August 17, 2022

People Column


Luca Powell, the 2021 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, has been chosen as a 2021-2022 Report for America corps member. He will spend the year as an investigative data journalist reporting for the Traverse City Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan. His focus will be using data to tell stories of local and state issues and trends. Powell joins two other OPC Foundation scholars who are members of the current Report for America corps: Anna Kaiser, the 2021 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, who is part of a team focusing on economic mobility in Dade County for the Miami Herald; and Annie Rosenthal, the Jacobsen winner in 2020, who is the border reporter at Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Texas.

Jack Stone Truitt, the 2021 Schweisberg Scholarship winner, has landed a digital internship with Nikkei Asia in New York City. Nikkei Asia is published by Nikkei Inc., the world’s largest financial newspaper with a daily circulation exceeding three million.

Genevieve Finn, the 2020 Richard Pyle Scholarship winner, is one of 12 journalists chosen to attend the 2021 Date Institute, an intensive virtual workshop from the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, ProPublica and OpenNews on how to use data, design and code for journalism. The program will run from July 12 to July 16. Finn has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Mexico City which she hopes to begin after a master’s program at Trinity College, Dublin.

After more than four years at the Fuller Project, Sophia Jones, the 2012 Reuters Scholarship winner, is joining the Starling Lab, a new research center based at Stanford and the University of Southern California, as executive editor of a new journalism program. The program will explore how innovative tech can support investigative journalism on human rights violations and war crimes. She will continue to be based in Barcelona and will work with tech experts, investigative journalists and newsrooms as they build out and utilize tools in the field to securely capture, store and verify sensitive digital records. The OPC Foundation funded Jones’ fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Ramallah in 2012.

After nearly 12 and a half years as correspondent for Reuters in Budapest, Marton Dunai, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2003, has joined the Financial Times as a correspondent in Hungary and Southeast Europe. His hunting area, he noted, will involve some of the most interesting corners of 11 countries, small and large power collisions in Europe.


OPC member Jaime FlorCruz, who worked as a foreign correspondent in China for about 40 years, was named one of ten laureates of the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding (APPCU) for 2021 on June 29. The ten recipients, one of which is Imelda Marcos, are awarded for their efforts to promote mutual understanding between the two nations across various means, including mass media. FlorCruz, identified in a release as founding president of the Peking University Overseas Students’ Alumni Association, was awarded for his “major contributions.” The awards will be given in a ceremony on Aug. 6.


Pete Hamill, a newspaper icon and former OPC member who died last August at the age of 85, was honored on June 23 in his birthplace of Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a ceremony to name a street in his memory. The event marked what would have been his 86th birthday with street signs carrying his name at 12th Street and 7th Avenue. Hamill was a prolific journalist and author who worked in various roles at the New York Post, New York Daily News and Newsday. He was an OPC member from 1999 to 2009. His wife, Fukiko Aoki Hamill, is a member.

OPC member Judith Matloff filed a story for The Daily Beast on June 19 cautioning those who find themselves in violent situations to rely on the advice of the Hippocratic Oath and “do no harm.” In the piece, titled “Don’t Be a Good Samaritan Unless You Know What You’re Doing,” Matloff recounts a recent experience getting caught in a fog of pepper spray from thieves while shopping in Manhattan. Out on the street, a well-intentioned bystander offered milk to wash away the irritant, and another offered seltzer – both of which Matloff says can increase irritation or risk of infection, or damage the eyes. The incident reminded Matloff, who teaches conflict reporting at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, that untrained Samaritans can do a lot of harm. She listed the following advice to amateurs: don’t apply the Heimlich maneuver to choking victims, smack them on the upper back instead; don’t try to use a belt as a tourniquet without proper training; and don’t put a severed finger directly on ice – put it inside plastic and then surround it with ice on the outside.

A documentary directed by OPC member and filmmaker Madeline Gunderson was released on Vimeo for rental on June 24. A Valley Divided centers on the fruit-growing region of Yakima Valley in eastern Washington state, where populations are increasingly majority-Latino, but elected representatives are still overwhelmingly white. A summary of the film says that a 2020 lawsuit against Yakima County alleges its voting system dilutes the agency of Latinos, violating the state Voting Rights Act, and calls for ranked-choice voting to better reflect constituents. The film uncovers decades of political discrimination and “holds up a mirror to the larger story of a changing United States.” The film was screened at the NYU News and Documentary Student Film Festival on May 8, at a Yakima Parks event on May 16, and at the Gesa Power House Theatre in Walla Walla on June 23.

On July 2, OPC member Kenneth R. Rosen launched a newsletter titled “War, U.S.A.,” which he said is “about conflict in the broadest sense: the difficulties we face at home and the ones we engage with abroad.” In an email to the OPC, he said he hopes to learn and share more about changes in the United States “as we draw down our military engagements abroad.” Rosen is also calling for contributors and suggestions for coverage. Subscribe to the newsletter and find out more here.

Aurora Almendral, an OPC member and award winner based in Southeast Asia, wrote a piece for The New York Times published on June 24 about the climate impact of cargo ships, and efforts to use wind power to reduce their carbon footprint. She wrote that global shipping produces 2.9 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions, almost equivalent to that of South America. Almendral spoke with a trade association with 40 member companies now working on wind-propulsion, or “modern sail” technologies.

OPC member Jessica Obert wrote a piece for The New Humanitarian on July 5 about COVID-19 in Haiti, one of only a handful in the world that has not started a vaccination program. Despite a recent fourfold uptick in weekly coronavirus deaths, Obert wrote, Haiti is still awaiting its first vaccine delivery from the international COVAX program, an effort meant to provide equal access to coronavirus treatment worldwide. She contrasted that with the Dominican Republic, the other half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, where vaccines have reached nearly 35 percent of the population.

Megha Rajagopalan of Buzzfeed News, one of the winners of this year’s Kim Wall Award, was a guest on the Longform Podcast on June 30 to discuss her coverage of Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang, China. That reporting, carried out with colleagues Alison Killing and Christo Buschek with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, won the Kim Wall Award as well as a Pulitzer Prize. Rajagopalan details the reporting process during the interview, which involved the use of satellite images and 3D imagery to uncover a massive industrialized internment system.


An article for the Columbia Journalism Review by OPC member Kristen Chick on July 6 details a pattern of complaints against New York Times international picture editor David Furst before his departure from the paper in April. Chick’s piece references a 2018 human resources probe into employee complaints, among other incidents, and spoke with photojournalists who described unusually hostile and capricious behavior, particularly toward freelancers. Furst served as governor of the OPC from 2017 to 2019.