May 23, 2024

People Column


Sofie Kodner, the Flora Lewis/Jackie Albert Simon winner in 2022, traveled to Poland in August to report on protest symbols in Russia. Her reporting is featured on an episode of the podcast 99% Invisible, titled “Orange Alternative.” She cites an example of protest graffiti in 1980s Poland, where anti-communist group called the Orange Alternative used an image of mythical creature with a tiny pointed hat. “That innocent image amplified a powerful political message to the world, which ultimately contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union,” she wrote.

The Newswomen’s Club of New York named Valerie Hopkins of The New York Times the 2022 winner of Marie Colvin Award for Foreign Correspondence for her “crucial updates and insights into the Russia-Ukraine war, painting vivid, visceral verbal pictures of life under Russian occupation, from rapes to imprisonment to the millions of refugees fleeing the violence.” Hopkins won the Jerry Flint Internship for International Business in 2013 and had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Belgrade.

Martin Patience, the Dan Eldon Scholarship winner in 2004, just published his first novel, The Darker the Night. Patience spent more than 15 years as a BBC foreign correspondent with postings in Jerusalem, Kabul, Beijing, Lagos and Beirut and is now a senior producer at NPR on the network’s Weekend Edition shows.


The Coalition for Women in Journalism (CFWIJ) announced a new award in the name of Kathy Gannon, an OPC member and longtime former correspondent for The Associated Press. The CFWIJ Kathy Gannon Legacy Award honors “women journalists who demonstrate integrity and camaraderie in journalism.” The award is also supported by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and was presented on Feb. 15 in Toronto. The inaugural winners are Zahra Nader, Afghan-Canadian journalist and founder of Zan Times; and Joanna Chiu, Toronto Star international affairs journalist and chair of NuVoices. In a tweet about the announcement on Feb. 2, Gannon said she was “beyond honoured,” adding that “we are always stronger together. It’s a privilege to do what we do.” Gannon received the OPC’s President’s Award in 2018.

OPC Governor Singeli Agnew was part of a team that won a George Polk Award for the documentary The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a production of Al Jazeera English’s current affairs program Fault Lines. Agnew served as director of photography for the film, which covered the May 2022 killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot by an Israeli soldier while she was reporting from the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. The film won in the category of Foreign Television Reporting.

OPC member Sudarsan Raghavan was on Washington Post teams that received accolades in the White House News Photographers Association 2023 Eyes of History Contest. In the category of Digital Storytelling – News Story, Raghavan was credited as reporting on the second-place entry As the shells fall, one woman struggles to bury her husband,” and the third-place entry “Armed patrols, homemade dumplings: Ordinary Ukrainians join the war effort.” In addition, The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, mentioned above with Singeli Agnew as award-winning team member, won third place in the category of Best Digital Storytelling Package.


Sewell Chan, an OPC member who is the editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune was selected as the Harvard Alumni Chief Marshal for the class of 1998, which will be celebrating their 25th reunion this year. This June, he will lead an alumni parade and luncheon. In a Facebook post about the announcement, Chan said that as the first college graduate in his family, he “benefited from opportunities at Harvard that my forbears could never have imagined. I’m proud to be part of a multigenerational, international community of alumni who believe in Harvard’s mission: the pursuit of truth and knowledge, and freedom of inquiry and expression.”

OPC President Scott Kraft spoke on a panel, hosted by PEN America and the National Press Club Journalism Institute, about journalism and the challenge of extremism on Jan. 31. He urged U.S. journalists to study the tactics of extremist groups in other countries in order to better understand domestic extremist movements. He said U.S. journalists should also network with journalists overseas who are covering extremism. “They all tap into the same kind of fears,” he said. “Of migrants and cultural liberalism, and loss of political power. In that way, I think the challenges for global journalists are the same as we’re facing.”

David E. Hoffman, a longtime OPC member and reporter for The Washington Post, spoke about his recent book, Give Me Liberty, in an event hosted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas on Feb 23. The book is a biography of opposition leader Oswaldo Payá, who was born in Havana in 1952 and sent to Fidel Castro’s forced labor camps as a young man. Later, he founded the Christian Liberation Movement to fight for democracy. Hoffman was interviewed by Rosa Maria Payá, Cuban human rights and democracy activist and the daughter of Oswaldo Payá.

OPC member Frederic Wehrey, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on Feb 22 participated in a panel to launch a documentary series sponsored by Carnegie’s Middle East Program titled “Confronting Climate Change in the MENA Region.” Wehrey joined Abdulrahman Fadhel Al-Eryani, the former Yemeni minister of water and environment, and Hussen Al-Yabari, the producer of the film and a journalist in Yemen, for a conversation on the film and insight from the region.