July 25, 2024

People Column

2019 July-December Issue

November-December 2019


2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner Dake Kang was pat of a team that won a Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Award from The Associated Press, where he works, for “China Clamps Down.” The series documented the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. He shared the $10,000 prize with the other two members of his reporting team, Han Guan Ng and Yanan Wang. “The journalists were relentless in their pursuit of the truth, staying a step ahead of the competition to deliver stories and images that set AP apart on one of the major international stories of the year,” said an AP release.

2019 Reuters Fellowship winner Jonas Ekblom is one of this year’s winners of the US Foreign Press Association Scholar Awards. He posted on social media that in honor of the 2013 winner of that award, Kim Wall, he would donate a quarter of his award amount to the Kim Wall Memorial Fund. “I have so much to thank the brilliant women and women journalists I’ve worked with,” Ekblom wrote in the post, “and few things make me so sad as when I think about them having to even consider the very real risk of violence and abuse solely because they are women.”

Isabel DeBré, the Stan Swinton winner in 2018, is now based at The Associated Press bureau in Cairo. She began her AP career as an OPC Foundation fellow in the Jerusalem bureau in the fall of 2018.

Leticia Duarte, the winner of the 2019 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, visited favelas in Rio, Brazil for GroundTruth to talk with the victims of President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign of extrajudicial police killings, which have hit record a record high. The GroundTruth Fellow’s visit was featured as the first episode on the organization’s podcast, titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook. The podcast covers seven authoritarian tactics, using the actions of leaders in seven countries to illustrate one of each “play.” Duarte focuses on Bolsonaro’s use of weaponized fear. She also traveled to Virginia for the story to talk with Olavo de Carvalho, who commands an online army of trolls to intimidate political opponents.

2019 Nathan S. Bienstock Scholarship recipient Audrey Gray wrote a piece for The New Republic about the impact of climate change on fisheries in New England. Titled “Global Warming Is Already Destroying New England’s Fisheries,” the piece details how the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine, warming at almost four times the global ocean average, is becoming less viable for supporting ecosystems of large fish. A fisherman she interviewed used to be able to catch 34,000 pounds of fish from the gulf, but this year, he could only catch 2,000. “We’ve lost a whole generation that was completely discouraged from getting into the industry,” fourth-generation fisherman Al Cottone told Gray.

2018 Schweisberg Award winner Jack Brook wrote an article for the Miami Herald about unreported hate crimes in Florida. According to Brook’s reporting, law enforcement in Florida, where more than 90 percent of districts reported zero hate crimes in 2018, disproportionately lags behind other states in reporting hate crimes. By comparison, the District of Columbia reported 213 hate crimes and New Jersey reported 561, while Florida reported 141. “It’s up to local law enforcement agencies to decide whether something should be reported as a hate crime, and whether law enforcement properly documents an incident impacts how prosecutors approach the case,” Brook wrote.

OPC member Martyn Aim won first place in the Editorial/War category of the International Photo Awards for his project “Ukraine’s Forgotten War.” Between September and December of 2018, Aim traveled around conflict zones in Ukraine and documented the lives of people in fractured and heavily damaged villages.

2018 Edward R. Murrow Award winner Raney Aronson-Rath, along with her team at FRONTLINE, won two Alfred duPont-Columbia Awards for their multi-part documentaries “Documenting Hate” and “The Facebook Dilemma.” “Documenting Hate,” produced in partnership with ProPublica, investigated the rise of white supremacist groups in America. “The Facebook Dilemma” showed the social media giant’s impact on privacy and speech around the world. The award recipients will be honored at a ceremony hosted by OPC member Christiane Amanpour and Michael Barbaro on Jan. 21.


New Media Investment Group and Gannett have merged, creating the largest U.S. media company by print circulation. The merger was a mixture of cash and stock valued at around $1.1 billion. “Our mission is to connect, protect and celebrate our local communities,” said Paul Bascobert, one of the new company’s CEOs. “Great journalism really is the core of that mission. The question really becomes, what’s the sustainable and exciting business model that powers that mission?”

