April 15, 2024

People Column


Viola Flowers, the 2023 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner, won a Hearst Award for investigative journalism for a story she wrote for the Riverhead News-Review in Long Island. Her winning work uncovered a high number of children who had gone missing from the residential treatment center Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch. She combed through hundreds of police reports and followed up on cases, uncovering a pattern of lax oversight and shoddy reporting on runaways. The Hearst Journalism Awards Foundation recognizes up to 20 students in a variety of categories each year. To be eligible, students’ work must be published in campus media or a professional outlet, and they must be enrolled in an accredited journalism program. Flowers completed an internship with NBC Nightly News this spring.

Rose Gilbert, the 2021 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, received two 2023 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). A multimedia producer for the WLPN daily show “This is Nashville,” Gilbert won the award for Feature Reporting for her story about Lipstick Lounge, which aired in an episode she produced about Nashville’s LGBTQ community. She also won an award for Sports Reporting for her feature about the case of the missing saber-toothed fang that inspired the Nashville Predators mascot, which aired in an episode she produced about hockey in Nashville.

Rebekah Ward, the 2019 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner, is now a reporter covering climate and environment for the Houston Chronicle. Most recently, she was an investigative reporter for the Times Union in Albany NY. She had an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters in Mexico City.

Lisa Martine Jenkins, the Stan Swinton winner in 2017, is now an editor at Post Script Media, covering climate and deep tech with a focus, at least initially, on the intersection of climate and AI. Most recently she was a Senior Energy Reporter at Morning Consult. Lisa had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Mexico City.

Paul Sonne, the Stan Swinton winner in 2008, is now a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, focusing on Russia and Ukraine. He joined the Times from The Washington Post where he spent five years as a national security reporter covering the Pentagon and Russia and Ukraine-related stories out of the paper’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Before that, he spent nearly nine years as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in London, Moscow and Washington. In 2011, he and his Journal colleagues won the OPC’s Malcolm Forbes Award for best international business reporting in newspapers for a series of articles called “Censorship, Inc,” which described how Iran, Egypt, Libya and Syria used technology from Western and Chinese companies to spy on dissidents, conduct surveillance, and track mobile phone use. He began his career with an OPC Foundation fellowship at the Associated Press bureau in Moscow.

Andy Greenberg, the Reuters Scholarship winner in 2007, won the 2023 Business Feature category from the Deadline Club for his story “The Crypto Trap: Inside the Bitcoin Bust That Took Down the Web’s Biggest Child Abuse Site in Wired magazine. A senior writer covering hacking, cybersecurity and surveillance, he is the author of the new book Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency.

Krista Mahr, the 2004 Flora Lewis Scholarship winner, has been named deputy international editor for Opinion for The New York Times. She joins the Times from Politico, where she covered public health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previously, she was a senior editor at TIME magazine’s Washington bureau and before that, she reported overseas for 14 years, including stints as TIME’s South Asia bureau chief and Reuters’ South Asia correspondent covering the war in Afghanistan, among others.


OPC Vice President Josh Fine is a member of the Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel staff named as winner of a 2023 Sports Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Hosted Edited Series. The HBO Max show has previously won two Sports Emmy Awards, in 2013 and 2014, and was nominated in 2014, 2018 and 2019 under various categories. Real Sports has also won two OPC Awards, including a 2016 Peter Jennings Award and a 2014 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award, as well as Citations for Excellence in 2017 and 2015. The show also has numerous nominations and wins in the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, PGA Awards, Peabody Awards, Image Awards and GLAAD Awards, among others.

FRONTLINE, the PBS program helmed by editor-in-chief and executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath, who also serves as OPC Governor, has won the 2023 Beacon Award. The award is public television’s top honor, recognizing “individuals whose work inspires Americans and enriches our nation, in keeping with the mission of PBS.” In a release, Aronson-Rath referenced the name of the award, saying that “our beacon is journalism that lives up to our highest values and ambitions; that illuminates complex issues through history, context and accountability; and that takes the time to tell the story right.”

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma named two OPC members among its list of 2023 Ochberg fellows. Sewell Chan, the editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, and Marcus Yam, foreign correspondent and staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times and winner of this year’s Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, will take part in the week-long fellowship that gives outstanding senior and mid-career journalists an opportunity to explore dimensions of psychological trauma, “to discuss ethical and craft challenges raised by their work; and to forge relationships with colleagues from around the world who share their interests and commitment.”

Several of this year’s OPC Award winners were among the Pulitzer Prize recipients announced on May 8. An Associated Press team that won the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award this year also received a Pulitzer Prize in the Public Service category for reporting on the war in Ukraine. Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka, Vasilisa Stepanenko and Lori Hinnant were named among other AP staff in both awards. Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize in the category of Explanatory Reporting for the work on illegally raised beef in the Amazon rainforest that also won the OPC’s Robert Spiers Benjamin Award this year.

Staff of The New York Times were named as winners of the Pulitzer Prizes’ International Reporting category for work in Bucha, Ukraine that also garnered the OPC’s Joe and Laurie Dine Award for human rights reporting. In a Times celebration of the awards, speakers mentioned OPC members Daniel Berehulak, winner of multiple OPC Awards, and Valerie Hopkins, an OPC member and the OPC Foundation’s 2013 winner of the Jerry Flint Internship for international Business, for their work on the ground in Bucha, Ukraine.

Yaroslav Trofimov and James Marson of The Wall Street Journal, who won a Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s Hal Boyle category this year, were also finalists in the Pulitzer Awards’ International Reporting category, for their reporting in Ukraine.


