2016 January-June Issue
Alexandra Suich, who won the Theo Wilson Scholarship in 2008, is now The Economist’s US Technology Editor in San Francisco. Previously she served as media editor, based in London and New York, where she wrote about the television, film, newspaper, music and marketing businesses worldwide. She started writing for The Economist in 2008. Alexandra was named Britain’s Young Financial Journalist of the Year 2012 by the Wincott Foundation.
2013 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner Christopher Harress has joined the Alabama Media Group in Birmingham AL. Previously he was the defense reporter for International Business Times, where his four years as logistics officer in the British Royal Navy informed his daily reporting on the nexus of business, politics, international affairs and defense. As a freelancer, Christopher reported from Senegal, all across Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
OPC Second Vice President Abigail Pesta and colleagues at Cosmopolitan Magazine accepted the award for Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. The magazine’s inclusiveness of all sexual and gender orientations “sent a message of inspiration to its LGBT readers,” GLAAD wrote. Among the stories Pesta has published in Cosmo this year: a lengthy interview with Chelsea Manning, and a story about two women who lost their jobs at a Catholic high school after marrying each other.
OPC member Lynsey Addario received an honorable mention for the 2016 Anja Niedringhaus Courage In Photojournalism Award, as did 2007 John Faber Award winner Paula Bronstein. The winner was Adriane Ohanesian, a freelance photojournalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. A.P. photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed by an Afghan policeman on the outskirts of Khost, in eastern Afghanistan, in 2014; OPC member Kathy Gannon was seriously injured in the attack. Gannon serves on the advisory committee for the award.
The Associated Press team that received both the Hal Boyle and Malcolm Forbes Awards at this year’s OPC gala has also won the English News & Features Grand Prize in the Hong Kong-based Human Rights Press Awards. “Seafood from Slaves,” a series that helped free more than 2,000 enslaved workers in the Southeast Asian fishing industry, is the work of Martha Mendoza, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Esther Htusan. The Bob Considine Award-winner Reuters piece, “The Long Arm of China,” won the HRPA’s English Online Grand Prize.
Mendoza, Mason, McDowell and Htusan’s “Seafood from Slaves” has also won a 2016 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the International Print category. Evan Williams, Edward Watts, and Raney Aronson won the International Television category with the FRONTLINE episode “Escaping Isis,” which received this year’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award. The Robert F. Kennedy awards recognize outstanding reporting on human rights and social justice issues.
Sarajevo-based reporter Miranda Patrucic, who has exposed corruption throughout the region, and the investigative team at Mexican news site Aristegui Noticias have been honored with the 2016 Knight International Journalism Awards.
NEW YORK: OPC member Santiago Lyon was the subject of a lengthy profile in The Globe and Mail (London). In it, the veteran photographer talks about dealing with the emotional impacts of war photography throughout his career, starting with the civil war in El Salvador at age 23 and continuing through conflicts in more than a dozen countries, including the first Gulf War and the Balkans. Lyon is now the vice president and director of photography of The Associated Press.
Buyouts are on offer in the newsroom and several business departments at The New York Times as the paper bids to “continue aggressive digital expansion while controlling costs.” Packets were set to go out to eligible employees at the end of May, and they will have until mid-July to decide whether to accept. The company did not reveal how many buyouts it is offering. It has set its sights on doubling digital revenue by the year 2020.
Cuts have hit the digital news world as well, with VICE announcing in May that it would eliminate 15 jobs in New York and Los Angeles, as well as laying off its editorial team and foreign correspondents in London. The company is reorganizing its operations and plans to open offices in Hong Kong and San Francisco, The Guardian reports. Mashable cut about two dozen staffers in April, while Buzzfeed missed its 2015 revenue goals and downscaled expectations for 2016. International Business Times laid off about 15 employees in March.
The New York Times is suing the CIA and the U.S. Army for documents relating to abandoned chemical weapons found by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The suit follows up on reporting by C.J. Chivers that showed how exposure to the deteriorating arsenal sickened at least 17 American service members. According to Courthouse News, The Times argues the official refusal to release the documents is “no longer sustainable” because the Army has already apologized to the servicepeople who were affected. Chivers won the OPC’s Best Investigative Reporting Award in 2014 for the work.
Valerie Komor, an OPC member, is leading the effort to preserve the vast trove of wire copy, reporters’ notes, images and videos at the Associated Press. As director of the A.P.’s Corporate Archives project, she’s working with a cloud storage firm to save the content and make it available to reporters and researchers. The collection goes back as far as 1848. Among its treasures: wire copy on President Kennedy’s assassination, complete with an editor’s notes in pencil.
OPC member Alessandria Masi shared her experiences using social media to connect with ISIS members in a recent blog post on the Committee to Protect Journalists website. Masi says she first began chatting with an ISIS fighter on Twitter in September 2014, after he commented about a piece she’d written. She says she tries to communicate with online sources “nearly every day for a month” before setting up a video chat or phone call to confirm their whereabouts – and she uses them only to understand the group better, and not as primary sources in stories. Masi is the Middle East correspondent for International Business Times.
OPC member Ilana Ozernoy is now vice president and deputy head of communications at News Corp. Previously, Ozernoy worked in the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. A former war correspondent, Ozernoy has been a staff writer for The Atlantic, a staff foreign correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, and a correspondent for public radio’s “Marketplace.”
Nick Schifrin, who shared the 2014 David Kaplan Award with colleagues from Al Jazeera America, is now working as a special correspondent for PBS NewsHour. Schifrin was Al Jazeera America’s first foreign correspondent, based in Jerusalem; before that he worked for ABC News in London, New Delhi, and Afghanistan/Pakistan.
2015 Thomas Nast Award winner Patrick Chappatte went beyond the bounds of typical editorial cartooning in a special series for The New York Times. Chappatte and his wife, journalist Anne-Frédérique Widmann, worked with prisoners to document life on Death Row. Chappatte’s drawings tell the stories – including one in which a prisoner is exonerated after a 20-year effort, and another about the psychological stress of solitary confinement.
WASHINGTON, DC: The family of veteran freelancer Ray Thibodeaux is raising money to help pay for his medical expenses after a cancer diagnosis. Thibodeaux has reported around the world from the conflict in Darfur to Bhutan’s first democratic elections. He has been a frequent contributor to Voice of America in both Africa and South Asia, reporting from over a dozen countries. He and wife Emily Wax, a former foreign correspondent and now national reporter for The Washington Post, live with their two toddlers in Washington. The fundraising page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/raymedfund.
