July 14, 2020

People Column


Amelia Nierenberg, the 2018 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, has been named to the inaugural New York Times year-long Fellowship Program. She has been assigned to the Food section. Amelia is currently in Dakar, Senegal, for an OPC Fellowship with The Associated Press. The Times received more than 5,000 applications for the program.

Ben Taub, the 2015 Emanuel R. Freedman winner, won his second George Polk Award in Journalism this year in the category of Magazine Reporting for his 2018 story in The New Yorker about the campaign against ISIS in Iraq, which has led to mass executions, detainment camps, and a culture of revenge. Award presenters lauded Taub’s tenacity in reporting a story that had gone largely unreported despite being “repeatedly threatened and detained by militias during his three weeks in Iraq.” Taub is only the eighth person to win back-to-back Polk Awards since the prize was founded, and the first to do so in the last two decades.

Along with Ben Taub, OPC member Jane Ferguson of PBS NewsHour was also among the roster of George Polk winners this year. Ferguson won the Foreign Television Reporting for her reporting on victims of the humanitarian disaster in the proxy war between forces allied with Saudi Arabia and Iran in northern Yemen. Winners of the 2018 awards will be honored at a ceremony at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on April 5. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters received the Polk Award for Foreign Reporting covering police exactions of Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in Myanmar. The reporters were convicted of violating their nation’s official secrets act and are serving seven years in prison despite global pressure to free them.

OPC member Martyn Aim was among the photographers shortlisted for a Gomma Photography Grant, a prize for “emerging image-makers.” The grant ultimately went to Tabitha Barnard (first place), Vladimir Vasilev (second place) and Fatima Abreu Ferreira (third place). The Gomma Grant launched in 2014 as a way to support early-career photographers and unpublished talent.

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation has announced honorees for the 2019 James W. Foley Freedom Awards to be hosted in Washington, DC, on April 2. Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian will receive the 2019 World Press Freedom Award. U.S. diplomat Bret McGurk will receive the 2019 Hostage Freedom Award for his part in securing the release of Rezaian and several other Americans held captive in Iran.

Several journalists with ties to the OPC are among the finalists for the 2019 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics. The list includes 2016 Hal Boyle Award winner Hannah Dreier of ProPublica; 2017 Joe and Laurie Dine Award winner Maggie Michael of The Associated Press; OPC Foundation scholar Garance Burke of the AP, who won the 2004 Emanuel R. Freedman scholarship; Martha Mendoza of the AP, who was part of the investigative team that won the 2017 Malcolm Forbes and Hal Boyle Awards, and Gary Marx of The Chicago Tribune, who garnered a citation in 2005 in the Robert Spiers Benjamin Award category. The Shadid Award winner will be announced on March 14.


On February 13, the ACOS Alliance appointed seven new directors to its board, including: Mathias Dreissig of Deutsche Welle; Sally Fitton of the BBC; Elisa Muñoz, executive director at the International Women’s Media Foundation; Finbarr O’Reilly, freelancer photographer based in London; Andréa Schmidt, freelancer based in Toronto; Art Sotloff, founder of the 2LIVES Steven Sotloff Memorial Foundation; and Daniella Zalcman, photojournalist based in New York and London. ACOS was founded to champion safe and responsible journalistic practices and embed a culture of safety across newsrooms and among freelance and local journalists worldwide.

According to New York Magazine’s blog The Cut, about 2,100 media employees lost their jobs in the last two weeks of January. On Feb. 1, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Vice Media would be laying off 10 percent of their staff. That same day, it was reported that McClatchy, which operates newspapers nationwide, was laying off 450 employees. Both these reports came just a week after massive layoffs at Verizon and Buzzfeed. Verizon owns HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo. They cut 7 percent of their staff, while Buzzfeed laid off 15 percent. The Gannett Company, which runs more than 1,000 daily newspapers and weeklies around the country, also eliminated around 400 jobs.

OPC member Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews has been promoted to executive vice president at CBS News. Ciprian-Matthews is a 25-year veteran at CBS and has served as SVP of News Administration since January 2015. In her new role as Executive VP of strategic professional development, she will focus on recruitment and development of off-air talent. She has been at CBS since October 1993, when she was a senior producer for live segments on CBS This Morning.

Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez has been accused of sexual misconduct by four different women. One of those women is past OPC Governor and head of communications at Human Rights Watch, Emma Daly. Daly was the second woman to come forward, telling The Washington Post that Arias groped her in 1990 when she was a reporter covering Central America and he was still president. She had asked him a question in a hotel lobby, and instead of answering it, Arias assaulted her. At the time, Daly was based in Costa Rica, working for The Tico Times and Reuters, and frequently covered Arias.

