September 29, 2023

People Column


Sarah Trent, the 2020 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, on Aug. 23 was named one of two new interns for High Country News magazine. She recently moved to Vancouver, Washington, and said in an introduction that she is “looking forward to exploring climate stories in a region that is significantly impacted, but less covered by the national media.” Trent had an OPC Foundation fellowship on the science desk at The Wall Street Journal.

Dake Kang, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2016, has been reporting on how mineral mines in northern Myanmar have affected indigenous communities. The minerals are needed for components in green energy technology. “Their cost is environmental destruction, the theft of land from villagers and the funneling of money to brutal militias, including at least one linked to Myanmar’s secretive military government. As demand soars for rare earths along with green energy, the abuses are likely to grow.,” Kang and AP colleagues Victoria Milko and Lori Hinnant wrote in the piece. Kang was part of an AP team that won the OPC’s 2020 Roy Rowan Award for reporting on China’s human rights violations against the country’s Uighur minority. His OPC Foundation fellowship in 2016 was with the AP in Bangkok.


OPC Governor Marjorie Miller, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, was profiled in Editor & Publisher magazine on Aug. 15 to discuss this year’s awards, which have been called the most diverse to date. Miller told the magazine that it stemmed from greater diversity in newsrooms, and “then you get more diverse juries, and the board, over time, has gotten more diverse, and so they help present more diverse winners.” Miller served as vice president and global enterprise editor at The Associated Press. She became administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes on April 21, before juries began to select this year’s winners.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz, who is a project editor at Columbia’s and Stanford’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation and investigations editor at MuckRock Data, was among the researchers who created a new archive to help academics and journalists make sense of the early days of COVID-19. In a piece for The Intercept on Aug. 20, Kravitz is named as the leader of an effort to request records from state and local agencies for sensitive records like COVID-19 death tolls and conditions in meatpacking facilities. The new archive will expand and compliment that work, according to the article.

OPC member Abigail Pesta wrote a feature for Rolling Stone magazine on Aug. 21 about a survivor of child sex trafficking who has become an activist and organizer working to thwart predators. She wrote that Jose Alfaro, a gay man from a small Texas town, had broken his silence and is telling his story, “as he has done in criminal and civil court, providing deeply personal insight into how traffickers ensnare young men and boys, exploiting them emotionally, physically, and sexually.”

Emily Schultheis, an OPC member and freelance journalist based in Berlin, wrote a longform piece for the online news site .coda on Aug. 4 about death threats and harassment from anti-vaxxers leading up to the suicide of physician Lisa-Maria Kellermayr in Austria. She writes that Kellermayr faced seven months of coordinated harassment before the closure of her practice in late June then taking her own life on July 29. Police called her initial reports of cyberbullying “false” and dismissed subsequent threats to her life without investigation, Schultheis wrote. Police are now investigating a man alleged to have sent a message suggesting a “tribunal of the people” would convict and execute Kellermayr.

Yasmine Mosimann, an OPC member and freelance journalist based in Baghdad, produced and presented a video piece for France 24 on Aug. 23 covering Iraq’s worst political crisis since the U.S.-led invasion. The country’s judiciary suspended work on Aug. 23 after supporters of powerful Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, demanded that the body dissolve parliament. Mosimann said the more halted all legal processes across the country. “This just marks another escalation of what is now an over ten-month process to form the government.”

OPC members Robert Cooper (left photo) and Will Cathcart wrote a story published in Air Mail on Aug. 20 about a program to sponsor military support for Ukraine by allowing donors to sign grenades launched at Russian soldiers. They wrote that for $2,000 on, a Ukrainian soldier will write a message on a grenade, drop it from a drone onto a Russian soldier, and send a video of the attack to the donor. Other donation offerings include writing a message on a tank turret or howitzer shell. Cooper and Cathcart said that the project has raised more than $200,000 for an NGO that has donated vehicles, medical supplies and food to Ukrainian fighters. Most donors are American and European, the two reported.


Longtime Associated Press correspondent and editor Marcus Eliason died on Aug. 5 in New York at the age of 75. OPC member John Daniszewski, former international editor for the AP, told the AP in a remembrance that Eliason was “a wonderful writer and editor, erudite, wise and supporting.” He began covering global news in the late 1960s, eventually landing in the AP Paris bureau in 1978. Over his career spanned the 1967 Six-Day War, apartheid-era South Africa, war in Afghanistan, turmoil in Belfast, Ireland, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the handover of Hong Kong.

Tim Page, a renowned British photojournalist and OPC Award winner who was wounded four times while covering the Vietnam War, died on Aug. 24 at his home in Australia at the age of 78. Page covered Vietnam from 1965 to 1969, having arrived at the age of 20. He co-published a book in 1997 with Horst Faas, titled Requiem, that included the work of 135 photographers who died in the war. The book won a Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, as well as a George Polk Award. He was known as a risk taker and renegade whose personality inspired Dennis Hopper’s character in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. In 2013 he told VICE that “any war picture is an antiwar picture.” He added that while photography didn’t necessarily stop the war, “I think it contributed to swaying public opinion.”