CHICAGO: FRONTLINE received $4.2 million and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting got $2.5 million as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s expanded commitment to journalism. Other awardees included the Global Press Institute, public radio’s The World, and Round Earth Media. The foundation doled out nearly $25 million in unrestricted funding to support “the core values of accurate, in-depth journalism and documentary storytelling while also supporting innovation and experimentation and building diversity in the field.”
LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times is opening seven news bureaus around in the world in a bid to establish itself as a global leader in entertainment news, Poynter.org reports. The bureaus will be in the “entertainment-oriented” cities of Hong Kong, Seoul, Rio de Janiero, Mumbai, Lagos, Moscow and Mexico City.
Former OPC Governor Jonathan Dahl has joined search firm Korn Ferry as Vice President, Chief Content Officer. His responsibilities will include oversight of print and digital news content, according to the firm. Mr. Dahl previously served as Editor in Chief at two Wall Street Journal publications – SmartMoney and WSJMoney – and was a Page One editor.
DURHAM, N.C.: 2014 OPC Edward R. Murrow Award winner Rachel Boynton sat on the Grand Jury of this year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Boynton’s latest film – and the one that won her the Murrow Award – is Big Men, a documentary about an American company’s pursuit of oil off the coast of Ghana.
LONDON: Henry Chu, who shared the 2015 Madeline Dane Ross Award with colleagues from the Los Angeles Times, has been named European Bureau Chief at Variety. Chu, who spent 25 years at the Times, will write and edit features for the magazine and direct daily news coverage across Europe for Variety.com.
2014 Olivier Rebbot Award winner Jérôme Sessini’s work was recently exhibited at Photo London, a festival bringing together 84 of the world’s leading galleries. Sessini shoots for the Magnum photo agency.
NPR photographer David Gilkey was killed in Afghanistan on June 5, along with interpreter Zabihullah Tamanna. Gilkey and Tamanna were traveling with the Afghan army on assignment when their unit came under attack. Gilkey won an OPC citation for an NPR special series in 2009 about life along Israel’s West Bank barrier. He had covered numerous conflicts and disasters, including the earthquake in Haiti, the Balkans war and He joined NPR in 2007 after a stint with the Detroit Free Press. “As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him,” said NPR’s vice president of news, Michael Oreskes, in an email to staff. “He let us see the world and each other through his eyes.”
60 Minutes icon Morley Safer died on May 19 at age 84. As a foreign correspondent for CBS, Safer brought the Vietnam war into American living rooms, changing the public’s opinion of the war. He began his career as a foreign correspondent with Reuters in London and went on to cover the Middle East, Europe and Africa for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1970 Safer joined 60 Minutes, where he worked until his retirement just a week before his death. “No correspondent had more extraordinary range, from war reporting to coverage of every aspect of modern culture,” said CBS News President David Rhodes in a statement. “His writing alone defined original reporting.”
Any Cabrera, a veteran journalist with the Associated Press in Latin America, died at age 60 on May 23. Cabrera began working for the A.P. as a correspondent in El Salvador in 1983. She went on to report from Brazil before becoming an editor on the Spanish-language news desk in Mexico City. “Any was the calm voice of reason on the other end of the line, the unflappable editor who always knew what had to be done next,” said Paul Haven, the agency’s news director for Latin America and the Caribbean.“She was loved and admired by everybody.”
CNN’s Will King, who helped launch the cable news channel in 1980 and later shaped its international coverage, died at age 64 on May 19. King started as a video journalist just two weeks before CNN broadcast its first show. He went on to open the Frankfurt bureau in 1985. He returned to the U.S. and worked his way up the ladder as senior international editor, managing editor, and vice president of international news gathering. King “was a man of detail, and the bottom line was always about taking care of people in war zones,” former senior vice president of news gathering Parisa Khosravi recalled.
David Beresford, who was known for his reporting on Northern Ireland and South Africa, died on April 22. He was 68. Beresford was born in South Africa and moved to Britain in the mid-70s, where he soon found his way to The Guardian. The paper sent him to Northern Ireland in 1978, where he began the work that would lead to his highly-regarded book about the IRA hunger strike of 1981, Ten Men Dead. In 1984 he moved to Johannesburg to cover the struggle against apartheid. In later years, he also chronicled his own battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Stanley Burke died on May 28 at the age of 93. Burke served as a foreign correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, first at the UN in 1958, and later in Paris. He became deeply concerned about the Biafran war in the late 1960s and resigned from the CBC in 1969 when he was told to curtail his activism on the issue. Burke went on to become a newspaper publisher and environmentalist.
Jenny Starrs, the 2015 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholar, has won the Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus. Her award-winning entry, “Women in Politics: How the US Compares with the World,” was produced for The GroundTruth Project as part of her OPC fellowship. The awards recognized journalists who inform, engage and educate the public about critical issues impacting women and girls in the U.S. and globally. Starrs currently works for The Washington Post.
Mariano Castillo, who won the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone in 2008, has published a long-form project on CNN about the ongoing tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. “Faces of a Divided Island” looks at the restrictive immigration laws in the Dominican Republic that have stripped many Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship. Castillo is a writer and supervising editor at CNN Digital. He previously worked as Border Bureau Chief at the San Antonio Express-News.
2015 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner Ben Taub has landed an in-depth exclusive in The New Yorker about hundreds of thousands of documents smuggled out of Syria that tie President Bashar al-Assad to mass torture and killings. An independent body called the Commission for International Justice and Accountability is archiving and organizing the documents as part of a war crimes investigation. Taub was also invited onto PBS News Hour to talk about the story. He is a freelance contributor at The New Yorker.
After three years in the Moscow bureau of The Wall Street Journal covering Russian politics, business and society, Paul Sonne, the Stan Swinton Scholarship winner in 2008, is now the Journal’s national security correspondent in Washington DC. Paul began his career with the Journal in the London bureau where he covered technology, media and consumer industries. While there, he and his colleagues won the Malcolm Forbes Award for best international business reporting in newspapers for a series describing how Iran, Egypt, Libya and Syria used technology from Western and Chinese companies to spy on dissidents and conduct surveillance. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Moscow.