Roula Khalaf is the new editor of The Financial Times, taking over the position from Lionel Barber, who held it for 14 years. Khalaf, who was previously the paper’s deputy editor, has been with The Financial Times for 24 years, during which she oversaw 100 foreign correspondents and led the paper’s coverage of the Middle East. “I have full confidence that she will continue the FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism without fear and without favour,” said Tsuneo Kita, the chairman of Nikkei, the media company that owns The Financial Times. She will be the FT’s first female editor since the paper was founded in 1888.

Longtime OPC member and former Governor Seymour Topping turned 98 on Dec. 11. Topping began his career in journalism in 1948, as a foreign correspondent in China and Southeast Asia for The Associated Press. From 1977 to 1987, he served as the managing editor of The New York Times. After retiring in 2002, he became Professor Emeritus of International Journalism at Columbia University.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi co-authored “The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power In Iraq” for The New York Times. The article details 700 pages of leaked Iranian intelligence reports that expose “Tehran’s vast influence in Iraq, detailing years of painstaking work by Iranian spies to co-opt the country’s leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the Americans to switch sides and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic and religious life.” The reports were first sent to The Intercept, who verified their authenticity, translated them from Persian to English, and shared them with the Times. The anonymous source who leaked the documents said that they wanted to “let the world know what Iran is doing in my country Iraq.”

Former OPC Treasurer Abigail Pesta appeared on the Dec. 5 episode of The Dr. Phil Show. The episode was based on her book “The Girls,” about the USA Gymnastics abuse scandal. She joined judge Rosemarie Aquilina, attorney Jamie White, who helped the victims secure a $500 million settlement from Michigan State University, and two survivors who Pesta interviewed in her book. “This is a courageous, courageous book,” Dr. Phil said on the show. “The Girls is probably the most thorough account of this case.”

OPC member Hasan Mahmud became the head of news and current affairs at Jagaroni TV, a new Bangladeshi satellite television channel. Previously, Mahmud served as a special correspondent for Jamuna Television, and as chief crime reporter for Diganta Television. He has covered news from South Sudan, Geneva, New York, Italy, Greece, Bahrain, France, Saudi Arab and Nepal. Mahmud served as editor of the weekly Sunday Line since 2010.

OPC past president William J. Holstein had a letter to the editor published in the Nov. 8 issue of The New York Times, in which he responded to an article about China stealing research from the National Institutes of Health. “Chinese scientists are not just stealing secrets from the National Institutes of Health and the biomedical community,” he wrote. “With active support and encouragement from China’s central government, the systematic looting of American technologies is occurring on virtually every scientific front inside the United States.”

The Coalition For Women In Journalism launched a bi-monthly newsletter in November to cover interviews, research, and issues facing women working as reporters around the world. OPC member Kiran Nazish, founding director for the coalition, wrote in an introduction to the first issue of the newsletter that advocacy groups including hers had attended a hearing in January for multiple journalists, including women, who were persecuted by the Turkish state. She said their presence caused the hearing to be surprisingly brief. “In the absence of any support or advocacy groups, these hearing typically go on for hours and comprise of unfounded accusations, often of terror links and tedious bullying,” she said. Nazish said the newsletter would celebrate “the work female reporters do across the world, keeps an eye on important events and opportunities and of course, offers an insight into our safety and advocacy related work that we do every day.

2009 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award winner and New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson was the subject of an in-depth interview with Adriana Carranca for the Columbia Journalism Review about his journalism career. In the interview, Anderson talks about his journey from his first job as a reporter for The Lima Times in Peru in 1979 to The New Yorker, which he joined in 1998. “I became a journalist because I wanted to see the world myself. I wanted to get my fingernails dirty,” he told CJR.

2018 Olivier Rebbot Award winner Nariman El-Mofty exhibited her Pulitzer Prize-winning photo project at Dupont Underground from Nov. 9 to Dec. 8, in partnership with the 2019 World Press Photo Exhibition. Her project, “Jalila: Surviving War and Famine in Yemen,” documents the lives of Hagar, a mother of eight, and her baby, Jalila. El-Mofty told the Pulitzer Center that she hopes for her work to humanize the people she photographs “rather than continuing a narrative of victimization.” v

October 2019


Following Daphne Psaledakis’s OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Brussels this summer, Reuters has offered her a job on the foreign policy team in its Washington bureau. Psaledakis is the winner of the 2019 Flora Lewis Fellowship. She graduated from the University of Missouri in May with a dual degree in journalism and international studies. Psaledakis interned with Reuters in both Washington and Brussels, Belgium, where she returned for the OPC fellowship after graduating. She starts her new Reuters post in the last week of October.

