July 14, 2020

People Column


Ben Taub, the 2014 Emanuel R. Freedman winner, has been honored by the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) with the Prince Albert II of Monaco and UNCA Global Prize for Climate Change. The award recognizes print, digital and broadcast media for coverage of climate change, biodiversity, and water issues. Taub received the gold medal at the 70th Annual UNCA Awards and Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists gala event on Dec. 5 in New York. Taub won the OPC’s 2016 Best Investigative Reporting Award for coverage of Syria.

Hiba Diewati, the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner in 2018, worked on a documentary that was just nominated for an IDA Documentary Award for Best Feature. Directed by Joshua Bennett and Talya Tibbon, Sky and Ground is an 84-minute film about a large, extended Syrian-Kurdish family as they make their way from their home in Aleppo to Berlin.

Derek Kravitz, winner of the 2014 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of IF Stone, along with three other colleagues at ProPublica, were awarded the 2018 Free Speech & Open Government Award from the First Amendment Coalition for its “Trump Town” project, which exposed how dozens of obscure Trump campaign staffers, including conspiracy theorists, had populated the government through hiring mechanisms meant for short-term political appointees. They also found at least 188 former registered lobbyists in the Trump administration, many of whom once lobbied in the same areas that are regulated by the agencies they joined.

Katherine Sullivan, the 2017 S&P Global Awardee, won a 2019 duPont-Columbia Award. Sullivan was a researcher on the ProPublica team that partnered with WYNC and the Investigative Fund to produce Trump Inc., a collaborative reporting podcast that tackled the business relations among the Trump administration, the Trump family, the Trump business and the rest of the world. Katherine was an OPC Foundation fellow with Forbes Asia in Mumbai.

As special counsel Robert Mueller gains traction in the ongoing investigation into President Trump and his inner circles, Elizabeth Barchas Prelogar, the 2006 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, is among the team of prosecutors in the spotlight. Prelogar was recruited as part of Muller’s team from the solicitor general’s office last year. A New York Times explainer on Nov. 30 covering developments called Prelogar the team’s resident Russian speaker, and said she has been “involved in pretrial litigation and witness interviews.” She shelved her admission to Harvard Law School to pursue a Fulbright scholarship in St. Petersburg, Russia, and later served as clerk for Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

2014 Jerry Flint Fellowship winner John Ismay was one of three military veterans at The New York Times who spoke on a call-in panel on Nov. 12 for subscribers as part of the paper’s observance of Veteran’s Day. Ismay served as an explosive-ordnance disposal officer in the Navy. The panel also included C.J. Chivers, an OPC award winner in 2011 and 2014, who served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps, as well as Washington bureau reporter Thomas Gibbons-Neff, who served as a Marine infantryman.

Masha Gessen
, winner of the OPC’s 2016 Best Commentary Award, recently received the fourth annual Hitchens Prize on Dec. 3 for reporting that “reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry.” In accepting the award, Gessen spoke about the importance of reporting on immigration issues, particularly on refugees seeking asylum. Gessen identified herself as an immigrant and “technically, a refugee.” She recounted her family’s immigration from Russia to the United States in 1981, an experience that made her aware of “the right to have rights.” The transcript of Gessen’s speech was printed in an article for The Atlantic. Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker, and author of multiple books.

OPC member and former Governor Abigail Pesta won two awards from Folio Magazine during their annual Eddie and Ozzie Awards. Pesta was recognized for two articles: “To Forgive a Killer,” featured in Notre Dame Magazine, and “Women Who Change the World” which was featured in five different publications. She also received an honorable mention for her article “We All Trusted Him,” published in Cosmopolitan Magazine. Earlier this year, Pesta won two Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, including Best Magazine Feature for her article in Texas Monthly, and the winning entry for Best Magazine Essay, which was told to Pesta by Reverend Sharon Risher and also featured in Notre Dame Magazine. One article she wrote highlighted the women who took down predator Larry Nassar, and Pesta is writing a book on the topic which is slated for publication next year.

