July 7, 2020

People Column


Dake Kang, the 2016 Fritz Beebe winner, had a piece published for The Associated Press on May 17 about atrocities committed against Muslims held in detention centers in China. The article, “Thank the Party!’ China Tries to Brainwash Muslims in Camps,” covered China’s detention of possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese and foreign citizens in internment camps. In April, a US Commission called it “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.” Kang interviewed a former prisoner who had been seized while visiting his family from Kazakhstan. Kang is currently a reporter for the Associated Press in Beijing.

Adriane Quinlan, 2013 Flora Lewis winner, is now a show writer for Vice News Tonight on HBO. Before that, she worked for two years as a writer for CNN International, and started her career as a reporter with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. She also was a fellow at The New York Times, a freelancer in China, and is a graduate of Yale University.

OPC member Jesse Pesta edited a New York Times piece about the business of addiction treatment that has been named a finalist for a 2018 Gerald Loeb Award for feature writing. The piece, “Addiction, Inc.,” is deep dive into the shady and lucrative world of drug treatment amid America’s ongoing opioid crisis. In a tweet, Pesta congratulated the reporting team, Michael Corkery, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, David Segal “and a cast of brilliant designers!” Pesta is currently deputy editor in the climate and environment group at the Times. The Loeb Award winners will be announced at a banquet in New York on June 25.

Clay Bennett, this year’s Thomas Nast Award winner, was also named winner of this year’s Silver Reuben Award for editorial cartooning from the National Cartoonists Society. The Reuben Awards have been nicknamed the “Oscars of Cartooning.” In a snafu that prompts memories of the 2017 Oscars, a tabulation error caused two Reubens to be handed out to the wrong recipients at the May 26 ceremony in Philadelphia. The Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoonist joked during his acceptance remarks that “since it was already announced that I lost, it would be an understatement to say that this honor was unexpected.” Bennett also won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award this year.


Craigslist entrepreneur Craig Newmark has announced a $20 million gift to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and the school will be renamed in his honor as a result. The money will fund an endowment for the school, which comes amid a decline in state funding. Newmark gave $10,000 to the school’s election coverage initiative in 2016, and added a $1.5 million research grant in February 2017. Newmark has also donated $1 million to ProPublica, $500,000 to the Columbia Journalism Review, $1 million to research institute Data & Society, and more than $560,000 to the International Center for Journalists.

Editorial staff at The New Yorker magazine have organized a union. On June 6, staff members sent a letter to editor David Remnick, informing him that the group has formed a union and asking for the magazine and owner Condé Nast have to voluntarily recognize membership with the NewsGuild of New York. The letter outlined a lack of job security and salary disparities as two top motivating factors. According to NewsGuild, 90 percent of The New Yorker staff has signed on. The move comes as a growing number of print and digital journalists seek to unionize. On the same day, staff members at Fast Company also announced that they had formed a union with the help of The Writers Guild of America, East. In April, staff at The Chicago Tribune formed a newsroom union, the Chicago Tribune Guild, marking the first of its kind in the newspaper’s 171-year history.

Digital politics news site Politico is launching operations in Asia. Three years after expanding coverage in Europe, the website has now launched a partnership with the South China Morning Post. The SCMP is a 115-year-old English newspaper based in Hong Kong. It was acquired by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2015. Politico’s collaboration with the paper will start small, with a content-sharing partnership involving joint projects between the editorial operations of each publication. If the project goes well, the to companies plan to expand financial and editorial ties on both sides. For now, Politico is not hiring any additional staff.

Fox News and the Fox Business Network have named Suzanne Scott as the network’s first female chief executive officer. Scott will report jointly to Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman, Executive Chairman of Fox News and Co-Chairman of the proposed New Fox. Scott has served as president of programming since last May, following the departure of longtime programming chief Bill Shine. The news comes after a turbulent year for Fox News, with a sexual harassment lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson, and firing of co-founder, and CEO Roger Ailes. The network also settled a racial discrimination lawsuit from several employees in May for $10 million. Scott joined the network in 1996, helping to launch Greta Van Susteren‘s show On the Record in 2002. She was promoted to vice president of programming in 2007.