Echo Wang, the Reuters Fellowship winner in 2019, has been hired full-time by Reuters in their mergers and acquisitions area. Wang had an OPC Foundation fellowship in Reuters’ New York bureau.

Suman Naishadham, 2018 winner of the H.L. Stevenson Scholarship, is now a contributor for Bloomberg Tax, where she covers Mexican tax policy and cross-border trade. Previously, she was an intern at The Wall Street Journal, where she covered immigration and business news. Since joining, she has filed stories about Mexico’s plan to tax digital services.

Tik Root, 2017 winner of the H.L. Stevenson Scholarship, wrote a story for TIME about ghost forests, one of the consequences of climate change. Ghost forests, Root writes, are “swaths of dead, white, trees are created when salty water moves into forested areas, first slowing, and eventually halting, the growth of new trees.” The story was published in partnership with Newsy, who made a short documentary to pair with it.

Marina Villeneuve, winner of the 2013 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship, is now the New York State government and politics reporter for The Associated Press. She was previously their Maine statehouse reporter, a position she held since May 2016. Since starting her role in September, she has filed stories about the state budget, public finances, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Ginger Thompson
of ProPublica, winner of the OPC’s 1995 Eric and Amy Burger Award, won the 2019 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. The Columbia School of Journalism announced the award on Sept. 26. Thompson shared the OPC award with Gary Cohn in 1995 for their reporting on “Battalion 3-16,” a Honduran army unit responsible for carrying out political assassinations and torture during the 1980s.


VICE acquired Refinery29, the female-focused culture and lifestyle publisher, in early October. The price was not disclosed, but according to CNN, sources say the deal is a mix of stock and cash worth less than $500 million. “This is an expansive moment for independent media. VICE Media Group and Refinery29, two of the strongest independent voices in the industry, will continue to build a scaled global and diversified media company,” said VICE CEO Nancy Dubuc in a statement. Both outlets have faced financial difficulties in recent years, resulting in several rounds of layoffs.

Vox Media, owner of Vox and tech website The Verge, acquired New York Media, the parent company of New York magazine, in an all-stock transaction late September. The value of the acquisition has not been disclosed. Earlier this year, New York magazine laid off 16 full-time employees and 16 part-time employees, about 5 percent of their staff. Pamela Wasserstein, the chief executive of New York Media, and Jim Bankoff, the chief executive of Vox Media, both say that the deal was not done out of financial necessity. “We see a lot of mergers that are done for the wrong reason: because one or two companies might be desperate, or for financial engineering,” Bankoff said to The New York Times.

OPC Governor Martin Smith served on the panel of Colby College’s 56th annual Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, which honored 66 journalists and media workers who lost their lives in 2018. As part of the award ceremony, Smith screened his PBS Frontline documentary The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

OPC member and former Treasurer Abigail Pesta wrote an op-ed for TIME on Oct. 10 about the USA Gymnastics abuse scandal and the #MeToo era. Pesta, who recently released a book about the scandal called The Girls, talked to 25 of Larry Nassar’s abuse victims about the trauma they faced and the lack of help they received. “If anyone had listened,” Pesta wrote, “hundreds of women could have been spared.”

OPC First Vice President Deborah Amos, who covers the Middle East for NPR News, wrote a piece late September about Syrian war crime cases in Europe. One of the people she profiled was Omar Alshogre, who was tortured as a political prisoner in Syria. Alshogre was arrested in December 2012 at age 17 for protesting against the regime of President Bashar Assad and sent to Branch, 215, a military intelligence prison in Damascus notorious for “gruesome torture techniques.” When he was released in June 2015, he weighed 75 pounds. His mother didn’t recognize him. Now, he’s a Syrian refugee in Sweden who’s outspoken about the torture he endured. In the past few years, Europe has become the epicenter of prosecuting Syrian war crimes, especially in Germany, who has 800,000 Syrian refugees.

