June 17, 2024

People Column


Jesse Coburn of Streetsblog NYC, who was the winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone in 2016, won the 2023 George Polk Award in Local Reporting for the “Ghost Tags: Inside New York City’s Black Market for Temporary License Plates,” the product of a seven-month investigation that uncovered an extensive underground economy in fraudulent paper license plates that motorists used to evade detection while driving on suspended licenses, dodging tolls and tickets and committing other more serious crimes. The awards will be presented at a gala luncheon on April 12.


Rest of the World, a nonprofit publication covering global technology where OPC Governor Anup Kaphle serves as editor-in-chief, received two nominations in this year’s National Magazine Awards. The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) announced on Feb. 15 that the publication was nominated in the categories of Design and General Excellence, Literature and Politics. The organization will announce winners April 2 at Terminal 5 in New York City.

Jane Ferguson, an author, PBS NewsHour correspondent and OPC Award winner who spoke about her work at an OPC book night last October, was awarded the inaugural Neal Conan Prize for Excellence in Journalism. The award is named for Conan, an American radio journalist who spent nearly four decades in multiple roles including host of Talk of the Nation. The award includes a $50,000 prize. In a tweet about the award, Ferguson said his “legacy is incredible – for public broadcasters, foreign correspondents, storytellers who care deeply about the world.” Ferguson spoke with award-winning veteran reporter Elizabeth Becker at an OPC book night on Oct. 19 to discuss No Ordinary Assignment. A recap and recording of the program is available here.


OPC Governor Daniella Zalcman will have her photographs on display as part of the Xposure International Photography Festival in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates from Feb. 28 to March 5. The festival includes presentations from 150 visual storytellers from around the world. The work Zalcman will have on display is titled “Signs of Your Identity: Forced Assimilation Education for Indigenous Youth,” a project she started in 2014 after she traveled to Canada for a story about HIV rates in First Nations communities. Zalcman also spoke on a panel for The Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) on Feb. 7 on the role that different forms of media play in the fight for human rights and issues that women journalists face in their work. She is the founder of Women Photograph, a non-profit that works to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists.

OPC member David Hume Kennerly will also have his work featured at the Xposure festival. He is slated to deliver two talks at the festival. The first, “Behind the Scenes of History” will take place on Feb. 28 and the other, “Behind Closed Doors in the Oval Office” with President Barack Obama’s official photographer on March 5. Kennerly served as President Gerald Ford’s personal photographer during his administration.

The Associated Press announced on Feb. 5 that Mary Rajkumar, an OPC Governor, will co-lead AP’s global investigations team and “work across the organization to develop and produce in-depth investigative projects.” Rajkumar will be joined by Jeannie Ohm, who has guided visual storytelling and analysis for the global investigations team since 2020. She has been with the AP since 2013. Rajkumar, who joined the AP in 2007, has been working as editor for the global investigations team and led the team that produced “Seafood from Slaves”, an investigation into forced labor that won two 2015 OPC awards and a 2016 Pulitzer Gold Medal. Stories she edited have won a total of eight OPC awards.

Ahmed Baider, a past OPC Award winner with VICE News, has been reporting for international media outlets covering the Red Sea crisis in Yemen. His work with production teams on the ground has included video reports for TRT World on the effects of conflict on civilians, Yemeni history, humanitarian aid, and an ITV News report on cargo shipping disruption around Yemen, among others. He wrote in an email update that “more work, interviews, and multimedia features will be published in the coming weeks.” Baider was part of the VICE News Tonight team that won the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting in Yemen, along with Isobel Yeung, Amel Guettatfi and Javier Manzano.

OPC member Dexter Roberts, the director of China affairs at the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana, spoke to NPR as part of a piece about the Evergrande Group, a large Chinese real estate developer, which a Hong Kong court ordered to be liquidated after failing to restructure the $300 billion it owed investors. Speaking to reporter Scott Neuman, he called the company’s fall a “controlled implosion,” adding that “China has known for a long time that their economy was imbalanced and too reliant on debt, with the real estate sector the most indebted industry of all and Evergrande the poster child for the most indebted company in that sector.” Roberts also spoke to the BBC for a piece about the Evergrande collapse. He is author of The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World.