April 13, 2021

People Column


Krithika Varagur, OPC member and Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner in 2019, is launching a new column on the Life and Arts desk at The Wall Street Journal called “At Work,” about the modern workplace. Varagur had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in New Delhi.

Juan Arredondo, the 2020 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory I.F. Stone, has been named a Buffett Foundation Visiting Professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

Eva Dou, the winner of the 2012 S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, filed a piece for The Washington Post from Seoul on Oct. 29 about Chinese citizens who received an early dose of a coronavirus vaccine because their overseas plans put them in a higher risk group. China has rolled out vaccines before they are fully tested as safe and effective, Dou wrote, a move that could backfire if harmful side effects emerge. Zhejiang province officially opened access to vaccines to high risk groups in October, and others across the country have been given early access in some cases deemed to be urgent. Health officials have announced plans to officially expand vaccinations to high-risk groups across China in December.


OPC member Brent Stirton won two 2020 Siena International Photography Awards for Best Author and Storyboard categories. Both awards recognized his series “Pangolins in Crisis,” which focuses on the plight of the world’s most illegally trafficked mammals. The photos are available to view on his personal website here.


OPC member Anita Snow was among those covering election aftermath over the last week, with reporting from Phoenix for The Associated Press on Nov. 7 with Trump supporters protesting election results in the narrow-margin state, with a crowd of more than 1,000 Republican Party figures calling into question whether voting machines had any discrepancies. The piece included coverage from reporters in several other states including New York, Michigan and North Dakota.

Meanwhile, OPC member Tracy Wilkinson covered election aftermath on Nov. 10 from DC for the Los Angeles Times, with quotes from Joseph Biden saying he would not be hamstrung by President Trump’s attempts to undermine the transition of power, and calling Trump’s victory claims “an embarrassment.”

OPC member and Foreign Press Association President Ian Williams wrote a tribute on Nov. 3 to Irish and British journalist Robert Fisk, who died on Oct. 30 at the age of 74. Williams wrote that Fisk, who covered sectarian battles of Northern Ireland as well as conflicts in the Middle East from Beirut over many years, “brought a sense of history that Western media pundits on drop-in visit tend to lack, the cable and internet sock-puppets pontificating from faraway studios. Not least of his assets was that he lived in the region and spoke Arabic – and did so directly to ordinary people.”

Peter Spiegel, OPC Governor and U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times, reported on early morning results for the paper’s podcast news briefing, telling host Marc Filippino in the morning on Nov. 4 that results were still pending for the so-called Big Blue Wall states of the Midwest, consisting on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. He said because of the strange COVID-19 conditions this year, “we knew that these states were going to take longer than others to count, because they didn’t have provisions in state law that allowed them to start counting ahead of time.” He said despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows ballots arriving by mail in Pennsylvania to be counted up to three days after the election, President Trump “is livid, and claiming that this is a violation of election law, that ballots have to be received on [election] day,” and that Trump could challenge the result in court if the state’s vote tallies are within a tight margin.

An award-winning documentary directed by OPC member Hasan Oswald was released digitally across several platforms on Nov. 3. The film, titled Higher Love, focuses on a family battling the effects of drug addiction amid an opioid epidemic in Camden, New Jersey. In an email to the OPC, Oswald said he launched the project with no budget, “sold my blood, borrowed gear, taught myself editing and cinematography and then simply headed out to film.” The film has garnered several awards, including the Grand Jury Award for best documentary feature at the Slamdance Film Festival, the Spirit Award and Best New Director award at the Brooklyn Film Festival, among several others. Gravitas Ventures released the film on platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play and Fandango Now. Watch a trailer for the film here. Oswald recently worked in Iraq while shooting his second film, titled The Missing, about investigators’ search for justice and families trying to reunite following the ISIS genocide of Yazidi in 2014.

Shakti Langlois-Ortega, a New York-based freelancer who joined the OPC in September, posted a story on Who.What.Why.org where, as an intern, she is learning investigative reporting skills from OPC Past President Allan Dodds Frank. Frank called the story “a terrific round-up of a really critical and fast-moving subject: so-called militias and the threat to voting.” The piece, titled “Guns at Polls: The Right to Vote Meets the Right to Carry,” explores the proliferation of armed right-wing militias in 2020 and law enforcement concerns about voter intimidation in open-carry states. Langlois-Ortega cited troubling statistics from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which conducted 3.9 million firearms background checks nationwide in June alone, a 70 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

OPC member Louise Boyle, the New York-based senior climate correspondent for the U.K.’s Independent, had been covering environmental issues related to the election, most recently on Nov. 4 with a story covering the official U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that coincided with Election Day. Boyle wrote that President Trump had announced his intention to withdraw in June 2017, saying it was an end to “the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.” Boyle has written several election stories in recent weeks, including the candidates’ environmental platforms, fact checking statements during the presidential debates, and contributed to real-time coverage on election night.

