July 9, 2020

People Column

2020 January-June Issue

June 2020

SCHOLARS

Sandali Handagama, winner of the 2020 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting, has landed an internship at CoinDesk. She will serve as reporter for the news site’s global macro and policy coverage on blockchain-based digital assets.

Derek Kravitz, OPC board member and the OPC Foundation’s 2014 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship, has been awarded a 2020-21 Magic Grant from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, a collaboration between Stanford University’s School of Engineering and the Columbia Journalism School. His project, the COVID-19 FOIA Repository, began as a 2019-2020 Magic Grant that has now shifted its focus to reporting on how local governments were responding to the pandemic. The team will continue its work, issuing targeted Freedom of Information Act requests to build a nationwide repository of COVID-19 related emails between city, county, and state officials. So far, the project has requested records from more than 200 agencies in 44 states, and received 16 substantive responses from 10 states totaling more than 50,000 pages and hundreds of attachments, in data and PDF forms. The COVID-19 FOIA Repository will make the full document sets searchable and available to news organizations, academics and the public.

Marta Orosz, winner of the 2020 Reuters Fellowship, reported for the news service on an epidemic simulation at the U.S. Naval War College that predicted several trends in September 2019. Benjamin Davies, who creates war games for the institution, designed a simulated epidemic to help boost future crisis management. Orosz said that the simulation modeled an “infectious disease spreading through a densely populated city with 21 million people and pockets of inequality that became a hotbed for contagion.”

Mehr Nadeem, the Irene Corbally Kuhn winner in 2019, has received a reporting fellowship from Rest of the World, an organization founded to tell technology stories, particularly from places that are overlooked. The OPC Foundation funded Mehr’s internship with Reuters in Pakistan. She has also reported for Bloomberg News and Lebanon’s Daily Star. Nadeem is proficient in Urdu, Hindi and Arabic.

Lingling Wei, winner of the 2001 Reuters Scholarship, is co-author of a new book, along with Bob Davis, covering the U.S.-China trade war. The book, titled “Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War,” was published on June 9 by Harper’s Press.

Marta Orosz, winner of the 2020 Reuters Fellowship, was awarded a $3,000 scholarship from the New York Financial Writers Association. The scholarship is for students interested in business and financial journalism.

Kantaro Komiya, 2020 OPC Foundation Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, has landed his first byline as part of this summer’s Dow Jones internship. The piece covers Dunkin’ Brands Group (the donut firm) hiring of 25,000 workers at its franchise restaurants, among other companies that are adding jobs as the dormant economy slowly grinds back into production.   

AWARDS

Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra won the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)’s Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award on June 11. Zahra and colleague Peerzada Ashiq have been facing harassment and intimidation from local authorities for their reporting. Zahra’s work has appeared in The Caravan, The Washington Post, TRT World, Al Jazeera, The New Humanitarian, Religion Unplugged and several other media outlets. Zahra has previously exhibited at the annual Photoville festival in New York with her portfolio, “Journalists Under Fire.” The annual IWMF award is named for photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed during an attack in April 2014 while reporting in Afghanistan with OPC member Kathy Gannon, who was injured critically in the attack.

An NBC Digital documentary produced by Ed Ou, winner of the OPC Foundation’s 2007 Dan Eldon Scholarship, won a Peabody Award. The one-hour program, “A Different Kind Of Force: Policing Mental Illness,” focuses on law enforcement approach to mental illness in San Antonio and Houston, and how “deinstitutionalization of the mental health system and lack of resources for both police and health workers created a societal problem.” NBC Digital also won a Peabody for Richard Engel‘s reporting on the U.S. decision to abandon its traditional allies the Kurds, titled “American Betrayal.”

UPDATES

Terrence McCoy, recipient of a Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s Kim Wall Award category this year, landed a front page story for The Washington Post about the soaring number of COVID-19 cases in Brazil, which is set to surpass the number of cases and deaths in the U.S. even as world leaders brace for a second wave. McCoy shared the OPC citation with Courtney Kan for their project, “More Tigers Now Live in Cages than in the Wild,” which follows Swiss counter-trafficking conservationist Karl Ammann in his mission to break tiger poaching networks in Southeast Asia.

