July 15, 2024

People Column

2017 July-December Issue

November-December 2017


2015 H.L. Stevenson winner J.p. Lawrence is joining Stars and Stripes as a downrange reporter covering Afghanistan. Most recently, he was a reporter for The San Antonio Express-News focusing on defense, the trauma of war and veteran stories. Lawrence previously worked at The Albany Times Union covering the crime beat and received an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Uganda.

Congratulations to Michael E. Miller, 2009 Swinton winner, and his colleagues at The Washington Post for winning the 2017 Feddie Award from the National Press Foundation for their reporting on MS-13. The award recognizes outstanding reporting on the impact of federal laws and regulations on local communities. The Post’s story documented the lapses in the federal program that tracks young immigrants detained at the border. The reporting also revealed the complexity of immigration issues, illustrating how some youth arrive with gang ties, while others who are trying to escape poverty and violence find themselves vulnerable to gang recruitment. Miller had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the AP bureau in Mexico City.

OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta won two Front Page Awards this month, garnering the essay writing category along with Sandy Phillips for a Mother Jones piece on Sandy’s battle with a gun dealer who sold 4,000 rounds of ammunition to the man who killed her daughter in the “Batman” shooting in Colorado. Pesta also won in the feature writing category along with Carrie Arnold for a series on sexual assault in Women’s Health magazine. Her story was about doctors who sexually abuse their patients. Pesta and Arnold also won a Folio: Eddie Award for the same series.

Robert Capa Gold Medal awardees Bryan Denton and Sergey Ponomarev had their photos featured in several recent international stories for The New York Times. Denton’s work told the story of Taiwan’s diminishing military might, which has continued to pale in comparison to China’s modernizing forces backed by big budgets. His shots of the massive Hai Pao, a WWII submarine, and Chiayi Air Force Base appeared in a Nov. 4 article. Denton also contributed photography to another Nov. 4 piece by East Africa reporter Jeffrey Gettleman on the global ape trade, in which his photos of bonobos were featured. Ponomarev’s work continues to appear in reports on the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis. His images have portrayed families traveling into Bangladesh as well as conditions of refugee camps in which those fleeing their homes are forced to stay and work.

An OPC award-winning photo by Chris Hondros of Getty Images was featured in a New York Times article in October about former fighter Joseph Duo’s political campaign in Liberia. Hondros won the OPC’s 2003 John Faber Award for an iconic picture of Duo as a fierce armed fighter storming a bridge. That picture is in the Times article. Hondros died from wounds in an attack in Misurata, Libya, in 2011 along with photojournalist Tim Hetherington. Hondros met with Duo a few years after the bridge photo was published, and Hondros helped to pay for Duo’s high school tuition. The article is titled “He Was the Face of Liberia’s Endless War. Now He Wants to Govern.”

Malia Politzer, the current winner of Best Digital Reporting on International Affairs, spoke in October at two events, sharing her experience and reporting advice with young and emerging journalists. During the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s annual Washington Weekend for its student fellowship winners, Politzer was featured in an Oct. 21 panel discussion on pitching global stories. She shared tips on ways for freelancers to network, form key relationships in the media industry and select the right moment to pitch their ideas. On Oct. 30, Politzer appeared at the College of William & Mary to speak about the international economic ramifications of the refugee crisis, drawing from her own experience as a migration reporter.

This year’s Thomas Nast awardee Steve Sack was featured in a Nov. 8 Washington Post article showcasing the response of cartoonists to the recent Sutherland Springs church shooting in Texas. Sack, who contributes to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, drew a cartoon depicting a Capitol Hill lawmaker responding to a group of reporters asking about gun reform with the words, “Too soon! We still haven’t finished not doing anything after the last massacre!”

This year’s Olivier Rebbot winner Daniel Berehulak had his work shown in the 2017 World Press Photo Exhibition in Bangkok in early November. Berehulak’s photo series, which earned him first place in the general news category of the World Press Photo competition, showed the ravages of Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines. His images reveal the death and incarceration brought to the country by the president’s so-called anti-drug campaign which has led to thousands of killings.

Masha Gessen, the OPC’s winner of the Best Commentary award in any medium on international news, has been recognized as a National Book Award finalist in the nonfiction category for her book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Gessen’s book, which has received widespread praise, explores how old Soviet attitudes continue in Putin’s Russia.Gessen’s work focuses heavily on Russian history and politics, and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair and other publications.


NEW YORK: The OPC is honoring member Kim Wall with an award in her name. The Kim Wall Best Digital Reporting Award is for the best story or series of stories on international affairs using creative and dynamic digital storytelling techniques. Previously it was called the Best Digital Reporting Award. Wall had worked around the globe covering issues including politics, human rights and the environment and appearing in The New York Times, Harpers, The Atlantic, TIME and many other publications. She was murdered on assignment in Denmark while after boarding a submarine to interview Peter Madsen, its engineer, who has been charged with her killing.

OPC Governor Azmat Khan and members Christiane Amanpour and Judith Matloff were featured in a short film by The Dart Center on the treatment of women in the media industry. Amid a flurry of accounts of sexual harassment and assault within newsrooms, women spoke on camera for The Dart Center on their experiences in the workplace and the field where they’ve been faced with sexist and threatening behaviors. “We just have to remind ourselves that we have a right to be really, really assertive,” Matloff said.

