August 9, 2022

People Column


Anna Jean Kaiser, the 2021 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, has been chosen as a 2021 Report for America corps member. She will be part of a team focusing on economic mobility in Dade County for the Miami Herald. Miami-Dade has shifted from a place where a middle income provided a comfortable life for hundreds of thousands to a metropolis beset by a housing crisis and a level of economic inequality that matches that of Colombia.

Kimon de Greef, the 2020 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, was a guest on NPR’s Morning Edition on May 4 to talk about finch singing contests and smuggling in New York. De Greef said a tradition of using songbirds for singing competitions in Guyana and neighboring countries is driving demand around the world among diaspora, fueling a secretive underground trade and competition. In New York the competitions happen at parks in Queens. He said when asked, competitors in the immigrant community told him that the singing competitions remind them of home.

Rebekah Ward, the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner in 2019, was just hired as an investigative reporter for the Times Union in Albany, NY. Ward had an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters in Mexico City.

Maddy Crowell, the 2014 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner, was named a finalist for a Livingston Award, which is administered by Wallace House and the University of Michigan and honors the best reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35 across all forms of journalism. Crowell, a freelance journalist who has worked in India in the past as well as elsewhere, was nominated for a story in VQR in which she wrote about Caravan, a small but influential magazine in India.

Corrie MacLaggan, the 2002 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, was named the new statewide managing editor for the public radio stations of The Texas Newsroom where she will lead a staff of eight journalists based at stations across Texas. She will also be the chief connector among more than 100 public radio journalists statewide. MacLaggan spent the last eight years at The Texas Tribune, the last five as managing editor. The Austin native reported and edited for Reuters, the Austin American-Statesman, the El Paso Times and publications in Mexico City.


Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, an OPC member and winner of multiple OPC awards, is among the finalists for the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ)’s award in the broadcast category for the CBC TV series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The series has been sweeping accolades with a long list mention in the Best Factual Show category for a TV Choice Magazine Award in the UK, and a nomination for a Rockie Award from the Banff World Media Festival in the History and Biography category. Jacobovici was part of teams that won three OPC awards over the years, including Edward R. Murrow awards for 2006 and 2013, and a Carl Spielvogel Award for 2004.

OPC member Joshua Irwandi garnered second place in the All About Photo’s (AAP) 2021 Mind’s Eye Competition, which comes with a $10,000 award. The award is for his photo of a body wrapped in plastic at an Indonesian hospital, part of a series titled “The Human Cost of Covid-19” that he shot in April last year. The photo also won second place in the World Press Photo of the Year in the General News, Singles category. The photo was published in National Geographic and sparked uproar on social media among those who sought to diminish the impact of the pandemic.


OPC member Miceál O’Hurley was arrested in Ireland in January and charged with harassment for documenting issues related to civic corruption. Ireland’s national police service, An Garda Siochana, said photographing purported corruption, including discrimination against immigrants, on public streets constituted a crime. At trial, O’Hurley said, the prosecution’s case collapsed when witnesses were confronted with proof of what would constitute perjured testimony. The state withdrew their case and O’Hurley was acquitted. However, an arrest record can serve as a barrier in many countries against obtaining a journalist visa. O’Hurley told the OPC that he remains concerned that Ireland would attempt to criminalize a journalist for taking photographs of public officials operating on public streets and attempt to use arrests as a tool to thwart investigative journalism. “The oppressive act of using arrests to create fear for journalists is becoming all too common, even in what were previously deemed liberal societies. I was bolstered by the support received from the OPC and my colleagues.” The Oireachtas, the Irish legislature, previously rejected legislation that would make it an offense to photograph police and other civil servants on public streets, including during protests or in the course of exercising journalistic freedoms.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz filed a story on May 6 for The City about the revelation this week that New York still has the bodies of about 750 COVID-19 victims in refrigerated trucks at Brooklyn’s 39th Street Pier, and that there is “no timetable for when those New Yorkers will be moved to Hart Island or elsewhere.” Kravitz wrote that according to medical examiner estimates, hundreds of bodies have been stored in trucks since April 2020, “fluctuating between 500 and nearly 800.” City officials discussed the situation during a City Council committee meeting on May 5. The story is part of a collaboration called “Missing Them,” between The City news site and Columbia’s Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting, to remember all New Yorkers who died from COVID-19.

OPC Governor Adriane Quinlan worked on a May 3 piece for VICE News following the shooting massacre of 8 people in a FedEx facility in Indiana on April 15 where the overwhelming majority of workers are Sikh. Reporter Angad Singh presented the report on how police handled the investigation and determined the shooting was not racially motivated despite evidence. “Really proud to have worked with my friend on this beautiful piece,” Quinlan wrote in a tweet. “It was a real break from the grind; at one point, I was just quietly listening to the colleague I usually hustle with as he talked about his life growing up.” Quinlan is supervising writer for VICE News.

