June 17, 2024

People Column

2018 January-June Issue

June 2018


Dake Kang, the 2016 Fritz Beebe winner, had a piece published for The Associated Press on May 17 about atrocities committed against Muslims held in detention centers in China. The article, “Thank the Party!’ China Tries to Brainwash Muslims in Camps,” covered China’s detention of possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese and foreign citizens in internment camps. In April, a US Commission called it “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.” Kang interviewed a former prisoner who had been seized while visiting his family from Kazakhstan. Kang is currently a reporter for the Associated Press in Beijing.

Adriane Quinlan, 2013 Flora Lewis winner, is now a show writer for Vice News Tonight on HBO. Before that, she worked for two years as a writer for CNN International, and started her career as a reporter with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. She also was a fellow at The New York Times, a freelancer in China, and is a graduate of Yale University.

OPC member Jesse Pesta edited a New York Times piece about the business of addiction treatment that has been named a finalist for a 2018 Gerald Loeb Award for feature writing. The piece, “Addiction, Inc.,” is deep dive into the shady and lucrative world of drug treatment amid America’s ongoing opioid crisis. In a tweet, Pesta congratulated the reporting team, Michael Corkery, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, David Segal “and a cast of brilliant designers!” Pesta is currently deputy editor in the climate and environment group at the Times. The Loeb Award winners will be announced at a banquet in New York on June 25.

Clay Bennett, this year’s Thomas Nast Award winner, was also named winner of this year’s Silver Reuben Award for editorial cartooning from the National Cartoonists Society. The Reuben Awards have been nicknamed the “Oscars of Cartooning.” In a snafu that prompts memories of the 2017 Oscars, a tabulation error caused two Reubens to be handed out to the wrong recipients at the May 26 ceremony in Philadelphia. The Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoonist joked during his acceptance remarks that “since it was already announced that I lost, it would be an understatement to say that this honor was unexpected.” Bennett also won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award this year.


Craigslist entrepreneur Craig Newmark has announced a $20 million gift to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and the school will be renamed in his honor as a result. The money will fund an endowment for the school, which comes amid a decline in state funding. Newmark gave $10,000 to the school’s election coverage initiative in 2016, and added a $1.5 million research grant in February 2017. Newmark has also donated $1 million to ProPublica, $500,000 to the Columbia Journalism Review, $1 million to research institute Data & Society, and more than $560,000 to the International Center for Journalists.

Editorial staff at The New Yorker magazine have organized a union. On June 6, staff members sent a letter to editor David Remnick, informing him that the group has formed a union and asking for the magazine and owner Condé Nast have to voluntarily recognize membership with the NewsGuild of New York. The letter outlined a lack of job security and salary disparities as two top motivating factors. According to NewsGuild, 90 percent of The New Yorker staff has signed on. The move comes as a growing number of print and digital journalists seek to unionize. On the same day, staff members at Fast Company also announced that they had formed a union with the help of The Writers Guild of America, East. In April, staff at The Chicago Tribune formed a newsroom union, the Chicago Tribune Guild, marking the first of its kind in the newspaper’s 171-year history.

Digital politics news site Politico is launching operations in Asia. Three years after expanding coverage in Europe, the website has now launched a partnership with the South China Morning Post. The SCMP is a 115-year-old English newspaper based in Hong Kong. It was acquired by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2015. Politico’s collaboration with the paper will start small, with a content-sharing partnership involving joint projects between the editorial operations of each publication. If the project goes well, the to companies plan to expand financial and editorial ties on both sides. For now, Politico is not hiring any additional staff.

Fox News and the Fox Business Network have named Suzanne Scott as the network’s first female chief executive officer. Scott will report jointly to Lachlan Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman, Executive Chairman of Fox News and Co-Chairman of the proposed New Fox. Scott has served as president of programming since last May, following the departure of longtime programming chief Bill Shine. The news comes after a turbulent year for Fox News, with a sexual harassment lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson, and firing of co-founder, and CEO Roger Ailes. The network also settled a racial discrimination lawsuit from several employees in May for $10 million. Scott joined the network in 1996, helping to launch Greta Van Susteren‘s show On the Record in 2002. She was promoted to vice president of programming in 2007.

OPC member Theo Padnos wrote an open letter in Rolling Stone magazine to President Trump’s CIA nominee, Gina Haspel, about his experience in a Syrian torture prison and why she should not obey torture orders from the president. Padnos was abducted and held hostage by al-Qaeda in Syria from October 2012 to August 2014. In an interview with Slate’s Virginia Heffernan on Trumpcast, Padnos recounted his experience, saying that torture practices are “infected with the sick sexual hangups” that the torturers have. He wrote in the letter that President Trump and Haspel would set the tone for torture, and that amid allegations of sexual assault against Trump, “and because he has performed his enthusiasm for torture before cheering thousands (‘They asked me about water-boarding. I said, “I love it. I love it.”’) can anyone doubt that people tortured under his orders will assume that his perversities have infected our military?” Padnos wrote a letter for the Bulletin in March last year talking about his ordeal and giving advice to colleagues on conflict reporting, under the title “Dear Journalists Who Are Thinking About Going to the Rebel-Held Bits of Syria or Any Other Newsworthy Place We Have Bombed.” He joined the OPC in January 2017.

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times has named longtime OPC member and award sponsor Norman Pearlstine as the paper’s top editor. The announcement came on the first day billionaire biotech executive Patrick Soon-Shiong took ownership of the paper. In an interview with The New York Times, he called Pearlstine “the perfect person to guide us into this new era.” Pearlstine has led a number of major news operations in the past, including TIME, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Soon-Shiong announced plans to purchase the Times in February for $500 million. Since then, Pearlstine has been acting as his advisor and helping him select possible candidates for the editor position. As time progressed, Soon-Shiong realized Pearlstine was the right person for the job. Pearlstine sponsors the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award honoring the best newspaper, news service or digital reporting from abroad.

NEW YORK: OPC member David Rohde has taken a new post as executive director at The New Yorker. Rohde has already been serving as online news director for the publication. He previously worked as reporter, editor and columnist for Reuters and reporter for The New York Times. Rohde was also Eastern Europe correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor in the 90s. He has been an OPC member since he won the club’s President’s Award in 2015.

OPC Governor Charles Graeber’s book, The Breakthrough; Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer [Hachette/Twelve], will be released on Nov. 6. The book describes how a new generation of scientists finally cracked the code on how the human immune system can fight and defeat the disease. Charles did three years of intensive reporting on new answers to an ancient question: why doesn’t the body respond to cancer the way it does other diseases? Graeber wrote that his research revealed that “our natural defenses react to the common cold, or even a splinter, but did not appear to even notice cancer until it was too late. The answer to that question turns out to be that cancer has evolved various tricks to hide from and shut down our immune response. That new understanding has led to breakthrough therapies that defeat the tricks and unleash the disease. One of the first to be approved was what most people think of as “the Jimmy Carter drug,” the one that cleared the melanoma from the 91-year-old former President’s brain. But few people realize how different this approach is from therapies that cut out, radiate or poison the tumor, much less what we can expect in the years ahead.”