PBS has decided to feature longtime OPC member Christiane Amanpour to fill a blank in the schedule as Charlie Rose goes off the air. Amanpour’s eponymous show on CNN International will broadcast on PBS on an interim basis while the network sorts out the next phase for that time slot. At least eight women, all employees or those who wanted to work for him, allege that Rose sexually harassed them. Amanpour’s on-hour show features “conversations with global leaders and decision makers.” CBS This Morning is also seeking someone to replace Rose as host.

OPC member Deborah Amos was honored in October by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) at their Courage in Journalism Awards ceremony. Amos has long been covering the Middle East for NPR, working in Syria reporting on the country’s decline as well as visiting Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan throughout her career. She also survived a kidnapping during her time in Somalia. Speaking to IWMF, Amos recalled her experience starting out and learning how to stay safe while also reaching the heart of the story.

The following is a first-person account from longtime OPC member Jonathan Kapstein, who sent this dispatch to the Bulletin about his interview with Robert Mugabe shortly after he took power in Zimbabwe almost four decades ago.

Business Week headed the interview as “A Marxist who encourages private business.” It was early 1980, and I was BW’s regional bureau chief when I interviewed Robert Mugabe. He had just emerged from years of imprisonment to lead Rhodesia into independence as Zimbabwe. With the aid of Andrew Meldrum, then a freelancer and now with the AP, I had one of the few interviews he ever gave. He insisted he was trying to strike a balance of redirecting national income, redressing land ownership issues while at the same time encouraging private enterprise and the entirely white business establishment to remain in a now multi-racial society. An impressive personality, he jolted me with the opening observation that the magazine had too many ads for the size of the news hole. I decided then and there not to underestimate him, and indeed for most of the 37 years that he held Zimbabwe in an iron grip he outfoxed any opposition at the cost of oppressing the country and destroying the economy. – Jonathan Kapstein”

Andrew Lluberes sent a pointed letter to The New York Times in October taking exception to an article by reporter Rapahel Minder about the conflict over Catalonia’s independence. Lluberes, a longtime member who retired and spends much of his time in Barcelona, defended the actions of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for invoking an article of the constitution and initiating direct rule of the region from Madrid. Minder called the move “unexpectedly forceful” and said the government had “stripped the autonomy” of the Catalonian region. Lluberes called the report “inaccurate” and “biased,” and told the times that Minder “went to grave lengths to quote secessionist and opposition politicians and pundits, but none of Rajoy’s coalition partners or the many political analysts and spokesmen who said Rajoy took the actions needed to preserve Spain’s hard-won democracy and the rule of law.”

OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta’s work was featured in the November issue of the Texas Monthly for which she covered the story of one woman’s marriage to a jihadist. Tania Joya, a Muslim and a daughter of Bangladeshi parents, grew up in a suburb of London, and eventually met a Texan convert to Islam named John, whom she encountered online. As Joya became more distant from her family, she and John eventually married, relocating to Syria where John showed signs of radicalization and Joya’s concerns grew. After discovering he had joined ISIS, Joya took her four sons and escaped the marriage, as told by Pesta in her story.

Club member and former OPC Governor Daniel Sieberg is leaving his post at Google News Lab to embrace a new project, Civil, an online news-making platform which he co-founded. The site will launch in 2018 and has branded itself as a place for decentralized journalism, where writers, editors and photographers can join forces to create stories of their choosing, being paid in bitcoin-style currency called CVL tokens, which will be backed by blockchain technology. The initiative aims to create a space for media professionals and news consumers to develop and promote their reporting in an uncensored environment where accuracy and accountability are key. Civil has already received $5 million in funding from decentralized app builder ConSensys, and Sieberg says he’s excited to begin the new project.

PARIS: OPC Governor Vivienne Walt’s exclusive interview with French President Emmanuel Macron was featured on the Nov. 13 cover of TIME. In this inside look at the 39-year-old president’s plans, Macron expresses how he sees his place within French politics and the world, touching on views about climate change, foreign relations and relations with President Trump. As 100 leaders are invited to the Dec. 12 Paris climate change summit, Trump has been left off the list unless he agrees to support the Paris Agreement from which he has removed the U.S. Macron maintained during the interview that this decision would remain until Trump decides to get back on board. Only six months ago, Macron won the French election earlier this year on a platform to overhaul the country’s economy and its labor laws.


A memorial gathering was held on Dec. 7 at the American Cathedral in Paris to honor the 101st birthday of John G. Morris who died on July 28. Morris, a legendary picture editor, joined the OPC in 1954 and had a storied career spanning decades, during which he worked with photographers covering some of history’s most critical moments from WWII to the Vietnam War. Morris was famously responsible for ensuring the front-page publication of Eddie Adams’ photo of the execution of an alleged Vietcong insurgent during Morris’ work with The Times. He also pushed for front-page placement of Huynh Cong Ut’s (also known as Nick Ut) image of a Vietnamese child fleeing a Napalm attack. He was additionally responsible for editing the work of Robert Capa, who captured stills of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. Morris died at age 100 in a hospital near his Paris residence.


