August 2, 2021

People Column


Makini Brice, the Flora Lewis fellow in 2015, has a new role in the Reuters DC bureau.  She was covering breaking news but has now joined the Capital Hill team. Brice had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Dakar.

2013 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner, Jacob Kushner, has  announced that he landed a deal to write a book slated to be out in 2024, entitled White Terror, about an anti-immigrant killing spree in Germany. The story follows the story of three radicalized neo-Nazi terrorists and a spate of assassinations and bombings they carried out against immigrants in the name of white nationalism. Kushner received support from the OPC in May last year with a micro-grant to offset the effects of the pandemic on freelancers.

Letícia Duarte, the 2019 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, co-wrote a story for the New Yorker on Feb. 16 with three colleagues on the impact of climate change on xenophobia. The piece opens with the story of undocumented migrants in the Bahamas who sought shelter in government camps after Hurricane Dorian struck in August 2019, only to be deported along with thousands of others. The piece, co-written with Cristina Baussan, Ottavia Spaggiari and Sarah Stillman as part of the Global Migration Project at the Columbia Journalism School, outlines key points from more than a hundred and fifty interviews with displaced people, climate scientists, government officials, and other experts discussing the “distinct dangers that extreme weather poses to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.” Duarte had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the GroundTruth Project. Duarte also received a micro-grant from the OPC in May last year.


A project led by OPC Governor Derek Kravitz has received a 2020 Free Speech and Open Government Award from the First Amendment Coalition (FAC). The Brown Institute for Media Innovation project, called “Documenting COVID-19,” has amassed a huge trove of public records on the pandemic and is used for investigative projects in partnership with 30 newsrooms. “This project is a shining example of the tremendous good that can come when journalists collaborate — with one another, with computer scientists and with open-records experts,” FAC Executive Director David Snyder said in a press release about the award. The project is a collaboration between Columbia University’s Journalism School and Stanford University’s School of Engineering. Kravitz serves as project lead, and was named on the award along with his colleagues Georgia Gee, Kyra Senese, Caitlin Antonios, Siddhant Shandilya, Qiaoge Zhu, Arusha Kelkar, Kanak Manhip Singh, Ivan Ugalde and Tim Robertson.


OPC member John Koppisch has joined Discourse as the assistant managing editor. Discourse is a new online magazine of economics, politics and society published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It focuses on the U.S., but it has been running a series on India and will start ones in March on Taiwan and China and the challenges they pose for the Biden administration. Previously, Koppisch was a senior editor at the Asia edition of Forbes magazine for 13 years after stints at BusinessWeek magazine, the Asian edition of The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Mail in South Africa. He spent 12 years abroad, in Johannesburg and Hong Kong.

OPC member Kenneth R. Rosen published a new book in January investigating the trauma and aftermath of “tough-love” programs for young adults in the U.S. The book, titled Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment, follows four survivors of these wilderness boot camps and treatment programs across the country, where so-called troubled teens undergo therapies in a private industry that he argues are largely unregulated and leave children open to abuse. Rosen, himself a survivor of such a program, spent three years reporting and conducted more than a hundred interviews for the book. Troubled was named a #1 bestseller on Amazon, and garnered a New York Times Editor’s Choice accolade. The OPC supported Rosen with a micro-grant last year.

OPC member Kathy Eldon launched her new book on Valentine’s Day during an online celebration with a list of noteworthy guests. Hope Rising: A Musing to Help You Feel Better about Life, Love and the Future of Humankind, is a collection of poems, drawings, and “musings about love, parenthood, the pandemic, and what happens after wild and precious lives are over.” The event touted Hope Rising as the start of a movement for a more positive future, and featured appearances by Julian Lennon, Rain Phoenix, Diva Zappa, Sting’s son Joe Sumner and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku.

OPC member Kim Murphy has joined the leadership team for the The New York Times’ National Desk as deputy for investigations. The paper announced Murphy’s new role on Feb. 12, along with Monica Davey as a deputy and the No. 2 editor on the desk, Julie Bloom as a deputy, and Jamie Stockwell as head of “Race/Related,” a weekly newsletter focused on race, identity and culture.

OPC member and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky is set to premier his latest documentary, Francesco, on Discovery+ on March 28. The film examines Pope Francis’s leadership on many of the most important problems facing the world.

A Feb. 16 article in Los Angeles Magazine mentions several names of candidates in the search for an executive editor at the Los Angeles Times, including OPC member Sewell Chan. The piece mentions unnamed sources who cited up to 30 candidates are in a “Hunger Games” competition vying for the paper’s top job since OPC member Norman Pearlstine announced in October that he would step down. The piece outlines strengths and weaknesses for ten of the candidates they identified after “checking in with dozens of informed sources both inside and outside the paper.” Chan serves as editorial page editor for the paper, and previously worked as reporter and editor for The New York Times for 14 years. Others mentioned are Kevin Merida of ESPN, Janice Min of The Hollywood Reporter, Dean Baquet and Carolyn Ryan of The New York Times, Anne Kornblut of Facebook, and Julia Turner, Shani O. Hilton and Kimi Yoshino and Gustavo Arellano of the LA Times. In December last year, the paper announced that OPC vice president and head awards judge Scott Kraft would take over day-to-day operations at the paper along with Yoshino. Kraft’s name has also been mentioned in speculation about who would succeed Pearlstine.

OPC member Peter Gwin, National Geographic’s editor at large, recounted a trip to the Himalaya to track snow leopards for the Overheard at National Geographic podcast on Feb. 2. He joined explorer Prasenjeet Yadav on his search for one of the planet’s most elusive animals. During the episode, Gwin talks about how Himalayan communities have long regarded the snow leopards as threats to their livelihoods, and how conservation efforts and tourism are changing attitudes.

Robert McMahon, OPC member and managing editor for the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed challenges facing the Biden administration for the Feb. 19 episode of The World Next Week podcast. McMahon and co-host James M. Lindsay discussed the COVID-19 death toll approaching five hundred thousand in the U.S., as well as the Biden administration formally rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate and addressing world leaders at the virtual Munich Security Conference.

OPC member and Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius interviewed Bill Gates for the Feb. 16 episode of the HBR Ideacast. Gates discussed his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.

OPC member Dana Thomas told attendees at the Fashinnovation virtual forum on Feb. 11 that the fashion industry is damaging to the planet and humanity, and must find a more sustainable path. Thomas, author of a book titled Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, said that the industry reaches far corners of the world, and that “everywhere you turn fashion is somehow happening, it could be a farmer growing cotton or a seamstress sewing in a couture atelier or a model on a runway or a sales clerk ringing up the clothes you want to buy.” The OPC supported Thomas with a micro-grant for journalists suffering the effects of COVID-19 in May last year.