OPC member Kumiko Makihara is set to release a new book on July 17. Dear Diary Boy: An Exacting Mother, her Free-spirited Son, and Their Bittersweet Adventures in an Elite Japanese School is the story of a mother and son navigating their way through Japan’s private school system. The memoir takes place in Japan, and touches on many issues for parents who have concerns about the best parenting philosophies and frustrations about education and testing systems. Author Johnathan Alter wrote that the book “speaks volumes about motherhood, boyhood, cross-cultural adjustment and the power of conformism and parental ambition everywhere.” This is Makihara’s first book. Her work has previously appeared in the International Herald Tribune, New York Times Magazine and Newsweek. She has been an OPC member since 2016.

OPC Governor Minky Worden wrote a pointed opinion piece for The New York Times calling on FIFA to hold Russia to account in its mistreatment of gender and sexual minorities. She pointed out that the governing body of international soccer pledged to require minimum human rights standards for host countries, including zero tolerance for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Worden said FIFA so far had largely ignored Russia’s anti-gay policies that penalize LGBT advocacy and foster a climate of stigma and violence against LGBT people. “Instead of speaking out, FIFA is at best turning a blind eye to such homophobia and, at worst, rewarding it,” she wrote. She called for FIFA and sponsors to express public support for the LGBT community, and to put Qatar on notice to repeal its anti-LGBT laws before hosting the next World Cup in 2022. Worden is director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

Award-winning reporting from OPC members Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal on the undisclosed civilian casualty toll from US-led airstrikes against ISIS continues to make ripples. A recent Amnesty International report claims the US killed thousands of civilians when it tried to wrest Raqqa from ISIS in 2017. In response on June 2, the Pentagon said the US military only killed about 500 civilians in 2017 while injuring 169 more. Vox and other outlets reporting on the Amnesty International study have cited a story that Anand and Gopal wrote for the New York Times Magazine, “The Uncounted,” in November last year that found the US-led collation was killing civilians at a rate 31 times higher than the military claimed. That report won this year’s Ed Cunningham Award for best magazine reporting, among accolades from other organizations, including the National Magazine Award and the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. Khan also currently serves as a Governor of the OPC.

A photo exhibit at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York is showcasing the wartime photography of four-time OPC award-winner Larry Burrows. Burrows worked for LIFE magazine, covering conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, and is particularly known for his iconic images of the Vietnam War. Burrows died with fellow photojournalists Henri Huet, Kent Potter and Keisaburo Shimamoto, when their helicopter was shot down over Laos in 1971. Many of his photos appeared recently in the Ken Burns documentary series “Vietnam.” The exhibition, “Larry Burrows Revisited,” features more than 50 images, and will run through June 29. This marks the fifth time the gallery has held a solo exhibition of Burrows’ work since 1985. He won the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award in 1963, 1965 and 1971, and an OPC award for “Best Photographs, Magazine or Book” in 1970.

KIEV, UKRAINE: OPC member Jim Brooke has taken a new post as editor-in-chief of Ukraine Business News. Brooke previously served as editor-in-chief of the Ukraine Business Journal in 2016 and 2017, and CEO of the Kyiv Post before that. He also worked as managing editor and editor-in-chief of The Khmer Times in Cambodia for two years before moving to Ukraine in November 2015. He reported for 24 years for The New York Times, mostly overseas in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Ivory Coast and Brazil. Ukraine Business News is an English-language subscription news site based in Kiev.

WASHINGTON, DC: OPC member and former governor Steve Herman sparked headlines with a tweet about a sinkhole on the White House North Lawn near the press briefing room that was “growing larger by the day.” The tweet, accompanied by a photo of the hole in question surrounded by safety cones and police tape, stepped into the spotlight on the social media site as users quipped “drain the swamp” jokes. The New York Times published a story covering the sinkhole, with comments from geologists and the National Park Service on the real-life swamp that forms the foundation of the district. Herman is White House bureau chief for Voice of America.

Associated Press reporter and 2017 Madeline Dane Ross Award winner Susannah George has joined the agency’s Washington bureau to cover U.S. intelligence agencies and national security. George was part of the team of reporters that won the OPC’s award for best international reporting showing a concern for the human condition for their coverage of the ISIS defeat in Mosul. George has been reporting for AP since 2015, when she was hired as acting bureau chief in Baghdad. Her coverage was also part of a body of work that was named as a Pulitzer finalist this year.

PARIS: OPC member Rachel Donadio has filed several stories for The Atlantic about political developments in Europe over the last few weeks. She wrote at the end of May that the collapse of a populist coalition in Italy has set the country on a path of instability with possible ripples across the EU. After the coalition of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and right-wing League party dissolved, Donadio wrote, strengthened the countries hard-liner right and sparked a de facto referendum on the euro currency. Only one week later she wrote a piece entitled “It’s the Right Wing’s Italy Now” profiling Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party and the country’s new interior minister, who is calling for more migrant deportations. “We need to keep these desperate people in their countries of origin through an economic collaboration that blocks their departure,” he announced during a visit to a migrant arrival point off the coast of Sicily. Donadio is a Paris-based staff writer at The Atlantic, covering politics and culture across Europe, and has been an OPC member since 2016.

MOROCCO: OPC member Sudarsan Raghavan filed a story from Morocco for The Washington Post about issues facing African migrants who can no longer travel through Libya to Italy due to European efforts to stem the number of immigrants reaching Europe. He traced new alternative routes that immigrants use that wend through Morocco to reach Spain. Raghavan wrote that more than 8,200 migrants have reached Spain in the first five months of 2018, with more than 240 people dying on their way to Spain due to perilous conditions. He cited threats of violence from Moroccan security officials who divide families amid widespread allegations of sexual assault against women. Raghavan is the Post’s Cairo bureau chief and has reported from 17 African wars.

TORONTO: OPC member Scott Gilmore wrote an opinion piece that appeared in the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s. In an article entitled “The G7 Question: How do we America-proof the West?” Gilmore argues that the U.S. has turned from a keystone of the Western alliance to a “rogue member” of the G7 that other member must protect themselves against. He cites Trump’s recent maneuvers, such as starting trade wars with five G7 members, calling Canada a national security threat, and scolding French President Emmanuelle Macron over the phone, while he congratulated Putin after rigging the Russian election and celebrated China’s Xi Jinping for being declared “president for life”. Gilmore wrote that Canada should distance itself from the U.S. as Trump makes increasingly bad diplomatic decisions. Gilmore also suggests that Canada should  invest in their own armed forces and take a lead role in international crises such as the Syrian civil war. Gilmore has been an OPC member since 2015.

OPC member Simcha Jacobovici’s documentary “Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream” was featured on June 2 as part of a special matinee series titled “This Jewish American Life” at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. The 1998 film shed light the rise of several Hollywood moguls, including Louis B. Mayer, Harry Warner and Sam Goldwyn. The documentary, co-directed with Stuart Samuels, is based on Neal Gabler’s book An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.

