July 7, 2020

People Column


Elizabeth Miles, the Flora Lewis Fellowship winner in 2017, has a year-long editorial fellowship with Foreign Policy in Washington DC. She had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the Reuters bureau in Brussels. She later went to Bogota on a research fellowship, working for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on transitional justice issues, before freelancing full time there.

Jad Sleiman, the David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship winner in 2013, has landed a full-time job with the NPR show “The Pulse,” where he has been working as a freelance producer. The multimedia journalist covered conflict as combat correspondent for the US Marine Corps, with video work around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and more than a dozen other countries.

2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner Dake Kang has been covering the effects of China’s crackdown on Uighurs from Xinjiang Province for the Associated Press. He traveled with colleague Yanan Wang to report on Uighur children who are separated from their parents and stripped of their identities amid a massive campaign to subdue a restive region that has forced one million Muslims into indoctrination camps. Kang and Wang have filed several longform stories covering the lives and challenges of displaced Uighur children. Empty places at the table: Uighur children missing in China covers life in overrun orphanages where Chinese authorities are placing the children, and China Treats Uighur Kids as “Orphans” After Parents Are Seized, explores the effects of separation and an education system that bans any use of the Uighur language.


OPC member and former Governor Abigail Pesta will receive a Front Page Award from The Newswomen’s Club of New York during a ceremony on Nov. 8. The organization announced that Pesta will receive the Best Magazine Feature for her story “The Convert” in Texas Monthly. The story profiled a young woman who escaped jihad in Syria and went on to de-radicalize herself in Texas. The story previously won a Clarion Award for magazine feature writing from The Association of Women in Communications. Former OPC Governor Anjali Kamat will also receive a Front Page Award in the magazine category for in-depth reporting along with The Investigative Fund and The New Republic, for the piece “Political Corruption and the Art of the Deal.” The group named Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, as Journalist of the Year, and will honor Martha Teichner of CBS Sunday Morning with an award for Lifetime Achievement.

OPC award winners Arwa Damon and Nick Paton Walsh of CNN won an Emmy for the reporting that also won them The David Kaplan Award from the OPC earlier this year. Walsh and Damon, both senior international correspondents, won in the category of Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in a Newscast for their reporting in “The Fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.” Walsh had rare access to the final moments of the push against ISIS in the city of Mosul. He was also one of the first journalists allowed to enter Raqqa, the ISIS capital, after US airstrikes allowed forces into the city. The FRONTLINE PBS documentary “Mosul” won an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Cinematography, and was nominated for Outstanding Short Documentary. That piece received the OPC’s Edward R. Murrow Award this year. That team included Raney Aronson-Rath, James Jones, Olivier Sarbil, Dan Edge and Andrew Metz. Winners of this year’s Peter Jennings Award garnered several Emmy nominations. The HBO team that produced “Cries from Syria,” including Evgeny Afineevsky, Den Tolmor and Aaron I. Butler, received nominations in four categories.

Carol Williams, who has won multiple awards from the OPC, won The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Trivia Bowl along with her teammates from the Los Angeles Times. The LA chapter of the AAJA has been hosting trivia bowls for years. The Times team has won the bowl four times now. Williams is a former senior international affairs writer for the publication. Williams has won five awards from The Overseas Press Club on her reporting, including a shared 2014 Bob Considine Award for coverage of Ukraine along with Sergei Loiko. Williams served as Times bureau chief in Budapest, Vienna, Moscow, Berlin, and the Caribbean. She has reported from over 80 countries and left the Times in 2015.


OPC Secretary Paula Dwyer has started a new position at Bloomberg News. Dwyer is joining Bloomberg’s editing hub, a team of senior editors that handles daily, enterprise, and long-form stories for Bloomberg’s terminal, the web, and magazines. Dwyer’s job will also include newsroom mentoring. She was most recently an editor at Blomberg’s QuickTakes. Dwyer wrote editorials on politics, economics, and finance for Bloomberg View. She was the London Bureau Chief for Businessweek and Washington economics editor for The New York Times. She is also a co-author of the book Take on the Street: How to Fight for Your Financial Future.

Former OPC Governor – and current OPC Foundation Governor – Tim Ferguson will step down as editor of Forbes Asia and exit the company at the end of this year as the Asia publication’s staff is consolidated at its business HQ in Singapore. Ferguson has edited at Forbes for 23 years, spending the last 16 at the helm of its overseas title while based in New York.