Marina Villeneuve, the Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner in 2013, has been appointed state government reporter in Maine for The Associated Press. She is known for using data and public records to hold officials and institutions accountable around the Northeast, most recently for The Record in New Jersey. Marina had a foreign reporting fellow in Bogota, Colombia, for The Washington Post as well as internships with the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.
OPC Governor and New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi has won the inaugural Integrity in Journalism Award from the International Center for Journalists. The award “celebrates the courage, commitment and impact of a reporter on the front lines of the world’s crisis zones.” In particular the ICFJ noted the Callimachi “has exposed the horrific institutionalization of sex slavery by ISIS, linked child labor in gold mines in Senegal to banks in Switzerland, and revealed massacres committed by government forces from the Ivory Coast to Mali.”
OPC member Alissa J. Rubin has won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for a series of stories about women in Afghanistan. The stories include an in-depth examination of the beating death of Farkhunda, a woman who was falsely accused of burning a Koran in Kabul in early 2015. The jury called the series “thoroughly reported and movingly written accounts giving voice to Afghan women who were forced to endure unspeakable cruelties.” Rubin is the Paris bureau chief for The New York Times.
Rubin has also been honored with Atlantic Media’s Michael Kelly Award for her stories about Afghan women. The annual $25,000 prize highlights work that demonstrates “the fearless pursuit and expression of truth.” “In a year with an unusually large number of exceptional entries,” the judges wrote, “her stories stood above the rest.”
David Rohde, who received the OPC President’s Award in 2015, has won a James W. Foley Freedom Award. The annual awards are being given out for the first time this year. They honor “compassion, courage, commitment and advocacy for American hostages, freelance conflict journalists, and vulnerable children.” Rohde, a national security investigations editor at Reuters, was held by the Taliban for seven months in Pakistan in 2008. He has gone on to lead the successful drive for an industry-wide code of conduct to help protect journalists in danger zones.
OPC Governor Azmat Khan is a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the International Reporting category. The $10,000 awards, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the University of Michigan, honor “the best professionals under the age of 35 in traditional and new forms of journalism.” Khan’s story, “Ghost Schools,” found that the U.S. was exaggerating the success of its school-building program in Afghanistan. Khan is a freelance investigative journalist. She has previously worked for BuzzFeed, Al Jazeera America and PBS’s FRONTLINE.
NEW YORK: OPC member Rita Cosby has been named political editor at New York City news/talk radio station WABC. In addition to hosting her weekly “The RITA COSBY Show,” she is hosting a weekly show on the elections. The Emmy-winning TV host and author is also a special correspondent for TV news magazine “Inside Edition.”
John Daniszewski is among the 16 people who decided how to dole out Pulitzer Prizes this year. Daniszewski told the Journal News of the Lower Hudson Valley that he spent countless hours preparing for the votes, reading 15 novels in addition to journalism and other kinds of entries. All Pulitzer board members vote on all prizes, including fiction, poetry, drama and music. Daniszewski, an OPC member, is vice president and senior managing editor for international news at the Associated Press.
2007 Madeline Dane Ross Award winner Lydia Polgreen has been named associate masthead editor and editorial director for NYT Global, The New York Times’ new $50 million international digital expansion. NYT Global is tasked with expanding the Times’ footprint in international markets in several major languages.
OPC member Gary Regenstreif, former editor-at-large at Reuters, has become executive editor at S&P Global Market Intelligence. His mandate is to improve the journalism at the business information division of S&P Global, until recently called McGraw Hill Financial. Based in New York, he serves as a combination of news editor and standards/ethics editor. Regenstreif also chairs the advisory board of non-profit startup Press Start, which will crowdfund support for independent journalists in countries where the press cannot report freely (www.pressstart.org).
OPC Treasurer Tim Ferguson wrote about this year’s class of OPC Foundation fellows for Forbes. After celebrating the varied and interesting backgrounds of this year’s winners, Ferguson muses about the fragile state of the industry. “It isn’t clear how big of an audience there actually is for the stories that explain why the world is as it is. It’s even less clear who is going to pay for this effort, either by purchasing the ‘content’ or sponsoring it,” he concludes. “Yet today I saw 15 great investments in that very uncertain future.” Ferguson oversees Asia-Pacific content at Forbes Media.
New York Times executive editor and OPC member Dean Baquet will speak at Columbia College’s Class Day – the school’s annual event honoring rising seniors. Baquet attended the College from 1974 to 1978 and left before graduating to take a full-time reporting job. He spent several years at the Los Angeles Times before moving to The New York Times in 1990. Columbia College is the oldest undergraduate college at Columbia University.
The New York Times will eliminate up to 70 positions in Paris, focusing editing and print production functions in New York and Hong Kong in a bid to cut costs. The paper will maintain its Paris news bureau and advertising office, according to Bloomberg News.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: A medical fund has been established for longtime freelancer Ray Thibodeaux, who is battling cancer. Thibodeaux has reported from more than a dozen countries in South Asia and Africa, including Darfur, Bhutan and Sudan. He is married to Emily Wax, a national reporter at The Washington Post, with whom he is raising two toddlers. The address for donations is www.gofundme.com/raymedfund.
YEMEN: While the West has focused its efforts on defeating Islamic State, its rival Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been quietly gaining ground in Yemen, writes OPC member Alessandria Masi in IBTimes.com. AQAP has built bridges, drilled wells and provided other services to win public trust, while sharing power with local government institutions. More than half of Yemen’s population lives in poverty. Life in the country has gotten even more difficult since last year, when Saudi Arabia launched a coalition to overthrow the Houthi rebel force that seized the country’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014.
Longtime CBS news reporter Eric Engberg died on March 27 in Palmetto, Florida at age 74. Engberg was a political and investigative reporter in the network’s Washington bureau. His role took him overseas to cover stories including the fall of the Berlin Wall, IRA hunger strikes in Northern Ireland and the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. More recently, Engberg publicly jousted with FOX’s Bill O’Reilly over the latter’s claims to have reported on the Falkland Islands conflict from a war zone, saying O’Reilly had actually been in an “expense account zone.”
Congratulations to 2008 Flora Lewis winner Devon Haynie and 2014 H.L. Stevenson fellow Caelainn Hogan, who are among the eleven international journalists chosen by the International Reporting Project to report from southern Africa in May. Caelainn is a freelance journalist in Ireland whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Al Jazeera English, VICE, The Guardian and The Irish Times. Devon is now an international news editor for U.S. News & World Report. Both were OPC Foundation fellows in Africa for The Associated Press – Devon in Johannesburg and Caelainn in Lagos.
