July 9, 2020

People Column


Diksha Madhok, the OPC Foundation’s 2011 Theo Wilson winner, has returned to Quartz, this time as editor and director of the Quartz India platform. Previously she served as digital editor at ThePrint from 2017 to 2019, a stint at Quartz as India editor and ideas editor from 2014 to 2017, and before that was a reporter for Reuters in New Delhi starting in 2011.

Leticia Duarte, the winner of the 2019 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, has been named one of two GroundTruth Global Fellows for Democracy Undone, a new reporting initiative covering the rise of authoritarianism around the globe. Her project will focus on the connection between the rise of populism in Brazil and the U.S. Duarte’s OPC fellowship is with GroundTruth.

Maria Repnikova, 2009 Alexander Kendrick Scholarship winner, has won a book of the year award from the International Journal of Press and Politics at the International Communication Association for her book Media Politics in China. Repnikova had an OPC Foundation fellowship at Reuters in Beijing.

OPC past president David A. Andelman won the Deadline Club Award in Opinion Writing category for his Reuters work entitled “The World Through the Prism of Donald Trump.” This marks the second year in a row Andelman was winner in the opinion category. Last year, he won the Opinion Writing award for his work with CNN. The Deadline Club Awards were presented during a dinner on June 14. Finalists for that category this year included Jesmyn Ward of TIME for “My True South,” and Steve Dunlop of The Journal News/lohud.com for “Tappan Zee Bridge Name Change.” In the Deadline Club Award’s Digital Innovation category, winners were Maurice Tamman, Matthew Green, Mari Saito, Sarah Slobin and Maryanne Murray of Reuters for “Ocean Shock,” a story about the impact of biofuels in Southeast Asia that also won the OPC’s Citation for Excellence in the Whitman Bassow category this year.

OPC member and OPC Foundation scholar Dake Kang has racked up several accolades along with the Associated Press team that produced the series “China Clamps Down” on the religious crackdown in China. The series won the Osborn Elliot Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia; the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award for foreign correspondence; the Society for Advancing Business Writers and Editors Best in Business Award, in the International Reporting category; and the Wilbur Award for best national print publication reporting on religion. The series also received an OPC Citation for Excellence in the Joe and Laurie Dine category this year, and was a finalist for a Deadline Club Award for beat reporting as well as an ASNE-APME O’Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism. The AP team risked detention to document how China’s Communist Party is bearing down on the country’s far-Western Xinjiang region, suppressing religious freedom and minority rights. Kang won the OPC Foundation’s 2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship that sent him to the Beijing bureau. He has reported extensively in Xinjiang, including a May 7 story co-bylined with OPC member Kathy Gannon, who is senior correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan for the AP, about Pakistani Christian girls being trafficked to China as brides for Chinese men.

OPC Olivier Rebbot Award winner Nariman El-Mofty was named with colleagues as winner of the Michael Kelly Award by Atlantic Media. El-Mofty, along with investigative journalist Maggie Michael and Yemeni video journalist Maad al-Zikry, won a Citation for Excellence this year in the Hal Boyle category for reporting on Yemen for The Associated Press. Judges for the Michael Kelly Award said the team untangled complexities of the war in Yemen that are very difficult for outsiders to follow, confronting threats from several fronts and filing stories “that consistently broke new ground, brought the nature of the conflict vividly alive, and exposed the ruthless cynicism of those perpetuating the conflict.” The team’s work also garnered this year’s Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. El-Mofty and Michael are the first Egyptians to win the Michael Kelly Award.

The team of Myanmar journalists that received this year’s OPC’s Bob Considine Award, Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo and colleagues, has won a Human Rights Press Award in the investigative feature writing category for “Myanmar Burning.” Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December 2017 and convicted on trumped-up charges of disclosing state secrets but were pardoned and released on May 7 amid international pressure. On World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the two journalists were honored with the 2019 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize. The team also won a Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting on April 15. The Human Rights Press Awards are a nonprofit organization based in Hong Kong recognizing rights-related reporting from around Asia, organized by The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong.


HBO announced on June 10 that the network has canceled VICE News Tonight, ending a seven-year partnership with VICE Media. The 30-minute nightly news program premiered in 2016, and quickly grew its viewership. Led by Josh Tyrangiel, the executive vice president of news at VICE Media, the show won several awards during its run, including the OPC’s 2018 David Kaplan and David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Awards, as well as five Emmy awards for various news segments. Tyrangiel told his employees that he would be leaving VICE at the end of June. VICE Media has seen significant upheaval over the past several months, starting with layoffs of 10 percent of its staff in February.

The New York Times announced on June 10 that the paper will no longer publish daily political cartoons that ran in the paper’s international edition and online. The decision came after complaints about a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that ran in April. The move means the Times has also ended its relationship with two contracted cartoonists, Heng Kim Song and Patrick Chappatte. Chappatte won the OPC’s awards for best cartoons in 2011, 2015 and 2018. The editorial page editor, James Bennett, said in a statement that he was grateful for the work of Kim Song and Chappatte, and that the decision had been in the works for more than a year. In an NPR interview with Chappatte, the cartoonist said that the Times’ decision and statement “sends a signal discarding a whole genre that is so rooted in the history and tradition of democracy.”