OPC member Theo Padnos wrote an open letter in Rolling Stone magazine to President Trump’s CIA nominee, Gina Haspel, about his experience in a Syrian torture prison and why she should not obey torture orders from the president. Padnos was abducted and held hostage by al-Qaeda in Syria from October 2012 to August 2014. In an interview with Slate’s Virginia Heffernan on Trumpcast, Padnos recounted his experience, saying that torture practices are “infected with the sick sexual hangups” that the torturers have. He wrote in the letter that President Trump and Haspel would set the tone for torture, and that amid allegations of sexual assault against Trump, “and because he has performed his enthusiasm for torture before cheering thousands (‘They asked me about water-boarding. I said, “I love it. I love it.”’) can anyone doubt that people tortured under his orders will assume that his perversities have infected our military?” Padnos wrote a letter for the Bulletin in March last year talking about his ordeal and giving advice to colleagues on conflict reporting, under the title “Dear Journalists Who Are Thinking About Going to the Rebel-Held Bits of Syria or Any Other Newsworthy Place We Have Bombed.” He joined the OPC in January 2017.

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times has named longtime OPC member and award sponsor Norman Pearlstine as the paper’s top editor. The announcement came on the first day billionaire biotech executive Patrick Soon-Shiong took ownership of the paper. In an interview with The New York Times, he called Pearlstine “the perfect person to guide us into this new era.” Pearlstine has led a number of major news operations in the past, including TIME, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Soon-Shiong announced plans to purchase the Times in February for $500 million. Since then, Pearlstine has been acting as his advisor and helping him select possible candidates for the editor position. As time progressed, Soon-Shiong realized Pearlstine was the right person for the job. Pearlstine sponsors the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award honoring the best newspaper, news service or digital reporting from abroad.

NEW YORK: OPC member David Rohde has taken a new post as executive director at The New Yorker. Rohde has already been serving as online news director for the publication. He previously worked as reporter, editor and columnist for Reuters and reporter for The New York Times. Rohde was also Eastern Europe correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor in the 90s. He has been an OPC member since he won the club’s President’s Award in 2015.

OPC Governor Charles Graeber’s book, The Breakthrough; Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer [Hachette/Twelve], will be released on Nov. 6. The book describes how a new generation of scientists finally cracked the code on how the human immune system can fight and defeat the disease. Charles did three years of intensive reporting on new answers to an ancient question: why doesn’t the body respond to cancer the way it does other diseases? Graeber wrote that his research revealed that “our natural defenses react to the common cold, or even a splinter, but did not appear to even notice cancer until it was too late. The answer to that question turns out to be that cancer has evolved various tricks to hide from and shut down our immune response. That new understanding has led to breakthrough therapies that defeat the tricks and unleash the disease. One of the first to be approved was what most people think of as “the Jimmy Carter drug,” the one that cleared the melanoma from the 91-year-old former President’s brain. But few people realize how different this approach is from therapies that cut out, radiate or poison the tumor, much less what we can expect in the years ahead.”

OPC member Kumiko Makihara is set to release a new book on July 17. Dear Diary Boy: An Exacting Mother, her Free-spirited Son, and Their Bittersweet Adventures in an Elite Japanese School is the story of a mother and son navigating their way through Japan’s private school system. The memoir takes place in Japan, and touches on many issues for parents who have concerns about the best parenting philosophies and frustrations about education and testing systems. Author Johnathan Alter wrote that the book “speaks volumes about motherhood, boyhood, cross-cultural adjustment and the power of conformism and parental ambition everywhere.” This is Makihara’s first book. Her work has previously appeared in the International Herald Tribune, New York Times Magazine and Newsweek. She has been an OPC member since 2016.