PBS investigative series FRONTLINE, which has won multiple OPC awards over the years, has won the first duPont-Columbia Gold Baton given in a decade. The award is Columbia University’s highest honor for excellence in journalism. The program received the award for a range of work across multiple platforms, including broadcast documentaries, digital interactive storytelling, and an original narrative podcast. The podcast series was recognized as a “standard bearer and innovator.” In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Frontline received OPC awards for excellence in reporting.

Fred Ryan, CEO of The Washington Post, was recently honored at the Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Awards, where he dedicated his speech to slain Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. Ryan recounted in his acceptance speech how Khashoggi was “lured into a death trap,” tortured and murdered by agents of the Saudi government, including members of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s personal security team. Ryan said that Khashoggi was killed for reporting on corruption in the Saudi government, “but for Jamal, as for too many journalists, the truth he sought to expose was inconvenient – at least for leaders trying to cover up their abuses of power. And so the Saudi government decided to silence Jamal, forever,” he said.

John Moore, OPC member and award winner, recently won the Inaugural Impact Award from the Lucie Awards program. The Lucie Awards honor great achievements in photography. A senior staff photographer for Getty Images, Moor has also received a Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo award for his work. He won the 2007 Robert Capa Gold Medal Award and received a Capa citation for his work in 2015. He started working for Getty in 2005 and has been an OPC member since 2013.


Descendants of Hal Boyle visited the OPC’s office during a holiday in New York in late November to view the club’s archives. The club’s oldest award for best reporting from abroad was given in 1940 and renamed for Hal Boyle in 1978. The award is now for “best newspaper, news service or digital reporting from abroad.” Kathy Boyle Youngquist, whose grandfather was Hal’s brother, brought her two children, Hazel and Jack, with her to New York from Perry, Kansas. They were happy to see a framed photo of Hal on the wall of the OPC’s office and to receive copies of dozens of photos of him from the OPC’s files. Hal Boyle himself was a legendary war correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for his coverage of World War II for The Associated Press. Boyle was only 17 years old when he joined the AP in 1928 as a copy boy at the organization’s Kansas City bureau. In an email, Kathy said: “My teenager did a reading for a high school Forensics competition of one of Hal’s stories from [Boyle’s book] Help, Help! Another Day! My Dad is in one of the pictures in this book. The Boyle family was very close knit and we still are today.”

In June 2003, OPC member and former Governor Brian Byrd was a member of the U.S. delegation for a Saudi Arabian-American relations meeting at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. A photo Byrd sent to the Bulletin (above right) shows Jamal Khashoggi, indicated with a red arrow, among those who participated as a member of the Saudi delegation. In an email, Byrd wrote that “during those four days of discussions – which sometimes got heated – he remained a thoughtful and engaging person. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around his senseless murder and our government’s support for the mastermind. Also present: Gary Hart (yellow arrow), the former US Senator and presidential candidate, who – in response to an announcement that lunch will be on a boat on Lake Como – made a funny joke about not having particularly good luck when it comes to boats.”

Ingrid Wall, the mother of OPC member Kim Wall who was murdered in 2017 while reporting on board a submarine, wrote a book about her daughter that was published on Nov. 9. In the book, titled The Book of Kim Wall: When Words End, Ingrid said that she wrote the book because “Kim should be presented as the engaged and strong-willed women she was, as the person and journalist Kim Wall – not as the victim.” Ingrid also said that she feels “no hate” for Peter Madsen, who was convicted of killing her daughter. “I have no energy to waste on Madsen,” she told Swedish news site The Local. “It causes him no pain if I hate him. In fact it certainly makes no difference to him at all.” Ingrid Wall spent 20 years as a reporter for the newspaper Trelleborgs Allehanda.” Ingrid and Kim’s father, Joachim Wall,  lit the Candle of Concern during the OPC’s Annual Awards Dinner in April this year.

Thomson Reuters Corp. announced on Dec. 4 that the company plans to cut 3,200 jobs by 2020 as it tries “streamline the business and improve operating efficiencies.” The cuts were announced as part of a strategy overview during an investor day in Toronto. Reuters employs more than 2,000 journalists. The company did not say what part of its operations the job cuts would come from. Executives also said the company would reduce its global office footprint by 30 percent by 2020.