OPC former Governor Rukmini Callimachi co-wrote a piece on June 6 for The Nork Times along with colleague Eric Schmitt covering the French military’s announcement that it had killed one of Al Qaeda’s longest-serving commanders in Africa, Abdelmalek Droukdal. The two wrote about the leader’s rise to power over the last decade within the ranks of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a local insurgent group, which pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2006 and began what has been described as “the terrorist version of a corporate merger.”

COVID-19

OPC member Eric Reidy, who was one of the freelancers to receive an OPC microgrant, shared an article that the funding helped bring to fruition. The article, titled “Coronavirus: A Window of Opportunity for Action on Migration?” is part of a series pieces Reidy has written on migration, refugees and coronavirus since the outbreak began. “I received the grant at a moment when I was feeling quite insecure financially because of the pandemic,” Reidy wrote in an email. “I was looking for online work teaching English, copy-editing, transcribing, anything I could potentially find. The grant helped to calm my nerves, boost my confidence and turn my focus back to full time journalism and my coverage of the virus.”

OPC member Kathy Gannon has been covering COVID-19 and other stories for The Associated Press in the Middle East. On June 10, she filed a piece from Pakistan about the impact of the coronavirus on areas that had already been beset with health epidemics before COVID-19 struck, such as endemic polio, Ebola, cholera, dengue, tuberculosis and malaria, among others. “The onslaught of infectious diseases is made worse by the many other threats in lives already overwhelmed by adversity,” Gannon wrote.

Sarah Champaign, the OPC Foundation’s 2019 winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, has been covering the pandemic in Texas for The Texas Tribune, most recently in a piece on June 10 titled “Texas Reports Largest Single-Day Increase in Coronavirus Cases,” in which she explores causes behind a new high of more than 2,500 new cases in a single day. The previous high had been just under 1,950 cases on May 31. More than 20 percent of the cases were from a single county, where health officials said most of the new cases were from three state prisons, Champaign reported. She has a fellowship with the Tribune.

Eli Binder, the 2019 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner, continues to cover COVID-19 developments for The Wire China with a piece on June 7, titled “China’s Pandemic Pork Haul,” covering the aftermath of coronavirus hotspots at U.S. producer Smithfield Foods’ massive pork processing plants. Binder wrote that as plants saw a spike in viral cases and the company warned there would be U.S. meat shortages unless plants stayed open, its exports to China surged.

OPC member Martin Smith, along with his reporting partner and wife Marcela Gaviria, produced a documentary for FRONTLINE PBS covering the shortcomings of the U.S. administration in preparing for and coping with COVID-19. The program, “The Virus: What Went Wrong?” aired on June 16 but is available to watch via the PBS website.

OPC member Sudarsan Raghavan reported from Cairo for The Washington Post on June 17 about a sudden rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Egypt in recent weeks after it seemed the country had staved off widespread infection. Raghavan wrote that the country’s medical union has now warned that Egypt’s health system is overwhelmed and faced possible collapse, as doctors and journalists have been arrested on charges of “false news” about the pandemic.

OPC member Judith Matloff, a Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Greater Good in February-March, has garnered extensive media interest for her new book, How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need, in part due to advice relevant to reporting during the pandemic. Matloff published an article in The New York Times about the anxiety of easing lockdown, and an OpEd in the Daily Beast about emergency planning for natural disasters during a pandemic. The BBC World Service, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, the Weather Channel, and the Octavian Report podcast have interviewed her about emotional resilience during lockdown, protest safety and natural disaster prep.

MEDIA NEWS

Two veteran journalists in charge of Voice of America, Amanda Bennett and Sandra Sugawara, resigned on June 15 following the congressional confirmation of a conservative activist and filmmaker, Michael Pack, to be the head of the agency that oversees the government broadcast organization.

May 2020

SCHOLARS

Stephen Kalin, Roy Rowan winner in 2013, has joined The Wall Street Journal as its new Middle East correspondent covering Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Recently he was with Reuters, which he joined in 2013 as a trainee. He then became Egypt correspondent and later he was made Iraq correspondent. Most recently, he was Reuters’ Saudi chief correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Stephen was a reporter at The Associated Press.

