July 15, 2024

People Column


Annika Hammerschlag, winner of the 2016 Irene Corbally Kuhn scholarship, had a story in The New York Times on July 22 on how Black Lives Matter protests have inspired a call for black athletes to attend a historically Black college or university. Until COVID-19 sent her back to the U.S., Hammerschlag had been freelancing in Dakar and says she hopes to return as soon as possible.

Thomas Nocera, 2020 Nathan S. Beinstock Memorial Scholarship winner, has started his OPC Foundation fellowship with GroundTruth Project. He and his colleague Grace Eliza Goodwin co-wrote a July 15 story for the organization’s Democracy project exploring the rise of young leaders from the ranks of 15-26 million Black Lives Matter demonstrators across the U.S. 

Kantaro Komiya, 2020 OPC Foundation Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, filed his first earnings story on July 29 as part of his Dow Jones internship this summer. The story tracks PayPal’s reporting of its strongest quarterly performance ever due to increased dependence on contactless payments amid the pandemic.  

2014 H.L. Stevenson fellow Caelainn Hogan has published her first book, Republic of Shame, which exposes a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment, and exploitation of “fallen women” who had become pregnant out of wedlock. The system, run by the Catholic Church and the Irish government, operated until the late 90s. “I never understood how surreal and cruel this system was, or how many people’s lives are still being impacted, until I wrote this book,” she said. Penguin Random House published the book on July 16. Hogan is a freelance journalist in Ireland whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Al Jazeera English, VICE, The Guardian and The Irish Times. She was an OPC Foundation fellow for The Associated Press in Lagos in 2014.

Marta Orosz, 2020 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner, has received the 2020 French-German Journalism Award for her project, Grand Theft Europe, a collaborative investigation involving reporters and newsrooms from 30 countries. Orosz described the effort at the 2020 OPC Foundation Scholar Awards Luncheon in February.

Suman Naishadham, H.L. Stevenson Fellowship winner in 2018, has been hired by The Associated Press as a desk editor and reporter covering 13 states in the western U.S. Naishadham, who had an OPC Foundation fellowship at the Reuters bureau in Mexico City, has been freelancing in the capital city, where she also had done an internship with The Wall Street Journal.


OPC member Ruchi Kumar has won a 2020 Khaled Alkhateb award for a piece she co-wrote for Foreign Policy in January, along with colleague Hikmat Noori, about Iran’s mass deportation of refugees from Afghanistan. The article cites data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saying that as of the first week of last December, more than 450,000 Afghans returned from Iran in 2019 alone, and more than 250,000 were forced deportees.

All three finalists for the Deadline Club Award in the Feature Photo category this year are past OPC Award winners. Rodrigo Abd of The Associated Press was named a finalist for his series of photos depicting the crisis in Venezuela. Abd won the OPC’s Feature Photography Award in 2010 for photos of Guatemala and in 2014 for photos of Peru. James Nachtwey is a finalist for his photos of Rohingya in TIME magazine. He has won five photo awards from the OPC over the years, including Robert Capa Awards for 1983, 1994 and 1998, and an Olivier Rebbot Award as well as a special photo award in 2001. In 2008, he received an OPC President’s Award for his work. Also a Deadline Club Award finalist is Moises Saman of TIME for his coverage of Kurds in Syria after U.S. troops pulled out. Saman won the OPC’s Olivier Rebbot Award this year for images of El Salvador for National Geographic. Saman is also a finalist in the Digital Video Reporting category. Deadline Club Award winners are slated to be announced during an online ceremony on Sept. 14.

Emily Kassie, who shared the OPC’s 2016 Best Digital Reporting on International Affairs with Malia Politzer, is a Deadline Club Award finalist in the Digital Innovation category for work with The Marshall Project and The Guardian on the U.S. immigrant detention system. Kassie’s 2016 OPC award was for coverage of those who profited from the global refugee crisis.