Meng Meng, the 2014 David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship winner, is now working as a reporter/researcher in the Reuters bureau in Beijing.
2013 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner Jacob Kushner has spent more than a year documenting the impact of Uganda’s notorious anti-gay law on the lives of lesbians and gay men. His story, published by VICE in March, takes us into small communities of LGBT refugees in Kenya, where they still face danger and discrimination while waiting years to find out whether they will be allowed to emigrate.
Fatima Bhojani, the 2015 Theo Wilson scholarship winner, landed a story in Foreign Affairs in March. “How Isis Makes IEDs” explores the supply chain that produces the terrorist group’s “unprecedented” numbers of improvised explosive devices.
OPC member Nisid Hajari’s book Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition has won the William E. Colby Award. The prize is given annually by Norwich University to recognize a book from a first-time author that has contributed to military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs. Carlo D’Este, executive director of the Colby Symposium, called Midnight’s Furies “noteworthy, superbly readable, and very timely.” Hajari oversees Asia coverage for Bloomberg View, the editorial page of Bloomberg News.
OPC member Alissa Rubin received a Hillary Clinton Award in February for her reporting on women in war zones. “[T]oday we honor her not just for her courageous reporting but for her commitment to illuminating women’s experiences during violent conflict,” said Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security executive director Melanne Verveer, presenting Rubin with the Global Trailblazer Award. Rubin is currently Paris bureau chief for The New York Times and headed the paper’s Afghanistan bureau from 2009 to 2014. GIWPS launched the awards in 2014 to honor “individuals devoted to the cause of women, peace and security in the world.”
2015 John Faber Award winner Bulent Kilic has received a third-place prize in the World Press Photo Contest. His photo showed Syrian refugees crossing over a broken border fence to enter Turkey. Kilic is a photographer with the AFP.
NEW YORK: Peter S. Goodman is returning to The New York Times as a London-based economics correspondent. Goodman, an OPC governor, was previously global editor in chief of The International Business Times. He has also worked at Huffington Post and The Washington Post, and is the author of Past Due: The End of Easy Money and the Renewal of the American Economy. “Peter’s posting in London signals our continued commitment to global business and economics coverage of the highest standard,” wrote Times business editor Dean Murphy in an announcement to staff quoted on TalkingBizNews.com.
OPC member Michael Moran has been named Visiting Media Fellow, Peace and Security at Carnegie Corporation of New York. Moran worked in international news at MSNBC and the Center for Foreign Policy before going into global risk analysis for Renaissance Capital and Control Risks. His books include The Reckoning: Debt, Democracy, and the Future of American Power.
OPC Governor Lara Setrakian has launched another immersive news site as part of her fast-growing News Deeply line. Refugees Deeply will cover the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria and around the world. “Syria is just the tip of it,” Setrakian told USA Today. “It’s happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America. Sixty to 70 percent are not from the Middle East. There are a lot of places the refugee crisis is unfolding, and we never hear of it.” RefugeesDeeply.org, which launched on March 15, features traditional journalism and analysis, maps and data visualization, and firsthand reporting from refugees themselves. Setrakian was also the subject of a lengthy profile in Mashable, which said she was “ready to change the news industry. Again.”
OPC member Rebecca Blumenstein has a new role at The Wall Street Journal as the organization continues evolving to a more digital focus. As deputy editor in chief, Blumenstein oversees newsgathering operations; all bureaus report to her through the bureau chiefs and coverage chiefs. Blumenstein has been with the Journal since 1995. Her previous roles include deputy managing editor of international and head of the China bureau.
Former Al Jazeera America deputy photo editor Vaughn Wallace is moving on to a position as senior photo editor at National Geographic. Wallace, an OPC member, has previously worked at Time. He also recently served on the jury of the World Press Photo Contest.
OPC member Brett Forrest’s investigation into international soccer-match fixing is headed to the big screen. 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment have signed directing team Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah to oversee the film. Forrest initially wrote about match fixing for ESPN Magazine; in 2014 William Morrow published his book, The Big Fix.
OPC Governor Abigail Pesta recently profiled Malala Yousafzai’s father for The New York Times’ Women in the World website. “I tried my best to treat my daughter as myself,” schoolteacher Ziauddin Yousafzai told Pesta. “I gave her a lot of freedom.” Malala won the Nobel Prize in 2014 as an advocate of education for girls in Pakistan. Pesta is currently working on a book with teenage Congolese war survivor Sandra Uwiringiyimana.
OPC Governor Martin Smith’s latest PBS Frontline documentary aired in February. “Chasing Heroin” examines the ongoing effects of the drug war and “what happens when addiction is treated as a public health issue, not a crime.”
Former OPC governor Andrew M. Rosenthal is stepping down as editorial page director at the New York Times. Rosenthal will write an online column about the presidential election and other topics.
The Dutch-based news app Blendle is bringing its pay-by-the story model to the U.S. market. The company launched its American service in beta form in late March with plans to enroll 10,000 initial subscribers. It will charge 10 to 50 cents per article, with content coming from 20 high-profile news outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Inc., The Economist, Financial Times and The Washington Post. The New York Times has issued a new policy tightening its use of anonymous sources. Times executive editor and OPC member Dean Baquet explained the rules in an email to staff. A story based primarily on an anonymous source will require an in-depth conversation with a major masthead editor, while “every other instance of anonymity has to be approved by a department head” or deputy. “We have no intention of reducing our urgency in getting news to our readers,” Baquet wrote. “But we are prepared to pay the price of losing an occasional scoop in order to protect our precious credibility.”
The International Business Times has laid off at least 15 employees in New York and California, says recode.net, citing “multiple sources.” The digital news outlet is owned by IBTMedia, which also owns Newsweek – but the magazine will reportedly not be hit by cuts.
WASHINGTON, DC: An FCC bandwidth auction set for the end of March could make billions for TV station owners, OPC member Kimberly Adams recently reported for public radio’s Marketplace. Instead of selling off space on the broadcast spectrum to stations, the agency will be paying stations to give up their space in order to make more room for streaming data to mobile devices. Many of the small stations taking the payout won’t be going off the air; they’re looking at channel sharing and other ways to retain their programming.