MANILLA: OPC member Aurora Almendral has continued award-winning coverage of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drug war for The New York Times, with pieces delving into ripple effects of the crackdown and profiling law enforcement behind the operation. In the first week of June, Almendral filed a story about Ronald dela Rosa, the chief of the Philippine National Police, and a separate story about those who have been displaced by the antidrug campaign, which has claimed at least 4,000 lives, with thousands more “under investigation.” Almendral won the David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award this year for coverage of the war along with collaborator Ed Ou, who won an OPC Foundation scholarship in 2007.

HONG KONG: OPC member Suzanne Sataline filed a story for VOA News surrounding a recent directive from the Chinese government requiring Hong Kong scientists and researchers to demonstrate their “love the country and Hong Kong” in order to receive state funding. More than 20 educational groups and individuals launched a petition in protest, saying that including a patriotic test could interfere with their work. Sataline quoted Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, as saying the furor was an overreaction, and that “some commentators have read too much into this term.” The announcement comes as Hong Kong hammers out a bill under Beijing’s orders, that would require citizens in the special semi-autonomous region be required to honor China’s national anthem. Sataline has been an OPC member since 2016.


Longtime CBS News correspondent and former Associated Press reporter Murray Fromson died on June 9 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease at age 88. Fromson is known for coverage of key stories of the 20th Century, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the famine in Bangladesh. He reported from Hong Kong, Moscow, New Delhi, Tokyo and other countries during his career. He later became a journalism professor at the University of Southern California and directed its j-school from 1994 to 1999, had a particular interest in fostering international journalism. He is also known as a champion of press freedom during a time when President Richard Nixon’s administration was using subpoenas to summon reporters and pushing them to violate confidentiality with sources. He was a founding member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the press in 1970.

April-May 2018


Ed Ou, winner of the 2007 Dan Eldon Scholarship, won the Canadian Screen Award for cinematography with colleague Kitra Cahana for the documentary “Dancing Toward the Light” for CBC News. Ou is now a video journalist at NBC News. The documentary showed how young people use dance for healing and preventing depression in the isolated northern community of Nunavut, where suicide is alarmingly common. Ou also won this year’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award along with his colleague, Aurora Almendral, for a program about President Duterte’s brutal drug war in the Philippines.

Tom Finn, the H.L Stevenson Fellowship winner in 2013, is back with Reuters, now covering FX in London. Tom previously worked for Reuters in the Qatar bureau. He was an OPC Foundation fellow in the Reuters bureau in Cairo and had previously worked for the Yemen Times.

Pete Vernon, the 2016 Theo Wilson Scholar, wrote an extensive profile of CNN’s Brian Stelter. Stelter hosts the media news show Reliable Sources and serves as the network’s senior media correspondent. Vernon wrote about Stelter’s sense of urgency and near-obsession about covering media in an era marked by constant media-bashing from President Trump. He quoted Stelter as saying the “coordinated campaign against journalism” did not start with the Trump administration, but “dates back decades. He just poured a huge amount of gasoline on the already burning fire.” Vernon is currently a CJR Delacorte Fellow.

Sam McNeil, Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship winner in 2014, is changing positions within The Associated Press from Tunisia to the Beijing bureau. He worked in Beijing last summer and met 2017 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner Yi-ling Liu, who was there on an OPC Foundation fellowship. McNeil, will now work with Dake Kang, 2016 Fritz Beebe winner, who started in the bureau earlier this year. McNeil had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in the Cairo bureau.

After Sara Dadouch’s OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Istanbul, the 2016 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner secured a full-time position with the news wire. She is now a correspondent in the Reuters bureau in Riyadh, alongside 2013 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner Stephen Kalin, who is the senior correspondent there.

2005 David Schweisberg winner Emily Steel and her colleagues at The New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The Times shared the award this year with The New Yorker. Steel and her reporting partner Michael Schmidt wrote stories that brought down Fox News star Bill O’Reilly and exposed sexual harassment at Vice Media as part of a series that won the award. Steel told Recode that the power of the reporting on Fox News “wasn’t just a person who was accused of bad behavior at the top who was getting away with it, but it was this entire system and this entire culture that was really corrupt.”

2010 David Schweisberg winner Jenny Gross has been named a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in economics and business journalism for the 2018-2019 academic year at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.  Jenny is currently the U.K. politics correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in London, where she covers Brexit and national security. She previously freelanced from Johannesburg for the Associated Press and the WSJ.

The Foundation’s 2005 Emanuel Freedman winner, Marina Walker Guevara, and her colleagues Frederik Obermaier and Spencer Woodman from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists won the Polk Awards’ Financial Reporting Award for “The Paradise Papers,” which centers on a massive leak of financial documents that shed light on the shady realm of offshore finance.

OPC Governor David Furst, international photo editor for The New York Times, was named Newspaper Visual Editor of the Year in the 75th Annual Pictures of the Year International Competition. He also won second place in the Online News and Issue Story Editing category, and third place in Print Newspaper Visual Editing, as well as an “Award of Excellence” mention for Online Feature Story Editing. Adam Ferguson of the Times was named Photographer of the Year. The award for Newspaper Photographer of the Year went to Magnus Wennman of the Swedish paper Aftonbladet.

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt has won an award for international reporting from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Walt’s piece, “Welcome to Tomorrow Land,” examines Estonia’s transformation into a high-tech vision of the future, with buzzing delivery drones, government services going online and access to the Internet declared as a basic human right. She wrote the piece for FORTUNE in April last year. The judges lauded the story’s contrasts “between showing how far Estonia has come from Soviet-era backwater with magnificent medieval architecture to rocketing straight into the future with specific, solid examples.”

Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Manuel Mogato of Reuters have won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in International reporting for reportage that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. The same reporting garnered the Reuters team this year’s inaugural Roy Rowan Award for best investigative work on an international story. Reuters also won the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography for images of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar.


OPC member David Ariosto has taken the helm as managing editor of the France-based digital media outlet Brut. Ariosto describes Brut as a “social-only international news company, akin to AJ+ or NowThis.” It currently has about 350 million viewers per month. In an article for Medium, the outlet credited its popularity to the use of engagement metrics to zero in on what its readers respond to most.

The Reuters news operation has received a $10 billion shot in the arm in the wake of Blackstone’s takeover of the Thompson Reuters financial terminal business. Part of the deal requires Blackstone to pay Reuters News $325 million a year for 30 years. The company’s lucrative terminal business has long been a financial stabilizer the Reuters News operation, which employs about 3,000 journalists in 200 locations around the world. But the deal raises questions about what will happen once the terminal business comes under Blackstone leadership. Thomson Reuters board members were divided about the deal, with chairman David Thompson pushing for a higher price. Felix Salmon of Recode wrote that Reuters News should use the money to “embark on a reinvention which will allow it to maintain its size and scope when the money runs out in 2048.”

