August 20, 2019

People Column


2015 H.L. Stevenson winner J.p. Lawrence is joining Stars and Stripes as a downrange reporter covering Afghanistan. Most recently, he was a reporter for The San Antonio Express-News focusing on defense, the trauma of war and veteran stories. Lawrence previously worked at The Albany Times Union covering the crime beat and received an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Uganda.

Congratulations to Michael E. Miller, 2009 Swinton winner, and his colleagues at The Washington Post for winning the 2017 Feddie Award from the National Press Foundation for their reporting on MS-13. The award recognizes outstanding reporting on the impact of federal laws and regulations on local communities. The Post’s story documented the lapses in the federal program that tracks young immigrants detained at the border. The reporting also revealed the complexity of immigration issues, illustrating how some youth arrive with gang ties, while others who are trying to escape poverty and violence find themselves vulnerable to gang recruitment. Miller had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the AP bureau in Mexico City.

OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta won two Front Page Awards this month, garnering the essay writing category along with Sandy Phillips for a Mother Jones piece on Sandy’s battle with a gun dealer who sold 4,000 rounds of ammunition to the man who killed her daughter in the “Batman” shooting in Colorado. Pesta also won in the feature writing category along with Carrie Arnold for a series on sexual assault in Women’s Health magazine. Her story was about doctors who sexually abuse their patients. Pesta and Arnold also won a Folio: Eddie Award for the same series.

Robert Capa Gold Medal awardees Bryan Denton and Sergey Ponomarev had their photos featured in several recent international stories for The New York Times. Denton’s work told the story of Taiwan’s diminishing military might, which has continued to pale in comparison to China’s modernizing forces backed by big budgets. His shots of the massive Hai Pao, a WWII submarine, and Chiayi Air Force Base appeared in a Nov. 4 article. Denton also contributed photography to another Nov. 4 piece by East Africa reporter Jeffrey Gettleman on the global ape trade, in which his photos of bonobos were featured. Ponomarev’s work continues to appear in reports on the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis. His images have portrayed families traveling into Bangladesh as well as conditions of refugee camps in which those fleeing their homes are forced to stay and work.

An OPC award-winning photo by Chris Hondros of Getty Images was featured in a New York Times article in October about former fighter Joseph Duo’s political campaign in Liberia. Hondros won the OPC’s 2003 John Faber Award for an iconic picture of Duo as a fierce armed fighter storming a bridge. That picture is in the Times article. Hondros died from wounds in an attack in Misurata, Libya, in 2011 along with photojournalist Tim Hetherington. Hondros met with Duo a few years after the bridge photo was published, and Hondros helped to pay for Duo’s high school tuition. The article is titled “He Was the Face of Liberia’s Endless War. Now He Wants to Govern.”

Malia Politzer, the current winner of Best Digital Reporting on International Affairs, spoke in October at two events, sharing her experience and reporting advice with young and emerging journalists. During the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s annual Washington Weekend for its student fellowship winners, Politzer was featured in an Oct. 21 panel discussion on pitching global stories. She shared tips on ways for freelancers to network, form key relationships in the media industry and select the right moment to pitch their ideas. On Oct. 30, Politzer appeared at the College of William & Mary to speak about the international economic ramifications of the refugee crisis, drawing from her own experience as a migration reporter.

This year’s Thomas Nast awardee Steve Sack was featured in a Nov. 8 Washington Post article showcasing the response of cartoonists to the recent Sutherland Springs church shooting in Texas. Sack, who contributes to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, drew a cartoon depicting a Capitol Hill lawmaker responding to a group of reporters asking about gun reform with the words, “Too soon! We still haven’t finished not doing anything after the last massacre!”

This year’s Olivier Rebbot winner Daniel Berehulak had his work shown in the 2017 World Press Photo Exhibition in Bangkok in early November. Berehulak’s photo series, which earned him first place in the general news category of the World Press Photo competition, showed the ravages of Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines. His images reveal the death and incarceration brought to the country by the president’s so-called anti-drug campaign which has led to thousands of killings.

Masha Gessen, the OPC’s winner of the Best Commentary award in any medium on international news, has been recognized as a National Book Award finalist in the nonfiction category for her book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Gessen’s book, which has received widespread praise, explores how old Soviet attitudes continue in Putin’s Russia.Gessen’s work focuses heavily on Russian history and politics, and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair and other publications.


NEW YORK: The OPC is honoring member Kim Wall with an award in her name. The Kim Wall Best Digital Reporting Award is for the best story or series of stories on international affairs using creative and dynamic digital storytelling techniques. Previously it was called the Best Digital Reporting Award. Wall had worked around the globe covering issues including politics, human rights and the environment and appearing in The New York Times, Harpers, The Atlantic, TIME and many other publications. She was murdered on assignment in Denmark while after boarding a submarine to interview Peter Madsen, its engineer, who has been charged with her killing.

OPC Governor Azmat Khan and members Christiane Amanpour and Judith Matloff were featured in a short film by The Dart Center on the treatment of women in the media industry. Amid a flurry of accounts of sexual harassment and assault within newsrooms, women spoke on camera for The Dart Center on their experiences in the workplace and the field where they’ve been faced with sexist and threatening behaviors. “We just have to remind ourselves that we have a right to be really, really assertive,” Matloff said.

