June 7, 2023

People Column


Arno Pedram, the Flora Lewis/Jacqueline Albert-Simon Scholarship winner for 2021, is in Paris working as lead producer for France 24’s English global news channel and reporting on justice and race for The Associated Press. Recent work includes an April 21 story about tensions over race and religion in France’s presidential race, in which he wrote that “from attacks on ‘wokeism’ to crackdowns on mosques, France’s presidential campaign has been especially challenging for voters of immigrant heritage and religious minorities, as discourse painting them as ‘the other’ has gained ground across a swath of French society.”

Brett Simpson, the Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner in 2021, is one of only five journalists to receive a 2022-23 Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Grant to Germany. Her project proposal, published by National Geographic, “The Great Energiewende: Community-level impacts of Germany’s energy transition,” drew on many of the clean energy conundrums and contradictions that she saw in her reporting in Norway.

Maddy Crowell, the Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner in 2014, and Olivia Carville, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2018, are among the finalists for the Livingston Award, honoring the best reporting and storytelling by young journalists. Crowell was nominated for “Invisible Kid” in Atavist Magazine while Carville was nominated for “AirbNb” in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Simon Akam, the Emmanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2009, won the Templer Best First Book Prize for The Changing of the Guard: The British Army since 9/11. The organization recognizes achievements that make a significant contribution to the history of the British Army. Akam had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Istanbul.


The Pulitzer Prizes honored several OPC members and award winners in this year’s announcement on May 9. The New York Times won in the Pulitzer’s International Reporting category for the airstrike series shepherded by OPC Governor Azmat Khan. That project also won the OPC’s Roy Rowan Award this year. “This project was born out of the belief that every American deserves to be informed about the wars waged in their names,” Khan tweeted about the announcement. On Facebook, she thanked many contributors including Lila Hassan, a former student from Khan’s conflict reporting course at Columbia who is an OPC member and a recipient of an OPC grant to help freelancers weather hardships of the pandemic. She said Hassan and Leila Barghouty, another recipient of an OPC COVID-19 grant, helped to digitize and analyze key documents for the project. The Times’ airstrike reporting was nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer’s Public Service category before judges moved it to International Reporting.

In the Feature Photography category, a group of Reuters photojournalists for images of the COVID-19 toll in India. The group included Danish Siddiqui, who was killed in Afghanistan in July last year while covering clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban. The OPC honored him during the candle lighting ceremony at the October 2021 Awards Dinner.

OPC member Anand Gopal was a Pulitzer finalist in the Feature Writing category. Gopal won the Ed Cunningham Award this year for the fourth time for his story in The New Yorker about the effects of war on women’s rights in Afghanistan.

An anonymous freelance photographer for The New York Times was a finalist in the Pulitzer’s Breaking News Photography category for work focused on the coup in Myanmar. A Citation for Excellence in this year’s Robert Capa Gold Medal category also went to an anonymous photojournalist for work in The New York Times. Separately, an anonymous photojournalist won the Capa award this year for reporting on Myanmar for Getty Images.

The Pulitzer judges awarded a Special Citation to journalists in Ukraine “for their courage, endurance, and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia.” The OPC also honored Ukrainian journalists at last month’s candle lighting ceremony at the Annual Awards Dinner.

Winners of the OPC’s Lowell Thomas Award from National Public Radio (NPR) who were honored last month also won a Gracie Award for their reporting on India. Lauren Frayer, Sushmita Pathak and Nishant Dahiya got a Gracie in the category of Crisis Coverage/Breaking News among non-syndicated, non-commercial radio nominees. The award, which also named colleagues Hannah Bloch and Marc Silver, was for the team’s coverage of India’s farmer protests in March last year. Their Lowell Thomas Award, won along with Didrik Schanche, was for a separate story about India’s COVID-19 wave in 2021. Dahiya and Schanche were also part of a team that received a Gracie in the Series category for work titled “Women in China.” The Annual Gracie Awards, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, have recognized women working in media for more than 40 years.

Jane Ferguson, a member of the PBS NewsHour team that won the Peter Jennings Award for coverage of Afghanistan last year, also won a Gracie Award for Reporter/Correspondent in the national TV category for Public Broadcast for reporting on conflict in Yemen. Ferguson and PBS NewsHour also received a Peabody Award nomination for Yemen coverage.

Recipients of an OPC Citation for Excellence this year in the David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award category from FRONTLINE PBS also garnered a Peabody Award nomination for the same report on atrocities in “Escaping Eritrea,” in the News category.

Annalise Jolley and Zahara Gomez Lucini, who won the OPC’s Madeline Dane Ross Award for their reporting in Atavist magazine about Mexican women suffering loss of missing relatives through the lens of food, were nominated for a James Beard Award in the Innovative Storytelling category. “A Feast for Lost Souls”


Longtime OPC member Kathy Gannon is retiring after 35 years of covering Afghanistan and Pakistan for The Associated Press. Gannon spoke to NPR’s All Things Considered from Islamabad on May 12. She told host Ailsa Chang that she feels grateful when reflecting on her career. “I mean, to have witnessed so much history – the invasion of the Soviet Union, the invasion of the U.S.-led coalition, the Mujahedeen,” she said. ” I believe very strongly that we as journalists and journalism is about telling the story of others. And I feel that more and more, I’d like to maybe look at journalism and where we are today in our profession. I have a book in the works, so that’s – maybe that’s the next phase.” In 2015, Gannon talked with Ellen Nimmons of the Associated Press for an OPC video memoir. She lit the candle of remembrance at the OPC Annual Awards Dinner in 2015, and received the OPC’s President’s Award in 2018.