A&E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc will step down to take a post as Vice Media’s next CEO. Dubuc will replace Vice co-founder Shane Smith, who is taking a new position as Executive Chairman to focus on strategic deals and content development. Dubuc said in a statement that “anyone who knows me well knows I am an entrepreneur, creator, rebel and disruptor at heart.” Dubuc takes the helm at a time when Vice is under fire following a spate of sexual harassment scandals, with a New York Times investigation in December turning up dozens of misconduct complaints from women. Vice president Andrew Creighton has been on leave while the board looks into a $135,000 settlement involving a former employee’s sexual harassment allegations. Its chief digital officer, Mike Germano, was sacked in January following sexual harassment allegations against him. Dubuc is slated to leave A&E on April 16.

NEW YORK: PBS NewsHour has named Judy Woodruff as sole anchor of its nightly newscast. The announcement comes nearly 18 months after her co-anchor, Gwen Ifill, died. Woodruff has anchored the show since 2011, joining forces with Ifill as co-anchor and managing editors in 2013. She previously worked as anchor for NBC and CNN.

OPC member and Foundation board member Nick Schifrin is joining the expanding PBS NewsHour team as full-time foreign affairs and defense correspondent this spring. For the last two years, he has been a PBS NewsHour special correspondent, creating weeklong series from Russia, Eastern Europe, Kenya, Nigeria, and other countries. Since last summer, he has reported on foreign affairs from Washington, D.C., with a focus on Russia, North Korea and the Middle East. Prior to working at NewsHour, Schifrin was Al Jazeera America’s Middle East correspondent, based in Jerusalem. Before that, he was a correspondent for ABC News. He was the network’s Afghanistan-Pakistan correspondent from 2008 to 2012. In 2011, he was one of the first journalists to arrive in Abbottabad, Pakistan after Osama bin Laden’s death and delivered one of the year’s biggest exclusives: the first video from inside bin Laden’s compound. Amna Nawaz, formerly a reporter for NBC and a digital anchor for ABC, will also join PBS NewsHour as correspondent and fill-in anchor.

OPC Governor Rukmini Callimachi is slated to host a New York Times miniseries podcast focused on the rise of the Islamic State, the fall of Mosul and the ongoing efforts to fight the organization. “Caliphate” will follow the format of Serial and S-Town, with a limited run of episodes. The podcast was announced at the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas on March 10. The Times plans to experiment with giving subscribers early access to episodes. This marks the Times’ first foray into narrative documentary storytelling.

OPC member Kim Murphy has joined the national desk at The New York Times. Murphy, who served as a head judge in this year’s OPC awards, will serve as deputy national enterprise editor at the Times. She previously worked as a senior editor at the Los Angeles Times, as assistant managing editor, foreign and national news, overseeing all the paper’s foreign coverage. Murphy won a Pulitzer for international reporting in 2005 for her coverage of Russia.

The New York Times has announced that OPC Secretary Liam Stack will serve as part of the new politics reporting team for 2018. A Times release about the move described Stack as “an imaginative reporter who covers social and political issues on Express and spent years covering the Arab Spring and the Middle East.” He is among a total of 13 reporters and three editors named as part of this year’s politics team. Stack joined the Times as a Cairo-based reporter in 2011.

OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta has announced in April that she is writing a book about the young gymnasts who teamed up to take down serial predator Larry Nassar, the Olympic doctor who got away with sexually abusing hundreds of girls over decades. The Team is slated for publication by Hachette (Seal Press) in 2019. Pesta covered the story for Cosmopolitan. She told Publishers Weekly that she had been one of the first journalists to write about the subject for a national publication.

At an Online News Association gathering on May 11, OPC member and former Governor Daniel Sieberg delivered the closing keynote on business models based on blockchain technology as a road to sustainable journalism. Blockchain powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and also systems like Ethereum for monetizing news content. Sieberg is co-founder of a platform called Civil that uses blockchain technology.

OPC members Mort Rosenblum, Alexis Okeowo and Jon Sawyer participated in a day-long symposium on peace, conflict and the media in New York on April 11. The organization War Stories Peace Stories hosted the program, which included panels on a range of topics. Rosenblum, a reporter and professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson, moderated a panel on how reporting frames our understanding of violent conflict. Okeowo recently released her debut book, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism In Africa. She discussed the book with Robert J. Rosenthal, a journalist and executive producer at The Center for Investigative Reporting. Sawyer, who works for the Pulitzer Center, joined four other panelists to discuss how their organizations are re-thinking conflict reporting and seeking new ways to cover crises.

OPC member Cassandra Vinograd was one of three winners of the “Pitching for Peace” grant competition, for her project on grassroots peacemakers in Africa’s Great Lakes region. She and the other winners were invited to present their projects at April’s “War Stories, Peace Stories Symposium.” Vinograd also was a panelist at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, discussing gender and foreign correspondents.

Separately, Mort Rosenblum was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the University of Arizona’s journalism school for his work as a foreign correspondent, author and teacher that “exemplifies the highest of professional achievements in journalism.” He embarked on his first assignment as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press in 1967, and over a career spanning 40 years covered 200 countries, including stints as bureau chief in the Congo, Nigeria, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Buenos Aires and Paris.

OPC Governor Anjali Kamat has received coverage and plaudits for her year-long investigation into President Trump’s business deals in India. Her story, titled “Political Corruption and the Art of the Deal,” was published as a cover story in the New Republic and aired in two parts on the podcast “Trump, Inc.,” a coproduction of WNYC and ProPublica. Her reporting was supported by The Investigative Fund. The report delved into five active projects that the Trump organization has in India that are worth an estimated $1.5 billion. She found that the organization’s India partners faced a long list of lawsuits, police inquiries and government investigations, with evidence of fraud, intimidation, money laundering, tax evasion and illegal land acquisition. The report also outlined a list of conflicts of interest, including Donald Trump Jr.’s repeated trips India to promote real estate projects during his father’s presidency and offer access to the president’s son. Terry Gross interviewed Kamat on NPR’s Fresh Air along with the podcast cohost co-hosted by Andrea Bernstein. She also talked about the project on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman.

OPC Governor Lara Setrakian spoke at the formal launch of a new initiative devoted to changing newsroom culture surrounding sexual harassment on March 13. Setrakian is co-founder of Press Forward, which announced its advisory board at the event. She is one of the women who accused political journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment. Setrakian called the organization a network for women who have endured “creepy and abusive behavior” in the news industry. The board includes Jake Tapper and Alisyn Camerota of CNN, Judy Woodruff of PBS and former ABC News anchor Ted Koppel. Setrakian is the chief executive officer, co-founder and executive editor of the digital media company News Deeply.