Is Donald Trump serious about changing the nation’s libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations? OPC member Marcus Brauchli, who talked Trump out of numerous lawsuits as a top editor at The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, thinks the presidential hopeful’s statements to that effect are more likely “a kind of pandering rhetoric designed to woo frustrated voters.” Nonetheless, he writes in a recent Post op-ed, these are “ominous and foreboding” times in U.S. politics. Brauchli adds that persuading Trump not to sue involved listening to a “barrage of profanity” and occasionally inviting him to come meet with the editorial team to vent his frustrations.
LOS ANGELES: Los Angeles Times Deputy Managing Editor — and OPC member — Scott Kraft is playing a key role as the paper’s newsroom shifts to a “news hub” mode. The hub functions as a “nerve center where assigning editors, photo editors, social media specialists, data visualizers and practitioners of the other newsroom crafts” identify and report the biggest stories of the day, according to a January memo from Editor Davan Maharaj that was published in the L.A. Observed blog. Kraft’s role is to “shepherd and polish the top stories of the day” for web and print. Kraft has spent more than two decades with the paper, as a national and foreign correspondent as well as a news department head.
SAN FRANCISCO: Thomas Fuller, who has spent a decade covering Southeast Asia for The New York Times, has taken a new posting as the paper’s San Francisco bureau chief.
Longform publisher Matter is spinning off from Medium.com to become a stand-alone company called Matter Studios. “Essentially: Matter is going to be for digital storytellers what HBO and Amazon Studios are for TV makers, or what the best incubators are for startups,” Matter Studios co-founder Mark Lotto wrote in a blog post. Lotto added that the company would produce everything from “multiplatform digital journalism, to podcasts and books, to live events, to streaming film, TV, and video, to new things we haven’t thought of yet.”
PULLMAN, Wash.: OPC member Lawrence Pintak is stepping down as head of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications at Washington State University. Pintak, the school’s founding dean, will wrap up his duties by the end of the spring semester in order to spend a year researching and reporting on Islam and the U.S. presidential election. During Pintak’s seven-year tenure, the size of the faculty roughly doubled; student enrollment increased by 50 percent; faculty research output doubled; and research grants quadrupled.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.: The Virginia Quarterly Review is putting Instagram at the forefront of its new series of nonfiction stories from around the world. OPC member Paul Reyes, the magazine’s deputy editor, tells the Nieman Lab blog that he hopes writers will use the #VQRTrueStory project to “push the limits of what can be done on this platform.” The stories go first to Instagram, then to the website, with excerpts following in the print magazine. The series has reported from places including India, Lesotho, Greece and the U.S.
MIAMI: OPC member Jonathan Katz was part of Miami’s The Big Read celebration in February. Katz discussed his book about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. Katz is currently writer in residence at Duke University’s Franklin Humanities Institute.
SEDONA, Ariz.: OPC member Deborah Camiel’s documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies played at the Sedona International Film Festival in February. The movie, which Camiel produced, explores how and why people lie. Camiel currently produces long-form documentaries for CNBC; she has previously worked at CBS and Reuters.
LESBOS, GREECE: OPC member Micah Garen and partner Marie-Hélène Carleton are working on a documentary about the impact of the refugee crisis on Lesbos. They published a story and a video excerpt on the Vanity Fair website in mid-March about the crossing from Turkey to Greece known as the “Route of Death”: “Refugees and migrants pay smugglers an average of $1,000 per person to get on rubber dinghies stuffed with as many as 60 people and then cross treacherous waters in freezing conditions,” they write. “Often there isn’t enough fuel to make it out of Turkish waters. Other times an inexperienced driver guns the engine to get to Greek waters as quickly as possible, and burns out the motor.” Garen and Carleton are fundraising for the film at lightonthesea.com.
LONDON: Journalists at The Independent are being asked to take steep pay cuts as the newspaper ends its print edition and goes online-only, The Guardian reports. The last issue of the Independent on Sunday was published in late March. More than 100 of the 160 journalists on staff are expected to lose their jobs, and the National Union of Journalists complained in a statement that for the remaining jobs, “pay and conditions on the digital side are worse.”
DOHA, QATAR: Just months after revealing plans to shut down its U.S. cable channel, Al Jazeera revealed further job cuts. The network announced an “optimization initiative” on its website on March 27, saying “around 500 positions worldwide will be affected, the majority of which are in Qatar.” CNN reports that the Qatar-owned network has been hit by the falling price of oil.
Editor, correspondent and media critic Ben Bagdikian died on March 11 at age 96. Bagdikian began his journalism career in 1947 and did a stint as a Middle East correspondent before joining the Saturday Evening Post and eventually The Washington Post. He played a key role in obtaining and publishing the Pentagon Papers at the Post. His book The Media Monopoly, which warned about corporate control of the news, went through several editions.
By Trish Anderton
John Ismay, winner of the 2014 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting, has received a 2015 George Polk Award for a New York Times investigation of the Navy SEALs. The award, in the Military Reporting category, recognizes seven journalists – Ismay, Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Mark Mazzetti, Matthew Rosenberg, Serge F. Kovaleski and Sean D. Naylor – for two stories. One story focused on SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, while the second probed the 2012 beating death of an Afghan detainee. Ismay, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, served as an explosive ordnance disposal officer in Iraq. He is currently a Military and Veterans Issues Reporter at KPCC 89.3FM, a public radio station based in Pasadena, California.
Maddy Crowell, who won the Irene Korbally Kuhn scholarship in 2014, has started a new job as a reporter for the Khmer Times. The Phnom Penh-based English-language publication was launched by OPC member Jim Brooks in 2014. Crowell, a Carleton College graduate, has previously reported from Ghana and New Delhi.
Also at the Khmer Times is James Reddick. The 2015 Irene Korbally Kuhn Scholar is now an editor there. Reddick got his master’s from the journalism school at UC Berkeley last year. He has also lived and reported in Beirut.
Lauren Bohn, winner of the 2012 H.L. Stevenson Internship, has landed a long story in The Atlantic. The Jan. 23 piece profiles five families about the aftermath of the uprising that felled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak five years ago. Bohn is the Middle East correspondent for the GroundTruth Project, which was founded by OPC member Charles Sennott. She is also the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and a contributing editor at The Cairo Review of Global Affairs.
