April 22, 2019

People Column

December 2014

By Susan Kille


Jonathan Jones, who won the 2009 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone, teamed up with T. Christian Miller and Marcela Gaviria to produce a multiplatform investigation called “Firestone and the Warlord” about the secret relationship between the American tire company Firestone and the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. A 90-minute documentary aired on Frontline and a 20,000-word multimedia report published on ProPublica will become an e-book and a series of original digital shorts.

Jacob Kushner, winner of the 2013 Nathan S. Bienstock award, and his writing partner Tom Murphy, spent a year digging into the failures of a $1.42 billion project that was supposed to end the water crisis in Tanzania. Working with The GroundTruth Project and GlobalPost and funded by the Galloway Family Foundation, they produced a four-part series published on GlobalPost in November that examines what went wrong and what those affected are doing to survive.

Rawya Rageh, who won the 2006 Dan Eldon Scholarship, has received a Dart Center 2014 Ochberg Fellowship. Thirteen senior and mid-career journalists who have specialized in covering violence, conflict and tragedy were awarded the weeklong fellowships designed to deepen understanding and reporting of traumatic events through seminars and discussions at Columbia University with colleagues and experts in trauma science and journalism practice. Rageh, a roving correspondent for Al Jazeera English, has been covering Nigeria and Kenya for the past year, including the aftermath of brutal attacks by the armed groups Boko Haram and Al Shabab, and their impact on people’s lives.

William Daniels, a French photographer who works for the London agency Panos Pictures, was awarded the fourth annual Tim Hetherington Grant. Jobard’s winning project, “Roots of Africa’s Unholy War,” was shot in the Central African Republic. The grant of 20,000 euros, or about $25,000, was established by Human Rights Watch and World Press Photo to celebrate the life of Tim Hetherington, a photojournalist and filmmaker who bled to death in Libya in 2011 after being hit by a piece of shrapnel. After hearing fast action would have kept Hetherington alive until he reached a doctor, Sebastian Junger honored his friend and colleague by establishing Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues to train journalists in life-saving techniques. Junger and Hetherington shared in the 2007 OPC David Kaplan Award for an ABC News-Nightline report from the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. Hetherington died eight days before he was to serve as co-presenter at OPC’s 2011 Awards ceremony and receive a citation for his own photography under fire in Afghanistan.

Jorge Ramos, co-anchor of the evening newscast “Noticiero Univision” on Univision, was presented Nov. 26 with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for his lifetime commitment to press freedom during the annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He was presented the award by OPC member Christiane Amanpour, dinner host and international correspondent for CNN. For work described in the October Bulletin, four journalists received International Press Freedom Awards: Aung Zaw of Burma, Siamak Ghaderi of Iran, Ferial Haffajee of South Africa and Mikhail Zygar of Russia. Nguyen Van Hai, a Vietnamese blogger who was released in October after two years in prison, received his 2013 press freedom award in person and called for the release of journalists worldwide.

The Rory Peck Awards, which honor freelance news camera operators, were presented in November in London. Pacôme Pabandji from the Central African Republic won the news award for “CAR: Descent Into Chaos.” The features award went to a group of six anonymous cameramen from North Korea, who were trained during trips to China by the Japanese journalist Jiro Ishimaru and produced a film, “North Korea: Life Inside the Secret State,” that offered a rare look into a secretive nation. British freelancer Ben Steele received the Sony Impact Award for Hunted, which explores the world of Russian vigilante gangs who, encouraged by anti-homosexual legislation, catch, humiliate and abuse gay victims. The Martin Adler Prize, which recognizes the dedication and talent of freelancers who work under challenging circumstances in their own country, was awarded to Palestinian freelance journalist, fixer and translator Khaled Abu Ghali, who has covered intense periods of conflict in Gaza, most notably in 2006, 2009, 2012, and last summer. The Rory Peck Awards, sponsored by Sony, were established in 1995 and named after freelance camera operator Rory Peck, who was killed in Moscow in 1993.

Evan Osnos, a two-time OPC award winner who spoke in September at the China Hands Reunion co-hosted by the OPC, received the non-fiction prize at the 65th National Book Awards for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Osnos reworked reporting he had done for The New Yorker’s “Letters From China” feature and added to it to trace China’s journey from poverty to a world power.

Gary J. Bass won the Arthur Ross Book Award and its $15,000 prize from the Council on Foreign Relations for the best book published in 2013 about international affairs for The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide. In the book, Bass, a professor at Princeton University, presents the first full account of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s secret support in 1971 for Pakistan as it committed atrocities in Bangladesh that led to a war between India and Pakistan with major strategic consequences for today. Calvin Sims, first vice president of the OPC and president and CEO of International House, was a judge for the award.