OPC Governor and New York Times international correspondent-at-large Rod Nordland wrote a new piece for the Times on Oct. 24 related to his recent diagnosis of a brain tumor. He talks about Turkish novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan, who despite serving a life sentence in prison wrote a book titled “I will Never See the World Again” that was smuggled out of the prison and published. Nordland interviewed Altan before his diagnosis by secreting questions and answers past jailers. He wrote that while recently editing the interview he “recognized an affinity that I hadn’t felt initially. We are both terminal cases – his life sentence, my brain tumor – and writing brings both of us solace, for different reasons.”

Nordland also filed a story with Fatima Faizi about Zarifa Ghafari, one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors, with photos by OPC member Jim Huylebroek. Ghafari was elected as mayor of Maidan Shar in July 2018 at age 26, but her first day was filled with so much chaos that she had to leave and return nine months later. “After she arrived for work that July day, her office was mobbed by angry men brandishing sticks and rocks,” writes Nordland. “She had to be escorted out by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate for Security, which sent a squad of paramilitary officers to her rescue.” She still faces death threats, protests, and street harassment. The latter was Nordland’s first story since his Aug. 31 essay about discovering he had a malignant brain tumor while reporting on the monsoons in India.

OPC member Azad Essa and photojournalist Sorin Furcoi have turned their 2017 Al Jazeera project, “Killed For Their Bones: On The Trail Of The Trade In Human Body Parts,” into a book, titled Out Of The Shadows. Partnering with Amnesty International, the book will be used as an advocacy tool in hopes of raising awareness about the attacks on people with albinism in Southern and Eastern Africa. The book launch took place on Oct. 18 in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Cara Tallo, winner of the 2003 Lowell Thomas Award, is the new executive producer for All Things Considered, NPR’s flagship news program. She has been with NPR for 20 years, working her way up from a Washington desk intern in 1999. Her Lowell Thomas award was for her work on NPR’s “History of the Middle East” series.

OPC member Robyn Dixon, winner of the 2016 Madeline Dane Ross Award for her reporting on South Sudan, has been named the Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post. She had been at the Los Angeles Times since 1999, where she served as the bureau chief in Beijing and Johannesburg. She begins her work in Moscow in November.


September 2019


Eli Binder, the 2019 winner of the Fritz Beebe Fellowship, has been covering Hong Kong’s political protests with The Wall Street Journal. Binder, a recent graduate of Brown University, has also written about international politics for the Brown Daily Herald. Binder’s fellowship took him to Hong Kong with the Journal. He submitted work about Chinese entrepreneurs working in Sri Lanka for his OPC Foundation application.

Rebecca Redelmeier, 2019 David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship winner, was named a digital engagement associate for the Committee to Protect Journalists. She will work as part of the CPJ digital team that promotes press freedom through its digital channels – like social platforms and email newsletters.

Leticia Duarte, the winner of the 2019 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, was named among the Columbia Journalism School Postgraduate Reporting Fellows this academic year. She is one of three women on a Global Migration Project team that will spend six months investigating stories at the intersections of gender and issues surrounding refugees and immigration. They will work as a team on data projects and multimedia work, as well as individual long-form stories. Her team mates are Cristina Baussan and Ottavia Spaggiari.

Micah Danney, the 2018 Theo Wilson Scholarship winner, is now a reporter and editor for Religion Unplugged. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the GroundTruth Project in Jerusalem. Religion Unplugged is a non-profit news organization, funded by TheMediaProject.org.

Sarah Dadouch, 2017 winner of the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship, has been named Beirut correspondent for The Washington Post. She joins the Post from the Reuters bureau in Istanbul, where she has worked since her OPC Foundation fellowship there in 2017. During her two years at Reuters, she also reported from Beirut and Riyadh.

Patricia Rey Mallén, winner of the 2013 Theo Wilson Scholarship, is working as a producer for Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. She previously worked as a freelance journalist in Mexico City with bylines in Quartz, Roads & Kingdoms, Conde Nast Traveler and Univision, among others. She also worked for International Business Times.

Nizar Manek, winner of the 2012 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in honor of I.F. Stone, recently co-wrote a Bloomberg piece about the death of a Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project engineer with Marc Champion. Since winning the award, Manek has written for the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Bloomberg Businessweek, and now works as the Addis Ababa correspondent for Bloomberg News.