OPC member and 2018 Flora Lewis best commentary award winner Trudy Rubin will appear on a Philadelphia Inquirer online event on May 21 to talk about U.S. President Joseph Biden’s foreign policy, including efforts to manage competition with China and Russia, restoring the nuclear accord with Iran, and plans to help poor nations access the COVID-19 vaccine. The panel is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 21.

Andrew Nagorski, OPC member and author, has been contributing to a podcast series titled “Message from the Holocaust” about Jan Karski, a courier from the Polish underground during World War II who tried to warn the world about the Holocaust. Nagorski discussed meeting Karski in 1998 when he and the editorial team for Newsweek were working on a list of the most important events of the previous century. Nagorski talked with Karski soon after his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, and two years before his death in 2000. “I picked him [as an interview subject] immediately because I thought he exemplified what I meant to resist the most treacherous regime of the 20th Century.” Nagorski served as Newsweek’s Warsaw bureau chief from 1990 to 1994. The series is part of a larger podcast called Untold Stories from the Secret State.

Photojournalist André Liohn, winner of the 2011 Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, is the subject of a documentary titled You Are Not A Soldier that premiered at the Hot Docs festival this week. The film by director Maria Carolina Telles follows Liohn’s struggle with grief and life as a conflict photographer, as he copes with the horrors he has witnessed and the loss of colleagues Marie Colvin, James Foley, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros who were killed during the course of their work.

OPC member Kathy Eldon returned from her tour of Kenya a little early due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Eldon served as journalist in Kenya in the 1980s. Her son Dan Eldon was killed in Somalia while working as a photojournalist. Kathy moved to London and in 1998 and along with Dan’s sister Amy started the Creative Visions Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting people “like Dan who use their creativity, through media and the arts.” As Kathy wrote in a newsletter, the recent trip to Kenya included a series of conversations among Kenya-based creators and activists to forge connections and collaborations as part of the foundation’s mission. The newsletter includes a list of some of those creators and links to their work.


The Los Angeles Times announced on May 3 after a six-month search that Kevin Merida of ESPN will serve as its next top editor. Merida, who previously worked at The Washington Post for 20 years, will take on the new role in June. He is the paper’s second executive editor since billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele B. Chan, purchased the paper in 2018. Merida succeeds OPC member Norman Pearlstine, who announced on Oct. 5 that he would resign. OPC Governor Scott Kraft, who serves as head awards judge, took over daily newsroom operations along with Kimi Yoshino during the search, and Pearlstine stayed on as senior advisor. Merida was the first Black managing editor at the Post from 2013 to 2015, and in 2020 he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists and was elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board in December.

The top U.S. hostage negotiator told The New York Times in an article published on April 27 that he believes Austin Tice, an American journalist abducted in Syria in 2012, is still alive and his release is a top priority for the administration of President Joseph Biden. Roger D. Carstens, the State Department’s hostage envoy who served in the same post under President Trump, said “I think that Austin is alive and that it is our job to bring him home to his family.” However, Andrew Tabler, who served as director for Syria on the National Security Council and then as senior adviser to the U.S. special envoy for Syria, told the Times that hopes for brokering Tice’s release were greater under the Trump administration compared to that of President Joseph Biden, because Syria had more incentive to cut a generous deal before Trump left office. Biden administration officials said they were committed to finding and freeing Tice, and the State Department said in April that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had spoken with the Tice family and assured them that the U.S. had “no higher priority” than to secure his release.


OPC member Rosalind Massow Luger, a veteran journalist and editor who was once president of the Newswomen’s Club of New York, died on May 5 at the age of 100. Massow served as women’s editor of Parade and wrote two books, Now It’s Your Turn to Travel [Macmillan, 1976], and Travel Easy: The Practical Guide for People Over 50 [Amer Assn Retired Persons, April 1985]. A photo on the Newswomen’s Club of New York website shows Massow with actress Bette Davis at a Front Page Ball. She served as president of the club in 1964 and 1965, and was one of eight women to join the Silurians when the group ended its male-only policy for the first time in 1971. She earned a Batchelor of Arts degree from Hunter College and attended Columbia and New York University. In 1959 she married Norton Lugar, who was director of medicine at the Salvation Army’s Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing. He died in August, 2007.

Carl Spielvogel, an advertising executive and newspaper columnist who was a longtime supporter of the OPC and had an award in his name, died on April 21 in New York at the age of 92. Spielvogel stepped down as executive of advertising firm Interpublic Group of Companies in 1979 and started his own agency with partner Bill Backer. Backer & Spielvogel became a Madison Avenue powerhouse with clients such as Campbell’s Soup, Paddington Corporation, Seven-Up, Philip Morris, Quaker Oats, Hyundai, Arby’s and Magnavox. He remained in advertising until his retirement in 1993, and served briefly as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia in 2000 and 2001 during the Bill Clinton administration. OPC awards of varying descriptions for best international reporting in broadcast media carried Spielvogel’s name from the early 90s to 2010.