April 16, 2024

People Column


New America has named Yi-Ling Liu, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2017, as the organization’s ASU Future Security Fellow for 2021. Liu’s work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Economist, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She is now writing a book about people in China who are navigating the boundaries of the Chinese internet, a project this fellowship will support.

Devon Haynie, the 2008 Flora Lewis Scholarship winner, wrote a piece on Sept. 11 for U.S.News & World Report about the U.S. decline in global rankings in its annual report on quality of life. She wrote that the U.S. was one of only three countries in the world to slide backward in the Social Progress Index over the last decade, along with Brazil and Hungary. The U.S. dropped 12 spots to number 28 on the list in the index measuring quality of life in areas such as personal safety; health and wellness; environmental quality; personal freedom and choice; and inclusiveness. OPC member Nicholas Kristof also wrote about the decline in a New York Times opinion column, calling the news “a reminder that we Americans face structural problems that predate President (Donald) Trump and that festered under leaders of both parties.” Haynie earned a master’s degree at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and had an internship with The Associated Press bureau in Johannesburg.

On Sept. 21 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, OPC member Krithika Varagur, the OPC Foundation’s 2019 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, will discuss her book The Call during an online event hosted by the organization Speakeasy. Tickets are $15. Read more and register here

Marta Orosz, the 2020 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner, has joined Business Insider Germany as a business editor. She will be working as part of a global team covering taxation, wealth and the business of tech.

Neha Wadeker, the Reuters Fellowship winner in 2015, has an article in New Humanitarian on the role of women protesting police violence in Kenya. Neha had an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters in Nairobi where she stayed to continue her freelance career.

Isabel DeBré, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2018, has been reporting for The Associated Press from Dubai with articles on Sept. 1 on the impact of COVID-19 on its participation in the global financial market, and an article on Sept. 3 about international port operator DP World’s deal with one of Canada’s biggest pension-fund managers. DeBré had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Jerusalem.

Scott Squires, the 2018 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner, is reporting for Bloomberg from Buenos Aires on Argentina’s recovery after restructuring $65 billion in overseas debt, saying in a recent article that the country has officially emerged from its ninth default. Squires had a foundation fellowship with Reuters in Buenos Aires.

Two OPC Foundation scholars were named among the recipients of grants from the Berkeley FILM Foundation. JoeBill Muñoz, the 2018 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner, along with UC Berkeley journalism alum Lucas Guilkey, was awarded the $20,000 Al Bendich Award for their untitled expose on solitary confinement in the California prison system. Rachel Mueller, the 2019 H.L. Stevenson Scholarship winner, received a grant for her student film “8 Days at Ware” along with her filmmaking partner Meg Shutzer. Muñoz had a foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Mexico City, and Mueller had a fellowship with the GroundTruth Project in Nairobi.

Isma’il Kushkush, the 2016 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, landed the cover story of the current issue of Smithsonian magazine on the ancient civilization of Sudan. A former Ida B. Welles fellow, he had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Jerusalem.


OPC member Ali Velshi has found himself in headlines again as President Trump at several campaign events has been inaccurately retelling a story about Velshi getting injured while covering a protest. The MSNBC anchor and correspondent was struck with a rubber bullet in May while reporting on a Minneapolis protest prompted by the police killing of George Floyd. Trump has been using the story, incorrectly saying he was a CNN reporter and had been hit by a tear gas canister, to mock journalists and glorify violence against the press, saying “it was the most beautiful thing,” and adding that “it’s called law and order.” Velshi responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter, correcting details and asking “What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?”

OPC Governor Ishaan Tharoor wrote in The Washington Post’s international newsletter titled “Today’s WorldView” on Sept. 21 about President Trump’s call earlier this month for a campaign to promote “patriotic education” and how this push for “pro-American curriculum” borrows language from dictatorships across history, including policies of China’s Communist regime, Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and India’s Hindu nationalist party. Trump’s program is meant to counter what his nationalist supporters see as an education system that “overly stresses the legacy of slavery, racism and sins of America’s past,” Tharoor wrote.

