September 26, 2022

People Column


Ha-kyung Kim, the 2022 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner and an OPC Foundation fellow with The Wall Street Journal in Seoul, earned her first byline on July 22: The piece, titled “South Korean Shipbuilder Daewoo, Workers Reach Deal to End Strike,” covered a deal between one of the world’s largest shipbuilders and subcontract workersthat ended a weekslong strike that cost about $600 million in losses delayed deliveries of liquefied natural gas. Kim recently graduated from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Sandali Handagama, the Jerry Flint Fellowship winner in 2020, was named deputy managing editor of the policy and regulations team at CoinDesk. Based in Italy, she oversees digital economy policy updates and news for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Max Strasser, the Alexander Kendrick Scholarship winner in 2008, will be the new editor of the recently renamed and redesigned Sunday Opinion at The New York Times. Strasser, who has been with the paper’s opinion desk for seven years, went to London at the start of 2018 to oversee its international coverage, leading a team of editors across three continents. For the past year, he was on the desk’s special projects team where he has been instrumental in projects like “Postcards From a World on Fire” and the recent “I Was Wrong” package from Times columnists.


OPC member and freelance journalist Nicolas Niarchos was arrested and detained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for five days in July while setting up an interview about alleged ties between mining groups and separatists in the country. In a statement on July 20, Niarchos wrote that his passport was seized by the Agence Nationale de Reseignements and a photo of the passport was leaked on social media. He said neither he nor his Congolese colleague Joseph “Jeef” Kazadi, who was also arrested but detained for a longer period, were charged with a crime. He tweeted a photo of Kazadi on Aug. 4 saying he had been freed after 22 days. “Journalism is not a crime, is is the fertile soil from which a democratic society can grow,” Niarchos said in his statement. A government official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Niarchos was questioned about his contact with armed groups, particularly the separatist group Bakata Katanga. Niarchos writes for The Nation and The New Yorker, which he thanked along with press freedom organizations who supported him and Kadadi during the ordeal.

Kathy Gannon, a longtime OPC member who recently retired as Associated Press news director for Pakistan and Afghanistan, was named among the 2022 Joan Shorenstein Fellows on Aug. 4. In a release, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy announced three fellows, including Phillip Martin, senior investigative reporter for The GBH News Center for Investigative Reporting and Seth K. Goldman, honors associate professor of communication at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Gannon will be researching conflict reporting, with a focus on international reporting on conflict in Afghanistan and its effects on policy and public perception.

OPC member Nicholas Kristof has rejoined The New York Times after stepping down as columnist for the paper in October last year to pursue the gubernatorial race in Oregon. His bid to appear on the Oregon ballot was rejected after state courts decided he did not meet residency requirements. A Times release about his return to the Opinion desk said that he would resume his column this fall after he completes a new book. Kristof worked as reporter, editor and columnist for Times for 37 years before his departure from the paper last year. He won two OPC awards during his career, including the 2011 Best Online Commentary. He won the 1989 Hal Boyle Award along with his wife Sheryl WuDunn for their reporting on the pro-democracy movement in China and at Tiananmen Square.

OPC member Edith Lederer, who has reported for The Associated Press more than four decades, spoke to AP colleague Allen G. Breed for a July 25 story about her role in breaking the so-called Tuskegee Study in which hundreds of Black Americans were denied treatment for syphilis and became unwitting medical research subjects. Lederer received a sheaf of documents from a friend and health researcher who had acquired 10 reports from the Communicable Disease Center about the study. The researcher, Peter Buxtun, reported the unethical study to superiors, but was shut down. He later passed them to Lederer, who did not feel prepared to take on the story herself, so in the press room of the 1972 Democratic National Convention, she passed the documents to a colleague with more investigative skills, Jean Heller. “I knew that I could not do this,” Lederer said in the recent story. “AP, in 1972, was not going to put a young reporter from San Francisco on a plane to Tuskegee, Alabama, to go and do an investigative story.”

OPC members Ruchi Kumar and Hikmat Noori filed a piece on July 27 for NPR about the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The article for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog spotlights a surge in rates of child, early and forced marriage since last year. According to UNICEF, even before the Taliban returned to power, nearly 28% of Afghan women and girls between the ages of 15 to 49 years were married before age 18. An Afghan journalist interviewed for the story who was forced to flee, identified only by the initials F.J., told NPR that circumstances she left behind have left her in mental anguish. “I used to be the voice of Afghan women, and overnight, I became voiceless, with no rights, and no one to fight and defend my rights.” Kumar is a freelance journalist who reports on conflict, politics, development and culture in India and Afghanistan, and Noori is a freelancer who writes for The Guardian, Al Jazeera, NPR and Foreign Policy magazine, among others.