to speak to our winners and understands our program very well. We are thrilled that another major news organization such as the Journal has become a full-fledged media partner.”

Blumenstein joined the Journal in 1995 as a reporter in the Detroit bureau, where she covered General Motors. She began her journalism career at The Tampa Tribune, and then moved to Gannett Newspapers and Newsday. She received a New York Newswomen’s Award in 1993 for best deadline writing for her coverage of the aftermath of the Long Island Railroad shootings. In 2003, she was part of a team that won the Gerald Loeb Award for deadline writing for coverage of WorldCom. She oversaw the China team that won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2007. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

At the luncheon, the Foundation will award a combination of scholarships and fellowships to 15 graduate and undergraduate college students aspiring to become foreign correspondents. The winning recipients are from City University of New York, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, New York University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Florida, University of Missouri, University of Texas at Austin, and Yale. “Never has there been a time in our profession, our craft, when we need to work harder to defend the values we believe in, particularly as it relates to what is happening in the world,” added Holstein.

“Are we going to continue to support on-the-ground telling of truth or will we be swamped by non-truths and non-facts from the spinmeisters?” asked Holstein. “These young people are part of the answer to that question. They have excellent language skills and some have multiple passports. They have astute eyes for detail and the ability to capture the complexity of what they see in prose. They have the right stuff. They are ready to go.

“Even though the economic model that has long supported international journalism has taken a terrible beating, these winners inspire me every year because they want to travel down what I regard as the sacred path of bearing witness. They just want a chance. Our imperative is to help train them and keep them safe as they explore the world,” he said.

Events for the 2017 winners will last three days starting on Thursday afternoon, when for the first time, the Foundation will host two panels at Reuters for those award winners interested in business journalism or television news. That evening, Stephen Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters, will host the traditional reception for current and past winners of OPC Foundation awards at the news organization’s Times Square headquarters. On Friday, besides addressing a distinguished audience of more than 200 luncheon guests at the Yale Club, the award winners will meet with Holstein and veteran international journalists in a pre-luncheon breakfast and with several foreign editors following the luncheon. For many, said Holstein, the opportunity to meet and observe prominent journalists in action is as valuable as any monetary awards.

For the third year in a row, on Saturday after the luncheon, the OPC Foundation will offer a day of risk assessment and situational training for the winners, this time at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Frank Smyth, president and founder of Global Journalist Security, a hostile environment training firm based in Washington DC, will again lead the program. Those who participated in the past called the experience invaluable. “We have a responsibility to make sure our winners engage in the world’s stories in ways that keep them safe,” said Holstein. “We will continue to do what we can, as fiscal sponsors of the ACOS Alliance, to see that journalists throughout the world have the training and support they need to do their jobs as well and as securely as possible.”

Up to 12 of this year’s winners will receive fellowships to work in the foreign bureaus of the Foundation’s media partners, including The Associated Press, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, GroundTruth Project and Forbes. The fellowships will ensure that the awardees gain valuable experience and insight working with veteran editors and reporters. In 2016, the Foundation funded fellowships in bureaus across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. The Foundation picks up the cost of the airfare and one to two months of living expenses for the winners.

Holstein is grateful to Bloomberg, which again hosted the judging in December, and to the dedicated panel of judges who chose the 2017 recipients: Allen Alter; Bob Dowling; Joe Flint and Michelle LaRoche of The Wall Street Journal; Allan Dodds Frank; Sharon Gamsin; Tim Ferguson of Forbes Asia; Sally Jacobsen; Felice Levin; Larry Martz; Marcy McGinnis; Kate McLeod; Ellen Nimmons of AP; David Rohde of Reuters; Charlie Sennott of The GroundTruth Project; Michael Serrill; Steve Swanson of the New York Botanical Garden; and Karen Toulon of Bloomberg. Holstein also served as a judge.

Luncheon tickets are $85 for OPC members and $150 for non-members. The Foundation encourages media and corporate support at its three levels of giving: Benefactors, $9,000; Patrons, $6,000; and Friends, $3,000. Tables seat 10. The reception is at 11:30 a.m.; the luncheon ends promptly at 2:00 p.m. All proceeds benefit the OPC Foundation. For further information, contact Jane Reilly at 201 493-9087 or foundation@opcofamerica.org.