OPC member Judith Matloff reviewed a new book by veteran foreign correspondent Christina Lamb on Sept. 22 about the use of rape against noncombatant women as a weapon during wartime. Our Bodies, Their Battlefields [September 2020] examines atrocities and recounts stories of survivors across continents and centuries, including her own reporting in the Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Bosnia, Iraq, Southeast Asia and South America. Matloff writes that most literature about conflict ignores rape and focuses on military strategy, male heroism and suffering, ignoring survivors of rape. She writes that Lamb argues men in power have not stopped combatants from “sexual pillage,” quoting Lamb: “War rape was met with tacit acceptance and committed with impunity, military and political leaders shrugging it off as a sideshow. Or it was denied to have ever happened.” Lamb is a longtime correspondent for The Sunday Times of London. Matloff has written about international affairs for 30 years, specializing in areas of turmoil.

OPC member Sofia Barbarani filed a feature story for The Telegraph on Sept. 22 covering the aftermath of a crisis in eastern Greece as thousands of migrants displaced in a devastating fire at a refugee camp on Lesbos were barred from traveling to mainland Greece. Barbarani recounted events through the eyes of a teenage girl who talks about her grueling journey from Afghanistan to Iran, Turkey and then Lesbos. She wrote that the girl, one of 4,000 minors on Lesbos waiting to be granted asylum, had been at the top of her class in school and won first prize in a contest to build a car model. Barbarani wrote about the particular toll of displacement on girls and young women: “UNESCO research shows that “the further girls progress with their schooling the more they develop leadership skills, entrepreneurship and self-reliance – giving them the tools to contribute to their own communities as well as their host countries.”

OPC member Rachel Waldholz, who has been covering climate issues in Alaska and then in the EU over the last few years, has been hired on as one of two reporters for a podcast focused on climate change titled How to Save the Planet. According to an interview on Sept. 18 with the show’s host for Vogue magazine, she will contribute expertise on “the oil and gas industry from the Alaska perspective and on international climate negotiations and policy.”

OPC member Gloria Dickie, a freelance journalist specializing in environmental reportage, moderated an online discussion on Sept. 16 in Concord, New Hampshire with journalist and author Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling about his new book, A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). The book details the story of a Libertarian mission to take over the small town of Grafton, New Hampshire, an operation called the Free Town Project. A recording of the conversation is on the bookstore’s YouTube channel here.

A true crime book by OPC member Barbie Latza Nadeau will be adapted as a movie starring Kate Beckinsale. Her book 2012, Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox, covers the titular killer’s sexual assault and murder of her roomate in 2007, and seeks to cut through some of the sensational media coverage of the case. The film, to be titled The Face of an Angel, is a BBC Films production, and filming reportedly begins “soon” in Tuscany, Italy.

OPC member Campbell MacDiarmid continues to cover the Middle East for The Telegraph, with a piece on Sept. 21 from Khartoum about Sudan’s prime minister calling for international aid as the country “teeters amid economic collapse.”

Madeleine Haeringer, one of the VICE News Tonight team members who won the OPC’s David Kaplan Award this year, was also among those named as executive producer on several stories that won a News Emmy announced on Sept. 21. VICE won a total of four awards, including categories in outstanding coverage, investigative reports, best story in a newscast and outstanding writing. VICE won the Kaplan Award for their coverage of the orphanage industry in Uganda, which you can see discussed in an online OPC program here.

FRONTLINE PBS, which garnered this year’s Morton Frank Award for coverage of trade war with the U.S. as well as the Peter Jennings Award for the program For Sama, won four Emmys, with Dan Edge named on the team for two of those programs, and Raney Aronson-Rath credited on three, both of whom are named on the award for For Sama. For Sama has also been nominated for an International Emmy Award, the winners of which will be announced at a later date. See the event reminder above or click here for details about an online program to discuss For Sama on Oct.7.

The Online Journalism Awards announced that this year’s James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting goes to Kiana Hayeri, a photojournalist currently based in Kabul whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Washington Post, NPR, Wall Street Journal, GEO, Foreign Policy, Buzzfeed, Le Monde, The Globe and Mail, among others. Kiana is a Senior TED fellow and regularly contributes to the Times from Afghanistan.

OPC member Abigail Pesta received in the mail her framed certificate of the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists that she won earlier this year. As reported in the July 10 Weekly Bulletin, Pesta won the award for her piece “Life after death in Parkland” in Notre Dame Magazine. Pesta profiled a family dealing with the fallout from the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. Posting a photo of the certificate on social media, she thanked survivor Todd Foote and his family for sharing their story with her. She also mentioned that she received a framed cover of her book, The Girls from the Library of Michigan. “Proud to see the book named among the best of the year. Kudos to the brave women who shared their stories, shedding groundbreaking insight into predator Larry Nassar and the abusive coaching that helped enable him. These stories have the power to stop predators,” Pesta wrote.