OPC Governor John Avlon is hosting the 54th Ellie Awards at Brooklyn Steel in Williamsburg, New York on March 14. The American Society of Magazine Editors will honor 22 winners, each of which will each receive an “Ellie,” the elephant-shaped statuette that gives the awards their name. More than 500 magazine editors and publishers are expected to attend. The evening will include the presentation of the 2019 ASME Award for Fiction and five winners of the 2019 ASME Next Awards for Journalists Under 30.

OPC member and veteran photojournalist Steven Raymer has been honored with the National Press Photographers of America award for photojournalism ethics. He received the John Long ethics award at a ceremony on March 9. The NPPA said in an announcement that “Raymer’s professional photography spans decades, and he has always held himself to the highest ethical standards.” Separately, in January Raymer addressed members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, which hosted an exhibition of 34 prints from his book, Somewhere West of Lonely, through Feb. 17. He told attendees that “the whole idea of the photographic truth of a picture is very much under attack in this era of fake news.” Raymer’s career as a National Geographic photographer took him to over ninety countries. Before retiring in 2016, Raymer was a tenured full professor in the Media School at Indiana University in Bloomington. He has continued to teach there during his retirement.

OPC Governor and former Brunswick Group partner and Wall Street reporter Sarah Lubman is joining Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank Group Corp. as partner. Lubman spent her time at Brunswick specializing in telecom, media and technology sectors, and providing counsel on transactions and special situations. She spent seventeen years as a reporter, including six in Tokyo and Beijing, working for The Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News and Newsweek. Softbank is currently awaiting federal approval of its’ merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. They hired Time Warner/News Corp. alum Gary Winsburg as senior VP and head of communications. Lubman began her new role on Feb. 11.

On Jan. 23, OPC Governor Minky Worden served as a panelist at the National Center for Civil Rights’ program titled “Breaking Barriers: Sports for Change.” Her panel was focused on the role of sports in LGBTQ+ rights. Other panelists included WNBA player Layshia Clarendon, rugby player and coach Phaidra Knight, transgender professional boxer Pat Manuel, and Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. Worden is the director of Global Initiatives at the Human Rights Watch.

David Ariosto, OPC Governor and author of the recently released book This is Cuba, joined OPC member Ali Velshi on MSNBC to discuss the current crisis in Venezuela. Ali Velshi hosts a weekly business show on MSNBC called Velshi and Ruhle, on which he and Stephanie Ruhle discuss topics like markets and personal finances. Ariosto was invited on the show because of his vast knowledge on Cuba and other Latin American countries. He had also reported from Venezuela while working for Al Jazeera America in 2014.

OPC member Alice Driver gave a talk at Colorado College on Feb. 5 about reporting on migration. Her lecture focused on the “humanistic” aspect of the migrant caravan from Central America to the U.S. boder that made headlines 2018. Driver said she tried to depoliticize the issue and show different perspectives of the migrant group that Americans could empathize with. Before the talk, Driver said she hoped to “portray what migration and the border look like firsthand, and to shed light on what the real dangers are in the era of misinformation.” Driver spent the last two years reporting on the ground at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Bates College Museum of Art is currently showcasing OPC member and photojournalist Peter Turnley’s work in an exhibit titled “Peter Turnley: Refugees.” The exhibit will be open through March 23. Turnley has spent the last thirty years covering some of the world’s most significant conflicts. One of his most recent projects is an ongoing documentation of refugees around the world. Turnley’s photographs have been featured in numerous publications worldwide, including Newsweek and National Geographic.


Award-winning Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis died on March 2 after a long battle with cancer. He was 58 years old. Behrakis was renowned for his work, covering notable conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya, an earthquake in Kashmir, and the Egyptian uprising of 2011. He also led a Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 2016 for coverage of the refugee crisis. Behrakis started at Reuters in 1987 as a freelancer. In 1999, he won OPC’s John Faber Award for best photographic reporting from abroad in newspapers or news services for his work in Kosovo.

Steve Bell, a longtime ABC News journalist and multiple OPC award winner, died at age 83 on Jan. 25. Bell was best known as anchor of Good Morning America and World News This Morning. He served as correspondent from 1967 to 1986. He was professor emeritus of telecommunications at Ball State University, where he taught from 1992 to 2007. Bell won the 1969 Ben Grauer Award for Best Radio Reporting and shared the OPC award for Best Radio and TV Reporting from Abroad in the same year for reporting from Vietnam. He also won a 1975 Lowell Thomas Award as part of a team from ABC News.