October 29, 2020

People Column


Stephen Kalin, Roy Rowan winner in 2013, has joined The Wall Street Journal as its new Middle East correspondent covering Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Recently he was with Reuters, which he joined in 2013 as a trainee. He then became Egypt correspondent and later he was made Iraq correspondent. Most recently, he was Reuters’ Saudi chief correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Stephen was a reporter at The Associated Press.

Rajiv Golla, 2017 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship winner, launched the first three episodes of a podcast on May 15 that he had been working on for the last year and a half. “The Missionary” follows the case of Renee Bach, a missionary who started a malnutrition program in rural Uganda, but is now mired in accusations that she masqueraded as a doctor and is rumored to have killed hundreds of children in her unlicensed clinic. Golla reported on the story with colleagues Halima Gikandi and Malcolm Burnley.

Kantaro Komiya, the OPC Foundation’s 2020 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, is one of 78 students chosen for internships at media organizations through the Dow Jones News Fund. Komiya will receive training for business reporting by Paul Glader, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. “Through newsroom internship experiences at Bloomberg News and other outlets in Asia, together with economics study at DePauw, I’ve been particularly interested in covering global businesses and economies that are so dynamic and interconnected,” Komiya told DePauw University, where he is a senior.

Serginho Roosblad, winner of the 2017 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, was director and director of photography for “Jonathan Calm Revisits ‘Green Book’ Locations in Search of America’s Past and Present,” for PBS affiliate KQED. The film was just nominated for an Emmy in the Historic/Cultural-Feature/Segment category of the 49th Annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards. San Francisco/ Northern California is one of the nineteen chapters awarding regional Emmy statuettes. The video told the story of photographer and Stanford professor Jonathan Calm who documented all so-called ‘Green Book’ sites in the U.S., as part of a growing archive, and exploring the myth of the road trip as a “quintessential American freedom.”

An article written by Amelia Nierenberg, the 2018 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, in The New York Times on the effect of the climate crisis on New Mexico’s Hatch chile crop will be included in Best American Food Writing 2020, edited by J. Kenji López-Alt and Silvia Killingsworth.


OPC Governor Azmat Khan was named a winner of an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. Khan, an Arizona State University Future of War Fellow with New America, will receive $200,000 to fund up to two years for research and writing. She is one of 27 winners this year, selected from a competitive pool of 322 nominations. In an interview on the ASU website, Khan said she is working on a new book for Random House, titled Precision Strike, an “investigation into the true human costs and implications of America’s ‘precision’ air wars around the world.” She said she is studying ground-level data she has collected as well as civilian casualty data I’ve obtained from the U.S. military through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.


OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard has been covering COVID-19 for USA Today, with a piece on May 19 about President Donald Trump’s threats to cut World Health Organization funding and withdraw U.S. membership. She wrote that he threatened in a letter to quit the global health body if it “does not adopt ‘major substantive improvements’ within 30 days,” and called the WHO a “puppet of China.” Hjelmgaard wrote that “little evidence has emerged to substantiate accusations from Trump administration officials that the WHO deliberately acted in concert with China to obfuscate what it knew about the outbreak.” She also wrote on May 18 about Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s blasting of the WHO during its two-day assembly, and on May 14 filed a piece along with colleague David Jackson about Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator frequently seen at White House briefings, and whether her role was diminished due to her corrections of incorrect messages from Trump about the outbreak.

OPC member Stéphanie Fillion has been covering COVID-19 news for the United Nations-focused media PassBlue, including a May 12 story about the agency’s search for a new medical director following the departure of Jillann Farmer. The person who serves in that role will decide whether the UN headquarters compound in New York City would be open or closed during the pandemic. “Despite recent infighting among some countries about whether the headquarters should remain physically closed or reopen for meetings of member states on June 1st, her departure does not seem to be political,” Fillion reported.

OPC member Anita Snow is covering the pandemic for The Associated Press from Arizona, with a piece on May 15 about the reopening of casinos in the state after gaming rooms have been closed for two months during peak outbreaks of the virus. She reported that casinos will have measures in place to reduce risk of exposure, such as lower maximum capacity, visitors “encouraged” to wear masks and being “asked whether they have any symptoms like a fever or dry cough.” She wrote that one casino was marketing its reopening with the slogan “reclaim your fun.”

OPC member Shannon Sims, economy and government editor for Latin America at Bloomberg News, has been covering political fallout in Brazil stemming from President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic. She wrote on May 7 that Bolsonaro has “made a point of being as contrarian as possible during the pandemic, refusing public-health guidance even as Brazil’s hospitals are overwhelmed and gravediggers work as fast as they can to bury the dead.” Sims recounts the president’s ongoing political crisis that has split his base, thrown his cabinet into disarray, “stalled his political agenda, exacerbated his poor relationship with Congress, and left him in a battle with the Supreme Court and under federal criminal investigation.”

OPC member Omnia Al Desoukie is covering pandemic news and other stories within the GCC from her base in Dubai, recently filing a piece for EFE about the racing efforts by the UAE based airlines to find solutions to revive traveling. The Emirati airlines were among the first to announce screening efforts for coronavirus infections. Dubai-based Emirates conducted on-site tests in April on passengers bound for Tunisia with results returned in 10 minutes. The company said it was the first in the world to do on-site medical tests to satisfy countries that require COVID-19 testing before entry. The airline Etihad of Abu Dhabi also announced it would use equipment to detect symptoms at check-in counters. Al Desoukie also wrote for EFE about the pandemic’s impact on travel and tourism sectors, with estimated losses up to $2.7 trillion and 100 million jobs.

OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu, a London-based reporter for The New York Times, is covering the pandemic’s impact on the U.K. She filed a piece on May 10 about how the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting minority communities, including the emerging hot spot of Birmingham where a study by the National Health Service found that 16 percent of coronavirus victims who died up to the week of April 17 came from ethnic minority backgrounds, and out of more than 100 health workers in the city who died from the virus, 63 percent have been identified as from those backgrounds. On May 11, Yeginsu wrote about the prospect of U.K schools reopening in June and whether parents will send their children back despite lingering risks.

OPC member Amy Mackinnon has been co-hosting Don’t Touch Your Face, a podcast about the COVID-19 pandemic produced by Foreign Policy magazine. On the most recent episode, she and co-host James Palmer talked to Nir Eyal, the director of Rutgers University’s Center for Population-Level Bioethics, and Josh Morrison, a co-founder of vaccine trial advocacy group 1 Day Sooner.


Shiho Fukada, 2018 Feature Photography Award winner, was named an honoree in the Documentary Short at this year’s Webby Awards for “Japan’s Arm Length Flats,” a short she produced for BBC Worklife with Keith Bedford. The documentary looks into the lives of Japanese young people who live in tiny apartments in Tokyo.

2018 Whitman Bassow Award winner Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica was guest on the Ring of Fire podcast to discuss how climate change is contributing to massive hikes in infectious disease.