October 2017


The OPC Foundation’s 2014 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, Sam Kimball, is working on a podcasting project dedicated to telling the personal stories of everyday Iraqis titled UNHEARD: The Voices of Iraq. Through a Kickstarter campaign that met its $6,000 goal, Kimball will begin training in storytelling and radio production and pass those skills on to local journalists who will help him to carry out his vision for the project. Kimball arrived in Iraq in January 2017 with an eye to reporting stories that go deeper than typical narratives about ISIS and jihad to reveal a more complete picture of how ordinary Iraqis are grappling with terrorism and government corruption. He will enroll in Transom’s Storytelling Workshop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he’ll learn about audio equipment, editing, writing and other aspects of production.


NEW YORK: OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta received two awards from The Newswomen’s Club of New York, one for her magazine feature “First Do No Harm” in Women’s Health Magazine and another for her Mother Jones essay, “My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer.” “First Do No Harm” is an investigative report exposing sexual abuse by physicians. The article explores the aftermath of sexual assault and outlines resources to seek help. Pesta reported that in a 500-person survey, 27 percent of participants had been violated during a doctor’s visit. Pesta’s piece for Mother Jones recounts a story told to her by Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessi was killed during the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Phillips attempted to sue the person who sold thousands of rounds of ammunition to the gunman, but lost the suit and was forced to pay the defendant’s legal fees, rendering her bankrupt.

OPC Governor Bill Collins accepted a buyout offer and wrapped up a 28-year communications career recently with Ford Motor Co. Bill has been an active OPC supporter since joining the Board in 2002, publicizing the OPC Awards and contributing to the Freedom of the Press Committee. He’s recently joined the OPC Foundation Board. “In the next chapter, I’ll continue working on press freedom projects and PR consulting,” said Collins, a former journalist. He was honored in a farewell event at God’s Love We Deliver in New York on Oct. 12.

A small group of friends and family gathered Oct. 15 at the apartment of Patti Kenner to celebrate the spirit and accomplishments of longtime OPC member Ruth Gruber, who died Nov. 17 at 105. Kenner was a close friend of Ruth’s and the producer of the documentary “Ahead of Time: the Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber.” Gruber joined the OPC in 1959 and remained a member until her death. A photojournalist and author, she also worked as a human rights advocate. “Acting for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she escorted nearly 1,000 refugees from 19 Nazi-occupied nations to a safe haven in the United States on a perilous trans-Atlantic crossing in 1944. They included the only large contingent of Jews allowed into America during World War II,” according to the memorial program. Gruber is one of ten women profiled in the book Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females, by Linda Stein. A tapestry made by Stein was displayed at the event, showing photos and scenes from Ruth’s life. Kenner closed the program with a quote from Gruber: “If something has to be done, just go ahead and do it. Don’t let obstacles get in your way.”

This year’s OPC Feature Photography Award winner, Meridith Kohut, was recently interviewed by Image Republiq on her experience working in Venezuela over the last decade. Recounting how her work there began, she recalled a 2006 phone call with David Furst, international picture editor at The New York Times and newly elected OPC Governor, who proposed that she travel to Venezuela to document the everyday lives of its citizens. She told Image Republiq that when she arrived she discovered a population in a downward spiral of starvation and inflation under authoritarian oppression from then-President Nicolás Maduro. Kohut recently presented her work at a panel co-sponsored by the OPC, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the Professional Prizes department. A video of her interview can be found on Image Republiq’s Facebook page.

NYU journalism professor Mohamad Bazzi was featured in The New York Times last month for his op-ed on his experience with the university’s Abu Dhabi campus. Bazzi was scheduled to teach a course at the site when he was denied entry into United Arab Emirates by the government. The university made an unsuccessful appeal. Bazzi suspects that the school made only a half-hearted attempt to solve the issue. He believes the root of the issue to be his background, being a Lebanese-born Shiite Muslim. Bazzi’s op-ed alleged discrimination and said NYU failed to adhere to principles of academic freedom upon which its New York campus was built. Bazzi spoke at an OPC panel at International House earlier this year about the crisis in Syria.

Kate Webb, a former correspondent for Agence-France Presse, has been featured on an Australian stamp. Webb, who died at the age of 64 in 2007, reported in Asia and is known for her coverage of the Vietnam War. In 1971, it had been mistakenly reported that she was killed following her capture in Cambodia by North Vietnamese troops who detained her for 23 days, prompting an obituary to be published on the front page of The New York Times. The honorary stamp is one of five in a set unveiled last month to recognize the roles played by women in conflict zones. The set was issued on Oct. 6.

SAN FRANCISCO: Elizabeth Dwoskin, who was part of a team that won this year’s Bob Considine Award, has continued ongoing work with The Washington Post about the presence of Russian ads on Facebook and other online platforms. Her reporting, part of a group project shared with colleagues, exposes that Russians have spent tens of thousands of dollars in advertising to spread disinformation on social media and across Google’s platforms, including Gmail and YouTube. The stories outline ways that disinformation focused on key voting states during the 2016 presidential election. Dwoskin’s byline also appeared in a Washington Post story last month detailing how some of the Russian-linked Facebook ads were directly intended to drive a wedge between racial and religious groups.