Rajiv Golla, 2017 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship winner, launched the first three episodes of a podcast on May 15 that he had been working on for the last year and a half. “The Missionary” follows the case of Renee Bach, a missionary who started a malnutrition program in rural Uganda, but is now mired in accusations that she masqueraded as a doctor and is rumored to have killed hundreds of children in her unlicensed clinic. Golla reported on the story with colleagues Halima Gikandi and Malcolm Burnley.

Kantaro Komiya, the OPC Foundation’s 2020 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, is one of 78 students chosen for internships at media organizations through the Dow Jones News Fund. Komiya will receive training for business reporting by Paul Glader, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. “Through newsroom internship experiences at Bloomberg News and other outlets in Asia, together with economics study at DePauw, I’ve been particularly interested in covering global businesses and economies that are so dynamic and interconnected,” Komiya told DePauw University, where he is a senior.

Serginho Roosblad, winner of the 2017 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, was director and director of photography for “Jonathan Calm Revisits ‘Green Book’ Locations in Search of America’s Past and Present,” for PBS affiliate KQED. The film was just nominated for an Emmy in the Historic/Cultural-Feature/Segment category of the 49th Annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards. San Francisco/ Northern California is one of the nineteen chapters awarding regional Emmy statuettes. The video told the story of photographer and Stanford professor Jonathan Calm who documented all so-called ‘Green Book’ sites in the U.S., as part of a growing archive, and exploring the myth of the road trip as a “quintessential American freedom.”

An article written by Amelia Nierenberg, the 2018 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, in The New York Times on the effect of the climate crisis on New Mexico’s Hatch chile crop will be included in Best American Food Writing 2020, edited by J. Kenji López-Alt and Silvia Killingsworth.

AWARDS

OPC Governor Azmat Khan was named a winner of an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. Khan, an Arizona State University Future of War Fellow with New America, will receive $200,000 to fund up to two years for research and writing. She is one of 27 winners this year, selected from a competitive pool of 322 nominations. In an interview on the ASU website, Khan said she is working on a new book for Random House, titled Precision Strike, an “investigation into the true human costs and implications of America’s ‘precision’ air wars around the world.” She said she is studying ground-level data she has collected as well as civilian casualty data I’ve obtained from the U.S. military through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

COVID-19 COVERAGE

OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard has been covering COVID-19 for USA Today, with a piece on May 19 about President Donald Trump’s threats to cut World Health Organization funding and withdraw U.S. membership. She wrote that he threatened in a letter to quit the global health body if it “does not adopt ‘major substantive improvements’ within 30 days,” and called the WHO a “puppet of China.” Hjelmgaard wrote that “little evidence has emerged to substantiate accusations from Trump administration officials that the WHO deliberately acted in concert with China to obfuscate what it knew about the outbreak.” She also wrote on May 18 about Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s blasting of the WHO during its two-day assembly, and on May 14 filed a piece along with colleague David Jackson about Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator frequently seen at White House briefings, and whether her role was diminished due to her corrections of incorrect messages from Trump about the outbreak.

OPC member Stéphanie Fillion has been covering COVID-19 news for the United Nations-focused media PassBlue, including a May 12 story about the agency’s search for a new medical director following the departure of Jillann Farmer. The person who serves in that role will decide whether the UN headquarters compound in New York City would be open or closed during the pandemic. “Despite recent infighting among some countries about whether the headquarters should remain physically closed or reopen for meetings of member states on June 1st, her departure does not seem to be political,” Fillion reported.

OPC member Anita Snow is covering the pandemic for The Associated Press from Arizona, with a piece on May 15 about the reopening of casinos in the state after gaming rooms have been closed for two months during peak outbreaks of the virus. She reported that casinos will have measures in place to reduce risk of exposure, such as lower maximum capacity, visitors “encouraged” to wear masks and being “asked whether they have any symptoms like a fever or dry cough.” She wrote that one casino was marketing its reopening with the slogan “reclaim your fun.”

OPC member Shannon Sims, economy and government editor for Latin America at Bloomberg News, has been covering political fallout in Brazil stemming from President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic. She wrote on May 7 that Bolsonaro has “made a point of being as contrarian as possible during the pandemic, refusing public-health guidance even as Brazil’s hospitals are overwhelmed and gravediggers work as fast as they can to bury the dead.” Sims recounts the president’s ongoing political crisis that has split his base, thrown his cabinet into disarray, “stalled his political agenda, exacerbated his poor relationship with Congress, and left him in a battle with the Supreme Court and under federal criminal investigation.”

