April 25, 2024

People Column


Youcef Bounab, the 2023 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone, is now the English-language Maghreb correspondent for Agence France-Presse in Tunis. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Paris.

Humza Jilani, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2022, has joined the Financial Times. He will spend his first six months covering international economic news from London and then head to Pakistan to be FT’s next Islamabad correspondent. Humza had an OPC Foundation with Reuters in London.

Hayley Woodin Hastings, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2022, has taken on an elevated leadership role in business journalism at BIV and within Glacier Media. She will be responsible for leadership of BIV events, strategic initiatives, partnership development and digital expansion. In her new role, Woodin Hastings also has editorial oversight of The Orca and Western Investor.

Brett Simpson, the Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner in 2021, is one of two journalists named for the Institute for Current World Affairs 2024-2026 fellowship. Starting next summer, she will be based in Tromsø, Norway, documenting Arctic climate changes and shifting geopolitics in an era of rising temperatures and tension. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the Arctic Council was suspended and all circum-Arctic data sharing on climate projects abruptly stopped. Ever since, for the first time in the era of climate change, the Arctic has been split effectively in half. Here is a story she reported for Foreign Policy.

Sarah Champagne, the 2019 winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, won the Grand Prix Judith-Jasmin, one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Quebec, for her work on temporary immigrants. The prize honored both the work she did for the documentary, Essentials, as well as a series of articles that appeared in Le Devoir on the same subject entitled The Great Shift in Immigration.

Scott Squires, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2018 and a reporter covering money and markets in Argentina from the Bloomberg bureau in Buenos Aires, will be moving to Bloomberg-Mexico City in 2024 to cover Mexico’s energy sector, Pemex, oil and Mexico’s renewable energy transition. Squires had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Buenos Aires.

Amelia Nierenberg the 2018 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, reported from the Lewiston, Maine area for The New York Times during last month’s mass shooting that killed 18 people and wounded 13 others at a bowling alley and a bar. Nierenberg filed many reports from the shooting sites in Lewiston as well as from nearby Bowdoin, where the shooter Robert Card was from, and from Lisbon Falls, where his vehicle was found and later where his body was discovered after a 48-hour manhunt.

Kim Chakanetsa, the Stan Swinton Scholarship winner in 2011, is host of The Conversation at BBC World Service. She and her team recently won a third Clarion award in the radio/interview program category. Clarion Awards are presented by the Association for Women in Communications (AWC), an organization that promotes the advancement of women across all communications disciplines. Chakanetsa had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the AP bureau in Johannesburg.

Jeff Horvitz, the Fred Weigold winner in 2009 and now a tech reporter for The Wall Street Journal, has a new book entitled Broken Code: Inside Facebook and the Fight to Expose Its Harmful Secrets, billed as a behind-the-scenes look at the manipulative tactics Facebook used to grow its business, how it distorted the way people connect online, and the company insiders who found the courage to speak out. Broken Code tells the story of these employees and their explosive discoveries. Expanding on “The Facebook Files,” his award-winning series for the Journal, Horwitz details the architecture of Facebook’s failures and what the company knew and often disregarded about its societal impact.


Columbia Journalism School named two FRONTLINE documentaries — 20 Days in Mariupol and Afghanistan Undercover — as 2024 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award finalists. FRONTLINE’s editor-in-chief and executive producer is OPC Governor Raney Aronson-Rath. 20 Days in Mariupol, made in partnership with The Associated Press and produced and edited by Michelle Mizner with Aronson-Rath also serving as producer, covers the beginning of the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Ukrainian filmmaker and AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov. Chernov was part of the AP team that won the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award this year. Afghanistan Undercover, produced by a team including award-winning correspondent Ramita Navai and director and producer Karim Shah, investigates the Taliban’s crackdown on women in Afghanistan since August 2021. Both films have won several awards this year. Afghanistan Undercover won this year’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award. On Nov. 14, Aronson-Rath spoke at the Columbia Journalism School after a screening of 20 Days in Mariupol, along with Michelle Mizner, producer and editor of FRONTLINE, Polina Buchak, an award-winning New York-based Ukrainian filmmaker, and June Cross, professor and director of the Documentary Journalism Program at the Columbia Journalism School.

OPC member Dana Thomas won a Signal Award in October in the category of “Best Host – Current Events” for her podcast, The Green Dream. The podcast, which covers sustainability and climate change, shared a Silver Award in that category with Jon Stewart, who won as host of his podcast, The Problem with Jon Stewat, and Reid Hoffman, for Masters of Scale: Brand While You Build. All three shared the top honor for the category – there was no Gold Award winner. For the Listener’s Choice Award, The Green Dream came in second after Jon Stewart, receiving a second Silver Award. This year, the Signal Awards received nearly 2000 entries and during the public voting stage more than 130,000 votes were cast for the Signal Listener’s Choice award. The awards were celebrated at an Oct. 23 reception at The Bowery NYC.