Longtime OPC member Christiane Amanpour accepted the University of Arizona’s John Peter Zenger Award in Tucson on Sept. 20, catching a dawn flight from New York and then blasting back on a redeye for the U.N. General Assembly opening. Her red cashmere is emblazoned with her new watchwords: Be truthful but not neutral. Mort Rosenblum, also a longtime OPC member who periodically returns from Paris to teach at the J-school, introduced her. “With rare humanity, prodigious knowledge and a firm grasp of the big picture, she gets to the heart of the most complex stories,” he said. “And she tells them in crystal clear terms with that plummy Anglo-Persian inflection the world knows so well. You can’t learn her kind of instincts. I always chuckle at one network house ad that features a correspondent in a war zone saying, ‘This is actually hell.’ If that were Christiane, she would skip the story at hand and get the devil on camera.”

Martha Mendoza of The Associated Press, a member of the investigative team that won the 2017 Malcolm Forbes and Hal Boyle Awards, was named among winners for The National Headliner Awards in the category of “investigative reporting in newspapers in top 20 media market” for her reporting along with partner Garance Burke, titled “The Innocents: How U.S. Immigration Policy Punishes Migrant Children.” They garnered third place in the category, while the “best in show” spot went to Julie K. Brown and Emily Michot of The Miami Herald for “Perversion of Justice,” in which the team tracked down Jane Does years after their violations by a serial pedophile, which sparked “a wave of outrage both in Florida and nationally that was felt in the hearings rooms of Congress.” Mendoza and Burke also won a Clarion Award in the investigative newspaper series for the same reporting. The Clarion Awards are given out by The Association of Women in Communications.

The “photo essay/story” category of the National Headliner Awards included two former OPC Award winners. First Place went to Rodrigo Abd of the AP for photos of the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. border last fall. Abd won the OPC’s Feature Photography Award for 2010 and 2014 for photos in Guatemala and Peru, respectively. Second place went to Nariman El-Mofty of the AP for a series titled “Yemen: Life in Ruins.” El-Mofty won this year’s Olivier Rebbot Award for his photos of conflict in Yemen, and was part of an AP team that won Citations for Excellence in both the Hal Boyle and Roy Rowan Awards.

Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo and Reuters colleagues won first place in the “online investigative reporting” category for the National Headline Awards. That team also won this year’s Bob Considine Award for reporting on abuses against Rohingya in Myanmar, reporting for which the two were jailed. Ed Ou, co-winner of the 2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award along with Aurora Almendral of NBC, won first place with David Scott Holloway for an NBC News video exploring white nationalist extremism and radicalization in the U.S. The National Headliner Awards were founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City.


Rod Nordland, OPC Governor and international correspondent-at-large for The New York Times, wrote about his diagnosis with a brain tumor while covering monsoons in India. In July, just as a monsoon began to hit, a stranger found Nordland on the ground in the midst of a seizure. He was taken to Moolchand Hospital in Delhi and sat comatose for two days while floods ravaged the country, killing dozens of people. Soon after, he was transported to Weill Cornell Medical Center and diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme. In the piece, titled “Waiting for the Monsoon, Discovering a Brain Tumor Instead,” Nordland describes a harrowing adventure to the hospital, writing about the Good Samaritan’s struggle to convince ambulance drivers to take him because they were afraid to be held accountable for Nordland’s injuries. The Samaritan was asked to leave his motorcycle as collateral, but the drivers compromised and allowed him to leave a smartphone instead. Nordland’s piece is blunt if not irreverent, recounting frustrating euphemisms for a tumor, “sub-cranial, space-occupying lesion,” and joking about a silver lining that his “toe-tag” in the hospital had flatteringly misjudged his age as 47 and a half, despite it being only days from his 70th birthday. Nordland underwent surgery in New York, and his neurosurgeon said that 99.99 percent of the tumor had been removed and the remainder would be radiated and treated with chemotherapy just in case. “We’re on a journey,” the doctor told him.

Longtime OPC member Andrew Lluberes is renting his Barcelona apartment from December 2019 until April 2020. Lluberes describes the apartment as being located “in Barcelona’s fashionable Sant Gervasi neighborhood, is large, (170 square meters), comfortable and elegant; has 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths; a large combination living room and dining room, terrace with an unobstructed view from Tibidabo Mountain down to the Mediterranean; and includes art and music collections, library, and all the usual comforts. Cost is 3,000€ (euros) a month or 2,500€ a month if rented for the entire period. All utilities included. Apartment is available from the first week of December until the week after Easter.