Madeleine Schwartz, an OPC member and reporter for The New York Review, wrote a piece on Oct. 30 entitled “Anywhere But Here” that describes a website she launched earlier this year called The Ballot, which covers elections across the globe in places other than the U.S. The site has reporting from about 40 countries, she wrote, “many of which get little to no attention” in American media. Schwartz said many reporters talked about a shared global trend with the U.S., with “people seeing their democracy leeched from them,” including people in Hong Kong, Iran, and Belarus.

OPC member Roopa Gogineni, a freelance photojournalist, photographed a series of documents and objects at the Atlanta History Center and the Georgia Archives to chronicle the centuries-long struggle for the right to vote in the state of Georgia. The images can be seen on a page of the Guardian website posted on Nov. 1. Items include copies of the 15th Amendment prohibiting denial of the right to vote on the basis of “race or color, or previous condition of servitude,” a candidate slate from the 1896 “White Democratic Primary,” a pair of “citizenship guides” from the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP, literacy tests used to suppress Black voters, and several other documents.

Several photos from OPC member Tamir Kalifa appeared in stories and slide shows covering early voting for The Washington Post. Kalifa’s images depict voters and organizers at a campus registration drive at Texas State University. An Oct. 26 piece covered states that did not loosen rules about voting by mail, and a slide show posted on Oct. 25 included images from several contributors across the country in states where races were expected to be close.

OPC member Amberin Zaman wrote on Oct. 16 for Al-Monitor about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s accusations against European leaders, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, who he said was pandering to anti-Muslim “fascists” to bolster his electoral changes ahead of presidential elections in 2022. He also said that anti-Muslim rhetoric was spreading across Europe “like the plague. Places of business, houses, places of worship and schools that belong to Muslims are attacked by racists and fascist groups almost every day.” Zaman wrote that Marc Pierini, a former E.U. ambassador to Ankara and a fellow at Carnegie Europe, sees the brinksmanship and barbs between Turkey and its Western partners as a distraction from more systemic crises such as Turkey’s mounting economic woes.


The Columbia Journalism School announced in September that it would create a Center for Global Journalism named for founders Simon and June Li, who founded the new center with a $5 million gift. In a release, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger said the initiative would “deepen and extend Columbia’s commitment to international engagement by supporting journalism students and alumni who want to report on global stories, at a time when the need for serious journalism on matters of international concern has become inseparable from society’s progress.”


OPC member and award-winning veteran correspondent Gordon F. Joseloff died on Nov. 9 at the age of 75. Joseloff covered London, Moscow, Tokyo, and other world capitals for United Press International and CBS News for more than 20 years. He founded the WestportNow news site and served as editor and publisher covering his home corner of Connecticut since March 2003. He resigned as editor but remained publisher when he was elected first selectman of Westport in November 2005, and resumed his editor duties after resigning from the political post in 2013. At CBS, Joseloff started as a writer for Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, later covering major world stories including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, the start of the Solidarity trade union movement in Poland, the Soviet shoot down of Korean Air Lines flight 007, the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, the overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and the illness and death of Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

OPC Members Covering COVID-19

OPC member Adi Ignatius co-hosted a conversation with Anthony Fauci and other national health officials at the National Cathedral on Nov. 12, including Luciana Borio, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force. According to a piece by the Religion News Service (RNS), Fauci said families considering whether to gather for Thanksgiving should assess risks including “age, underlying conditions, travel, testing and quarantining of people who wish to dine together on the holiday.” The Ignatius Forum is an annual event at the cathedral with experts on current affairs. The forum was attended virtually by more than 7,000 audience members and by about 10 staffers and Ignatius family members who were at the cathedral in person.

OPC member Valerie Hopkins, who won the OPC Foundation’s 2013 Jerry Flint Internship for International Business Reporting, is covering COVID-19 from Eastern Europe, most recently with a piece on Nov. 12 about Hungary becoming the first EU state to begin trials on Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine. She wrote that an acquisition by Budapest and entry into the EU market “would represent a symbolic win for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which has been criticized by some experts for its rapid pace of approval and limited publicly available information on its efficacy.”

OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu wrote for The New York Times on Oct. 30 about the lifting of the “no sail” order for U.S. cruise ships. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday last week lifted a ban on cruise operations and outlined how the industry could restart. The new rules require cruise companies to demonstrate strict health and safety protocols including extensive testing, quarantine measures and social distancing. Yeginsu wrote that the original ban on American cruises in March followed a finding that “cruise ships played a major role in the initial outbreak of the coronavirus. The ships were remarkably efficient at spreading the virus: On board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan in February, each case of Covid-19 was transmitted to approximately 15 other people,” compared to transmission rates in Wuhan, China of one person transmitting to about four other people.

Deutsche Welle correspondent and OPC member Chelsey Dulaney talked to Cape Talk radio in South Africa from Berlin on Oct. 30 about “lockdown light” restrictions that Germany imposed this week, which closed down bars, restaurants and theaters while keeping retail stores open. She said Germany has been reporting about 20,000 new infections per day, due in part to increased testing, with hospitals straining to meet demand for intensive care beds. Dulaney said the restrictions have sparked resistance, with “a bit of a fight between the federal states that decided these regulations and the parliamentary members who didn’t get a chance to vote for these.”