Erika Fry, who received a Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s Malcolm Forbes Award this year, is a finalist for the Deadline Club Award in the Business Feature category for her article in FORTUNE, “Epidemic of Fear.” She received the OPC citation for the same article, which told the story of French pharma giant Sanofi’s disastrous rollout of a dengue fever vaccine in the Philippines. That story also won a SABEW Best in Business Award in the Explanatory Journalism category in March this year. Fry is also a finalist in the Deadline Club’s category for Science, Technology, Medical or Environmental Reporting for “Death by a Thousand Clicks,” which covers deadly problems with electronic health records in the U.S.

Andy Greenberg of WIRED magazine, who received this year’s Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s Cornelius Ryan Award, is a finalist for a Deadline Club Award in Magazine Feature Reporting for his article, “The Untold Story of the 2018 Olympics Cyberattack, the Most Deceptive Hack in History.” Greenberg got the OPC citation for his book, Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, published by Penguin Random House/Doubleday.

OPC member Abigail Pesta won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Magazine Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists for her piece “Life after death in Parkland” in Notre Dame Magazine. Pesta profiled a family dealing with the fallout from the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The ICFJ will honor CNN host Fareed Zakaria, Egyptian editor Lina Attalah, and Russian journalist Roman Anin during the organization’s virtual tribute on Oct. 5. Zakaria will receive the ICFJ Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism, while Attalah and Anin will receive the ICFJ Knight Trailblazer Award. CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer will host the program.

Gwen Ifill, who was co-anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour until her death in November 2016, posthumously received the highest professional honor awarded by The Society of Professional Journalists on July 2 for her extraordinary contribution to the profession of journalism.


OPC Governor Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post columnist covering foreign affairs, geopolitics and history, has been filing regularly in “Today’s Worldview” on topics including rising U.S. confrontation with China on July 24, parallels between protests in the U.S. and Hong Kong on July 27, the decline of U.S. global credibility on July 28, and the international space race to explore Mars on July 29.

OPC member Dexter Roberts was featured on a podcast and livestreamed show on YouTube on July 22 called “Global Hint with Abhivardhan,” talking about his book The Myth of Chinese Capitalism. The show is produced by Indian media company Internationalism.

OPC member Rukmini Callimachi will explore the story of Breonna Taylor, the 27-year-old Black woman who was killed by police officers on March 13 while she slept in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in a New York Times documentary series. The Times launched a new hour-long series, The New York Times Presents, which will replace the 30-minute program The Weekly on FX. Callimachi will serve as reporter on the Taylor episode, with Director Yoruba Richen of The New Black directing the program. The program will include an investigation into Taylor’s death.

OPC Past President Allan Dodds Frank received a warm shout-out from one of his former mentees, Jason Zweig, now a Saturday columnist for The Wall Street Journal. “My first mentor was the great Forbes reporter Allan Dodds Frank, who taught me to ignore nothing and pursue everything,” he said in a Q&A for the email newsletter Journalist Voices by Sarah Chacko, who is an audience engagement reporter for the Journal. “You never know which detail will turn out to make or break a story,” Zweig added. Zweig writes the Journal’s weekly column “The Intelligent Investor,” and is author of Your Money and Your Brain, on the neuroscience of investing.

OPC member Keith Richburg, a professor and director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, spoke about press freedom concerns on a panel of media and law experts at the Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club last week. The panel discussed uncertainty in Beijing’s new national security law and its potential to force media to self-censor reports. “If it operates the way it is in the mainland, I see potential visa restrictions on journalists, the second thing is that we might get called in for tea,” a euphemism for detention, the Asia Times reported Richburg saying. Richberg has also talked to journalists covering unrest in Hong Kong, and was quoted in a July 1 New York Times piece by Vivian Wang and Alexandra Stevenson, “In Hong Kong, Arrests and Fear Mark First Day of New Security Law,” saying staff members at his center wondered aloud “where the red line would be and whether certain topics would be off limits.”

OPC member Sewell Chan, editorial page editor for the Los Angeles Times, will participate in a panel for the National Press Club Journalism Institute to help journalists hone their point of view and ensure that editors hear it on July 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time. “Being Heard: How to Use Your Voice so People Listen,” will include remarks from Chan as well as L.A. Times columnist Erika Smith, New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones and New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein. You can register here.