MEXICO CITY: Photographer Wesley Bocxe suffered serious injuries during last month’s earthquake in Mexico City when his apartment building collapsed. He is expected to survive and his 5-year-old daughter, Amara, was at school at the time and survived. But Bocxe’s wife, Elizabeth Esguerra Rosas, was with him and did not survive the collapse. A Gofundme page has been set up to assist Bocxe and his family. The page has generated more than $110,000 in funds, and around $30,000 of the $150,000 goal remains.

ROME: In September, former OPC Governor Yvonne Dunleavy received a tour of the Rome press club, Stampa Estera, by active officer Chris Warde-Jones. Occupying a spacious, multi-story building in the heart of the city, the club has comprehensive facilities for journalists, a bar and extensive exhibition space and an auditorium for conferences with newsworthy people “from the Pope on down,” Dunleavy said. She noted an irony: the premises were an inadvertent gift from dictator Benito Mussolini during his fascist regime in the early 20th century, as the government dismantled democratic institutions and created a law to consolidate and monitor the press from a single location. “Victim of his own megalomania and failed swaggering vows to return Italy to its ancient glory, Mussolini was executed in 1945 toward the end of the Second World War,” Dunleavy wrote to the Bulletin.


Former OPC member and longtime foreign correspondent Wilbur Landrey died on Sept. 29 in Largo, Forida from pneumonia complications. He was 93. Landrey joined the OPC in 1959, continuing a career shared by three family generations of newspapermen before him. Born in Kansas City on Nov. 16, 1923, Landrey embarked on his reporting career while in high school, writing for the Kansas City Kansan. During his time at the University of Kansas, he began working for the Kansas City Star, eventually joining the United Press International news service the year he graduated. Landrey spent the bulk of his career with UPI, traveling throughout the world in regions including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Finally, he joined the Tampa Bay Times in 1975 where he worked for nearly 20 years. He is survived by his wife, Beverly Landrey.

Legendary Associated Press reporter Richard Pyle died in a hospital on Sept. 28 from lung fibrosis and obstructive lung disease, according to his wife, actress-writer Brenda Smiley. He was 83. Pyle’s 49-year career included top stories on the presidency of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, revolution in the Philippines and the 9-11 terrorist attacks. He covered Vietnam from 1968 to 1973, serving as Saigon bureau chief for the last few years of his tenure there. AP’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, told the wire agency that Pyle maintained “his passion for great stories and never lost his insistence on strong, probing journalism.” He authored the 1991 book, Schwarzkopf, on the 1991 Gulf War commander H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and co-authored Breaking News: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else, which was published in 2007. He retired in 2009.

Diana Kaff, journalist and wife of past OPC member Albert Kaff, died on Sept. 22. She was 85. Diana had written for Chinese language newspapers and married Albert in 1960. Two years later, Albert, a longtime UPI correspondent, joined the OPC and was given honorary status in 1998 for writing the Bulletin’s People column. He passed away in 2011. Diana is remembered for her travel writing and human interest stories in Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily News and New York’s World Journal.

September 2017


OPC scholar Jad Sleiman, who won the Schweisberg award in 2013, has joined Agence France Presse as a video journalist and is currently based in Cyprus. Jad spent a year with Stars & Stripes reporting on Iraq and Afghanistan before attending the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Leah Finnegan, the Swinton winner in 2010, in now a senior editor at The Outline where she covers the media. She has also written for Gawker and The New York Times. While working in the Cairo bureau of The Associated Press, Finnegan was an OPC Foundation fellow.


NEW YORK: Masha Gessen, who won this year’s OPC award for Best Commentary for her piece, “Trump, Russia and the Reality of Power” in The New York Review of Books, has been named a finalist in the 2017 National Book Awards in the nonfiction category for The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia [Riverhead Books /Penguin Random House]. Gessen was also featured in The New York Times in September for her op-ed, “Immigrants Shouldn’t Have to Be ‘Talented’ to Be Welcome.” In response to President Trump’s decision to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Gessen said it is wrong to lament Trump’s revocation of DACA only because it will result in the deportation of dedicated workers. “The problem is that it’s inhumane,” wrote Gessen. “As long as politicians consider it necessary to qualify the victims as ‘hardworking’ or ‘talented,’ they fail to stand up to the administration’s fundamentally hateful immigration agenda.”

OPC Governor Rukmini Callimachi was featured by Poynter’s head media writer, James Warren, last month for her on-the-ground reporting on ISIS and Al Qaeda. Warren called Callimachi “one of the most astute reporters of perhaps the biggest story of the era.” He recalled the start of her career as an intern at a local Illinois newspaper, a path that ultimately lead her to garner three Pulitzer nominations. He touted Callimachi’s ability to go beyond traditional sources in her award-winning reporting on terrorist groups, including the search for evidence in trash cans and other sleuthing to reveal “that the movement leading to ISIS was far more nuanced than most reporters – indeed, most of the world – had assumed,” Warren wrote. She delved into secret terrorist communication networks, managing to obtain invitations to encrypted apps and chat rooms, scoring an insider’s look at jihadist activities. Warren cited “her ability to smartly capitalize on the endless space of the Internet” and her pursuit of a “laborious and even outright exhausting” mission to uncover terrorist operations.