OPC Governor Deborah Amos, one of three of NPR’s longest-serving foreign reporters who left the network in recent weeks, spoke to Poynter on May 15 along with former colleagues Julie McCarthy and Sylvia Poggioli. Among the changes Amos said she saw during her 35-year career at NPR, she mentioned that when she started covering the Middle East in the early 80s, every side of a conflict would usually want to talk to journalists, and saw coverage of their perspective as helpful, but “as time went on, that was no longer true,” she said. Amos, who teaches journalism at Princeton University, said she also had to rethink her curriculum over the years, noting that when she started in 2012 her students said they got their news from The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and Al Jazeera English, but now none of her students listen to radio or read newspapers. “And it’s not that they’re not informed. They are. But the gap between the professors and them has grown in a remarkable way. And so I have to rethink how I teach journalism – because it’s changed that much,” Amos said.

A new book by Mellissa Fung, an OPC member an award-winning Canadian broadcast journalist, delves into the 2014 kidnapping of nearly 300 school-aged girls in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. HarperCollins published Between Good and Evil: The Stolen Girls of Boko Haram on April 18. Fung was taken hostage in Afghanistan in 2008 while on assignment for the CBC, an experience she recounted in her book Under an Afghan Sky. Her story, and those of three Nigerian girls, were the subject of her first feature documentary, Captive, which premiered in 2021 and has been nominated for several major awards. For Between Good and Evil, she conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with the survivors and their families. In an interview about the book for the CBC’s The Current, she said she was drawn to the story because of experiences she shares with the survivors. “In sharing our stories, learning how they’re coping with the aftermath, I learned a lot about trauma and the long trail it leaves.”

Cristian Movilă, an OPC member who is founder of the EIDOS Foundation and representative of the World Press Photo in Romania, on May 5 launched an exhibition of 120 photographs covering important events around the world including the war in Ukraine, effects of the climate crisis, and civil protests. In a release announcing the event, he said that in the face of fake news, ethical photojournalism is becoming increasingly crucial, “to render everything as raw as possible, so that we manage to transpose people in that very place and at that moment. Only in this way can we truly act and understand the problems facing this world.” The exhibit is open through May 31 in Bucharest, Timisoara and Sibiu, and will be open from June 3 to July 3 in Constanta and Oradea.

OPC member Ruchi Kumar wrote an opinion piece for The Globe and Mail on May 8 reporting that part of the Taliban’s strategy for cracking down on restrictions against women is to criminalize men’s support for the women’s rights movement. She wrote that male allies “have been threatened, jailed, and even tortured for the mere act of expressing support for their female compatriots.” Women in Afghanistan are protesting policies such as a ban on women attending schools and universities, restrictions on employment, political participation, travel, and even entry into public spaces. “It is a testimony to the strength of Afghanistan’s women that, despite the lack of allies and with mounting pressures, they still step out on the streets and lead their protests against the loss of their freedoms,” she wrote. Kumar is an Indian journalist based in Mumbai covering South Asia.

OPC member Kang-Chun Cheng has been filing stories on climate change from Kenya for The Africa Report, with reporting on water and land use conflicts in the Mount Kenya Reserve on May 12 and farmers battling a noxious weed that is killing Maasai livestock on May 18. A series of droughts starting in 2020 in the Horn of Africa has devastated agriculture and displaced thousands in search of water and land for grazing. Cheng argues that Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi mismanaged forests for political gain in the 1990s, which has worsened current crises.

Yasmine Mosimann, an OPC member and freelance multimedia journalist based in Baghdad, has reported on violence in Iraq over the last month for The Associated Press, with stories on the case of an Iraqi police officer convicted and sentenced to death in early May for the killing of a security analyst and critic of powerful militias. On May 16, Mosimann filed a story about an alleged Turkish drone strike that targeted a Yazidi militant group in Iraq’s Sinjar region of Ninewa Province.


United Press International (UPI) veteran and former OPC member Patrick Killen died in Dallas on May 3 after a brief hospitalization at the age of 92. Killen’s first book, Asia Earnie, about the swashbuckling Occupation-era United Press Tokyo bureau chief Earnest Hoberecht, was published in January 2022. One of Killen’s most recent public appearances had been in April in Las Vegas at a reunion of the Alley Cats, the softball team of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, of which he’d been a stalwart. After attending Colorado College and UCLA and a stint with the U.S. Navy, Killen joined the then United Press in 1956 before its merger with International News Service, which created UPI in 1958. He reported from San Francisco, Honolulu, Karachi, New Delhi, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Washington, D.C., Manila, Chicago (where he oversaw the reporting efforts of Bill Holstein in the Lansing, MI bureau) and back to Washington again. From 1987 to 2004, Killen worked in Japan for the Daily Yomiuri, the Weekly Nikkei and the Kikkoman Corp., a maker of soy sauce. He moved to Dallas in 2005 with wife Miyoko. They had a daughter, Kimberly.

Claudia Rosett, a longtime Wall Street Journal journalist and past OPC member and awards judge who received a Citation for Excellence from the OPC for coverage of Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989, died on May 27 at the age of 67. Rosett’s career spanned four decades, including 20 years with the Journal. Her work included notable investigations into the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq, a stint as Moscow bureau chief covering Russia’s war against the Chechens, and serving on the Journal’s editorial board. She previously worked for The New York Times, Forbes and the New York Sun. Her 1989 citation in the Bob Considine category honored her “incisive and uncompromising” reporting on events in China.