May 23, 2024

People Column


Euan Ward, the 2022 winner of the Rick Davis-Deb Amos scholarship, filed a story for The New York Times on Nov. 24 about a Paralympian medalist who was recruited by the European Space Agency and could soon be headed for space. Ward write that John McFall, who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident when he was a teenager, has become the world’s first physically disabled astronaut. He was one of 16 to be selected among 22,500 applicants. In March this year, Ward was named the international reporting fellow for the 2022-2023 New York Times Fellowship Class.


OPC Governor Vivienne Walt filed a piece for The New York Times’ “DealBook” newsletter on Nov. 25 covering the World Cup in Qatar, with a roundup of controversies such as allegations by human rights organizations that thousands of migrant workers died in the process of building seven World Cup stadiums and other projects in the desert heat, the country’s criminalization of homosexuality, among others. Despite those issues, Walt wrote, “the biggest brands, including Visa, Sony and McDonald’s, were quick to sign up and showed little sign of jumping ship amid the controversy.”

A docuseries based on the book Deluxe by Dana Thomas, an OPC member and author based in France, is now streaming on Sky in the U.K. and HBO Max in the U.S. The four-part series, titled Kingdom of Dreams, covers the world of high fashion during a “golden age” from the early 1990s to the 2010s. It started streaming on Sky on Oct. 30. Separately, an award-winning documentary Thomas wrote about Italian footwear designer Salvatore Ferragamo, titled Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, was released in U.S. theaters in early November. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2020.

OPC member Adriane Quinlan started covering real estate for the news site Curbed on Nov. 28. She said in a tweet thread announcing the new post that the beat includes “where we live, where we want to live, how that’s changing, who’s making those calls, and how we’re fighting over it.”

Silicon Heartland, a new book by OPC member and CNBC contributor Rebecca A. Fannin, got a positive mention in Publishers Weekly as a “short but meaty travelogue that packs a punch.” For the book, Fannin returned to her homeland in the Midwest on a lengthy road trip in her “vintage Honda Element.” She explored how the Rust Belt is transforming as a Tech Belt – an economic comeback that she said “bodes well for boosting this nearly forgotten region when money and power shifted to Silicon Valley and to China.” Silicon Heartland is due out in early 2023 from publisher Charlesbridge/Imagine in Boston and distributor Penguin Random House. Fannin is also author of two other China-focused books: Silicon Dragon, published in 2008, and Tech Titans of China, published in 2019.

OPC member Amanda Florian wrote a longform piece for VICE News on Nov. 21 about how silent livestreams by deaf creators on TikTok and other platforms are attracting millions of viewers on social media around the world, but accessibility for disability communities is still sluggish. “There’s another, more sinister challenge facing deaf content creators. Florian wrote. “Online scammers who pretend to be deaf.” She spoke with many deaf creators who face skepticism or even harassment about their disability as a result of scam accounts.

On Nov. 23, the U.S. announced a ban on sugar imports from Central Romana Corp., citing an investigation into labor abuses from OPC award winners Sandy Tolan, Michael Montgomery, and Euclides Cordero Nuel. The team’s two-year investigation likened the company’s abuses of Haitian workers to forced labor. The company supplies large, multinational brands such as Domino and Hershey. The story, “The Bitter Work Behind Sugar,” was produced for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The team won this year’s Morton Frank Award. It was distributed by PRX and a text version was published in Mother Jones. The OPC hosted a “How I Did It” program in June with the reporting team and OPC member Marina Walker Guevara, executive editor of The Pulitzer Center as moderator, pictured above.