Jars Balan, a professor at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies in Edmonton, Alberta, contacted the OPC recently regarding a biography he is working on about Rhea Gertrude Clyman, a journalist born in Poland. Clyman grew up in Toronto and moved to New York in 1942. He learned of her involvement in the OPC when he found a copy of the OPC’s 1967 publication, How I Got That Story, where she contributed an article titled “The Story that Stopped Hitler,” based on an incident she reported on when she was the Munich correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph. Rhea passed away in New York at the Jewish Institute for Geriatric Care on July 9, 1981 at the age of 77. The OPC files on Clyman are stored at Columbia University and not available for research at this time. If any OPC member has information on Clyman, please email jbalan@ualberta.ca and info@opcofamerica.org.

OPC member Rachel Donadio filed a longform piece for the October issue of the Atlantic covering the saga of Nicola Gratteri, an Italian prosecutor who has spent the last three decades fighting a powerful Calabria-based criminal organization known as the ’Ndrangheta. Donadio called the secretive group “the least telegenic and most publicity-shy of Italy’s Mafias [and] the most aggressive.” In December last year the prosecutor orchestrated a police dragnet that rounded up 334 people, including “lawyers, businesspeople, accountants, a police chief, the president of the Calabrian mayors’ association, and a former member of the Italian Parliament” on charges related to ’Ndrangheta activity.

Several of OPC member Max Becherer’s photos of New Orleans residents preparing for Hurricane Sally were featured on Sept. 14 in a slide presentation on The Times-Picayune website NOLA.com. With the storm bearing down, residents boarded windows, bolstered with sandbags and prepared levees. Emergencies were declared in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama ahead of the storm’s arrival and New Orleans was among the cities with evacuation orders. Ultimately the storm made landfall on the Alabama coast and veered suddenly eastward, hitting hardest in near Mobile and Pensacola.

OPC member Dana Thomas wrote the script for a documentary about shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo that premiered on Sept. 5 at the Venice Film Festival. “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams” surveys the designer’s life and work, and was directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino. Thomas is a fashion and culture journalist based in Paris and has been an OPC member since 2002. Her book Fashionopolis about visionaries in the industry focused on sustainability and improving human rights was released in paperback on Sept. 11.

Katherine Eban, the Cornelius Ryan Award winner this year, was interviewed on Forbes India on Sept. 16 about Bottle of Lies, the book about fraud in the Indian pharmaceutical industry that won the OPC award. Her book tracked down whistleblower claims in a decade-long investigation into Indian makers of generic drugs such as Ranbaxy manipulating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and selling billions of unsafe drugs to the U.S. “I was able to piece together that there had been a very explosive PowerPoint that had been shown to [Ranbaxy’s] board of directors, the result of an internal probe that said Ranbaxy had falsified data for over 200 drug products,” Eban said during the interview.

OPC award winner Clarissa Ward on Sept. 8 published a memoir, titled On All Fronts, recounting her career as a conflict reporter covering wars in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine with postings in Baghdad, Beirut, Beijing, and Moscow. She told Brian Stelter on CNN Business about her stint at Fox News in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, remembering how producers focused on her appearance. “I’m sure you can appreciate the absurdity of being in Baghdad, being in a war zone, and getting an email telling you that you should be wearing your hair down.” She also talked about war correspondents’ need to care for their mental health and to talk about trauma covering war and “the absolutely inevitable toll that it takes on an individual.” Ward won the OPC’s 2016 David Kaplan Award for her coverage of rebel-held territory in Syria.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi appeared on Amanpour and Company to discuss the rise of domestic abuse during lockdown. Host Christine Amanpour, herself an OPC member, interviewed Fassihi, who writes about Iran for The New York Times, and Mexican journalist Gabriela Jauregui, about the spike in domestic violence cases.

OPC member Kristen Chick wrote for Nieman Reports on Sept. 3 about the push for pay equity amid a national uprising against racism and discrimination across U.S. newsrooms in recent months. She wrote that over the past four years, “dozens of unions at news organizations across the country have conducted pay studies, proving what many had long suspected: Women and people of color often earn less than their white male colleagues.”