Justine Drennan, the Stan Swinton Internship winner in 2013, has been named a junior editor at the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a social policy magazine at Stanford University. Drennan was an OPC Foundation fellow in the AP bureau in Bangkok.
2015 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner Miriam Berger has a story on Buzzfeed about Uber’s efforts to address sexual harasment in Egypt. Berger is currently freelancing while studying toward her master’s degree at Oxford.
Georgia Wells, Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2012, is now a multimedia producer covering technology for The Wall Street Journal in San Francisco. Previously, Wells was an editor at WSJ.com and wrote about emerging markets.
Orb Media, which is headed by OPC Governor Molly Bingham, has won a $450,000 award in the Knight News Challenge on Data. The “Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd” project aims to create an open-source tool to help journalists and others carry out scientifically sound surveys online. Orb, a nonprofit, was founded with the goal of producing a “new kind of journalism that challenges and unites us around our human story.”
Martha Mendoza, who shared the 1999 Madeline Dane Ross Award with colleagues at the AP, has won a George Polk Award with another AP team. The prize for Foreign Reporting went to the agency’s series on the Thai fishing industry, “Seafood from Slaves.” It documented how poor people from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are locked up, beaten, and forced to risk their lives catching seafood for the U.S. grocery and pet food markets. More than 2,000 captives have been rescued and companies have been shut down in the wake of the stories.
Two-time OPC Award winner T. Christian Miller of ProPublica has won a Polk Award for a joint effort with The Marshall Project, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” The piece showed how police in Lynnwood, Washington, pressured an 18-year-old rape victim to recant her story – only to discover later that the serial rapist who had attacked her had gone on to assault five other women.
Tom Yellin, who has won two OPC Awards, was honored with a Polk Award for Documentary Film for his work on “Cartel Land.” The Oscar-nominated film spotlights citizen groups that are trying to counter the influence of Mexican drug cartels.
NEW YORK: OPC Governor Paul Moakley and members Santiago Lyon and Vaughn Wallace will mentor young photographers at the Fourth Annual New York Portfolio Review in April. The event assembles “75 of the most influential editors, curators, gallerists and book publishers” to give private photo critiques to 150 up-and-coming members of the profession. There’s no charge, but admission is by application only. The Review is jointly sponsored by The New York Times Lens Blog and the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.
OPC Governor Robert Nickelsberg spent eight months working with Al Jazeera America reporter Dorothy Parvaz on a story about sex trafficking. The seven-parter, “Selling American Girls,” ran in December with Nickelsberg’s powerful photos from streets and jails around the U.S.
OPC Governor Daniel Sieberg is leading a plenary session at the annual convention of the Religion Communicators Council in late March. Sieberg, the global head of media outreach for Google News Lab, will “share insights about the ever-evolving innovations and challenges of storytelling at the intersection of media and technology.”
Last year’s OPC President’s Award recipient, David Rohde, has been promoted. His new title at Reuters is national security investigations editor – a new role at the news service, according to AdWeek. His work will focus on national security, international relations, defense and diplomacy; he’ll also handle some social media duties. Rohde joined Reuters in 2011 and previously worked for The New York Times.
HBO aired a documentary about slain reporter James Foley on Feb. 6. Jim: The James Foley Story was directed by Foley’s close childhood friend, Brian Oakes. It traces his life story, including his captivity at the hands of Islamic State, through interviews with friends and fellow hostages. Foley was murdered while in captivity in 2014.
The New York Times ended the fourth quarter of 2015 with a net income of $52 million, a 48 percent increase over the same period in 2014. Revenues were flat, however, and executive editor and OPC member Dean Baquet announced a sweeping review to “develop a strategic plan” for the news operation. Baquet said costs are a concern but he did not anticipate any layoffs this year. He added that some areas of the newsroom, such as multimedia and international coverage, might eventually grow.
The New York Times has also debuted a Spanish-language news site, AdWeek’s FishbowlNY reports. The site, located at NYTimes.com/es, features translated Times stories as well as original reporting from a team in Mexico City and correspondents in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Miami. It is edited by Elias Lopez.
Al Jazeera America is closing down its digital operations by the end of February – earlier than originally expected – according to Politico Media. Digital staff have reportedly been told not to come to work after Feb. 26, but will still be paid through April. Employees on the TV side will continue working until April 12. Al Jazeera announced last month that the channel would shut down in April after struggling with losses and low ratings.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera America digital staffers have built a site to showcase their work – and promote themselves to potential employers. The Best of Al Jazeera America Digital, at bestofajam.com, provides online stories indexed by topic and journalist. It also offers bios of all the digital staffers. As Poynter.org points out, it’s at least the third example of journalists promoting each other’s work and careers online after projects shutter. The other two are Circa, the news app that closed last year, and Digital First Media’s Thunderdome project, which ended in 2014.
Vice Media’s daily news show is tentatively set to launch on HBO in the second quarter of 2016, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Former Bloomberg chief content officer Josh Tyrangiel is overseeing the project. The half-hour newscast will air five days a week and feature original reporting. Vice has been mum about the show’s content, but Tyrangiel told the New York Post that he likes “complicated stories, versus hitting people over the head with a hammer.”
HOLLYWOOD, Calif.: OPC member Dan Rather is defending the story that ended his reign at CBS News. “We reported a true story. We didn’t do it perfectly. We made some mistakes of getting to the truth. But that didn’t change the truth of what we reported,” the former anchorman told the Hollywood Reporter in December. Rather left CBS in late 2006 after questions arose about the legitimacy of the documents in his 2004 story about George W. Bush allegedly going AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. A movie about the controversy, Truth, was released in late 2015. Rather is currently hosting the web series “The Big Interview.”
ATLANTA: The entire staff of CNN’s international desk at its headquarters in Atlanta has been laid off and asked to apply for new jobs and titles, according to AdWeek’s TV Newser. Several positions will reportedly move to Hong Kong and London, while the jobs that remain in Atlanta will undergo title changes. The moves are part of a restructuring and will not include layoffs, the website reported, adding that the changes are set to take place in late March.
LONDON: The BBC is merging its radio and TV divisions as part of a reorganization designed to slash more than $700 million from its budget, Poynter.org writes. The move will do away with the network’s channel-based system and reshape it to focus on audience and content type. It will also help the organization cut its payroll. “This is mostly about stripping out outdated management and executive jobs,” said Rick Edmonds, Poynter’s media business analyst. “It’s not clear how it will impact staffing of TV, radio and digital journalism activities.”