2020 Edward R. Murrow Award winner Ahmer Khan received the Martin Adler Prize for 2023 from the Rory Peck Trust during a ceremony on Nov. 16. The award judges said Khan’s journalism “sheds light on some of the toughest and most heated issues in India, while his writing shows impact and sensitivity.” Tweeting about the award, he said “I would like to dedicate this win to the brave journalists working in #Gaza who, in the line of duty, sacrificed their lives for journalism.” Khan and his VICE team won the 2020 Murrow Award for their documentary India Burning, about Muslim Indians at risk of losing their citizenship.


A documentary produced by OPC members and recipients of the OPC’s COVID-19 grants premiered at DOC NYC on Nov. 12. Mediha follows the life of a teenage Yazidi girl who has recently returned from ISIS captivity. The director, Hasan Oswald, and one of the producers, OPC member Fahrinisa Campana, received OPC grants in 2020 to help freelancers during the pandemic. OPC members Annelise Mecca and Alexander Spiess were also producers, along with Stephen Nemeth. Oswald was also a producer on the film. In November Oscar-winner Emma Thompson joined the production as an executive producer. The film is currently wending its way around film festivals.

OPC member Nicole Tung, an award-winning photojournalist for The New York Times who has covered conflicts around the world, talked to WNYC’s “1A Podcast” for their “Ask a War Photojournalist” series on Nov. 13. Tung joined photojournalists Lynsey Addario and Peter van Agtmael on the program. She talked about her experience working while embedded with military in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, and answered other questions sent by listeners.

Joseph Cox, an OPC member who formerly worked for VICE’s tech publication Motherboard, spoke to business magazine Fast Company on Nov. 19 for a piece about worker-owned publications such as the 404 Media company he and a circle of colleagues launched this summer. He said he reached a breaking point when he realized he couldn’t access the U.S. court system’s subscription database because VICE had fallen behind on bills, and then saw through public bankruptcy records that executives had received large bonuses. “That was the crystallizing moment for me,” Cox was quoted as saying. “I was astounded and angry and rather than tweeting any more about it, I pivoted that emotion into creating a new media company.”

OPC member Ruchi Kumar on Nov. 18 wrote a piece for The Telegraph covering Afghan refugees who were forced to bribe police to avoid deportation from Pakistan. She followed the story of one refugee, Shahid, whose rental home in Islamabad was raided by police just 24 hours after the government ordered 1.3 million Afghan refugees to leave the country by Oct. 31. Shahid delayed deportation temporarily by agreeing to pay a bribe of 10,000 Pakistani Rupees, about $35, Kumar wrote.

Barbie Nadeau, an OPC member who files dispatches for CNN from Rome, on Nov. 13 reported a story she described as coming “right out of a Fellini film,” in which an 8-year-old escaped circus lion was seen prowling the streets about 20 miles west of Rome. She said the lion, named Kimba, roamed the seaside town of Ladispoli for about 5 hours before he was shot with a tranquilizer dart, captured and returned to the circus. The town’s mayor, Alessandro Grando, joined animal rights activists in calling for “an end to the exploitation of animals in circuses.”

On a radio segment for WAMC Northeast Public Radio on Nov. 3, OPC member Amanda Sperber said she is encouraging her students to “rethink foreign correspondence,” which can be achieved by including more diversity in the newsroom and challenging long-established patterns of reporting that tend to frame global events through a Western lens. Sperber is serving this fall as the James H. Ottaway, Sr. visiting professor of journalism at the State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. She said she urges students to examine “journalism that challenges expectations and challenges the discourse of the powerful.”

OPC member Stephen Schlesinger spoke to PassBlue, a U.N.-focused news site, with Canada’s Ambassador Bob Rae in early September to talk about the 20th anniversary of his Schlesinger’s book, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations. A recording of the conversation was posted on Nov. 4. The two discussed how the U.N. was formed at the San Francisco conference in 1945, and what it means today. Rae asked Schlesinger, a fellow at the Century Foundation, how the U.N. can still play a constructive role in limiting abuses of power and consequences of conflict such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Schlesinger said he wished U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres had been more proactive before the Russian invasion. “I can’t always figure out why a Secretary General acts as they do, but the most important thing is that they act.”

Monica Montero, an OPC member who reports on migration, filed an article on Nov. 15 for Al Jazeera from Calais, France and England about the Rwanda Asylum Plan, with support from the Pulitzer Center. Montero is a post-graduate reporting fellow with the Pulitzer Center.

Edith Lederer, an OPC member and veteran Associated Press journalist covering the United Nations, interviewed Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs on Nov. 9, asking about the country’s position as neighbor and ally to Ukraine. Rinkēvičs said Russia is planning for a long war and appealed to countries to continue supplying arms to the Ukrainian military. “If we stop Russia in Ukraine, then Russia is not going to be able to challenge other countries,” he told Lederer. She has also been reporting extensively on the Israel-Hamas war from New York, including a piece about the U.N. Security Council’s many attempts to agree on a resolution on Nov. 14.