John Moore, OPC member and multiple winner of OPC photography awards, was work featured in a New York Times piece The retrospective on March 25. The piece, titled “Where Fear and Hope Collide: Images From Mexican Border, and Beyond,” looked back at a decade of his coverage of the Mexican border and included 17 photographs that illuminated many angles of the issue. Azam Ahmed, the Times bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, wrote that Moore captures “intimate portraits of both migrants and border officers who square off on either side,” and that his images provide depth and context. “For Mr. Moore, immigration begins and ends well beyond the physical border — a line where fear and hope collide to shape American politics.” Moore won the OPC John Faber Award in 1997 for images of refugees from Zaire for The Associated Press, and won the 2007 Robert Capa Award for images of the assassination of then-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

OPC Governor Azmat Khan spoke on a panel hosted by ELLE.com with female journalists working to champion women’s rights. Khan, an investigative reporter with New America, talked about a bygone era when unions demanded that companies make salary databases available, which she once used to negotiate pay that was on par with a male colleague. “With a decline in unions, this history of salary transparency has really gone down the drain,” she said. The conversation covered a range of professional topics, from the #metoo movement and sexual harassment to the future of the women’s movement. Also speaking on the panel was Emily Steel, business reporter at the New York Times who won the OPC Foundation’s David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship in 2005, and co-wrote the New York Times story that led to the ouster of longtime Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, and Brooke Baldwin, CNN anchor and creator of CNN’s American Woman series.

OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu wrote a story for The New York Times in May covering a firestorm sparked by a single tweet from the country’s national account: Swedish meatballs originally came from Turkey. “Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century,” the tweet said. “Let’s stick to the facts!” The confession caused some sparring between Turks and Swedes over social media. Yeginsu asked what this revelation might mean for Ikea, which serves two million meatballs daily around the world.

PRINCETON, NJ: OPC Governor Christopher Dickey spoke at Salon on Stockton: A Little Literary Festival in Princeton on April 13. The Paris-based foreign editor for The Daily Beast will talk about his book, Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South, which follows the story of UK diplomat and spy Robert Bunch, who lived a double life during the run up to the America Civil War, and warned the UK against supporting the Confederacy on fears it would lead to a massive increase in slaves Africa.

SYRIA: OPC Governor Rod Nordland wrote a dispatch about his travels to Ainissa in remote northern Syria in February to report on the war for The New York Times. He discussed challenges familiar to many foreign correspondents — navigating bureaucracies and sheaves of paperwork under the Syrian Democratic Forces. “As anyone who has worked in Syria knows, paperwork is an obsession here,” Nordland wrote, adding that the obsession was apparently inherited from the time when Bashir al-Assad’s regime still ruled the region. Nordland wrote several pieces on the war in Syria and conflict with Turkey and ISIS from Kurdish-controlled areas. He is international correspondent at large and Kabul bureau chief at the Times.

BEIJING: Author and OPC member Lenora Chu spoke at events during the 2018 Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing in early March. Chu served on a panel about gender issues in China and the impact of global movements such as #metoo and calls for pay equality. At a separate event she discussed her book, Little Soldiers, which investigates China’s state-run school system, institutionalized bribery, a deep urban-rural divide and its roots in ancient Confucianism and Communist dogma. Harper Collins published the book in September last year. The Bookworm Literary Festival included panels, talks and events from March 8 to March 25.

KABUL: OPC member and freelance photojournalist Jim Huylebroek had several photographs taken in Kabul featured in a New York Times piece on March 19. The photos accompanied a piece titled “The Story of an Afghan Baby Named Donald Trump” by Mujib Mashal and Fahim Abed, which profiles a rural Afghan family who named their son after then-candidate Trump in admiration for the tycoon and in hopes it would bring fortune to their son. But the family was kicked out of their village and had to move to Kabul because of their choice to use a non-Muslim name.

WASHINTON, DC: Orb Media, a nonprofit journalism organization based in Washington, D.C. that is helmed by OPC Governor Molly Bingham, released a multimedia report in mid-March about micro plastic particles found in global bottled water brands. The project, titled “Plus Plastic,” showed that a single bottle can hold dozens or possibly even thousands of microscopic plastic particles. Tests of more than 250 bottles from 11 brands reveled a global average of more than 10 particles per liter that could be confirmed as plastic, and more than 300 smaller particles that researchers said was “likely plastic.” The online project includes text, audio and data visualization components. The Orb Media Network is slated to publish five more projects this year.

OPC member Neeta Satam wrote a provocative piece for the online publishing platform Medium on the challenges of combatting colonialism and sensationalism in photojournalism. Satam, a documentary photographer and student at the University of Missouri, wrote about a Kashmiri documentarian’s frustration with foreign correspondents who parachute into conflict zones to capture dramatic scenes of war without deeper cultural and historical perspective. She also write about a controversy last year surrounding award-winning photographer Souvid Datta, who garnered a prestigious College Photographer of the Year award but later admitted to plagiarism and manipulating images. Satam wondered if Datta “consciously manipulate[d] his stories so that they would conform to a Eurocentric perspective to gain validation in the Western world?” She calls for discussions about ethics in photojournalism to focus more on problematic issues of representation.


Former Washington Post reporter and author William Prochnau died on March 28 at the age of 80. Prochnau was a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, where his article “Adventures in the Ransom Trade” became the basis of the movie Proof of Life in 2000. Prochnau had stated that he was most proud of his reporting from Vietnam for The Seattle Times in the mid-60s. In the 1980’s, Prochnau left reporting to focus on working as a full-time author. His last article for Vanity Fair took 15 years to write and was published in this year’s February issue. In addition to his wife, Ms. Parker, he is survived by his wife, Laura Parker, a staff writer for National Geographic magazine, as well as two daughters from his first marriage, Monica Bradley and Jennifer McMaster; his brother John; three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. A daughter from his first marriage, Anna, died in 2015.

Joan Konner, former dean of Columbia Journalism School and award-winning broadcaster, passed away on April 18 in Manhattan at the age of 87 after a long battle with leukemia. Konner graduated from Columbia’s journalism school in 1961, later producing documentaries at NBC ten becoming executive producer for New York’s public broadcasting station WNET/Thirteen, where she also served as executive producer of “Bill Moyers Journal,” and then as president and executive producer of Moyers’ production company, Public Affairs Television. Konner was the first woman to helm Columbia’s journalism graduate school when she became dean in 1988. She stepped down in 1997, and continued as publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review until 2000. Longtime OPC member Yvonne Dunleavy recalled that Konner and her husband, Al Perlmutter – and “their adored dog Bliss” – had been summer tenants of theirs on multiple occasions.

Following news of the death of Anna Chennault, a war correspondent and Chinese-born Republican fund-raiser and anti-Communist lobbyist, longtime OPC member Jonathan Kapstein remembered that Chennault was often seen at the OPC when the club was at the brownstone on Bryant Park South. Chennault died on March 30 at her home at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC at age 94. She was a high-profile presence in Washington circles and served as an unofficial diplomat under the presidency Ronald Reagan. Her husband, Claire L. Chennault, was the leader of the Flying Tigers in China during World War II. Her memoir photos show Chennault posing alongside Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford; as well as J. Edgar Hoover, and General William C. Westmoreland. Kapstein remembered that Chennault was a “good conversationalist but an impatient one. Always on the lookout for a political opening.”