OPC member Omnia Al Desoukie is covering pandemic news and other stories within the GCC from her base in Dubai, recently filing a piece for EFE about the racing efforts by the UAE based airlines to find solutions to revive traveling. The Emirati airlines were among the first to announce screening efforts for coronavirus infections. Dubai-based Emirates conducted on-site tests in April on passengers bound for Tunisia with results returned in 10 minutes. The company said it was the first in the world to do on-site medical tests to satisfy countries that require COVID-19 testing before entry. The airline Etihad of Abu Dhabi also announced it would use equipment to detect symptoms at check-in counters. Al Desoukie also wrote for EFE about the pandemic’s impact on travel and tourism sectors, with estimated losses up to $2.7 trillion and 100 million jobs.

OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu, a London-based reporter for The New York Times, is covering the pandemic’s impact on the U.K. She filed a piece on May 10 about how the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting minority communities, including the emerging hot spot of Birmingham where a study by the National Health Service found that 16 percent of coronavirus victims who died up to the week of April 17 came from ethnic minority backgrounds, and out of more than 100 health workers in the city who died from the virus, 63 percent have been identified as from those backgrounds. On May 11, Yeginsu wrote about the prospect of U.K schools reopening in June and whether parents will send their children back despite lingering risks.

OPC member Amy Mackinnon has been co-hosting Don’t Touch Your Face, a podcast about the COVID-19 pandemic produced by Foreign Policy magazine. On the most recent episode, she and co-host James Palmer talked to Nir Eyal, the director of Rutgers University’s Center for Population-Level Bioethics, and Josh Morrison, a co-founder of vaccine trial advocacy group 1 Day Sooner.

UPDATES

Shiho Fukada, 2018 Feature Photography Award winner, was named an honoree in the Documentary Short at this year’s Webby Awards for “Japan’s Arm Length Flats,” a short she produced for BBC Worklife with Keith Bedford. The documentary looks into the lives of Japanese young people who live in tiny apartments in Tokyo.

2018 Whitman Bassow Award winner Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica was guest on the Ring of Fire podcast to discuss how climate change is contributing to massive hikes in infectious disease.

February-March 2020

SCHOLARS

Anupreeta Das, the 2006 Reuters Fellowship winner and a past OPC governor, has taken a post as finance editor for The New York Times. She was previously the deputy business editor at The Wall Street Journal.

Eva Dou, the 2012 S&P Award for Economic & Business Reporting winner, joined The Washington Post as a China correspondent focusing on business and technology. She previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, where she reported on business and political news from Beijing and Taipei for seven years.

2007 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner Ben Hubbard wrote about Saudi Arabia’s attempted hack on his phone for The New York Times, where he works as the Beirut bureau chief. After receiving a suspicious text message, he discovered that he had been deliberately targeted by hackers working for Saudi Arabia. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Jerusalem, which launched his career with the AP. Christopher Dickey, OPC Second Vice President and foreign editor of The Daily Beast, reviewed MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard for The New York Times.

Jonas Ekblom, the 2019 Reuters Fellowship winner, is now a business journalist at the Stockholm-based daily Svenska Dagbladet in his native country of Sweden. Previously, he spent his Reuters Fellowship from the foundation in Brussels.

Lisa Martine Jenkins, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2017, has joined the survey and industry news firm Morning Consult as a senior energy reporter, covering energy and the environment. She previously worked as the North America reporter at Chemical Watch. Jenkins had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Mexico City.

2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner Dake Kang has been reporting on the coronavirus in Beijing for The Associated Press since the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan. His contributions include a Q&A about the city’s largest temporary hospital, a report on the U.S. halt on visas for Chinese citizens, and reporting for a story by Deb Riechmann tracking contradictions in President Trump’s statements about China during the crisis.

2017 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner Yi-Ling Liu wrote a piece for The New York Times Magazine about Blued, China’s most popular gay dating app. “Blued is in a peculiar position: It might be the biggest app of its kind, yet it is also the most precarious,” Liu writes. “It is a tech company in a society that has been transformed by free-market reforms, but also a gay tech company operating under a one-party government with an ambiguous stance toward L.G.B.T.Q. issues that has been tightening its grip in recent years on civil-society and minority groups all across China.”