A new book has been released about the life of Kim Wall, an OPC member who was murdered in 2017 by a Danish inventor while she was profiling him for a story. Kim’s parents, Ingrid and Joachim, wrote the book, A Silenced Voice: The Life of Journalist Kim Wall, to help humanize their daughter and counteract what they saw as a disproportionate focus on her death in media coverage. The book was published by Amazon Crossing on July 7. The OPC renamed its digital reporting award in Wall’s honor after her death in 2017, and Ingrid and Joachim attended the Annual Dinner to light a candle of remembrance during a ceremony to honor journalists killed or persecuted during the course of their work.

Barbara Demick, winner of the 2005 Joe and Laurie Dine Award who has served as OPC awards judge over the last several years, is set to publish a new book profiling a Tibetan town that was a longtime base for resistance against China. Random House is slated to publish Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town on July 28. Demick, who became Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times in 2007, traces the history of Ngaba and its violent first encounter with Red Army in the 1930s, when soldiers plundered monasteries and set the stage for decades of abuse to come. The book takes its title from this era, when starving soldiers survived by eating skins of sacred drums and offerings to Buddha in temples. This is Demick’s third book, including Logavina Street, a book focused on a neighborhood in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, and Nothing to Envy, which reports on life inside the North Korean port city of Chongjin.

OPC member Mohamed Brahimi, humanities professor in Boston at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, participated in an online panel hosted by Morocco World News on June 10 to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. Brahimi told attendees that civil unrest in the U.S. has implications for many parts of the world. “What’s happening in America should serve as an impetus for other countries to take a look at themselves in the mirror and try to do an honest assessment of how they are treating their own minorities,” he said. Brahimi added that the movement applies to the way Sub-Saharan Africans are described and treated in countries like Morocco, where mockery and harmful stereotyping in entertainment are normalized. Also speaking on the panel were Greg Hill, human and world geography teacher in Texas, and Bill Day, a lawyer focused on discrimination and civil rights.

2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award winner Aurora Almendral reported on Thailand’s handling of the pandemic for National Public Radio (NPR) in June, writing about how the success of a sever lockdown made the country’s death rates among the lowest in the world, but at a mental health cost with potentially deadly consequences. She wrote that the WHO puts Thailand’s suicide rate as the highest in Southeast Asia, and cited a report published end of April that found that “of the more than 80 suicide attempts they reviewed in April, 44 were related to hardships caused by the economic lockdown.”


Voice of America (VOA) is on the brink of losing many of its international journalists after President Trump appointed a new boss for the U.S government-funded international broadcaster. Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who previously collaborated with Breitbart co-founder Stephen Bannon, was confirmed as head of the Agency for Global Media that oversees VOA in June. NPR reported on July 9 that three people with current or past ties to the agency said Pack has signaled that he would not approve visa extensions for dozens of foreign nationals working as VOA journalists. The decision could affect as many as 62 contractors and 14 full-time employees at Voice of America. Many would be forced to return to home countries with authoritarian governments. On Tuesday, July 21, the Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a talk with Sanford J. Ungar, who served as VOA director from 1999 to 2001. RSVP here.


Kimon de Greef, winner of the OPC Foundation’s David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship this year, filed a piece for The New York Times covering how COVID-19 has upended burial traditions in his native country of South Africa. He wrote that travel restrictions have disrupted a crucial cultural practice for many Black residents in Cape Town, in which families return the bodies of loved ones hundreds of miles to homes in the Eastern Cape province. South Africa imposed one of the world’s most severe lockdowns in March. “For some poorer families, the rules are forcing a choice between breaking tradition and breaking the law,” De Greef wrote.

