July 9, 2020

People Column


2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner Dake Kang was pat of a team that won a Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Award from The Associated Press, where he works, for “China Clamps Down.” The series documented the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. He shared the $10,000 prize with the other two members of his reporting team, Han Guan Ng and Yanan Wang. “The journalists were relentless in their pursuit of the truth, staying a step ahead of the competition to deliver stories and images that set AP apart on one of the major international stories of the year,” said an AP release.

2019 Reuters Fellowship winner Jonas Ekblom is one of this year’s winners of the US Foreign Press Association Scholar Awards. He posted on social media that in honor of the 2013 winner of that award, Kim Wall, he would donate a quarter of his award amount to the Kim Wall Memorial Fund. “I have so much to thank the brilliant women and women journalists I’ve worked with,” Ekblom wrote in the post, “and few things make me so sad as when I think about them having to even consider the very real risk of violence and abuse solely because they are women.”

Isabel DeBré, the Stan Swinton winner in 2018, is now based at The Associated Press bureau in Cairo. She began her AP career as an OPC Foundation fellow in the Jerusalem bureau in the fall of 2018.

Leticia Duarte, the winner of the 2019 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, visited favelas in Rio, Brazil for GroundTruth to talk with the victims of President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign of extrajudicial police killings, which have hit record a record high. The GroundTruth Fellow’s visit was featured as the first episode on the organization’s podcast, titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook. The podcast covers seven authoritarian tactics, using the actions of leaders in seven countries to illustrate one of each “play.” Duarte focuses on Bolsonaro’s use of weaponized fear. She also traveled to Virginia for the story to talk with Olavo de Carvalho, who commands an online army of trolls to intimidate political opponents.

2019 Nathan S. Bienstock Scholarship recipient Audrey Gray wrote a piece for The New Republic about the impact of climate change on fisheries in New England. Titled “Global Warming Is Already Destroying New England’s Fisheries,” the piece details how the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine, warming at almost four times the global ocean average, is becoming less viable for supporting ecosystems of large fish. A fisherman she interviewed used to be able to catch 34,000 pounds of fish from the gulf, but this year, he could only catch 2,000. “We’ve lost a whole generation that was completely discouraged from getting into the industry,” fourth-generation fisherman Al Cottone told Gray.

2018 Schweisberg Award winner Jack Brook wrote an article for the Miami Herald about unreported hate crimes in Florida. According to Brook’s reporting, law enforcement in Florida, where more than 90 percent of districts reported zero hate crimes in 2018, disproportionately lags behind other states in reporting hate crimes. By comparison, the District of Columbia reported 213 hate crimes and New Jersey reported 561, while Florida reported 141. “It’s up to local law enforcement agencies to decide whether something should be reported as a hate crime, and whether law enforcement properly documents an incident impacts how prosecutors approach the case,” Brook wrote.

OPC member Martyn Aim won first place in the Editorial/War category of the International Photo Awards for his project “Ukraine’s Forgotten War.” Between September and December of 2018, Aim traveled around conflict zones in Ukraine and documented the lives of people in fractured and heavily damaged villages.

2018 Edward R. Murrow Award winner Raney Aronson-Rath, along with her team at FRONTLINE, won two Alfred duPont-Columbia Awards for their multi-part documentaries “Documenting Hate” and “The Facebook Dilemma.” “Documenting Hate,” produced in partnership with ProPublica, investigated the rise of white supremacist groups in America. “The Facebook Dilemma” showed the social media giant’s impact on privacy and speech around the world. The award recipients will be honored at a ceremony hosted by OPC member Christiane Amanpour and Michael Barbaro on Jan. 21.


New Media Investment Group and Gannett have merged, creating the largest U.S. media company by print circulation. The merger was a mixture of cash and stock valued at around $1.1 billion. “Our mission is to connect, protect and celebrate our local communities,” said Paul Bascobert, one of the new company’s CEOs. “Great journalism really is the core of that mission. The question really becomes, what’s the sustainable and exciting business model that powers that mission?”