Neha Wadekar, the 2016 Theo Wilson Scholarship winner, wrote a piece for Quartz Africa about a Kenyan running shoe company. “Kenyan runners are known worldwide for winning gold medals and breaking world records,” Wadekar writes. “But the country’s first performance athletic shoe company, Enda, ran into multiple hurdles when trying to convince investors at home and abroad Kenya could become a significant manufacturing hub.”

AWARDS

OPC Governor Josh Fine, along with his team at Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, won an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Sports Investigations for work on high school football and concussions. IRE Judges applauded the team’s statistical analysis of which communities are still playing tackle football and analyzed “the makeup of the team from a racial and socioeconomic perspective.” Fine shared the award for the piece, titled “Game Change,” with colleagues Joe Perskie, Nick Dolin, Tim Walker, Nisreen Habbal and Tres Driscoll.

OPC member and former Governor Vivienne Walt won a National Headliner Award for “Magazine Feature Writing by an Individual on a Variety of Subjects” for longform dispatches in 2019 in Fortune Magazine, from Athens, Gothenberg Sweden, and Amsterdam. She received Third Place in the category, with Jen Wieczner of Fortune winning the First Place award, and Paul Tullis in Second Place.

MEDIA NEWS

Martyn Bond, vice-chairman of the London Press Club, announced via email to members of the International Association of Press Clubs (IAPC) that their current schedule of programming has been canceled or postponed indefinitely, and there are no current plans for future activity due to “immense pressure” on journalism, saying that the “collapse of advertising has hurt free titles in particular, and members are struggling to hold onto work (remotely) rather than planning additional activities.”

The Australian Associated Press announced that it would close on June 26, after operating for 85 years. “This decision’s been made with very heavy hearts. It’s been made on an economic and financial basis,” said chief executive Bruce Davidson, in a statement following the announcement.

The U.S. Department of Defense in February proposed an effective shutdown of Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military news organization that has published a daily newspaper continuously since World War II. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in February announced on Feb. 13 that the department’s 2021 budget submitted to Congress, which would take effect Oct. 1, would zero out the expected $15.5 million appropriation for the paper. Esper said the move was needed so that the department “invest that money, as we did with many, many other programs, into higher-priority issues.”

UPDATES

OPC Secretary Paula Dwyer wrote a piece for Bloomberg recounting her battle and narrow victory over the novel coronavirus. “I wasn’t scared. Until I started gasping for breath,” she wrote in the introduction of the article. “I took deep gulps, trying desperately to get some air. When that made it feel like I was breathing fire, I knew the pathogen had gone for my asthma-weakened lungs.”

OPC member and New York Times journalist Kenneth R. Rosen’s new book Bulletproof Vest is set to be published on April 16. The book is part of a series from publisher Bloomsbury Academic that focuses on “the hidden lives of ordinary things.” Rosen recounts his personal story of using a security vest in Mosul, Iraq, when he realized that the idea of a bulletproof vest is more effective than the vest itself, and serves as a metaphor for many forms of personal security. A portion of the Rosen’s proceeds will be donated to RISC, a nonprofit that provides emergency medical training to freelance conflict journalists. The Object Lessons series is published in partnership with an essay series in the The Atlantic.

OPC member and 2019 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner Krithika Varagur has a new book coming out on April 21 covering Saudi Arabia’s vast global influence, from Nigeria to Indonesia to Kosovo. The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project, published by Columbia Global Reports, traces Saudi Arabia’s campaign to propagate its brand of ultraconservative Islam worldwide after it became oil-rich in the 20th century. Varagur is a freelance journalist based in London who has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and The New Republic, and has served as The Guardian’s Indonesia correspondent and the Financial Times’ reporter in Indonesia.

OPC member Judith Matloff wrote a piece for The New York Times on March 19 offering tips on how to survive as a journalist while reporting from lockdown. In a Q&A format, she recounts getting holed up in a hotel in Angola in the 1990s during a civil war, and being stuck on a mountaintop in Colombia while researching a book. She covers key survival strategies that could help those working in conditions like pandemic quarantine. Matloff teaches crisis reporting at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and her new book, “How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need,” is slated for release in May.