OPC Governor John Avlon, who joined the board this September, published a piece for CNN on Oct. 10 looking at the possible political aftermath of Hurricane Michael as it bore down on the Gulf Coast. In the piece, titled The High-Risk Politics of Hurricanes, Avlon examined the possible effect of hurricane response on upcoming elections. According to the article, hurricane relief efforts in the past have had a major impact on elections they preceded. With midterms only four weeks after Hurricane Michael, he said politicians in the South who deny climate change could have their beliefs challenged by voters suffering losses from the storm.

OPC Second Vice President Christopher Dickey wrote an article for The Daily Beast in mid-October about the fight against Ebola in a war-torn region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The city of Beni has been victim to multiple attacks in the past few months. Islamist military groups killed twenty-one people in seven different attacks during August and September. After the attacks subsided, the town was hit with another lethal force – Ebola. Fifteen people were diagnosed with the disease over one week, triggering a city-wide lockdown. This is the tenth outbreak of Ebola in the DRC. Dickey wrote that despite hopes that the virus might eventually be contained, war is a disease that “defies a cure.”

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt landed another cover story for TIME magazine’s Europe edition. The Oct. 10 edition features Walt’s profile piece “Kylian Mbappé Is the Future of Soccer,” which delves into the life of the 19-year old French pro footballer who plays for Paris Saint-Germain and the France national team. Walt paints a portrait of a teenager caught in a high-powered adult world, having missed out on the trappings of a normal youth. “I did not have the moments of so-called normal people during adolescence,” he told Walt in the interview, “like going out with friends, enjoying good times.”

OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard, a foreign correspondent for USA Today, reported extensively on strained relations between the US and Iran this summer, gaining rare access to the country and filing videos, photos and a total of nearly 14,000 words. Hjelmgaard said this reporting marks the first time a USA Today journalist has been to Iran in nearly 15 years. His coverage follows the aftermath of President Trump’s decision in August to re-impose sanctions on Iran and withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. In the multimedia series, titled “Inside Iran,” Hjelmgaard and his team explored how US sanctions affect businesses and people on the ground in Iran. He has been a member of the OPC since 2015.

OPC member Dennis Redmont, currently head of communications, media and development at the Council for the US and Italy in Rome, will feature in “3 Mulheres,” a 13-part Portuguese public TV series that premiered on Oct. 26 on the channel RTP1. The docudrama series follows the efforts of three courageous women, poetess Natália Correia, publisher Snu Abecassis, and journalist Vera Lagoa (pseudonym of Maria Armanda Falcão), to fight media censorship imposed by Premier Antonio Salazar’s regime. Actor Simão Cayatte plays Redmont, who was served as Associated Press correspondent in Lisbon from 1965 to 1967, and experienced pressure from police and authorities targeting foreign correspondents who covered opposition to the government and guerrilla activities in Portuguese colonies. The series may eventually be distributed internationally.

The Getty family has regained control of the photo agency six years after The Carlyle Group acquired it by buying a major stake in the company. The family’s newfound control of Getty ends ten years of private equity control that contributed to the US photo agency’s growing debt. The deal leaves Getty’s value at about $3 billion, including debt. The company was valued at $3.3 billion when acquired by the Carlyle group six years ago. The Getty family had kept a minority stake in the company, but now Mark Getty has been named Chairman. Craig Peters has been made the new CEO.

Newsweek magazine is entangled in a multi-million dollar fraud and money laundering conspiracy, according to an indictment brought against the company that was unsealed on Oct. 10. Two publishers, IBT Media and Christian Media Corporation, were charged with trying to defraud lenders by pretending they were borrowing money for about $10 million in computing services. IBT Media owned the magazine, while Christian Media Corporation is an online publisher in based in Washington, DC. Newsweek announced in September that the magazine has become an independent company.

Ben Sherwood is stepping down from his position as president of the Disney/ABC Television Group. Sherwood has served as Disney’s president and co-chair of the Media Networks division. He was rumored to be considering leaving his post for the last two months, with Fox’s Peter Rice taking over his duties. Sherwood and ABC have been longtime supporters and sponsors of the OPC. Sherwood sponsored the David Kaplan Award for many years, and this spring extended his sponsorship of the award for the next ten years in the name of ABC News.