The Guardian has announced it will slash costs in a bid to erase its operating deficit within three years. The plan will cut its $380 million annualized costs by 20 percent, according to The New York Times. The company also hopes to double revenue from readers. It would not comment on whether the austerity plan included staff cuts.
PARIS: A year bracketed by shocking terrorists attacks has left Paris a different place, OPC Governor Vivienne Walt told Time magazine in January. “There’s definitely a sense of vulnerability that was never there before,” she said in a video posted on the Time website. “There are soldiers everywhere at sites that just would have been unimaginable a year ago.” But, she added, successfully hosting 40,000 visitors for the Paris climate talks – just weeks after the November terror attacks that claimed 130 lives – helped restore a sense of unity and solidarity to the city.
BRUSSELS: The Press Club Brussels Europe, headed by OPC member Jonathan Kapstein, recently hosted the secretary general of the International Association of Press Clubs (IAPC), Jaroslaw Wlodarczyk, as well as Club Suisse de la Presse director Guy Mettan. The clubs discussed the IAPC and European Press Club Federation Congress to be held in Geneva in May.
AMSTERDAM: Marcus Bleasdale, who won last year’s OPC Robert Capa Gold Medal Award for his work documenting militia-fueled violence in the Central African Republic, co-hosted a master class at Human Rights Weekend in late January. Bleasdale and Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert discussed “the essentials of international crisis reporting – from on-the-ground investigation methods to techniques for ensuring that stories reach the broadest audience possible.” Bleasdale is a photographer for National Geographic and Human Rights Watch. He and Bouckaert collaborated on his work in the CAR.
LISMORE, New South Wales, Australia: OPC member David Burnett’s exhibition of presidential photos has just finished a run at the Lismore Regional Gallery. Burnett is one of the few photographers to capture every U.S. commander-in-chief since John F. Kennedy. “Being in the company of presidents remains a rarefied place,” Burnett told the Sydney Morning Herald. “You seldom have second chances. You need to be on top of your game. When that look, that gesture, that moment happens, there is nothing like that click of a camera to let you feel like you are entitled to exhale.” The exhibition, called simply “The Presidents,” will go on display next in Melbourne, Australia in mid-2016.
KISH ISLAND, Iran: Minky Worden, an OPC governor, recently published an opinion piece on CNN.com about the human rights problems associated with an Iranian beach volleyball tournament scheduled for this month. Iran bans women from attending volleyball matches, in violation of the International Volleyball Federation’s own constitution. The ban was adopted in 2012, and women have been arrested for protesting against it. Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, calls on the federation to insist that Iran scrap the ban.
OLD GABALA, Azerbaijan: “The hand is what draws your attention. It belongs to a man. It rests, gently, on the woman’s face.” That’s how 2006 Bob Considine Award winner Paul Salopek begins his latest report from the Out of Eden Walk, his seven-year trek along the path the first humans may have taken out of Africa. Salopek goes on to describe the 1800-year-old grave of two lovers – “that hand to the cheek makes it impossible to call them otherwise” – recently unearthed in an archaeological dig in this corner of northern Azerbaijan. Salopek began walking just over three years ago in Herto Bouri, Ethiopia and aims to end his journey at the tip of South America. He’s documenting his experiences at outofedenwalk.com
Ronald Singleton, who spent four decades as the Rome correspondent for the Daily Mail of London, has died at age 92. In Italy, Singleton covered topics ranging from the Mafia, to earthquakes, to opera. He also had postings in Los Angeles and New York. He continued working well into his seventies.
By Trish Anderton
2014 H.L. Stephenson Fellowship winner Caelainn Hogan had a story in the New Yorker in December about why a move away from using Arabic script on Nigerian currency has proven controversial. As an OPC fellow, Hogan was based in Lagos, Nigeria with the Associated Press. She went on to do a global health fellowship with the GroundTruth Project, founded by OPC member Charles Sennott. Hogan is currently freelancing with a focus on migration, rights and religion.
Fatima Bhojani, OPC Foundation’s 2015 Theo Wilson winner, recently got a cover story in Newsweek Middle East. “Cry, For My Son, For His Freedom” tells the story of a Pakistani immigrant to the U.S. whose son was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being drawn into a terrorism plot by an FBI informant. Bhojani received a masters degree at Columbia University’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism in 2015 and is now writing about national security, criminal justice and foreign policy.
Former OPC President Richard B. Stolley was inducted into the New York Journalism Hall of Fame before a sold-out crowd at Sardi’s in November. The Hall is maintained by The Deadline Club, which is the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Stolley was honored for his six decades at Time, Inc., where he served as the company’s editorial director and was the founding editor of People.
OPC member David Hume Kennerly has been honored with the Lucie Award for Achievement in Photojournalism. Kennerly “is considered a master storyteller by his colleagues,” the Lucie Foundation wrote, “and has been shooting on the front lines of history for decades.” The awards, established in 2003, recognize “the greatest achievements in photography.” Kennerly has photographed more than 50 major magazine covers over the course of his career. Hired as a contributing editor by Politico in 2015, he is now producing photo essays about the 2016 presidential election.
Associated Press Mexico City bureau chief Katherine Corcoran has won an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship. Corcoran, who was named the Josephine Patterson Albright fellow, will examine press freedom in Mexico. The awards “provide support for journalists engaged in rigorous, probing, spirited, independent and skeptical work that will benefit the public.” Corcoran has been with the AP since 2008. She has also worked at the San Jose Mercury News, the Denver Post and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Josh Fine and David Scott, who won the 2014 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award for their HBO Real Sports feature on labor abuses in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, have nabbed an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for the same story. The judges said the “extensive investigation into Qatar’s plan to achieve international recognition through sport exposed the price it has exacted in fair play, human rights, and even human lives.” Three-time OPC Award-winner Scott Pelley was also awarded a duPont for his 60 Minutes investigation into 2013 sarin gas attacks that killed 1500 people in Damascus, Syria. Multiple OPC Award-winner David Fanning of PBS’ Frontline took home multiple duPont-Columbia Awards – one for Ebola coverage and another for a documentary about transgender children.