OPC Governor David Ariosto released a new book on Dec. 11 that draws on his experience as a photojournalist in Cuba to examine dramatic changes in the Caribbean nation over the last decade. His book, This Is Cuba: An American Journalist Under Castro’s Shadow, begins with his first posting in Havana for CNN at the start of a 2-year assignment for the network. He follows the waning days of Fidel Castro’s regime and the uncertainty and crisis that now brews in the power vacuum. Ariosto’s book was named as one of “10 Books to Read – and gift – in December” in a Washington Post year-end article in the Books section.

OPC Governor Christopher Dickey, who serves as foreign editor for The Daily Beast in Paris, covered the violent “yellow vest” protests in Paris on Dec. 8 and reported in an email that “my OPC press pass got me through 9 out 10 police barricades.” He wrote in an article that police drove protesters into his own neighborhood in the city, where teargas floated in the air and “cars and motor scooters burned on the street behind my place, and the street in front, and near my favorite café.” Separately, Dickey and OPC Governor John Avlon, who works for CNN, spoke together at the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival over the weekend of Nov. 10. Lynsey Addario, a former OPC award winner and photojournalist, also spoke at the event. The four-day festival is now in its second year.

A documentary by OPC member Benedetta Argentieri about three women fighting for equality in the Middle East had its world premiere at DOC NYC in early November. The film, titled I Am the Revolution, was sold out for weeks beforehand. Argentieri filmed the documentary in three countries. In Afghanistan, she trailed a politician named Selay, who traveled with armed protection to teach women about their rights. In Iraq, a woman named Yanar pushed for parliamentary reform while running shelters for abused women. Lastly, Rojda, a commander of the Syrian Democratic Army, led 60,000 troops to defeat ISIS. She helped free the city of Raqqa and its people. Argentieri has been a member of the OPC since 2016.

OPC member Andrew Nagorski recently donated original cassette tapes of his interviews to The Hoover Institution. The tapes have now been digitized and made available at the Hoover Archives. Nagorski spent more than three decades as a foreign correspondent and editor for Newsweek. During his career, he interviewed major political and cultural figures, as well as dissidents and activists from Central and Eastern Europe. The tapes were recorded between 1976 and 2008. Nagorski said he donated the tapes to the Hoover Archives because he has found their collections useful while researching his books, and hopes his tapes will also be useful to students and historians.

OPC member Murat Bilgincan has filed a new article for the Al-Monitor site and filmed a documentary on political polarization in Turkey. The article, titled “One Vote, Three Corpses,” is a look into how a referendum in Turkey divided a village and a family. Bilgincan wrote about the Yildiz family, who were deeply invested in the election, and how their opposing views tore them apart. His documentary, titled A Report Card for Democracy is a thirty-minute look into how the family has grappled with the aftermath of the divisive election. Bilgincan has been a member of the OPC since 2016.

Longtime OPC member Robert Pledge wrote a piece in The New York Times about his friend Lu Guang, an internationally acclaimed photographer from China, who disappeared in early November while en route to Urumqi. He was reportedly seen with state security agents. Friends and family have asked the Chinese government about his fate, but have not received answers.

Two-time OPC award winner Brian Reed discussed his groundbreaking podcast S-Town at the Bard Fisher Center on Nov. 10. His presentation centered on “developing an entirely new kind of storytelling.” S-Town was downloaded over 40 million times in its first month, setting a podcasting record. Reed’s research for the podcast spanned more than three years. It began when a man named John B. McLemore asked Reed to investigate an alleged murder in his small Alabama town. In 2012, Reed was part of teams that won The Thomas Lowell Award and The Joe and Laurie Dine Award, both for investigation of a 1982 massacre in Guatemala.

OPC award winner Adam Ellick told NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross in November that a conspiracy theory about the origin of AIDS that was spread by disinformation agents in the Soviet Union in the 1980s still has traction today. Ellick, who was part of teams that won OPC awards in 2007, 2010 and 2015 for coverage of Pakistan and the Arab Spring, has launched a three-part video series on the New York Times website. The series covers fake news operations from Russia, including an episode about a rumor that AIDS virus was created by the U.S. military for use as a biological weapon, specifically against African-Americans and homosexuals. The other episodes are “The Seven Commandments Of Fake News” and “The Worldwide War On Truth.”