February-March 2018


2015 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner Ben Taub of The New Yorker won the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting for his report on the humanitarian devastation caused by the shrinkage of Lake Chad in Africa and linking the ecological disaster to famine and armed conflict. Among the other recipients was Iona Craig of The Intercept, who won the Foreign Reporting Award for documenting the destruction and civilian casualties of a covert U.S. Navy SEAL raid on a remote village in Yemen.

Michael Miller, the 2009 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, and his colleagues Justin Jouvenal and Dan Morse at The Washington Post have won the National Press Foundation’s 2017 Feddie Reporting Award for their reporting on MS-13. The NPF judges said that the Post reporters “revealed lapses in the federal refugee resettlement program that allowed MS-13 gang members to slip through the cracks and regroup in the United States. In the Washington area alone, more than 40 young immigrants have been involved in MS-13 violence including murder. In a deeply reported and beautifully presented project, the Post reporters illuminated the resurgence of gang violence, which later became a central issue in the Virginia governor’s race.”  Michael had an OPC Foundation fellowship at the AP bureau in Mexico City.

Caelainn Hogan, winner of the 2014 H.L. Stevenson Fellowship, has continued deep coverage of war-devastated Syria with two stories in National Geographic. An earlier story about Syrians risking their lives to visit a children’s hospital on the front lines appeared on the cover of The New York Times Sunday Magazine. In an email to the OPC Foundation, she said she was “ever grateful for the support of the OPC over the years.”

New York Times journalist Chris Chivers is one of three recipients of this year’s James W. Foley American Hostage Freedom Awards. Chivers is currently a longform writer and investigative reporter for the Times, and has reported extensively in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq. In a release, James’ mother Diane Foley said that Chivers “has risked his life many times to bring us authentic stories from conflict zones,” adding that he had often helped fellow journalists in harm’s way abroad. Following the murder of her son in Syria in 2014, Diane Foley launched the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation the same year. The other two recipients this year are former National Security Council counterterrorism official Jennifer Easterly and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.


OPC President Deidre Depke will serve as Marketplace’s next managing editor. Depke joined the American Public Media program three years ago, first as a freelance editor for digital, then as New York bureau chief. In a welcome email, Marketplace’s executive editor, Evelyn Larrubia, said she “couldn’t ask for a better partner than Deidre to help strengthen our journalism and beef up beat reporting.” Depke started her journalism career at BusinessWeek, serving as reporter and senior editor for a total of 12 years. She later worked at Newsweek, The Week.com and The Daily Beast before joining Marketplace. Her first day at the new post will be March 19.

CNN President Jeff Zucker is calling for U.S. regulators to investigate whether Google and Facebook have become digital monopolies over digital ad revenue. Zucker made his comments during a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. He said control and monetization of digital content is the “biggest issue facing the growth of journalism in the years ahead” and that doing nothing could mean “good journalism will go away, and that will be bad for the United States, and that will be bad for those that are trying to tell the world about what is happening in Syria today.” Business research firm eMarketer shows that Google and Facebook account for 63.1 percent of digital media ad spending in the U.S. this year

Digital media company Vox Media is laying off about 50 employees, according to a memo Variety magazine obtained, as the company cuts back online video operations and other programs including Racked, Curbed and SB Nation. The layoffs represent about 5 percent of the company’s workforce. Other digital media outlets have struggled recently, with BuzzFeed, Mashable and Refinery29 all making significant cuts late last year.

The International Reporting Project has announced it will close up shop after supporting journalism projects and fellowships around the world for two decades. The IRP was founded in 1998 to fill a gap in international coverage as mainstream media began to close overseas bureaus and shrink foreign desks. The organization says it supported 651 writers in more than 115 countries during its years of operation. In a note obtained by the Columbia Journalism Review, John Schidlovsky, IRP’s founder and director, told alumni that “after 20 years, the year-to-year battle to raise sufficient operating funds finally caught up with us.”

Vanity Fair reported in February that CNN is preparing to reduce staff by as many as 50 positions as parent company Time Warner looks for cuts. CNN’s vice president of communications, Matt Dornic, told USA Today that the organization had added 200 jobs over the last 18 months and that “not every new project has paid off.” The network has been expanding digital programs. AT&T bid $85.4 billion to acquire Time Warner in October 2016, a merger the US Justice Department sued to block. A federal court is slated to hear AT&T’s case in March.

Upheaval at Newsweek has led to a spate of layoffs of veteran journalists,  top sales executive Ed Hannigan, editor-in-chief Bob Roe and executive editor Ken Li. The firings come as the publisher of Newsweek and The Internatonal Business Times grapples with accusations that the company bought and manipulated traffic from pirated video sites and engaged in ad fraud. The company, Newsweek Media Group, has denied the fraud allegations. The Manhattan district attorney’s office raided the company and has launched an investigation. Adding to the list of troubles, in late February the company narrowly avoided eviction due to a long running legal dispute with Guardian Life Insurance over a sublease.

Meanhile, OPC Governor Christopher Dickey voiced concern about the fate of Newsweek’s archives if the current owners collapse. He said the archives “contain more than a quarter century of my stories: hundreds of thousands of words, some of which I risked my life to write, and many of which I poured blood into on the keyboard.”

Joining an apparent wave of newsroom unionizations, a majority of Slate employees in late January voted to join the Writers Guild of America East. More than 1,000 digital news staff members have joined the union over the last two and a half years at media companies including Vice, HuffPost, The Intercept, Gizmodo Media, ThinkProgress, MTV News, Thrillist and Salon.

NEW YORK: OPC member and CBS News executive Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews has been promoted to executive vice president. She will continue to oversee daily operations and work directly with CBS News president David Rhodes. Ciprian-Matthews has worked for the network for 25 years, serving in a range of posts including foreign editor, senior producer and vice president of news. She started her television career at CNN’s New York bureau, where she served for 9 years.

OPC member Louise Boyle made waves when she broke the story of domestic abuse allegations against key U.S. presidential aide Rob Porter for The Daly Mail on Feb. 6. The story included an interview with Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, who spoke on record about alleged abuses. A reporter at The Intercept, Ryan Grim, added details a day later, spurring other media to follow. Concerns about Porter failing to gain security clearance due to the abuse allegations raised questions about White House handling of classified material. A Washington Post article tracked the development of the story in a piece called “How Two Publications Broke the Rob Porter Scandal.”

Ian Williams, a longtime OPC member, has released his book UNTold: The Real Story of the UN. Williams draws on his personal experience covering the UN since 1989 and serving as president of the     UN Correspondents Association. The book, published by Just World Books, includes illustrations from cartoonist Krishna, who has won two Emmy awards for his writing on Sesame Street. A book launch was held at the Taszo restaurant in Washington Heights. Williams is an associate professor at Bard Center for Globalization and International Affairs.

BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN: OPC member Cassandra Vinograd wrote about survivors of mass rape in South Sudan for the Pacific Standard, a piece that garnered mentions on the Pulitzer Center website and in the New York Times “What We’re Reading” column that curates excellent journalism. Vinograd reported from one of the areas hit hardest by conflict, Bentiu, where sexual violence is so common that stigma and silence of previous generations has slowly started to lift.

BEIJING: OPC member Jaime Florcruz has been named one of 10 elected vice chairs of the Peking University Alumni Association. He will serve a four-year term along with board chairman Lin Jinhua, who also serves as the university’s president. Florcruz posted on Facebook that he was particularly honored “because I just learned that I am the first ever overseas alumnus elected to such top position.” Florcruz worked for four decades covering China for TIME magazine and CNN. He stepped down as CNN’s Beijing bureau chief in December 2014 and was the network’s longest serving correspondent in China.

KABUL: OPC members Ruchi Kumar and Ivan Flores teamed up for a piece on Vox Media’s style and news website Racked in February about how barber shops are flourishing in Afghanistan as men who lived under strict Taliban rules for grooming explore hair styles as an expression of freedom. Kumar wrote the story, and Flores provided photos.

PARIS: Anna Pujol-Mazzini in January wrote a piece for the Thompson Reuters Foundation about the rise of homelessness in Paris since the financial crisis in 2007, and the proliferation of anti-homeless devices such as cold water sprayers and spikes to repel sleepers from sheltered spots. She also tracked the rise of laws that push homeless people out of public view. Pujol-Mazzini is a freelance journalist based in Gambia and covers West Africa for Reuters, Agence France-Presse and The Times of London, among others.


Former Associated Press photographer Max Desfor died on Feb. 19 at the age of 104. Desfor covered the World War II and the Korean War from the front lines and took one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th Century when he climbed a damaged bridge and captured an image of hundreds of refugees crawling across an icy river to safety in 1950. Desfor was born in the Bronx in 1913 and graduated from Brooklyn College. He worked as staff photographer for the AP in Baltimore and Washington, DC before covering World War II and working from the Philippines and India. He retired from the AP in 1978 and later joined U.S. News & World Report as photo director.

Elizabeth Hawley, a reporter who closely followed expeditions to Himalayan peaks in Nepal, died on Jan. 26 at the age of 94. The U.S.-born journalist lived in Nepal since 1960 and became a fixture in the climbing community. Hawley began reporting for Reuters in 1962, nine years after the seminal expedition by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to climb the summit of Mount Everest.


January 2018


Anupreeta Das, former OPC governor and winner of the Reuters scholarship in 2006, has been named deputy business editor of The Wall Street Journal. An announcement to Journal colleagues called Das “one of our finest, most creative, most versatile reporters and a trusted mentor to many in our newsroom.” Since joining the Journal in 2010, she has covered mergers, finance and investing and serves as part of the paper’s financial enterprise team. Before joining the Journal, Das covered tech, media and telecom deals for Reuters.

Paul Sonne, Swinton winner in 2008, is leaving The Wall Street Journal after more than 8 years to join the national staff of The Washington Post to cover the Pentagon. Sonne had an OPC Foundational fellowship with The Associated Press in Moscow. He also interned with The New York Times in Moscow before joining the Journal in London, covering business and political news. While in London, Paul and his colleagues won the Malcolm Forbes Award for best international business reporting in newspapers. He later returned to Russia to serve as Moscow correspondent for the Journal from 2013 to 2016, covering the Kremlin as relations between Washington and Moscow soured. Since then, he has covered national security from the Washington bureau.

Diksha Madhok, Theo Wilson winner in 2011, has been named digital director of ThePrint, a news media start-up in India. Madhok has also worked as India editor at Quartz and as a reporter for Reuters in New Dehli.

Katie Paul, Irene Corbally Kuhn scholarship winner in 2007, is transferring from one Reuters bureau to another in the Middle East. After several years in Riyadh, she is moving to the Dubai bureau where she will be a senior correspondent covering business throughout the Gulf.  Katie had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Buenos Aires.

Edward Wong, former Beijing correspondent for The New York Times and 1998 David Schweisberg scholarship winner, wrote a longform feature about China’s growing global role and its use of force, writing that the “emerging imperium is more a result of the Communist Party’s exercise of hard power, including economic coercion, than the product of a gravitational pull of Chinese ideas or contemporary culture.” OPC Foundation President Bill Holstein wrote on his blog that “all of us at the foundation are touched that we helped launch Ed Wong, who has become an important voice on issues that Dave [Schweisberg] was passionate about.” Holstein worked with Schweisberg in Hong Kong, and both served as chief of the Beijing bureau for UPI in the 80s.

2016 Hal Boyle Award winner Hannah Dreier has received a 2018 Ochberg Fellowship from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. The weeklong program focuses on exploring issues surrounding psychological trauma and ethics challenges connected to journalists’ work. Dreier won her OPC award while covering political turmoil in Venezuela The Associated Press, and is currently a reporter at ProPublica, focusing on immigration.

OPC Governor Josh Fine, along with several colleagues at HBO Sports With Bryant Gumbel, has received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for an global investigation into the International Olympic Committee. The same story, “The Lords of the Rings,” also won the OPC’s inaugural Peter Jennings Award last year. Fine and his colleague, David Scott, who also worked on the IOC story, won 2014 The David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award for “The Price of Glory.” Also receiving an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award was OPC member Amy Mackinnon, formerly of Coda Story, who shared an award with the team that worked on “Russia’s New Scapegoats,” a radio documentary about Russia’s anti-gay movement. The award was shared with collaborators Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. Since reporting on the story, Mackinnon has returned from stints in Moscow and Tbilisi to pursue a masters degree at the CUNY journalism school.


Facebook sent shockwaves through the media industry in early January when it announced it would rein in news content and official business and organization pages on users’ “feeds” to prioritize posts from family and friends. Facebook has been neck-and-neck with Google over recent years as top provider of digital news. The announcement sent Facebook shares falling 4.5 percent and costing founder Mark Zuckerberg an estimated $3.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Media analysts say prioritizing content from friends would worsen the so-called echo chamber in which people only see and discuss content that supports their own assumptions. Facebook faced governmental scrutiny last year for its role in spreading misinformation and hate speech. Financial Times CEO John Ridding told Poynter that challenges in the new information ecosystem will require a subscription model that allows publishers to manage access to their content and make a direct connection with readers, or else “as the large majority of all new online advertising spend continues to go to the search and social media platforms – quality content will no longer be a choice or an option.” Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, told The New York Times that the change “looks like the end of the social news era.”

NEW YORK: An investigation spanning several months by OPC Governor Azmat Khan and OPC member Anand Gopal into underreported civilian casualties in Iraq continues to make ripples after it was published in the new York Times Magazine late last year. In “The Uncounted,” Khan and Gopal found that airstrikes in Iraq are killing civilians at 31 times the rate that the US-led coalition forces reported. In an interview about the piece for Al Jazeera, Khan said on-the-ground reporting at airstrike sites in ISIS territory revealed that one in five bombings resulted in a civilian death.