OPC member Annalisa Quinn wrote a piece for The New York Times profiling men who do magic to cope with the loneliness and boredom of being in prison. The article, accompanied by photos by Vincent Tullo, looks at an inmate community that corresponded with magicians to learn and perform tricks. “If there is anything missing from a maximum-security prison, it’s wonder,” Quinn quoted magician and inmate correspondent Joshua Jay as saying.

OPC member Thomas Ginsberg wrote for The Philadelphia Inquirer on Aug. 26 about how the city’s high poverty rates cause it to trail its peers in several key business metrics, including the launch of new companies and the overall number of businesses per capita. The city’s small and mid-size companies were also in weaker financial shape and less likely to reach customers outside the region, Ginsberg wrote.

OPC Award winner and club member Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times has been covering the U.S. election and other politics for the Times, most recently with a piece on Sept. 1 that received copious social media shares outlining some of Biden’s foreign policies to “repair much of what he and his supporters consider to be the damage done by President Trump.” She talked with Biden’s top foreign policy advisor, Tony Blinken, who said among other foreign policy insights that that the former vice president would not return the U.S. Embassy to Tel Aviv, “but it is likely he would reopen a U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem that would cater to Palestinians and allow a Palestinian de facto embassy in Washington.” Wilkinson was part of teams that won the 2014 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award for a story about a surge of unaccompanied minors traveling from Mexico into south Texas, and the 2008 Hal Boyle Award for coverage of Mexico’s drug war.

The Washington Post announced that 2013 Malcolm Forbes Award winner Yeganeh Torbati is joining paper as economic policy investigations reporter. She most recently worked for ProPublica covering government responses to coronavirus. Torbati was part of the Reuters team that won the OPC award for “Assets of the Ayatollah,” a profile of how Ayatollah Ali Khamenei secured positions in nearly every sector of Iran’s economy and built his own $95 billion empire.


OPC member Jennifer O’Mahony filed a radio story for Public Radio International’s The World this month about the effect of COVID-19 on Spain’s bullfighters. She wrote that Spain recently became “the first country in Europe to register half a million coronavirus cases, leaving bullrings empty and toreros, or ‘bullfighters,’ out of work.” She added that a poll in May found almost half of Spaniards want bullfighting banned, with the number of events in sharp decline even before the pandemic. O’Mahony attended a bullfight as part of the story, concluding that “it’s not hard to see why it’s divisive.”

OPC member Ruchi Kumar wrote for Salon on Sept. 12 that rumors of an herbal remedy falsely claiming to be effective against COVID-19 sparked a frenzy in Afghanistan, which was tested and found to have opioids and other several addictive ingredients. “In Afghanistan’s deeply conservative society, many viewed these moves to protect public health as an affront to Afghan culture and religious values. When government forces tried to shut down the clinic, some Afghans took to the streets,” Kumar wrote.

Meghan Sullivan, the 2020 winner of the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship, shared a story she filed for the Anchorage bureau of Indian Country Today. The story focused on the consequences of one of Alaska’s largest air carriers going out of business due to COVID-19 constraints. She told the OPC in an email that “this development resulted in several remote Alaska Native villages being unable to receive critical supplies and food during the pandemic.” Sullivan had a foundation fellowship at the Associated Press bureau in Bangkok.

OPC member Aurora Almendral wrote for The New York Times on Sept. 9 from Bangkok about the effect of the pandemic on sailors around the world who are stuck with no way to get home after borders closed and many ports refused to allow sailors to come ashore. The United Nations called the situation a growing humanitarian crisis in June, Almendral wrote. She writes about the growing risk of injury and disaster from fatigued workers on extended contracts, citing examples such as a bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius in late July, spilling 1,000 tons of oil into the sea. Almendral won the 2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award along with Ed Ou for coverage of the drug war in the Philippines.

OPC member Anita Snow wrote a piece for The Associated Press on Sept. 5 about the struggles of refugee families trying to continue schooling with online resources in Phoenix, where Snow is based. She wrote that parents and students who speak more than a dozen languages once attended the Valencia Newcomer School, but when it shut down due to the pandemic they organized remote classes to keep students learning. She wrote that coronavirus paused resettlement of refugees who are vetted by the U.S. State Department and other agencies but “a trickle of arrivals has begun again, according to those who work with refugees.”