Netflix has been closing in on a deal for adaptation rights to OPC Governor Charles Graeber’s book The Good Nurse, with the company planning to buy world rights for around $25 million, as reported by Deadline. The film is set to be directed by Tobias Lindholm and starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne. Graeber’s book follows the story of Charles Cullen, a night nurse who pleaded guilty during multiple hearings in 2004 and 2005 to killing 29 people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with lethal injections.

OPC Governor Ishaan Tharoor has been covering the coronavirus for The Washington Post, where he works as a foreign affairs writer. Titles of his latest pieces include “Are we at ‘War’ with Coronavirus,” “Migrants are the Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic,” and “Coronavirus Reopens Europe’s Angry Divide.”

OPC Governor Rod Nordland co-authored a piece with Juliette Love about the war in Afghanistan for The New York Times, where he serves as International Correspondent at Large. The piece, titled “Why Afghanistan Became an Invisible War,” explores why America’s long war with Afghanistan has become diminished in the public eye.

OPC Governor and New York Times contributing writer Azmat Khan appeared as a guest on the March 20 episode of Democracy Now. Khan and host Amy Goodman discussed the recent U.S.-Taliban deal, aimed at decreasing the U.S.’s military presence and ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

OPC First Vice President Deborah Amos has been covering Syria from Beirut for NPR News, where she works as an International Correspondent. Recent stories include “Civilian Casualties And Refugee Crisis Intensify As Syrian Army Moves In On Idlib,” “Displaced Syrians From Idlib Province Set Up Tent Camps Near Turkey’s Border,” and “U.N. Pleads For Cease-Fire As Displaced Syrians Head For Turkish Border”

January 2020

OPC SCHOLARS

2005 Emmanuel R. Freedman Scholar Marina Walker Guevara was named the executive editor of the Pulitzer Center. Previously, she was the director of strategic initiatives and network at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, where she managed the award-winning Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers, and has written for The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, and Mother Jones, among others. “I am very excited to join this innovative and ambitious team that supports brave journalists and underreported stories, and brilliantly bridges newsrooms and classrooms,” Walker Guevara said in a Pulitzer Center update. “There has never been a greater need around the world for the Pulitzer Center’s mission.”

A.J. Naddaff, who won the inaugural Richard Pyle Scholarship in 2019, penned a story for The Associated Press on Jan. 22 about the impact of Lebanon’s financial crisis and strict banking controls. The story grabbed attention from readers, rising to the AP’s top ten reads on the organization’s app. Amid protests and violent clashes, he wrote that the crisis had united “both rich and poor in anger against corrupt politicians who have brought the country to the brink of economic collapse, and a banking system they accuse of holding their deposits hostage.” Naddaff went to Beirut on an OPC Foundation fellowship with the AP.

2019 I.F. Stone Award winner Letícia Duarte profiled Olavo de Carvalho, a leader in Brazil’s far-right movement, for The Atlantic. De Carvalho is a former astrologist, former communist, and former journalist whose anger toward the far-left has inspired President Jair Bolsonaro. “A self-educated philosopher who never completed high school, Olavo has formed a new generation of conservative leaders in Brazil through an online philosophy course he has taught for 10 years,” Duarte wrote. “He estimates that about 5,000 students are currently enrolled in his program, and 20,000 people have watched his classes, including members of Bolsonaro’s cabinet.”

2016 David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship winner Alissa Greenberg is now a contributing editor at Bay Nature, a magazine dedicated to the nature in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was previously a contributing writer at Pacific Standard, and has written for The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among others.

2012 I.F. Stone Scholarship winner Nizar Manek is now a consultant for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a private diplomacy organization based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was previously at Bloomberg News, where he was regional correspondent in Addis Ababa from 2017 to 2019.

Jacob Kushner, who won the Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship in 2013, wrote an op-ed for The New York times about the fate of a famous dancer and survivor of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Fabienne Jean. She became a symbol of the international aid effort for media as American doctors had saved her life and amputated her right leg below the knee, the owner of a prosthetics company stepping in to help. But as Kushner writes, her encounter with American generosity was fleeting, and donors came up short in their assistance. He tracked Jean down but found that she’d died the month before he arrived from an epileptic seizure likely related to her injuries in the quake. “The story of what happened to Haiti is the story of what happened to Fabienne,” Kushner wrote, “America made big promises – and didn’t deliver.” Kushner also wrote an article for Reuters on Jan. 14 about the plight of farmers in Haiti awaiting compensation for land repurposed for an industrial park by a South Korean textile firm and international donors after the earthquake.

