July 7, 2022

People Column


Meg Bernhard, the Flora Lewis Fellowship winner in 2020, has an article in the Dec. 15 issue of the New York Times Magazine on loss and the concept of emotional closure. She interviewed Pauline Boss, an 87-year-old emeritus professor of family social scientist at the University of Minnesota, who previously studied fathers who were absent from their children’s’ lives due to work, and later on the wives of fighter pilots missing in action during the Vietnam War and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients. Such cases create a feeling of limbo and unresolved grief for family members, a phenomenon Boss coined “ambiguous loss,” a concept that has had “a resurgence of interest among researchers and journalists during the past two years, in the wake of the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.” Bernhard was a recipient of an OPC micro-grant this year to help sustain her work amid COVID-19 challenges.

Yi-Ling Liu, the 2017 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner, spoke to Yale University about Chinese internet culture on Dec. 6 during a Poynter Fellowship in Journalism event. Liu, who is currently based in China, walked a virtual audience through recent eras of internet access and the evolution of digital culture. Liu writes about Chinese society, technology and culture and has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Wired and The New Yorker.

2008 H.L. Stevenson Scholarship winner Mayank S. Bubna is launching a new education technology startup focused on helping creators and aspiring media founders. The project will include six-week long cohort-based programs, extended coding sessions, or “hackathons,” to quickly build the initial stages of projects, and coaching and webinars from industry experts.


OPC First Vice President Azmat Khan wrote a two-part multimedia piece for The New York Times investigating the human toll of American air strikes. The first piece was published on Dec. 18, and contained reporting on an overall pattern of “flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, years of civilian deaths — and scant accountability.” The second piece on Dec. 19 focused specifically on shortcomings that lead to civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

OPC member and photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg has a new book in the works that will revisit his reporting in El Salvador during the civil war in the early 1980s for TIME magazine. The book will use many unpublished images from his archives in an effort to shed light on the conflict. “In the Cold War era, no one took the time to analyze this, to hold themselves accountable for the policies that didn’t work in Vietnam and that were then applied to El Salvador,” Nickelsberg told Blind Magazine. “Most governments are incapable of admitting that they were wrong.”

OPC member and past award-winner Jonathan Katz, former Haiti-based reporter for The Associated Press, is slated to release a new biography on Jan. 18 that will detail the American foreign interventions of the 20th century and covers a 1930s coup attempt with direct comparisons to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire follows the story of Marine General Smedley Butler, who in 1934 revealed to the Special House Committee on Un-American Activities that he had been asked by New York brokers to lead 500,000 people in a putsch to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a plan that came to be known as “The Business Plot.” Katz won the 2013 Cornelius Ryan Award for his book about the Haitian earthquake and failures of the international relief effort.

OPC member Bill Gentile, a photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and author, had his new memoir listed among The Progressive Magazine’s favorite books of 2021 on Dec. 7. His memoir, Wait for Me: True Stories of War, Love and Rock & Roll gives insight into the stories behind images across his career from conflicts in Central America and Iraq, to his classroom at American University in Washington, D.C. Gentile was scheduled to speak about his book at the Bronx Documentary Center last week, but the event has been delayed due to concerns over a resurgence of COVID-19. A posting from the center says organizers hope to reschedule in the coming weeks.

OPC member Scott Sayare spoke on a Dec. 9 Harper’s Magazine podcast episode about his piece for the magazine looking into new research about human olfactory senses. The piece explores the secretive world of the fragrance industry and new methods of helping people who have lost their sense of smell, a common lingering effect of COVID-19.

Daniel Berehulak, an OPC member and 2016 Olivier Rebbot Award winner, was among the New York Times’ Year in Pictures photo article with an image taken in March in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, depicting migrants from Honduras after they were deported by surprise from the United States. “When journalists met [the migrants] at the crossing point they asked, ‘Where are we?,’” Berehulak wrote as background context for the photo. “When someone answered, ‘Mexico,” it hit them that they had been brought back over the border and that the whole journey, of borrowing money and dealing with coyotes and smugglers, had been for nothing. Their dreams were shattered and they were back in Mexico.” Also mentioned in the year-end piece is Kiana Hayeri, who won the OPC’s 2020 Robert Capa Gold Medal for work in Afghanistan, Meridith Kohut, winner of the 2020 Whitman Bassow Award; Tyler Hicks, winner of OPC photo awards in 2015 and 2013; past OPC panelist Adriana Zehbrauskas; and Adam Ferguson, who received assistance from the OPC via a micro-grant this year.


Many OPC members and colleagues are mourning the death of Carlos Tejada, deputy Asia editor for The New York Times based in Seoul, who died on Dec. 17. Michael Slackman, OPC member and assistant managing editor for international at The New York Times, said on a Twitter thread with hundreds of other condolences that “there are really no words. Carlos was so deeply and widely loved and admired.” OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi wrote that “Carlos was a wonderful colleague & a great editor. Such a tragic loss.” Tejada had worked in east Asia as an editor and a reporter since 2008 and worked for The Wall Street Journal for two decades. Friends and colleagues from the Times and Journal launched a GoFundMe page on behalf of his wife Nora to honor his life and legacy.