Newly elected OPC Governor Paula Dwyer made the cover of the July 24 Asia edition of Bloomberg Businessweek with her piece, “Should America’s Tech Giants Be Broken Up?” Dwyer’s coverage explores whether Big Tech has become too big, looking at companies that dominate markets with near monopolies. She notes that together, Google and Facebook have seized control over more than half of mobile ads, while Amazon is responsible for the majority of the e-book market and almost one third of U.S. e-commerce overall. “Economists have noticed these monopoly-size numbers and drawn even bigger conclusions: They see market concentration as the culprit behind some of the U.S. economy’s most persistent ailments – the decline of workers’ share of national income, the rise of inequality, the decrease in business startups, the dearth of job creation, and the fall in research and development spending,” Dwyer wrote.

David Rohde has taken a job as Online News Director at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he was National Security Investigations Editor at Reuters. David won the 1995 Hal Boyle Award while at  The Christian Science Monitor for a story on the Srebrenica Massacre and the 2015 Joe and Laure Dine Award for an investigation of Gauntanamo Bay for Reuters.

BOSTON, MA: The Harvard Business Review, of which OPC member Adi Ignatius is editor-in-chief, had one of its most successful years ever, boosting circulation to an all-time high according to a report released by the Alliance for Audited Media. Talking New Media featured HBR in a recent article, citing its push to go digital, expanding online content for subscribers and cutting its print issues from 10 to 6 editions per year. The repot said HBR has embraced the digital age by creating its own Slackbot, an online virtual assistant for office advice, in addition to hosting Facebook Live shows, management tips on Amazon’s Alexa and launching HBR Ascend, a platform focused on India’s young professionals. “Our goal is to publish ideas that improve how companies operate and how people manage their careers,” Ignatius said. “Every day, we push ourselves to find ever greater ways to expand our impact, to make sure these ideas have the greatest possible reach and influence.”

Raney Aronson-Rath and Andrew Metz, two of this year’s winners of the David. A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award, have launched The FRONTLINE Dispatch, a new podcast which first aired on Sept. 14. The program will focus on both domestic and international stories featuring narration from reporters around the globe. “At FRONTLINE, now and always, we are committed to in-depth, transparent journalism, and we care deeply about reaching audiences wherever they are, with stories that are vital and authentic,” said Aronson-Rath to WGBH. “Extending our storytelling into the podcast realm, in a native way that brings all the depth and quality our audience expects from FRONTLINE’s documentaries, is a natural next step.”

WASHINGTON, DC: Hannah Dreier, who was this year’s Hal Boyle award winner for her coverage of political turmoil in Venezuela, was featured as a guest last month by The Global Politico podcast with host Susan B. Glasser, who spoke with Dreier about her work abroad. Dreier may be the last U.S. journalist to be granted a work visa to stay in Venezuela. “I felt like I had walked across a bridge as it was burning behind me,” she told Glasser. Dreier entered Venezuela in 2014 when she realized it might be on the edge of collapse. “I had no idea that it was going to become the mess that it is today,” she said, adding that she was unsure whether she would have gone if she had been aware of the country’s ultimate decline. This was Dreier’s first experience reporting abroad. Her groundbreaking reporting included an early and intimate view of poverty, corruption and government oppression that has become part of ordinary life in Venezuela. Dreier worked as an Associated Press correspondent and has since joined ProPublica to cover immigration.

OPC Governor Molly Bingham has announced the launch of Orb Media’s investigative environmental report, “Invisibles: The plastic inside us.” Through a partnership with one of the field’s leading scientists, Orb used tap water tests from five continents to reveal a high level of contamination from micro plastics in a significant amount of the world’s fresh water resources. The report showed that more than 80 percent of the nearly 160 tests indicated plastic fibers were present in drinking water. The story made it to the Guardian’s front page, and was published in more than a dozen additional media organizations, with findings shared across 13 countries in 32 languages. “Our most important take away is that these findings are a call for national and/or international research bodies to conduct in-depth studies to establish the source, distribution, prevalence and potential human health effects of micro plastics in drinking water,” Bingham said.

DENVER, CO: Longtime OPC member Michael Moran has launched his own media production, analysis and risk firm, Transformative.io, based in Denver, Colorado. His current projects include work with the World Policy Institute, several political risk and blogging projects and a documentary on US-Russian relations funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Moran spent 23 years as a foreign affairs journalist for a variety of outlets, including the BBC, MSNBC and ultimately as executive editor of the Council on Foreign Relations website, CFR.org. He is a former OPC board member, a frequent judge of the OPC Awards, and in 2011 a two-time OPC Award honoree for his Crisis Guide documentaries on Iran and Pakistan.