PBS has decided to feature longtime OPC member Christiane Amanpour to fill a blank in the schedule as Charlie Rose goes off the air. Amanpour’s eponymous show on CNN International will broadcast on PBS on an interim basis while the network sorts out the next phase for that time slot. At least eight women, all employees or those who wanted to work for him, allege that Rose sexually harassed them. Amanpour’s on-hour show features “conversations with global leaders and decision makers.” CBS This Morning is also seeking someone to replace Rose as host.

OPC member Deborah Amos was honored in October by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) at their Courage in Journalism Awards ceremony. Amos has long been covering the Middle East for NPR, working in Syria reporting on the country’s decline as well as visiting Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan throughout her career. She also survived a kidnapping during her time in Somalia. Speaking to IWMF, Amos recalled her experience starting out and learning how to stay safe while also reaching the heart of the story.

The following is a first-person account from longtime OPC member Jonathan Kapstein, who sent this dispatch to the Bulletin about his interview with Robert Mugabe shortly after he took power in Zimbabwe almost four decades ago.

Business Week headed the interview as “A Marxist who encourages private business.” It was early 1980, and I was BW’s regional bureau chief when I interviewed Robert Mugabe. He had just emerged from years of imprisonment to lead Rhodesia into independence as Zimbabwe. With the aid of Andrew Meldrum, then a freelancer and now with the AP, I had one of the few interviews he ever gave. He insisted he was trying to strike a balance of redirecting national income, redressing land ownership issues while at the same time encouraging private enterprise and the entirely white business establishment to remain in a now multi-racial society. An impressive personality, he jolted me with the opening observation that the magazine had too many ads for the size of the news hole. I decided then and there not to underestimate him, and indeed for most of the 37 years that he held Zimbabwe in an iron grip he outfoxed any opposition at the cost of oppressing the country and destroying the economy. – Jonathan Kapstein”

Andrew Lluberes sent a pointed letter to The New York Times in October taking exception to an article by reporter Rapahel Minder about the conflict over Catalonia’s independence. Lluberes, a longtime member who retired and spends much of his time in Barcelona, defended the actions of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for invoking an article of the constitution and initiating direct rule of the region from Madrid. Minder called the move “unexpectedly forceful” and said the government had “stripped the autonomy” of the Catalonian region. Lluberes called the report “inaccurate” and “biased,” and told the times that Minder “went to grave lengths to quote secessionist and opposition politicians and pundits, but none of Rajoy’s coalition partners or the many political analysts and spokesmen who said Rajoy took the actions needed to preserve Spain’s hard-won democracy and the rule of law.”

OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta’s work was featured in the November issue of the Texas Monthly for which she covered the story of one woman’s marriage to a jihadist. Tania Joya, a Muslim and a daughter of Bangladeshi parents, grew up in a suburb of London, and eventually met a Texan convert to Islam named John, whom she encountered online. As Joya became more distant from her family, she and John eventually married, relocating to Syria where John showed signs of radicalization and Joya’s concerns grew. After discovering he had joined ISIS, Joya took her four sons and escaped the marriage, as told by Pesta in her story.

Club member and former OPC Governor Daniel Sieberg is leaving his post at Google News Lab to embrace a new project, Civil, an online news-making platform which he co-founded. The site will launch in 2018 and has branded itself as a place for decentralized journalism, where writers, editors and photographers can join forces to create stories of their choosing, being paid in bitcoin-style currency called CVL tokens, which will be backed by blockchain technology. The initiative aims to create a space for media professionals and news consumers to develop and promote their reporting in an uncensored environment where accuracy and accountability are key. Civil has already received $5 million in funding from decentralized app builder ConSensys, and Sieberg says he’s excited to begin the new project.

PARIS: OPC Governor Vivienne Walt’s exclusive interview with French President Emmanuel Macron was featured on the Nov. 13 cover of TIME. In this inside look at the 39-year-old president’s plans, Macron expresses how he sees his place within French politics and the world, touching on views about climate change, foreign relations and relations with President Trump. As 100 leaders are invited to the Dec. 12 Paris climate change summit, Trump has been left off the list unless he agrees to support the Paris Agreement from which he has removed the U.S. Macron maintained during the interview that this decision would remain until Trump decides to get back on board. Only six months ago, Macron won the French election earlier this year on a platform to overhaul the country’s economy and its labor laws.


A memorial gathering was held on Dec. 7 at the American Cathedral in Paris to honor the 101st birthday of John G. Morris who died on July 28. Morris, a legendary picture editor, joined the OPC in 1954 and had a storied career spanning decades, during which he worked with photographers covering some of history’s most critical moments from WWII to the Vietnam War. Morris was famously responsible for ensuring the front-page publication of Eddie Adams’ photo of the execution of an alleged Vietcong insurgent during Morris’ work with The Times. He also pushed for front-page placement of Huynh Cong Ut’s (also known as Nick Ut) image of a Vietnamese child fleeing a Napalm attack. He was additionally responsible for editing the work of Robert Capa, who captured stills of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. Morris died at age 100 in a hospital near his Paris residence.