KABUL, Afghanistan: Rod Nordland, a longtime-OPC member who is bureau chief here for The New York Times, has landed what people in publishing call a “major deal.” He has signed with HarperCollins imprint Ecco to write a book tentatively titled The Lovers, to be published next fall about an Afghan couple that married for love despite death threats from her family and criminal charges from authorities. It is a Romeo and Juliet story. She is Tajik and Sunni Muslim; he is a Hazara and a Shiite. Nordland won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for his work in Cambodia, Vietnam and East Timor for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He won the OPC’s Ed Cunningham Award in 1999 for best magazine writing from abroad while working for Newsweek, where he was chief foreign correspondent. He joined the Times in 2009 was named Kabul bureau chief in 2013.

WASHINGTON: Andrew L. Lluberes, a member of the OPC since 1974, is setting sail following 30 years of service to the country and 50 years in the workplace. After 12 years with UPI and Reuters, in Pittsburgh and then New York, Lluberes joined the former U.S. Information Agency in 1984 as the Latin American and Caribbean news editor and spent the next 11 years covering stories throughout the hemisphere. He also served as the spokesman for the United States at the Expo ’92 world’s fair in Seville; national spokesman in Spanish for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service; public affairs field director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development; public affairs chief of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and, since 2007, as director of communications for intelligence and analysis and a senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security. He will spend the winter in Cabo San Lucas, sailing and visiting friends throughout the Caribbean, and then relocate to Barcelona in the spring to research and write a book on his family’s history.

ATLANTA: Ronda Robinson has joined the Ebola communications response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta as a writer and editor. She is the author of Beyond Politics: Inspirational People of Israel, which was published in 2011.

Matthew Winkler is being replaced as editor in chief of Bloomberg News at the beginning of 2015 by John Micklethwait, who has been editor in chief of The Economist since 2006. A Dec. 9 announcement from Bloomberg said Winkler will assume the new title of editor in chief emeritus and work on strategic initiatives with Michael R. Bloomberg, who will return to the helm of his eponymous company in 2015 after serving 12 years as mayor of New York. Winkler left The Wall Street Journal in 1990 to become founding editor of Bloomberg News, where he built a global news organization with 2,400 reporters and editors in more than 150 bureaus. Micklethwait will oversee editorial content across all Bloomberg platforms, from the news posted on its terminals to its newsletters and the articles in Bloomberg Businessweek. He has been with The Economist since 1987 and had previously served as business editor and United States editor.

An art exhibit about war reporting that includes press credentials, reporting notes, business cards and other mementos contributed by OPC members and other war-zone journalists is on display in a street-level gallery at the prow of the Flatiron building on 23rd St. in New York. Artist Cindy Kane collected mementos from 50 journalists and collaged the material to Vietnam-era steel helmets. The show is dedicated to the memory of OPC member Anthony Shadid, who sent Kane a Saddam Hussein medallion, old currency and press badges before he died in 2012 while on assignment in Syria for The New York Times. Also contributing from the OPC were Lynsey Addario, Jonathan Randal and Charles Sennott.

Jim Gaines, a member of the OPC Foundation board, is leaving Reuters where last December he was named global editor at large. Gaines, a former top executive and editor at Time Inc. who was managing editor of Time, Life and People magazines, joined Reuters in April 2011 as editor, ethics, standards and innovation based in New York. After five months he became editor, Americas, followed by three years as editor in charge, global photography. In a note to colleagues he said: “I will be leaving Reuters at the end of the year. I have a book to finish, there are interesting jobs in the offing, and, though I take no great pleasure in leaving, the time is right.”

Jeff Fager in November said he would step down as chairman of CBS News to return as full-time executive producer of “60 Minutes.” David Rhodes, the president of CBS News under Fager, will assume leadership of the division but his title will not change. Fager and Rhodes were appointed in February 2011 after Sean McManus stepped down as chairman of CBS News to focus on his role as chairman of CBS Sports. Fager’s appointment as chairman was in part seen to provide experienced leadership and to mentor Rhodes, who joined CBS from Bloomberg News. Fager’s full-time return to “60 Minutes,” where he has had a long association, was not considered a surprise.

Rita Cosby, an OPC member and an Emmy-winning TV and radio host, celebrated her 50th birthday as the guest of honor at the Wounded Warrior Gala Nov. 17 at The Hotel Edison in New York. Geraldo Rivera of Fox News was master of ceremonies at the star-studded party benefiting support services and programs for injured veterans. Cosby, a special correspondent for CBS’s Inside Edition, wrote movingly about the life of her veteran father in Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father’s Past, a bestseller published in 2010.