OPC Treasurer Liam Stack is currently in Berlin on an Arthur Burns Fellowship. The fellowship is the longest running program of the International Center for Journalists, and aims to foster transatlantic relationships by helping U.S., German and Canadian journalists to live and work in each other’s countries.

OPC member Rebecca Fannin, founder of Silicon Dragon, organized an evening of panels and talks on Sept. 12, in partnership with the OPC, to discuss issues surrounding technology in China. The annual forum this year was titled “Tech Titans Of China – What Could Go Wrong?” and featured programs representing variations on that theme including venture capital, trade issues, and a presentation from a drone maker. OPC Past President William J. Holstein participated in a panel on U.S.-China technology and trade issues. Holstein recently published his new book, The New Art of War. Fannin’s book, Tech Titans of China, was published on Sept. 3.

OPC member John Koppisch left Forbes Asia at the end of May, after the magazine moved production from the U.S. to Singapore. He had edited for Forbes Asia since 2006 and worked at Forbes’ headquarters in Jersey City, NJ. Production in Singapore began with the February issue. The move came after a reorganization at Forbes Media near the end of 2017 shifted editorial control of Forbes Asia from the top editor in Jersey City to the top business executive in Singapore. Before Forbes, Koppisch worked at Bloomberg Businessweek and The Wall Street Journal and spent 12 years overseas, in South Africa and Hong Kong.

OPC member Peter Copeland has a book due to come out on Oct. 1. The book, Finding the News: Adventures of a Young Reporter, is a memoir of his storied career spanning three decades, starting in Chicago as a night police reporter, then working as a war correspondent in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa before covering politics in Washington, DC, and ultimately bureau chief of the E. W. Scripps Company.

OPC member Rebecca Murray filed a piece on Sept. 11 about the war in Libya from Tripoli for the website Middle East Eye. Her long-form story titled “Gridlock: Libya Suffers as Haftar’s Tripoli Offensive Drags On,” covered the war’s international backers and devastating impact to human lives on the ground. Then on Sept. 26, Murray participated in a debate on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss issues surrounding the war. Other participants included Abdul Rahman Alageli of Chatham House and Jalel Harchaoui of the Clingendael Institute. The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime sponsored the discussion.

OPC member and outgoing board member Vivienne Walt scored another cover story for TIME magazine’s Europe edition in late September with a story about French President Emmanuel Macron. She chronicles the former Economy Minister’s grassroots uprising and path to presidency, which started in May 2017. Walt spoke to Macron for the story and follows up on reporting from two years ago, remarking that he seemed relaxed and informal “in his shirtsleeves, he leaned back and reflected at length on his tumultuous time in office and what might lie ahead.”

OPC Governor Miriam Elder has returned to reporting after a stint as world editor for BuzzFeed News. Now based in New York, she formerly served as The Guardian’s Moscow-based correspondent. She has been with Buzzfeed since 2013.

OPC member Ilana Ozernoy is now the Global Head of Communications at Bloomberg Media. She had previously worked at News Corp, where she was the Vice President and Deputy Head of Communications.

Abrahm Lustgarten, winner of this year’s Whitman Bassow Award, filed a story in July for ProPublica about a US munitions burning site that has garnered some attention. In it, Lustgarden investigated the town of Colfax, Indiana, whose residents have to deal with the effects of the U.S. military burning thousands of pounds of explosives just miles away from their homes. Lustgarten won the Bassow Award for a report linking U.S. biofuel policy and corruption in Indonesia.

Maggie Steber, recipient of the OPC President’s Award in April this year, served as judge for the inaugural Leica Women Foto Project Award. The award, which will be awarded to three young female photographers, comes with $10,000, a one-year loan of a Leica Q2 camera, and a free replacement camera at the end of the loan period.

Reuters announced on Aug. 8 that Paritosh Bansal, Reuters journalist who was part of a team that won the 2017 Malcolm Forbes Award, will serve as the organization’s finance and markets editor. His previous role at Reuters was as managing editor for news in the Americas, in which he oversaw coverage of current events in the region. Bansal and his team won the Forbes award for “The Philip Morris Files,” an investigation into the business practices of Philip Morris.