NEW YORK: OPC member Anupreeta Das is joining a new financial enterprise team headed by David Enrich at The Wall Street Journal. Das has recently been covering Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway for the Journal. She’ll continue in that role, while also covering Wall Street and the presidential race. Das previously wrote about technology, media and the telecommunications industry for Reuters.
Former OPC Governor Howard Chua-Eoan has been given editorial authority over the front-of-the-book news sections at Bloomberg Businessweek, where he is deputy managing editor. Chua-Eoan is a former news director at Time magazine and author of several books; he has served as Press Freedom chair at the OPC.
OPC Governor Lara Setrakian has launched her latest immersive news project. Arctic Deeply covers the impact of climate change on the polar ice caps, and how the changing polar environment affects the rest of the world. It is produced in partnership with Canada’s Centre for International Governance. Setrakian founded the media startup News Deeply in 2012 to provide sustained, in-depth reporting on critical issues. The company’s other topical deep-dives include Syria Deeply and Water Deeply.
The New York Times will still have a print edition in 10 years – but it may not be like today’s paper, says CEO Mark Thompson. “I think the print product will evolve,” Thompson told OPC member and Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius. He said the paper is focusing on “what’s the right way of thinking about your print platform in a smartphone world.” Thompson also said he feels the Times is “successfully monetizing our audiences for news better than any other newspaper-based company in the world,” adding that “I’m not saying our model’s right for everyone, but for us we think it’s the right model.” Ignatius interviewed Thompson as part of Business Insider’s IGNITION 2015 conference.
Jim Rutenberg, chief political correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, will be the newspaper’s next media columnist – taking over a post that has stood empty since the death of industry icon David Carr nearly a year ago. Rutenberg started his Times career as a media reporter in 2000. “Jim brings to the job a passion for the story, a track record in covering the industry and the experienced eye of an astute observer,” wrote executive editor and OPC member Dean Baquet, along with business editor Dean Murphy, in a memo to NYT staffers.
The New Republic is up for sale again, as Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes appears to have given up his effort to transform the magazine into a digital powerhouse. “I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate,” Hughes wrote to employees; he went on to promise that “our staff will remain in place and fully supported over the coming weeks.” Hughes’ tenure has been bumpy, including the resignation of most of the magazine’s writers and editors in 2014 in protest over a planned reorganization.
Al Jazeera America will close its doors at the end of April, a move CEO Al Anstey says was “driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.” Meanwhile, AJAM’s global parent company will expand its digital operations in the U.S. OPC Governor and former AJAM employee Azmat Khan writes that the effort was doomed to failure because “Rather than dedicating the brunt of its resources to figuring out a new model in journalism’s changing landscape, it sunk most of its money, reputation, and staff into an old one.” You can read more of her analysis on page 3. An anonymous AJAM staffer told the Huffington Post that the company “can unilaterally decide what to offer” hundreds of non-unionized employees, but will have to negotiate termination with some 50 union members.
The U.S. must be careful to avoid the appearance of picking sides in the Sunni-Shiite divide, OPC past President David A. Andelman writes in USA Today. While significant segments of popular Arab and Iranian opinion have long seen America as tied to the Sunnis, he explains, “the efforts to bring Iran to an agreement on a nuclear weapons moratorium and to the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group have shifted perceptions.” In order to bring together a coalition against ISIS, Andelman warns, America must safeguard its image as “a neutral force of moderation.”
Harper’s Magazine has issued the first retraction in its 165-year history. In December the magazine announced that “at least 5,647 of the 7,902 words” in its 1998 story “Prophets and Losses” were based on fabrications. The story about telephone psychics was authored by Stephen Glass, who was fired by The New Republic that same year when it emerged that many of his stories had been invented. “Prophets and Losses” came under suspicion at the time but Harper’s was unable to confirm its truth or falsity; “We can’t retract the story without being able to confirm that it was false,” Harper’s president and publisher – and OPC member – John R. MacArthur told The New York Times in 1998. Glass recently sent the magazine a letter admitting that the story was fictional, perhaps as part of his ongoing effort to get a California law license.
CHICAGO: 2015 OPC President’s Award recipient David Rohde features prominently in Episode 4 of the hit podcast Serial. The show is exploring the case of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who deserted his post in Afghanistan and was captured and held for five years, and who now faces court-martial. Host Sarah Koenig interviews Rohde about his captivity in 2008 and 2009 in the hands of the Haqqani network, a group aligned with the Taliban – and the same group that held Bergdahl. Rohde escaped just ten days before Bergdahl’s capture; he says he worried that his escape might have caused the Haqqani to treat Bergdahl more harshly.
LOS ANGELES: Don Bartletti, part of the Los Angeles Times team that won last year’s Robert Spiers Benjamin Award, has retired after accepting a buyout. Voice of San Diego published a lengthy interview with the Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist in late December. Barletti told the website that “as a journalist, I’m not namby-pamby. I’m not in the middle. I’m not afraid to show the harshest of both sides – because my job as a photojournalist is to give YOU a choice.” He also said the OPC award is the one he cherishes the most.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.: The terror attacks in Paris were the world’s biggest trending news event on Google in 2015, according to Google Trends. The attacks prompted nearly 900 million searches. Other stories that made the list include the migrant crisis in Europe (23 million), the Nepal earthquake (85 million), and Greece’s economic woes (35 million). Google Trends attempts to capture “spiking, trending searches,” not overall search volume over the course of the year, OPC Associate Board Member – and Google global head of media outreach – Daniel Sieberg explained in an appearance on CBS News in December.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Young Saudi women are increasingly testing the boundaries of their country’s strict social codes, writes OPC Governor Deborah Amos in a recent story for NPR. They call the phenomenon “pushing normal,” and it could involve anything from mingling in a mixed-gender crowd at an art show to riding a bicycle by oneself – very early in the morning, and disguised as a boy. Amos, NPR correspondent, recently covered historic local elections in Saudi Arabia which saw women vote and be elected to office for the first time.
Renowned cinematographer and documentarian Haskell Wexler died on Dec. 27 at age 93. Haskell won multiple awards for his work on such influential films as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” and “In the Heat of the Night.” As a documentarian, he exposed the torture of political prisoners in Brazil, interviewed American veterans of the My Lai massacre, and in 1974 traveled throughout Vietnam filming ordinary citizens talking about the impact of the war. “An amazing life has ended,” his son Jeff wrote, “but his lifelong commitment to fight the good fight, for peace, for all humanity, will carry on.”