OPC Governor Lara Setrakian has co-founded a campaign to stop sexual harassment and assault in local and national newsrooms. “Press Forward” plans to analyze best practices to create better working environment, and will ultimately publish a “blueprint” for media organizations. Members of the independent group are current and former journalists, and receives support from the Greater Washington Community Foundation. It is slated to launch early this year.

The New York Public Library and the Chicago Public Library both named How Dare the Sun Rise, a book co-written by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta, among the best books of 2017. The memoir follows Uwiringiyimana’s story as a young woman who escaped a childhood massacre in Africa and fled to America, where she struggled to adapt to a new life attended a middle school in New York.

OPC Governor Emma Daly, who serves as director of communications for Human Rights Watch, wrote an extensive piece in December detailing the efforts of journalists and human rights activists to report on war crimes during the Yugoslav Wars of the 90s. Daly, who was Balkans correspondent for The Independent from 1990 to 1997, wrote that “human rights activists helped put war crimes firmly on the international agenda – with help from journalists who often didn’t understand the legal implications of the horrors they reported on every day.” Her piece, titled “Beyond Justice: How the Yugoslav Tribunal Made History,” coincided with the closure of the Yugoslav tribunal, which indicted a total of 161 people after 24 years. Daly spent a total of 18 years as a journalist, mostly as a foreign correspondent, at a number of outlets including The New York Times, the Independent, Newsweek, the Observer and Reuters.

OPC Third Vice President Pancho Bernasconi of Getty Images spoke to digital culture news site Uproxx about a specially curated gallery of images to honor the “love and resiliency” of survivors of tragic events over the last year. The “Images Of Strength” collection includes 18 photos that show Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, survivors of gun attacks in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Texas and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, soldiers embracing children in Iraq and first responders in the aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Harvey in Puerto Rico and Texas and the earthquake in Mexico City. Bernasconi told Uproxx in a Q&A that images depicting moments of strength and compassion provide crucial context for stories about crisis. “The world can have a conversation through a shared sense of an image or a truth,” he said. Bernasconi also underscored the need for photojournalists to stay vigilant when covering conflict or working in disaster zones. “You as a professional work with your editors and the people you know and trust to mitigate [risks] as much as possible. And, we have to trust our photographers,” he said.

OPC Governor Rukmini Callimachi is warning that the decline of ISIS has been overstated, saying that the terror network is now more deadly than the Taliban. In separate podcast interviews, Callimachi told PRI’s The World and World View, a foreign affairs podcast produced by The Irish Times, that although Islamic State’s territory has reduced in size by 98 per cent in Syria and Iraq, the US Pentagon reports that its numbers in Yemen have doubled over the last year. Her interviews follow Callimachi’s reporting in the Times over the last month on two IS bomb attacks in Kabul on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4, and a gun assault against members of a Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo on Dec. 29.

The OPC’s 2016 Best Commentary winner, Masha Gessen, delivered the Robert B. Silvers lecture, titled “The Stories of a Life,” on Dec. 18. The lecture was created by Max Palevsky and named in honor of Silvers, the co-founding editor of The New York Review of Books, who died in March last year. Her talk was featured on the New York Public Library Podcast in January.

WASHINGTON, DC: Hannah Allam, BuzzFeed reporter, former OPC Governor and a current member, was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition about her coverage of allegations of sexual harassment surrounding Dallas-based Muslim celebrity preacher Nouman Ali Khan. Allam told the public radio program that many Muslim women face additional challenges when deciding whether to report abuse involving cultural and religious taboos. Allam spoke to one of Ali Khan’s accusers for a BuzzFeed piece in December with details of how he allegedly manipulated female followers into sham marriages and then paid them to stay silent.

LOS ANGELES: Newsroom employees at the Los Angeles Times voted in early January on whether to form a union for the first time in the paper’s 136-year history. The workers are calling for higher salaries, better benefits and working conditions, and pay equality for women and minorities. The vote to join NewGuild would affect about 380 employees. The New York Times reported that the move has sparked tensions between the paper’s management and employees, with management urging for staff to vote against the move and saying in an email that “The question to you is do you want to preserve your independence and the independence of the Los Angeles Times or do you want someone else negotiating on your behalf?” Results are slated to be released on Jan. 19.

LONDON: Carrie Gracie, former China editor for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), resigned from her post in Beijing citing a “secretive and illegal pay culture” of pay inequality compared to male international editors at the broadcaster. During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Gracie said she was offered a 33 percent pay increase but rejected it because she wanted equality, not more money. She said she could not resume her post in China and “collude knowingly in what I consider to be unlawful pay discrimination.” BBC was forced to disclose employee salaries last July, revealing that two thirds of the highest paid on-air talent were male, and the top seven earners were men. The UK-based National Union of Journalists has filed complaint with the BBC on behalf of 121 female employees over pay disparity.

CBS News has hired OPC Governor Roxana Saberi as correspondent based in London. Saberi served as a freelance correspondent for the network news service and for its affiliate, Newspath, since 2016. She has also served as fill-in anchor for CBSN. Saberi, who is fluent in Persian, previously worked as correspondent for Al Jazeera America, and reported on Iran for several years. In 2009, she was arrested while working on a book about Iran and held for 100 days at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran on espionage charges. An announcement on the CBS site said Saberi “brings a wealth of unique international and national reporting experience.”

BUENOS AIRES: An Argentinian fact-checking site has released a piece of software that automatically identifies claims in online media and matches them with existing fact checks. The tool, Chequeabot, uses machine learning to assist fact checkers in newsrooms. Poynter.org reported that the software scans text from 25 media outlets in Argentina, automatically flagging claims from politicians and other sources. The bot has already helped to flag erroneous trade surplus numbers from the country’s foreign ministry in a newspaper interview, and to unpack statements about the electricity grid that the energy minister made during a press conference. The organization that developed the software, Chequeado, received a fellowship in 2016 from Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network to work with Full Fact, a nonprofit based in the UK that is developing similar automated tools for English-speaking newsrooms.


The former editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston, died on January 6 at the age of 79. Preston began his career at the paper in 1963 and served as editor for two decades, from 1975 to 1995. Preston helmed the Guardian through a period of historic news events and is credited with helping the paper survive a price war with The Independent by overseeing a redesign in the mid-80s. His final column on press and broadcasting was published on New Year’s Eve, in which he said journalists’ biggest new challenge is to re-establish “some modest degree of public respectability” and trust among readers amid attacks from President Trump and others around the world. Preston is survived by his wife Jean, four children, and eight grandchildren.

This issue’s People column features updates on OPC Foundation scholars Anupreeta Das, Paul Sonne, Diksha Madhok, Katie Paul and Edward Wong; OPC award winners Hannah Dreier and Masha Gessen; OPC Governors Pancho Bernasconi, Rukmini Callimachi, Emma Daly, Josh Fine, Azmat Khan, Abigail Pesta, Roxana Saberi and Lara Setrakian; as well as members Hannah Allam and Anand Gopal.