OPC Governor Minky Worden wrote a pointed opinion piece for The New York Times calling on FIFA to hold Russia to account in its mistreatment of gender and sexual minorities. She pointed out that the governing body of international soccer pledged to require minimum human rights standards for host countries, including zero tolerance for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Worden said FIFA so far had largely ignored Russia’s anti-gay policies that penalize LGBT advocacy and foster a climate of stigma and violence against LGBT people. “Instead of speaking out, FIFA is at best turning a blind eye to such homophobia and, at worst, rewarding it,” she wrote. She called for FIFA and sponsors to express public support for the LGBT community, and to put Qatar on notice to repeal its anti-LGBT laws before hosting the next World Cup in 2022. Worden is director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

Award-winning reporting from OPC members Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal on the undisclosed civilian casualty toll from US-led airstrikes against ISIS continues to make ripples. A recent Amnesty International report claims the US killed thousands of civilians when it tried to wrest Raqqa from ISIS in 2017. In response on June 2, the Pentagon said the US military only killed about 500 civilians in 2017 while injuring 169 more. Vox and other outlets reporting on the Amnesty International study have cited a story that Anand and Gopal wrote for the New York Times Magazine, “The Uncounted,” in November last year that found the US-led collation was killing civilians at a rate 31 times higher than the military claimed. That report won this year’s Ed Cunningham Award for best magazine reporting, among accolades from other organizations, including the National Magazine Award and the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. Khan also currently serves as a Governor of the OPC.

A photo exhibit at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York is showcasing the wartime photography of four-time OPC award-winner Larry Burrows. Burrows worked for LIFE magazine, covering conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, and is particularly known for his iconic images of the Vietnam War. Burrows died with fellow photojournalists Henri Huet, Kent Potter and Keisaburo Shimamoto, when their helicopter was shot down over Laos in 1971. Many of his photos appeared recently in the Ken Burns documentary series “Vietnam.” The exhibition, “Larry Burrows Revisited,” features more than 50 images, and will run through June 29. This marks the fifth time the gallery has held a solo exhibition of Burrows’ work since 1985. He won the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award in 1963, 1965 and 1971, and an OPC award for “Best Photographs, Magazine or Book” in 1970.

KIEV, UKRAINE: OPC member Jim Brooke has taken a new post as editor-in-chief of Ukraine Business News. Brooke previously served as editor-in-chief of the Ukraine Business Journal in 2016 and 2017, and CEO of the Kyiv Post before that. He also worked as managing editor and editor-in-chief of The Khmer Times in Cambodia for two years before moving to Ukraine in November 2015. He reported for 24 years for The New York Times, mostly overseas in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Ivory Coast and Brazil. Ukraine Business News is an English-language subscription news site based in Kiev.

WASHINGTON, DC: OPC member and former governor Steve Herman sparked headlines with a tweet about a sinkhole on the White House North Lawn near the press briefing room that was “growing larger by the day.” The tweet, accompanied by a photo of the hole in question surrounded by safety cones and police tape, stepped into the spotlight on the social media site as users quipped “drain the swamp” jokes. The New York Times published a story covering the sinkhole, with comments from geologists and the National Park Service on the real-life swamp that forms the foundation of the district. Herman is White House bureau chief for Voice of America.

Associated Press reporter and 2017 Madeline Dane Ross Award winner Susannah George has joined the agency’s Washington bureau to cover U.S. intelligence agencies and national security. George was part of the team of reporters that won the OPC’s award for best international reporting showing a concern for the human condition for their coverage of the ISIS defeat in Mosul. George has been reporting for AP since 2015, when she was hired as acting bureau chief in Baghdad. Her coverage was also part of a body of work that was named as a Pulitzer finalist this year.