OPC member Barbie Latza Nadeau reported for The Daily Beast on Aug. 29 that Europe’s second wave of COVID-19 infections appears to be less lethal than the first strike this spring. She reported from Rome that though France and Spain were reporting their highest numbers of new cases since the lockdown ended in May, “hospitalizations and death rates are nowhere near the level they were the first time around.” She said authorities point to higher numbers of elderly who died in the first wave, with younger people now bearing more infections as beaches and clubs have opened for business.

Sandali Handagama, winner of the 2020 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting, has been reporting for Coindesk, site dedicated to blockchain news, including a Sept. 2 story on members of the U.S. Congress pushing for the use of blockchain to boost COVID-19 relief efforts, and a Sept. 1 story on the government of Bermuda’s use of a digital token to stimulate its economy in response to COVID-19. Handagama wrote that Bermuda launched a pilot program this week in partnership with local private payments platform Stablehouse, writing that “national governments around the world are evaluating the potential benefits or drawbacks of a blockchain-based payments system, whether that looks like a central bank digital currency or a similar payment rail.” She has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Mumbai.

Annie Todd, the 2020 winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, wrote for Gothamist about challenges for nearly 3,700 New York University students who had to endure two weeks of isolation because they arrived from states that trigger New York state’s quarantine order. NYU faced outcry after reports that the school provided poor quality meals, causing a public apology and an offer of a $30 Grubhub gift card daily to compensate. Todd also delved into the students’ mental health issues, added stress and other effects of quarantine.


Longtime OPC member Linda Goetz Holmes died on Aug. 18 at the age of 87. Holmes, who served as membership committee member for the OPC, wrote extensively about Allied POWs in Japanese custody during World War II, and penned three books on the topic, 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, Unjust Enrichment: American POWs Under the Rising Sun, and Guests of the Emperor: The Secret of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp.

In 2014 she spoke at an OPC storytelling evening about her memory of the news of attacks on Pearl Harbor, which you can watch by clicking on the YouTube frame above right. A remembrance from Past President William Holstein follows.

“Linda penetrated into the inner sanctums of both Japanese and American institutions. In 2008, she gave me a copy of the cable that Gen. Douglas MacArthur sent from Tokyo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington on Jan. 24, 1946. The Pentagon wanted MacArthur to put Emperor Hirohito on trial for war crimes. As most historians agree today, the Emperor was a driving force behind Japan’s war effort. It wasn’t just his generals who promoted the war.

“But MacArthur warned the Joint Chiefs that if he put Hirohito on trial, ‘it would be absolutely essential to greatly increase the occupational forces. It is quite possible that a minimum of a million troops would be required which would have to be maintained for an indefinite number of years.’ The Joint Chiefs acquiesced and MacArthur proceeded to foster the myth that Hirohito wasn’t directly involved. He feared that if he put the emperor on trial, the Japanese people would rise up against the American occupation. It was a decisive moment in history and Linda knew how to dig out documents that explained what really happened.”

OPC member Donald Shannon died on July 17 in a hospice facility in Summerville South Carolina following a weeklong stay in intensive care battling COVID-19. He was 97 years old. He served on the eastern front in World War II and in 1947 began reporting for the Rio Herald in Rio de Janeiro, launching a long career as a reporter and foreign correspondent that took him to London, Sub Saharan Africa, Paris and Tokyo, first for United Press International and then for many years for the Los Angeles Times, and later worked as senior editor for Georgetown & Country in Washington DC. He joined the OPC in 1972.

OPC member Duncan MacDonald died on July 18 in Martha’s Vineyard at the age of 104. After a start in the early days of television, she served as a longtime on-air host and interviewer for the New York Times radio station WQXR, and was executive director and founding trustee of the National Friends of Public Broadcasting, and was the New York president of American Women in Radio and TV. A collection of her recordings and writings is housed at the 20th Century Archives of American Journalism at the University of Wyoming. She joined the OPC in 1960.

Andrew Winning, a photojournalist and editor for Getty Images who also covered international news for Reuters for 22 years, died in London on Aug. 3 after a battle with brain cancer at age 49. Winning was born in Paris in 1970 while his father was serving as correspondent for Reuters. He started his career in photojournalism working with Johnny Eggitt at Agence France-Presse (AFP) in London. His career included postings in Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. He was based in London for several years after moving there in 2008. In 2018 he started working for Getty Images as news editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa.