February 24, 2024

OPC Gears Up for a Banner Awards Dinner

by Sonya K. Fry

The champagne is on ice, microphones are “testing, testing,” and congratulations are floating in the air. It must be time for the OPC Annual Awards Dinner. This year’s dinner will be held at the Mandarin Oriental at Columbus Circle on Wednesday, April 25. The Reception at 6 p.m. is sponsored by the computer company Lenovo. The “Meet the Winners” Reception after dinner is sponsored by Thomson Reuters. With cocktails at both ends of the evening, it promises to be a great dinner.

The program will begin with the Candlelighting Ceremony in honor of journalists killed in the line of duty in the past year, like reporter Maria Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik who were killed in Syria in February and countless others who covered the Arab uprisings, the drug wars in Mexico and corruption in Russia and lost their lives in pursuit of a story. Joao Silva, photojournalist for The New York Times who lost both legs in Afghanistan after stepping on a land mine in October 2010, will light the ceremonial candle and usher in a moment of silence.

Lester Holt, Weekend Anchor for NBC News and Alison Smale, Executive Editor of the International Herald Tribune will share duties presenting the 27 awards in categories ranging from photography to online commentary.

Alison Smale was deputy foreign editor at The New York Times before she went to the IHT. Previously as Vienna bureau chief for The Associated Press, she covered the fall of Communism across Eastern Europe, the rise of Milosevic and Serbian nationalism and the 1990’s Balkan wars. She was posted in Moscow from 1983 to 1987 where she chronicled the transition from Andropov to Gorbachev. Smale was in New York on September 11th and helped to organize much of the prize-winning New York Times coverage of that event and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She is fluent in French, German and Russian.

Lester Holt joined NBC News in 2000. His assignments include reporting from the Kuwait/Iraqi border as U.S. forces prepared to launch an invasion of Iraq, reporting from the front lines in Lebanon on the war between Israel and Hezbollah, the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and last year he covered the political and civil unrest in Cairo and the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan. Holt was the primary anchor for MSNBC’s coverage of world events and before that he was at WBBM-TV in Chicago for 14 years where he was anchor for the evening news. He is currently the Weekend Anchor for “NBC Nightly News” and Co-anchor of the weekend edition of the “Today” show.

OPC President David A. Andelman has selected Ted Turner as the recipient of this year’s President’s Award. Turner founded the Cable News Network in 1980 as the first 24-hour news channel. At its inauguration he famously said, “We won’t be signing off until the world ends. We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event…we’ll play ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee’ before we sign off.” His daring venture changed news forever. His philanthropy is legendary with the $1 billion gift to support U.N. causes through the U.N. Foundation. In 1991, Turner became the first media figure to be named Time magazine’s Man of the Year.

Dinner Co-Chair William J. Holstein, President of the OPC Foundation, has been leading the charge on selling corporate tables. Sir Harold Evans, formerly editor of The Sunday Times of London from 1967 to 1981 and now editor-at-large for Thomson Reuters is co-chair of the dinner committee.

OPC member dinner tickets remain $250 for a member and $250 for one member guest. Non-member tickets are $600. Table pricing is $15,000, $12,000, $9,000 and $6,000 for tables of 10. Reservations are essential for this annual black-tie event. Please join us in celebrating the best in international reporting. OPC members have been sent a printed invitation in the mail.