HOUSTON, TX: OPC member Ben Taub, who joined The New Yorker as a staff writer last May, gave extensive coverage to Hurricane Harvey survivors in several articles for the publication. His piece, “The Matisse that Hurricane Harvey Spared,” followed the story of a Houston family packing up what was left of their flooding home, mulling over which items to keep and which to let go. Taub bears witness to the heartbreaking devastation brought to the area by the storm while also exposing the humorous and tough demeanor of the family fleeing. In a powerful moment, Mary, the mother, says being able to make light of such a disaster is a necessary coping mechanism. “Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate between economic classes. And she always wins,” she remarked. At one moment, both Taub and his cameraman fell under water while covering the story, showing the risks journalists have taken to cover Harvey’s impact. His other articles explore relief efforts and profile the storm’s victims who have suffered record flooding and damages that will likely require years of recovery.

LONDON: Only three years after receiving a Pulitzer Prize, The Guardian has established its own nonprofit to support reporting on critical issues including social justice, global development, women and the environment. Its new website, theguardian.org, will raise funds from sources such as think tanks, philanthropic organizations and corporate foundations. According to the nonprofit, its mission is to “advance and inform public discourse and citizen participation around the most pressing issues of our time through the support of independent journalism and journalistic projects at The Guardian.” President Rachel White said the organization will focus on overlooked topics. “There’s an awakening to this concern that some of the issues that they hold dear are not getting coverage or there’s not enough information in the public sphere,” she said to The New York Times. The Times estimates philanthropic partnerships account for nearly $5 million of The Guardian’s revenues over the last fiscal year, which totaled about $276 million.


Swedish journalist Kim Wall, an OPC member, was discovered dead last month after embarking on a submarine trip for an assignment to profile the vessel’s Danish designer, Peter Madsen. Madsen has been charged with her murder. Madsen has been accused of mutilating Wall’s body before scuttling the submarine in an apparent suicide attempt. Wall was an accomplished freelancer who’d written for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper’s and TIME. She reported on a broad range of topics during her career, including climate change, tourism in Haiti and torture in Uganda. Police say Madsen’s accounts of events have been contradictory, and he remains under strong suspicion. He is slated to appear in court again on Oct. 3 and could serve up to life in prison if convicted.

Longtime OPC member Rachael Bail died on Sunday, Aug. 27 at the age of 94. Bail began her journalism career at the Tampa Daily Times, then moved to New York City to cover the cosmetics industry for Women’s Wear Daily. She married concert violinist Herbert Baumel and the couple moved to Caracas, Venezuela and then Rome, Italy, where she covered the country’s film industry in Cinecitta. After divorce, she worked as reporter and editor for Gannett in White Plains, New York, the Florida Times Union in Jacksonville, Florida and the St. Petersburg Times before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1975 where she was Supreme Court correspondent and editor at Voice of America. In a message to the OPC, her daughter Susan Baumel described her mother as a woman with “unique and brilliant intellect, with elegance and beauty whose passion for travel, the arts and news led her around the world.”

Renowned photo editor and longtime OPC member John Morris died at age 100 on Friday, July 27, at a hospital near his home in Paris. Morris had a storied career that began as photo editor for Life magazine in World War II, when he oversaw coverage of D-Day in 1944, editing the historic photographs of Robert Capa. He also served as picture editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, executive editor of Magnum Photos, assistant managing editor for graphics of The Washington Post and picture editor of The New York Times. He moved to Paris in 1983, as the European correspondent of National Geographic. He is survived by his partner, Patricia Trocmé; four sons from two marriages, John II, Chris, Kirk and Oliver; and four grandchildren. To learn more about Morris, browse the OPC website for an archival interview in 2014, and read about his 100th birthday celebrations in Paris earlier this year.

Eugene Risher, a former Saigon bureau chief and longtime White House correspondent for United Press International, died Aug. 30 at the age of 83. Risher served in the U.S. Army for two years and launched his journalism career as a reporter for the Charleston Evening Post.

July-August 2017


Elizabeth Barchas Prelogar, who won the Flora Lewis Scholarship in 2006, is joining special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to investigate possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Prelogar is a Harvard Law School grad who clerked for Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. A former Fulbright scholar to Russia, she used her OPC scholarship to study the legal issues surrounding censorship there.

Jeff Horwitz, who won the OPC Foundation scholarship in memory of Fred Wiegold in 2009, is on the investigative team whose probe of an aviation mogul led The Wall Street Journal to fire its chief foreign correspondent, Jay Solomon. Horwitz and his colleagues at the AP reported in June that Solomon “was offered a 10 percent stake in a fledgling company, Denx LLC, by Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA.” Azima was one of Solomon’s sources. Solomon denied any business involvement with Azima, but apologized in a statement to the AP, saying “I understand why the emails and the conversations I had with Mr. Azima may look like I was involved in some seriously troubling activities.” Horwitz joined the wire service’s investigative unit in 2014 after a stint as a reporter at American Banker.

Derek Kravitz has won a Deadline Award for Newspaper or Digital Local News Reporting from the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He shared the prize with colleagues at ProPublica for their series “The Rent Racket,” about widespread problems with rent control and other tenant protections in New York City. Kravitz is the research editor at ProPublica and teaches investigative reporting at Columbia’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. He previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and the Columbia Daily Tribune. Kravitz won the 2014 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F.Stone.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ massive Panama Papers project continues racking up honors. It won two Deadline Awards – in the Reporting by Independent Digital Media and Public Service categories – and was a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Investigative Reporting Award. 2005 Emanuel R. Freedman scholar Marina Walker Guevara coordinated reporters at more than 100 news outlets in the joint investigation.