July-August 2019


After three years at Mother Jones in San Francisco, Yu Vongkiatkajorn, the 2016 Emanuel R. Freedman winner in 2016, has signed on with The Washington Post in DC as a community editor, working on leading audience and community engagement strategies.

OPC member Pat Milton, CBS News senior producer of the investigative unit, was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame of the Long Island Press Club honoring her career at The Associated Press and CBS News. CBS President Susan Zirinsky joined Milton’s family, friends and colleagues from the AP and CBS at an induction dinner in Smithtown, Long Island on June 6. “Pat Milton is always on,” Zirinsky said during her dinner address. “Her federal law enforcement and intelligence sources are impeccable. We go live at the network with special reports based on Pat Milton’s reporting. “Pat Milton is an inspiration to her colleagues. Pat Milton is selfless.” Milton opened The AP’s first bureau on Long Island covering key stories such as the crash of TWA Flight 800, the Long Island Railroad shooting massacre, the battle over the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, and kidnapping of Katie Beers. Milton and AP colleagues were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by The AP for their coverage of the TWA crash. She authored a book entitled In The Blink of an Eye, on the FBI investigation into the crash. She joined CBS News in 2008, and co-produces pieces for 60 Minutes. She and her CBS colleagues were awarded an Emmy for their coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. Her father, Arthur Milton was a founding member of the OPC and held various positions at the club including Vice President and member of the board of governors. He also started and was long time publisher of OPC’s Dateline magazine.

OPC member Martyn Aim won a Bronze Prize in the Prix de la Photographie Paris awards, also known as Px3, in the category of “Press/War: Professional” for his project on Iraq entitled “Near Dark.” The submitted collection includes a range of photos from his daily coverage of the war in Iraq. He wrote for the awards website that during the course of his work there he “began to strive to see beyond the conflict and to capture the terrible surreal beauty conjured in moments of unexpected silence, in stillness, on deserted streets. They are dark visions that stopped me in my tracks.”


OPC Governor Rod Nordland, international correspondent at large for The New York Times and Kabul bureau chief, collapsed in India on assignment in mid-July. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery in New York on July 17, his 70th birthday. His partner described the surgery as “a great success.” Rod is in recovery in unit 2SW, neurological intensive care, room 2415, Weill Cornell Medical Center, 525 E. 68th St., New York, NY 10065. No flowers are allowed, but inscribed books, letters or cards are welcome. On doctors’ orders, calls or visitors are strictly by prearrangement only through Leila Segal, who can be reached at rod.nordland@nytimes.com.

CNN announced in early July that OPC past president Marcus Mabry will serve as the organization’s new vice president of global programming for CNN Digital Worldwide. A CNN statement about the promotion said Mabry would “unite a global team in the art and science of connecting our audiences with our journalism, across mobile and desktop.” Mabry served for the last three years as head of CNN’s mobile programming team, breaking audience records and building its mobile news team. Mabry previously served as editor of TwitterMoments, and spent nearly 10 years at The New York Times as international business editor, national politics editor and digital editor. He served as the OPC’s president from 2014 to 2016.

OPC past president Deidre Depke has been named as the next executive producer of WNYC’s The Takeaway. Depke has been serving as managing editor of American Public Media’s Marketplace, and has worked in several senior positions in the New York office over the last five years. A statement from WNYC’s vice president for news, Jim Schachter, said Depke was selected from a pool of more than 90 candidates. Depke starter her journalism career at BusinessWeek as a reporter covering Silicon Valley, then later as front-of-book editor. She later worked as foreign editor for Newsweek and managing director of The Daily Beast. She is slated to begin at The Takeaway on Aug. 12.

Trudy Rubin, winner of the OPC’s newly named Flora Lewis Award for best commentary this year, called the OPC office in early July asking for a message of support from the organization because the Philadelphia Inquirer was going to kill her foreign affairs column. Executive Director Patricia Kranz did so immediately in the name of the OPC, and many Inquirer readers also wrote the paper to protest. In a message of thanks to the OPC and other supporters, Rubin wrote that as a result of this outcry, the paper has announced it will continue to run her staff column. She called on supporters to look at the survival of regional coverage as a necessity for democracy, saying that “civic activism must now extend to support for local newspapers.”