OPC member David Fondiller has joined Altran, a global innovation and engineering consulting firm. Fondiller will serve as the company’s new VP of communications for its North America division. In his new role, he will oversee public relations, executive and internal communication, and digital and social media. He will also lead communications at one of the division’s subsidiaries, Frog, a design and innovation firm. Fondiller has previously worked for Merill Lynch, Marakon, and Boston Consulting.

OPC member Johnathan Katz has launched a newsletter to delve into the “backstory” behind big international stories. The subscription email, currently provided for free, is called The Long Version, and aims to “provide the deep context the 24-hour news cycle tends to miss.” So far he has covered U.S. influence in Venezuela, myth-making among white supremacists, and the political legacy of Nicaraguan civil wars, among others. The Los Angeles Times on June 9 asked him to adapt one of his Long Version pieces as an op-ed for the paper. The piece, entitled “Call Immigration Detention Centers What They Really Are: Concentration Camps,” examined President Trump’s Border Patrol processing centers and other immigration lockups, in which at least seven migrant children have died in the last year while in custody. More information and a signup form for The Long Version is available at katz.substack.com.

Fifty images from OPC member Nicole Tung were featured in a photo exhibition in Hong Kong through May 26 to mark the centenary of Save The Children Hong Kong. The images focused on Iraq and Syria, many depicting the effects of conflict on children. Tung told the South China Morning Post that she had not consciously focused on children in her work, but on documenting the effects of war on civilians overall. She said only when she started curating images for the exhibition did she realized how many of her images showed kids living in a world of destruction. “There were kids working in fields or outside playing no matter what the conditions were around them. It’s like they had become used to this rhythm of war – it had become part of their life. And what’s even more frightening is they can name every type of weapon,” she said.

Two years after OPC Governor Azmat Khan and member Anand Gopal first filed their 2017 article “The Uncounted,” the investigative piece continues to serve as inspiration and a door-opener in the search for accuracy in underreported civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes around the world. A May 15 piece in the Columbia Journalism Review called their reporting for The New York Times Magazine, which won the OPC’s 2017 Ed Cunningham Award, “an often-cited standard bearer of civilian casualty investigations.” The CJR article details reporting in 2018 by American freelancer Amanda Sperber on the Pentagon’s decade-long operations against al-Shabab in Somalia. Like Khan and Gopal, she uncovered denials and discrepancies in U.S. casualty reports. The article outlines steps Khan and Gopal took in reporting “The Uncounted,” including on-the-ground tours of wreckage of nearly 150 strike locations, recording of GPS coordinates, photos and 3D-mapping using a commercial drone that was cross-checked against satellite imagery, local news reports, and government records.

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt interviewed former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis for a May 23 article in Fortune magazine. Varoufakis ran as an E.U. parliamentary candidate in May elections under a new political party called DiEM25, an abbreviation for “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025.”  The group is one of the few international parties, having run in a total of 11 countries. Walt write that the party aims to solve problems of stagnation, inequality and high unemployment by “stopping Europe’s major corporations from sitting on mountains of cash, and by having central banks boost investment with higher interest rates.” Varoufakis said in the interview that a growing income gap, which many see as the root cause for Europe’s populism, “is the greatest gift to the fascists. I don’t call them populists. I call them fascists, just so we know what we’re talking about.”

OPC Governor Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, penned an op-ed for The Washington Post for the May 15 edition calling for FIFA to reconsider naming Saudi Arabia as co-host of the 2022 World Cup. Worden outlined the country’s poor human rights record, including unlawful attacks in the brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen, restricting life-saving aid, beheading 37 Saudi nationals in April, criminalizing same-sex relations, and an egregious record on press freedom. Qatar had been slated as likely candidate to host the games, which sparked international outcry over human rights abuses. Qatar lacks the infrastructure for a recent expansion of the tournament from 32 teams to 48, so would likely need to share hosting with Saudi Arabia. Worden argues that groups had worked for years to improve conditions in Qatar, including better safety for migrant workers building stadiums, but that those efforts could not be repeated in Saudi Arabia where human rights activists are routinely jailed or silenced. She wrote that FIFA’s consideration of Saudi Arabia “stands in stark contrast to the organization’s claims that human rights are a key part of its values and the rules of the game.”


Tony Horowitz, winner of the 1990 Hal Boyle Award, died on May 27 at the age of 60. According to his publisher, Horowitz suffered cardiac arrest while in Washington, DC on tour for his newest book Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide, which was released just two weeks before his death. He won the Hal Boyle award for his coverage of the Gulf War for The Wall Street Journal along with his wife, Geraldine Brooks. Horowitz grew up in DC, and graduated from Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He spend a decade overseas as newspaper reporter, mainly covering wars and conflict in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans for The Wall Street Journal.

Bill Seamans, longtime OPC member and award winner, died on April 21 at the age of 93. Seamans was a decorated World War II veteran who earned two Bronze stars and a Purple Heart for his service in the U.S. Army. He later attended Brown University on the GI Bill and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He earned an Emmy for his work with CBS. He joined ABC News as a correspondent and served for 29 years, including five years as bureau chief in London, and 22 years as bureau chief in Tel Aviv. He covered the Gulf War and won an Emmy for the news special Nightline: In the Holy Land. In 1975, he won the OPC award for best interpretation of foreign affairs-television. He was an OPC member from 1977 to 2009.