OPC Governor Abigail Pesta won the Deadline Award for Magazine Feature Reporting for her Cosmopolitan story, “Three Young Women, Killed. Why Do Some People Say It Was All a Hoax?” The story focuses on “truthers” who believe high-profile shootings like the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre were faked, and who harass the victims’ families. Meanwhile, Pesta’s new book, How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, written with Sandra Uwiringiyimana, is garnering raves. “This hard-hitting autobiography will have readers reeling as it shows one young woman’s challenging path to healing,” wrote Kirkus Reviews.

OPC member David Rohde has won the Deadline Award for Newspaper for Digital Enterprise Reporting. He shares the honor with his Reuters colleagues for “The Uncounted,” a series of stories about the rising threat of antibiotic-resistant infections. The series also received an honorable mention in the Consumer Journalism-Newspapers category of the National Press Club Awards. Rohde has worked at Reuters since 2011. Previously he was a foreign correspondent at The New York Times.

The Deadline Award winner for Multimedia, Interactive Graphics, and Animation is former OPC member Lynsey Addario. She shares the award with Aryn Baker for their Time Magazine story “The Only One God Left Alive,” a profile of a 13-year old boy who survived a massacre in South Sudan. Addario’s photos regularly appear in The New York Times, National Geographic, and TIME. She has covered conflicts and humanitarian crises including Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, South Sudan, Somalia and Congo.

OPC member Brett Forrest was a finalist for the Deadline Award in the Magazine Investigative Reporting category for “The FBI vs FIFA.” The ESPN the Magazine story, which he wrote with Shaun Assael and Vivek Chaudhary, details how a small team of federal investigators uncovered corruption at the highest levels of soccer’s international governing body. Forrest has since left ESPN for The Wall Street Journal (see Updates).

Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley and Andrew Willis of Bloomberg Businessweek have won the Deadline Awards Magazine Investigative Reporting prize and the Sigma Delta Chi Magazine Investigative Reporting (National Circulation) prize for “How to Hack an Election.” The same crew won 2016 Morton Frank Award for their story, which profiles a man who claims to have rigged elections throughout Latin America.

The 2015 OPC Malcolm Forbes Award honoree, Stephen Grey, is a co-winner of this year’s Deadline Awards Daniel Pearl Prize for Investigative Reporting. Grey and Reuters colleagues Selam Gebrekidan and Amina Ismail produced the interactive web project “The Migration Machine,” which covered Europe’s refugee crisis from multiple angles.

Nelson D. Schwartz of The New York Times, a 2005 OPC Morton Frank citation winner, took home the Deadline Awards Business Feature prize for “Can Trump Save Their Jobs? They’re Counting On It,” a profile of employees at the Carrier factory in Indianapolis.

Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza of The Associated Press won the Deadline Awards Business Investigative Reporting category for “Exploited in Paradise,” a story about undocumented workers in Hawaii’s fishing industry. They won the OPC’s Malcolm Forbes Award and Hal Boyle Award in 2015 for their reporting on slavery in the seafood business.

Multiple OPC Award-winner Tom Burgis has claimed the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting (Affiliated). Burgis’s story, “The Great Land Rush,” was written in partnership with Pilita Clark, Michael Peel and Charlie Bibby of the Financial Times. The multimedia series traces the impacts of the worldwide struggle to acquire land.


NEW YORK: OPC member Norman Pearlstine retired as vice chairman of Time, Inc. in mid-July. “I’m grateful and proud to have spent 14 years at one of the most influential and storied media companies,” Pearlstine said in a statement. In addition to his two stints at TIME – one as chief content officer and vice chair from 2013 to 2017, and one as editor-in-chief from 1995 to 2005 – he spent more than two decades at The Wall Street Journal and shorter stints at Dow Jones, Bloomberg LP and Forbes. His retirement plans include advising companies and writing.

NEW YORK: OPC member Christopher Sherman and multiple OPC Award winner Rodrigo Abd racked up 3,000 miles in two weeks while traveling the whole of the US-Mexico border for the AP this spring. What they found was “a region convulsed by uncertainty and angst, but rooted in a shared culture and history unlikely to be transformed by any politician, or any barrier man can construct,” Sherman wrote. “It’s a relationship that can be adversarial at times. Far more often, it’s symbiotic.” Sherman has been with the AP since 2008; previously he worked at The Orlando Sentinel. Abd shot for La Razón and La Nación newspapers in Buenos Aires before joining the AP in 2003.

The Wall Street Journal has hired Brett Forrest to cover national security and investigative subjects. Forrest, an OPC member, was previously a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. As a freelancer he has reported from nearly 50 countries, with stories appearing in more than 30 languages.

Vanity Fair editor and OPC member David Friend has a book coming out in the fall. Friend writes that The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido “looks at how Boomers took power in Washington, Madison Avenue, and Hollywood, ratcheting up the culture wars. It addresses the emergence of the Web, reality TV, mainstream porn, 24/7 scandal coverage, and the breakdown between our private and public lives.” Interviewees include Anita Hill, Monica Lewinsky, Woody Allen, Frank Rich, and key members of the Clinton and Bush administrations.

