May 23, 2024

People Column


Neirin Gray Desai, the 2022 Nathan S. Bienstock Scholarship winner, is now a contributor with Rest of World. A recent story covered how children in the Philippines were earning hundreds of dollars via cryptocurrency and NFTs from an online video game called Minecraft, until new rules from the game company prohibited the use of NFTs “and sent the community into a tailspin.”

Olivia George, the 2022 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner, is now a reporter covering transportation and tourism for the Tampa Bay Times. Her bylines include many breaking news stories and features such as an Oct. 5 piece about hurricane Ian’s effect on business and owners treading a careful line in their messaging, “letting visitors know the region is unscathed with open arms, while being mindful that vast swaths of the state are reeling from destruction.”

After a virtual OPC Foundation Fellowship in 2021 with the Reuters bureau in Sao Paulo, Jimin Kang, the 2021 Rick Davis-Deb Amos Scholarship winner, met with her colleagues in person this summer when she spent the month of August working with Reuters in the Brazilian capital. Her first story, “Black Brazilians in remote ‘quilombo’ hamlets stand up to be counted,” covered a change in the country’s census that for the first time included communities founded by people who fled slavery.

Rajiv Golla, the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner in 2017, has launched a new podcast, titled “Running Smoke.” Produced by Campside Media, Running Smoke is true-crime story about “fast cars, organized crime and a NASCAR driver fighting for the future of his nation.” Golla had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the Reuters bureau in Nairobi.

Kim Chakanetsa, the 2011 Stan Swinton Scholarship winner, has written a new book titled Africana: An encyclopedia of an amazing continentA native of Zimbabwe, Chakanetsa joined the BBC in 2013 as a producer and presenter for the program Focus on Africa. She presents The Conversation on the BBC World Service. Chakanetsa had an OPC Foundation fellowship in The Associated Press bureau in Johannesburg.


OPC Vice President Azmat Khan received a Freedom of the Press Catalyst Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. A short video honoring her award included statements from many editors and colleagues lauding Khan’s reporting on the human cost of U.S. airstrikes. The speakers included Khan’s sister, Noorain Khan, who said that “one of the messages of [Azmat’s] work is that this kind of work takes time, that it can take years and years, and it’s absolutely worth it.” OPC member Lila Hassan, an investigative journalist, said on the video that “just be being exposed to the way that [Khan] works, I feel like she has raised the standard of what it means to be an investigative journalist.”

OPC member Kenneth R. Rosen received this year’s Kurt Schork Freelance Award winner for reporting on the frontlines in Ukraine to shine a light on Russian cyber warfare, in Syria to cover the control of oil resources, and across Europe to write about inhumane treatment of migrants. The judges wrote that the award honors his “courageous and balanced reporting,” in which he “not only ferreted out new facts but gave essential context and depth.”

The Texas Tribune, where OPC member Sewell Chan has served as editor-in-chief since October last year, received an Edward R Murrow Award for overall excellence in the category of large digital news organizations from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA). The Tribune also shared a national Murrow Award with ProPublica and Mountain State Spotlight for a series on carcinogenic air pollution.


Rest of World has named OPC Governor Anup Kaphle as its first editor-in-chief. Kaphle joined Rest of World as executive editor in February 2020 and helmed its launch during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the organization has published nearly a thousand stories, covering 94 countries in eight languages. The nonprofit publication focuses on “exploring the impact of technology beyond the Western bubble.” Before joining Rest of World, Kaphle spent two years in his home country of Nepal as the editor-in-chief of The Kathmandu Post.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi wrote a piece for The New York Times on Oct. 13 about the two Iranian teenagers who were killed by Iranian security forces during a crackdown on protests, and have become “the new faces of the protests that have convulsed the country for the past month, the largest and most sustained bout of civil unrest to grip Iran since 2009.” She wrote that their names have become a rallying cry against authoritarian rule under of the Islamic Republic.

OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard, for his Oct. 7 piece in USA Today, conducted interviews with protesters in Iran over an encrypted communications channel to hear directly about their demands and to understand how they have experienced the protests. The paper’s audience editor, Amy Nakamura, interviewed Hjelmgaard about his reporting. “I used long-standing contacts in the country to make introductions. I then vetted them to make sure they were genuine. After that, I communicated with them through an encrypted channel,” he said.

OPC Past President Marcus Mabry was named on Variety magazine’s “New Power of New York” list following his recent posting as senior vice president of digital editorial and programming for CNN. “It will fall to Mabry to expand CNN’s footprint at a time when the network is under pressure from its new corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, to keep growing,” an Oct. 12 piece covering the list of 53 noteworthy people said.

Daniella Zalcman, an OPC member and photojournalist based in New Orleans, discussed Indigenous rights at Northwestern Medill School of Journalism from Oct. 13 to 14. Zalcman and journalist Brandi Morin presented their work during the two-day visit. Zalcman, a Vietnamese-American, is a 2021 Catchlight fellow, a multiple grantee of the National Geographic Society and the Pulitzer Center, a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, and the founder of Women Photograph, a nonprofit working to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists. She has focused her work on the legacy of Western colonization, including the rise of homophobia in East Africa and forced assimilation education of Indigenous children in North America. Morin is a French, Cree, and Iroquois journalist from Treaty 6 in Alberta, Canada, and specializes in sharing Indigenous stories.