PARIS: OPC member Rachel Donadio has filed several stories for The Atlantic about political developments in Europe over the last few weeks. She wrote at the end of May that the collapse of a populist coalition in Italy has set the country on a path of instability with possible ripples across the EU. After the coalition of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and right-wing League party dissolved, Donadio wrote, strengthened the countries hard-liner right and sparked a de facto referendum on the euro currency. Only one week later she wrote a piece entitled “It’s the Right Wing’s Italy Now” profiling Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party and the country’s new interior minister, who is calling for more migrant deportations. “We need to keep these desperate people in their countries of origin through an economic collaboration that blocks their departure,” he announced during a visit to a migrant arrival point off the coast of Sicily. Donadio is a Paris-based staff writer at The Atlantic, covering politics and culture across Europe, and has been an OPC member since 2016.

MOROCCO: OPC member Sudarsan Raghavan filed a story from Morocco for The Washington Post about issues facing African migrants who can no longer travel through Libya to Italy due to European efforts to stem the number of immigrants reaching Europe. He traced new alternative routes that immigrants use that wend through Morocco to reach Spain. Raghavan wrote that more than 8,200 migrants have reached Spain in the first five months of 2018, with more than 240 people dying on their way to Spain due to perilous conditions. He cited threats of violence from Moroccan security officials who divide families amid widespread allegations of sexual assault against women. Raghavan is the Post’s Cairo bureau chief and has reported from 17 African wars.

TORONTO: OPC member Scott Gilmore wrote an opinion piece that appeared in the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s. In an article entitled “The G7 Question: How do we America-proof the West?” Gilmore argues that the U.S. has turned from a keystone of the Western alliance to a “rogue member” of the G7 that other member must protect themselves against. He cites Trump’s recent maneuvers, such as starting trade wars with five G7 members, calling Canada a national security threat, and scolding French President Emmanuelle Macron over the phone, while he congratulated Putin after rigging the Russian election and celebrated China’s Xi Jinping for being declared “president for life”. Gilmore wrote that Canada should distance itself from the U.S. as Trump makes increasingly bad diplomatic decisions. Gilmore also suggests that Canada should  invest in their own armed forces and take a lead role in international crises such as the Syrian civil war. Gilmore has been an OPC member since 2015.

OPC member Simcha Jacobovici’s documentary “Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream” was featured on June 2 as part of a special matinee series titled “This Jewish American Life” at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. The 1998 film shed light the rise of several Hollywood moguls, including Louis B. Mayer, Harry Warner and Sam Goldwyn. The documentary, co-directed with Stuart Samuels, is based on Neal Gabler’s book An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.

MANILLA: OPC member Aurora Almendral has continued award-winning coverage of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drug war for The New York Times, with pieces delving into ripple effects of the crackdown and profiling law enforcement behind the operation. In the first week of June, Almendral filed a story about Ronald dela Rosa, the chief of the Philippine National Police, and a separate story about those who have been displaced by the antidrug campaign, which has claimed at least 4,000 lives, with thousands more “under investigation.” Almendral won the David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award this year for coverage of the war along with collaborator Ed Ou, who won an OPC Foundation scholarship in 2007.

HONG KONG: OPC member Suzanne Sataline filed a story for VOA News surrounding a recent directive from the Chinese government requiring Hong Kong scientists and researchers to demonstrate their “love the country and Hong Kong” in order to receive state funding. More than 20 educational groups and individuals launched a petition in protest, saying that including a patriotic test could interfere with their work. Sataline quoted Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, as saying the furor was an overreaction, and that “some commentators have read too much into this term.” The announcement comes as Hong Kong hammers out a bill under Beijing’s orders, that would require citizens in the special semi-autonomous region be required to honor China’s national anthem. Sataline has been an OPC member since 2016.


Longtime CBS News correspondent and former Associated Press reporter Murray Fromson died on June 9 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease at age 88. Fromson is known for coverage of key stories of the 20th Century, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the famine in Bangladesh. He reported from Hong Kong, Moscow, New Delhi, Tokyo and other countries during his career. He later became a journalism professor at the University of Southern California and directed its j-school from 1994 to 1999, had a particular interest in fostering international journalism. He is also known as a champion of press freedom during a time when President Richard Nixon’s administration was using subpoenas to summon reporters and pushing them to violate confidentiality with sources. He was a founding member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the press in 1970.