OPC member Adriana Loureiro Fernandez was one of just 150 photographers selected out of 2900 entrants to the Fifth Annual New York Portfolio Review. Fernandez writes that “Paraíso Perdido.”her series of photos from Venezuela, “chronicles the cycle of violence in a decaying country.” The Portfolio Review is sponsored by The New York Times LENS Blog and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. It features workshops and private photo critiques for up-and-coming photographers. Fernandez has freelanced for national news outlets in Venezuela; she is currently getting her masters degree in journalism at Columbia.

“Without Us, It’s The New Yrok Times” and “Copy Editors Save Our Buts” were two of the signs carried by New York Times journalists at a 15-minute walkout and demonstration in June. Hundreds of employees took part in the walkout to protest cuts to the copy desk. Executive Editor Dean Baquet, an OPC member, and managing editor Joe Kahn have said the editorial reorganization is necessary to speed production and reduce layers of editing. They add that most of the editors being cut will get new editing jobs at the paper.

WASHINGTON, DC: The 400 SAG-AFTRA members at NPR have reached a contract deal after the group threatened to strike. The union said its talks with the network centered on NPR’s desire to offer lower minimum salaries to new hires and to have greater flexibility in contracting work out to member stations. The union’s contract expired June 30. In a statement, NPR called the new contract “forward-looking.” The union said the new contract “provides for salary increases,” adding that a proposed two-tier salary system that would have paid new hires less than veteran staffers was scuttled.

The News Media Alliance is seeking an antitrust exemption from Congress in order to negotiate with Facebook and Google on behalf of its members. The Alliance, which represents more than 2,000 newspapers and websites, claims the internet giants have been allowed to gain a stranglehold on digital audiences while failing to properly compensate news outlets for the high cost of journalism.

A new survey finds that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents overwhelmingly feel the news media is bad for America. The Pew Research Center found some 85 percent of those on the right feel the news has “a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” That number has held steady for the past few years. Democrats, however, have begun seeing more value in journalism. Forty-four percent say the news media has a positive impact – an 11 percent rise since last August.

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times announced a “limited voluntary buyout plan” in mid-June for employees with more than 15 years in the newsroom. In a memo to staff, editor and publisher Davan Maharaj wrote that “we need to address the current economic realities as we work to secure our future.” A round of buyouts in 2015 resulted in the exit of more than 80 reporters and editors.

SYDNEY: Australia’s top journalism awards are under fire after eliminating international reporting from the roster of prizes. In a statement on its website, the Walkley Foundation said it was dropping the category because “international journalism can be entered in any Walkley Award category – and these stories frequently win.” Sydney journalism professor Helen Vatsikopoulos called that argument weak. “On any given day in newsrooms around the country, journalists are asked to volunteer for assignments in Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” she wrote on TheConversation.com. “Only a few will ever put their hands up. This is about honouring them.”

BEIRUT: OPC member Alessandria Masi was chosen as a contributor to this year’s Attacks on the Press Anthology from the Committee to Protect Journalists. She wrote about the challenges of covering Syria from outside the country: “It is difficult to call a spade a spade when you haven’t seen it yourself.” But Masi, who is based in Beirut, said the struggle is worthwhile: “As long as there are people in Syria who want to tell their stories, we will try to find a way to make them heard.” Learn more about Masi in this month’s Meet the OPC Members on page 11.

NAIROBI: A U.S.-funded counterterrorism program may be threatening the lives of the people it’s trying to help, OPC member Mukhtar Ibrahim wrote recently for Buzzfeed. According to documents obtained by Buzzfeed, the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $3 million on the secret campaign to spread anti-extremism messages through social media, music and religious organizations. But some of the recipients of the cash have been targeted for threats or retaliation by extremists. Meanwhile, according to a local analyst, many Kenyans see the program as irrelevant because it’s imposed on them by the West. Ibrahim is a general assignment reporter for Minnesota Public Radio.

LAGOS: Google is working with the World Bank and the nonprofit organization Code for Africa to train 6,000 journalists from around Africa in data journalism skills within the next nine months. The trainings will be held in Abuja, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Casablanca, Dakar, Freetown, Dares Salaam, Kampala and Yaounde. “With the Digital Journalism Initiative, we want to contribute to the growth of Africa’s news and media ecosystem,” OPC member Daniel Sieberg, who heads training and development at Google News Lab, told the Nigerian Tribune.


Three journalists have died of injuries sustained in an explosion in Mosul, Iraq on June 19. Bakhtiyar Haddad, Stephan Villeneuve and Veronique Robert were embedded with Iraqi forces in the Ras Al-Jadah district when a land mine exploded. Robert, 54, was a veteran war correspondent for France Televisions, specializing in the Middle East. Haddad, 41, was an Iraqi Kurdish journalist who had worked as a translator and fixer for French journalists in northern Iraq for more than a decade. Villeneuve, a 48-year-old cameraman, was also a veteran journalist who had covered conflicts in Bosnia. Sarajevo, Mogadishu, Rwanda, Kosovo, Congo, Haiti, Yemen, Iraq and Tunisia. The three were working together at the time of the explosion.