Max Bearak, a member of the team that won the OPC’s most recent Kim Wall Award, has been named as one of two Washington Post journalists who will lead the paper’s new bureau in Kyiv. Bearak will serve as chief correspondent, with colleague Isabelle Khurshudyan taking on the role of bureau chief. In the announcement, OPC Vice President and Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl said the move would “allow us to maintain our intensive on-the-ground reporting and ensure that we continue to deliver the distinctive and authoritative journalism that readers around the world count on us for.” Bearak shared the Kim Wall Award with colleagues Dylan Moriarty and Júlia Ledur for their multimedia piece on rapidly expanding megacities in Africa.

OPC Treasurer Deborah Amos of National Public Radio was featured on a May 12 episode of the Selected Wisdom podcast, hosted by Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. She discussed her career as foreign correspondent covering the Middle East and changes in the journalism industry over the years. Amos told Watts that the start of her career in the early 90s was a turning point for women in the industry, especially in the Middle East, when more women correspondents covered the First Gulf War. She that had ripple effects in Saudi Arabia, she said, as Saudi women saw female journalist and soldiers from the U.S.

Mathew Chance, part of the CNN team that won the most recent David Kaplan Award, was interviewed in Esquire magazine on May 2 about his experience returning to Moscow for the first time since December. Chance shared his Kaplan Award win with colleagues Zahra Ullah and Jeffrey Kehl for their coverage of migrant issues in Belarus.

Isobel Yeung, a member of the VICE News team that received the Edward R. Murrow Award this year for reporting on the toll of conflict on children in Yemen, spoke to Vogue magazine late last month about her experience covering the war in Ukraine. The article profiled a group of several women journalists whose work Vogue’s Michelle Ruiz described as “in-depth, empathetic, almost impressionistic emphasis on civilian life—the upheavals, the sudden loss of normalcy, and the everyday ways people persist in the darkest of circumstances” has been defining coverage of the war. Among other women mentioned in the article was Clarissa Ward of CNN, winner of the 2016 David Kaplan Award for coverage of Syria.

A photographic retrospective for the work of James Nachtwey, a prominent photojournalist who won a number of OPC accolades, is currently on display at Fotografiska in New York. The exhibition is titled “Memoria.” He among the veteran war photographers who have traveled to Ukraine in recent months. Nachtwey 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. An archive copy of his acceptance speech is posted on the OPC website.


The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University announced on May 2 that it will take over the administration of the Human Rights Press Awards starting next year after this year’s event was canceled. The awards, which will celebrate a 27th anniversary next year, have been organized by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) of Hong Kong since they were launched. The South China Morning Post reported that the FCC cited “‘significant areas of uncertainty’ and the need to avoid ‘unintentionally’ breaking the law” as reasons for the decision. A global call for entries will be announced in December, with the winners revealed the following May. Hong Kong fell 68 places on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index amid a sweeping crackdown.

VICE Media, the company that owns VICE News, has hired financial advisors in preparation for a possible sale, according to a May 2 report from CNBC. The report cites unnamed sources as saying several buyers have expressed interest in acquiring the company outright, but the company could sell its assets off in pieces. News of a possible sale comes as the company looks for ways to pay back about $1 billion in debt.

Viorel Florescu, an award-winning photojournalist known for his coverage of conflict zones around the world, died on April 30 in Pennsylvania at the age of 72. He won a Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s 1994 John Faber Award category for work in Haiti as well as another citation in a 1990 photography category for his reporting in Moscow. He also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his coverage of the Union Square subway derailment in Manhattan, another in 1997 for his work on the TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island and a World Press Award for his coverage of Haiti’s 1987 elections. His work is mentioned in a 2000 Dateline article by Matthew McAllester about the rigors of reporting in the digital age, in which the Newsday correspondent recalled seeing Florescu in Kosovo with a “huge supply of communication gadgets” including a satellite phone.

Richard Wagner, a longtime correspondent for CBS News who covered the Vietnam War, among other global conflicts, died on May 10 in Virginia at the age of 85. He won the OPC’s 1987 Ben Grauer Award for best radio spot news reporting from abroad, along with colleagues Allen Pizzey, Dan Raviv and Doug Tunnell, for Persian Gulf coverage. He is also named among many CBS News contributors to a breaking news series that won the 1980 Lowell Thomas Award for coverage of the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Iran. In his 30-year career, he was based in London, Saigon, Hong Kong and Johannesburg, and covered conflicts in Northern Ireland, South Korea, Iraq, El Salvador and China, as well as the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of South Africa’s apartheid policies.