Roula Khalaf is the new editor of The Financial Times, taking over the position from Lionel Barber, who held it for 14 years. Khalaf, who was previously the paper’s deputy editor, has been with The Financial Times for 24 years, during which she oversaw 100 foreign correspondents and led the paper’s coverage of the Middle East. “I have full confidence that she will continue the FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism without fear and without favour,” said Tsuneo Kita, the chairman of Nikkei, the media company that owns The Financial Times. She will be the FT’s first female editor since the paper was founded in 1888.

Longtime OPC member and former Governor Seymour Topping turned 98 on Dec. 11. Topping began his career in journalism in 1948, as a foreign correspondent in China and Southeast Asia for The Associated Press. From 1977 to 1987, he served as the managing editor of The New York Times. After retiring in 2002, he became Professor Emeritus of International Journalism at Columbia University.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi co-authored “The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power In Iraq” for The New York Times. The article details 700 pages of leaked Iranian intelligence reports that expose “Tehran’s vast influence in Iraq, detailing years of painstaking work by Iranian spies to co-opt the country’s leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the Americans to switch sides and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic and religious life.” The reports were first sent to The Intercept, who verified their authenticity, translated them from Persian to English, and shared them with the Times. The anonymous source who leaked the documents said that they wanted to “let the world know what Iran is doing in my country Iraq.”

Former OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta appeared on the Dec. 5 episode of The Dr. Phil Show. The episode was based on her book “The Girls,” about the USA Gymnastics abuse scandal. She joined judge Rosemarie Aquilina, attorney Jamie White, who helped the victims secure a $500 million settlement from Michigan State University, and two survivors who Pesta interviewed in her book. “This is a courageous, courageous book,” Dr. Phil said on the show. “The Girls is probably the most thorough account of this case.”

OPC member Hasan Mahmud became the head of news and current affairs at Jagaroni TV, a new Bangladeshi satellite television channel. Previously, Mahmud served as a special correspondent for Jamuna Television, and as chief crime reporter for Diganta Television. He has covered news from South Sudan, Geneva, New York, Italy, Greece, Bahrain, France, Saudi Arab and Nepal. Mahmud served as editor of the weekly Sunday Line since 2010.

OPC past president William J. Holstein had a letter to the editor published in the Nov. 8 issue of The New York Times, in which he responded to an article about China stealing research from the National Institutes of Health. “Chinese scientists are not just stealing secrets from the National Institutes of Health and the biomedical community,” he wrote. “With active support and encouragement from China’s central government, the systematic looting of American technologies is occurring on virtually every scientific front inside the United States.”

The Coalition For Women In Journalism launched a bi-monthly newsletter in November to cover interviews, research, and issues facing women working as reporters around the world. OPC member Kiran Nazish, founding director for the coalition, wrote in an introduction to the first issue of the newsletter that advocacy groups including hers had attended a hearing in January for multiple journalists, including women, who were persecuted by the Turkish state. She said their presence caused the hearing to be surprisingly brief. “In the absence of any support or advocacy groups, these hearing typically go on for hours and comprise of unfounded accusations, often of terror links and tedious bullying,” she said. Nazish said the newsletter would celebrate “the work female reporters do across the world, keeps an eye on important events and opportunities and of course, offers an insight into our safety and advocacy related work that we do every day.

2009 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award winner and New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson was the subject of an in-depth interview with Adriana Carranca for the Columbia Journalism Review about his journalism career. In the interview, Anderson talks about his journey from his first job as a reporter for The Lima Times in Peru in 1979 to The New Yorker, which he joined in 1998. “I became a journalist because I wanted to see the world myself. I wanted to get my fingernails dirty,” he told CJR.

2018 Olivier Rebbot Award winner Nariman El-Mofty exhibited her Pulitzer Prize-winning photo project at Dupont Underground from Nov. 9 to Dec. 8, in partnership with the 2019 World Press Photo Exhibition. Her project, “Jalila: Surviving War and Famine in Yemen,” documents the lives of Hagar, a mother of eight, and her baby, Jalila. El-Mofty told the Pulitzer Center that she hopes for her work to humanize the people she photographs “rather than continuing a narrative of victimization.” v