Former OPC Governor Robert Nickelsberg on July 2 opened an exhibition of 36 prints of his work focusing on the cultural heritage of Afghanistan in the Delegates Room at the United Nations in New York on July 2. The prints are from his latest book printed and published in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Press & Public Diplomacy. The book documents 15 cultural heritage projects, institutions and sites in Afghanistan and the projects are supported by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Nickelsberg wrote in mid-July: “Better known as soft diplomacy, the book project offered me an opportunity to turn away from people in uniform, frontlines and military hardware, politics and the series of destructive suicide bombs. In the 30-plus years of my coverage and work in Afghanistan, I could visit museums, shrines and sites where in the past, there was often no time for stopping. We’re seeing how crucial this part of diplomacy is for preserving the peace and wellbeing of Afghanistan. After last week’s [July 1] car bomb in downtown Kabul, the exhibit’s opening was a small offering of hope to the search for political solutions. Training engineers, masons, craftspeople, calligraphers is how a nation can sustain itself. Ruhullah Khapalwak, who accompanied me throughout the month-long project, said, ‘As an Afghan working with journalists, this is my country and I’m amazed at the places we have that I’m seeing for the first time.’” The exhibit was up through July 17.

OPC member Cassandra Vinograd has taken a new post with the CBS News program 60 Minutes. She tweeted from @CassVinograd on July 8 that “tuning in was always ritual in my house. And I’m so, so excited that now I get to be a part of the best broadcast in news.” She has previously served as Associated Press correspondent in West Africa and later worked as an editor with The Wall Street Journal in Brussels and London. She has reported extensively on terrorism and ISIS.

OPC member Farnaz Fassihi, a reporter for The New York Times, has been grabbing attention with her coverage of Iran amid growing tension with the Trump administration. On July 4 a piece she co-wrote with David Kirkpatrick landed on the front page with an extended interview with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, a divisive figure and key player in last year’s nuclear negotiations with the White House, who hard-liners are calling to resign. Fassihi wrote a piece on July 19 suggesting some of the country’s far right are warming to the idea of negotiations again. In her piece, she quoted a Times interview with former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that lasted more than an hour.

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt wrote a piece for TIME in late June covering the global rise of anti-Semitism, with a focus on the trend’s “especially pronounced” increase in Europe. She wrote that for each of the past three years, the U.K. reported record numbers of anti-Semitic incidents. France, which has the world’s third-largest Jewish population, records indicate a 74 percent spike in anti-Semitic acts between 2017 and 2018. Germany saw a 19 percent increase in such incidents last year. “Exacerbated by the Internet’s ability to spread hatred, anti-Jewish feeling is surging in way that experts fear could result in a conflagration, if governments and communities fail effectively to tackle its causes,” Walt warned. She also wrote a cover story in late July about the destruction of Notre Dame, titled “Saving an Icon.”

OPC member Amy Mackinnon filed a long-form interactive feature for Foreign Policy magazine, co-bylined with C.K. Hickey, comparing child welfare in the U.S. with that of Russia and China. The story centers on a report from Save the Children showing that China is on par with the U.S. on an index that compares number of children affected by poverty, violence, child marriages, and teen pregnancy around the world. China moved up from number 41 to 36 in three years in terms of best countries for children, while the U.S has remained static at number 36 on the index. Mackinnon wrote that while the U.S. compares better than China “when it comes to the percentage of children in school, malnutrition, and child mortality rates, the United States has significantly higher rates of teen pregnancy, child marriage, and child homicide.

OPC award winner Hannah Dreier is moving from ProPublica to The Washington Post as a staff writer for National Enterprise. She won the 2016 Hal Boyle Award for coverage of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, and with ProPublica reported on immigrants, gangs and mishandled law enforcement investigations. She has received several awards including the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She begins the new gig on Sept 3.


Longtime New York Times correspondent David Binder, whose career spanned decades of key international stories from the dissolution of the Soviet Union to civil wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, died on June 30 after a long battle with kidney disease at the age of 88. Binder covered the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and the wall’s destruction in 1989. He covered wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 90s, interviewing victims as well as war criminals Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic. A Times obituary said he filed more than 2,600 articles over his 43-year career. Binder is survived by his wife, Helga Wagner, an East German physician, who he married in 1959, as well as three daughters, Julia, Andrea and Alena Binder, and six grandchildren. 