A group of journalists who created the Ed Kennedy Pulitzer Project is again trying to convince Pulitzer Prize administrators to posthumously bestow the prestigious award to Ed Kennedy, a former Associated Press reporter who reported the unconditional surrender of Germany a day ahead of his competition. Kennedy defied the military’s instructions to withhold the story until a public announcement was made. He was vilified by his peers and fired by AP. The campaign began after the 2012 publication of Kennedy’s book, Ed Kennedy’s War, and an apology by Tom Curley, an OPC member who was then CEO of AP, who said AP was wrong to fire Kennedy. Curley wrote the book’s introduction with John Maxwell Hamilton, an OPC member and the founding dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. The group’s nomination of Kennedy for a Pulitzer in 2013 failed but it is asking award administrators to reconsider its decision this year.

IRIN, an United Nations news agency, was about to become a victim of the humanitarian crises it writes about when it was rescued by the Jynwel Foundation, a charitable foundation backed by the family of Hong Kong billionaire Jho Low. A tight budget from increasing aid needs caused the U.N. to cut funding to IRIN as of Dec. 31. In November, the Jynwel foundation said it would put up $25 million over 15 years to save the agency, originally known as Integrated Regional Information Networks. With an audience of aid workers, academics, government staff and members of the media, IRIN serves as sort of a trade publication for the $22 billion humanitarian industry. It also has syndication deals with the Guardian and Al Jazeera.

Jon Stewart is not a journalist but as host of the popular “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, Stewart ranks as a key news source for many young Americans. With the release in November of “Rosewater,” Stewart’s first movie as a director, he is drawing his wide audience to a story about the dangers journalists face working in repressive regimes. “Rosewater” was adapted from a memoir by Maziar Bahari, a London-based journalist, about his incarceration in Iran. Bahari won OPC’s 2009 Joe and Laurie Dine award for best international reporting dealing with human rights.

A new fellowship at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University will allow international journalists to pursue a master’s degree in one of 10 reporting concentrations over a 16-month period. The deadline to apply is Jan. 4.


Michel du Cille
, a 58-year-old Washington Post photojournalist, winner of the OPC’s John Faber award in 2000 and a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, died Dec. 11 while on assignment in Liberia. Marty Baron, executive editor of The Post, said du Cille suffered a heart attack and collapsed during a hike from a village where he had been covering the Ebola crisis. Du Cille, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for photography with the Miami Herald in the 1980s, joined The Post in 1988 and shared his third Pulitzer in 2008, with Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull, for a series on the treatment of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He served as The Post’s director of photography and as an assistant managing editor before returning to be a full-time photographer, the job where he said he was most comfortable. His work covering Ebola put him in the news in October when Syracuse University withdrew an invitation for him and his wife Nikki Kahn, also an award-winning photojournalist at The Post, to review portfolios at a journalism conference. Although du Cille was symptom free after a 21-day monitoring period following a return from Liberia, university officials told him not to come because of fears about Ebola. “I am disappointed in the level of journalism at Syracuse, and I am angry that they missed a great teaching opportunity,” du Cille said at the time. “Instead they have decided to jump in with the mass hysteria.” Baron said du Cille had returned to Liberia two days before his death.

Lester Bernstein, who died Nov. 27 at his home in Lido Beach, N.Y., was a former top editor of Newsweek who also wrote for The New York Times, served as a foreign correspondent for Time magazine and while working at NBC, helped organize the first televised debate between presidential candidates. He was 94. His wife, Mimi, whom he had been married to for 65 years, died eight days earlier. Bernstein was Newsweek’s chief editor from 1979 to 1982 and also was a theater columnist for The Times; a Rome and London correspondent for Time; and a senior Newsweek editor in the 1960s and ’70s. As vice president of NBC in 1960, he worked with members of CBS, ABC and the staffs of then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon and then-Sen. John F. Kennedy to arrange the historic 1960 television debates. His three surviving children are journalists: Nina Bernstein, a reporter of The Times; Lynn Brenner, a personal finance journalist; and Paul Bernstein, a former Washington Post editor.

Richard Eder, who died at age 82 on Nov. 21 in Boston, joined The New York Times in 1954 as a copy boy, reached his goal of becoming a former foreign correspondent and then made a shift to arts critic. He won a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for his book reviews in The Los Angeles Times. His first foreign assignment for The Times was as Latin America correspondent and he interviewed Fidel Castro in Havana in 1964. During various postings in Europe, he wrote about a Greek military coup, unrest behind the Iron Curtain, strife in Northern Island and a rebellion that deposed the fascist government of Portugal. He was bureau chief in Paris from 1980 to 1982. He was a theater and film critic for The Times in the late 1970s before moving to The Los Angeles Times as book critic. In 1987 he won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Critics Circle’s citation for excellence in reviewing.