OPC member Keith Bradsher, Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, has been covering pandemic news from China. On July 5, he filed a piece, “China Dominates Medical Supplies, in This Outbreak and the Next,” exploring the country’s development of a low-cost industry for front-line weapons to stave off outbreaks, including masks, testing kits and other gear. Bradsher wrote that early investments have laid the groundwork for domination of the market for protective and medical supplies for years to come, adding that “China’s grip on the market is a testament to its drive to dominate important cogs in the global industrial machine.” Bradsher also filed a piece on July 13 on China’s sanctions against three U.S. lawmakers; Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Representative Chris Smith, as well as Sam Brownback, President Trump’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz, investigative journalist and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, has announced the release of a sweeping data project, Documenting COVID-19, that has compiled a shareable document repository through hundreds of freedom of information requests with 7 record sets comprising more than 400,000 pages. News organizations have already made use of the resource, including a New York Times investigation into safety issues at meatpacking plants, a Washington Post story on dubious technology and reopening plans in Georgia, and local media outlets disclosing hotspots that hadn’t been reported elsewhere. The project is funded by the Brown Institute and partners including the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism along with FRONTLINE PBS, National Geographic and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

OPC member Kathy Gannon reported for The Associated Press in late June on the push to reopen Pakistan despite the country having one of the fastest COVID-19 infection rates in the world. She said while the government touts social distancing and masks as methods to stem the spread of the virus, many are ignoring safety measures in public. “Millions crowd markets and mosques. Hard-line clerics tell followers to trust that faith will protect them. Many call the virus a hoax,” she wrote. She said Pakistan is an example of many developing countries forced to live with rising infections because fragile economies cannot withstand extended lockdown.

OPC Past President David Andelman reflected in a piece for CNN Opinion in late June about the likelihood of extended self-isolation due to lifelong asthma and severe health risks if he should contract COVID-19. Cloistered in a cabin in northeast Pennsylvania since his return from Paris three months ago, he said news of the partial reopening of his home city of New York sparked thoughts of “some hard, and very sad, facts of life” for himself and others with vulnerable health conditions. “I recently arrived at the

disturbing conclusion that I may be unable to return to my New York City apartment, or visit my family in Paris, for years,” he wrote. He said even the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine may not change realities for those with ongoing respiratory conditions. “As we celebrate America’s opening up, there must be millions of Americans just like myself asking themselves, is this my life until the end?”

OPC member Anita Snow wrote for The Associated Press on July 7 that American vacationers from hard-hit Arizona were turned back by protesters on the road to the popular tourist resort of Puerto Peñasco over the July 4 weekend. The protest group Sonoyta Unidos briefly shut down all southbound travel to the coastal town on Saturday of the holiday weekend. She said a cross-border agreement between neighboring municipalities broke down as officials worked to get southbound traffic moving again.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi was interviewed on CNN and PBS in late June by Christiane Amanpour, also an OPC member, about the epidemic of domestic violence against women that has accompanied an era of quarantine and lockdowns across the world. Fassihi and Gabriela Jauregui, a Mexican author and women’s rights activist, discussed rising violence and murders of women in what the United Nations has called a “shadow pandemic.” Fassihi recounted her reporting on an “honor killing” in Iran in which a 14-year-old girl was beheaded by her father. She cited a study showing that 30 percent of murders in Iran are of women at the hand of a male relative. Jauregui said the number of distress calls connected to family violence in Mexico was up 97 percent in April, a statistic Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called “fake news” from political opponents.

OPC member Livia Hengel, a freelancer based in Rome, landed a piece on the front page of Il Mattino, the leading newspaper of Naples. The article, written in Italian, covers Italy’s hard-hit tourist market following the country’s early battle as a hotspot for coronavirus infections, and tensions about the return of foreign tourists, particularly those from the U.S. Hengel has also recently written several travel pieces for Forbes, including two pieces about the Sorrento Coast on July 8 and 9, and a story about Italy’s coffee industry on July 2.


Peter McGrath, retired Newsweek editor whose team won the OPC’s 1990 Ed Cunningham Award for coverage of the first Persian Gulf War, died on July 15 in Annapolis at the age of 76. McGrath first joined Newsweek as a foreign editor, supervising coverage of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War. He eventually became the magazine’s first editor of digital journalism, and developed its earliest online content. McGrath founded the Washington Journalism Review, which was renamed the American Journalism Review. He taught journalism at George Washington University and Rutgers University after retiring from Newsweek.