Rajiv Golla, 2017 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship winner, wrote a piece for Roads and Kingdoms about Sister Gracy, an Indian nun who spent the past 30 years providing aid in South Sudan. Golla traveled with Sister Gracy through Wau, South Sudan, where an attack displaced tens of thousands of people. “Sister Gracy put others before her own safety, health, and comfort. That was the easy part. What wasn’t so easy was that the whole endeavor, her entire mission, hinged on faith,” Golla wrote. “There was no way of telling whether she made any difference at all. Sister Gracy could never expect to see herself vindicated, especially in a place like South Sudan.”

2015 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner Ben Taub chronicled the story of Omar Ameen, an Iraqi refugee falsely accused of being a member of an ISIS hit squad, for the Jan. 27 issue of The New Yorker, where he works as a staff writer. In Sacramento, Ameen was placed in a maximum-security cell at the county jail, where he shared a wall with the Golden State Killer. “How had it come to this?” Taub wrote. “All Ameen had ever wanted was to leave Iraq. That was why he had become a truck driver; each time he crossed the Jordanian border, he felt as if he were breaking out of prison. To be alone in nature – that was his feeling of America.”

2014 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner Portia Crowe reported for Public Radio International on Ugandan farmers fighting back against French oil multinational Total SA, which plans to drill 400 wells across six oil fields and build a 900-mile pipeline to Tanzania. The projects could displace as many as 50,000 people. “The Tilenga suit alleges that Total’s subsidiary, Total Uganda, and the subcontractor it hired, Atacama Consulting, forced farmers to sign compensation agreements under pressure or intimidation and deprived them of access to their land before compensation was received,” Crowe reports. “They asked for about $5,700 per acre, but when a team of government ministers and gun-toting soldiers turned up in town several weeks later, Nyakato said some of her relatives were intimidated. They agreed to accept about a quarter of the payment they originally asked for in August 2018.” Read more about Crowe’s career in our Q&A feature on page 11.

Max de Haldevang, 2015 Reuters Fellowship winner, was one of 120 reporters to comb through 700,000 pages of documents, dubbed the Luanda Leaks, to expose how Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, “siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars in public money out of one of the poorest countries on the planet.” De Haldevang has been reporting on the leaks for Quartz, where he works as a reporter, highlighting those who benefited from Dos Santos’s schemes, including Accenture and Dolce & Gabbana. “In the previous five years, the global consulting giant had done work valued as high as $54 million for three ventures in which dos Santos had either a minority or a controlling stake, according to leaked files seen by Quartz,” de Haldevang writes. “But instead of expressing horror at discovering his company may have helped legitimize and enrich an alleged kleptocrat, Trigo Guedes, then an executive director in Accenture’s Portugal office, appeared to shrug it off.”

AWARDS

OPC member Christiane Amanpour of CNN and PBS hosted the 2020 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards on Jan. 21. Michael Barbaro of The New York Times’ podcast The Daily served as her cohost. She told the audience during opening remarks that journalists and storytellers have been maligned, silenced, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for centuries, and that “shooting the messenger remains the favorite pastime of the rich, the infamous, the powerful.” she said. “We have the ability and we have the duty to rise above all this calumny and abuse that comes our way. We have the duty to stay calm and just carry on.” This year’s winners covered a range of issues including immigration, political corruption, and abuse of power, with three winning stories focused on sexual assault. Half of the 16 winners were from public media outlets, including six for PBS. For international stories, CNN won for its coverage of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, PBS Newshour won for reporter Jane Ferguson’s ground-level coverage of the human impact of war in Yemen, and PBS’s POV and American Documentary won for a documentary about the fight for justice for “comfort women” enslaved by Japanese troops in World War II.

UPDATES

Longtime OPC member Andy Katell, former correspondent for The Associated Press in Moscow and for the UN, is spending his retirement years conducting workshops on “Coping with Disinformation.” Working through the League of Women Voters, the News Literacy Project and others, Andy leads the sessions at public libraries and other venues in Westchester County, New York, with further outreach planned at schools and other regions. The schedule can be found at www.lwvw.org. In early January, Andy was interviewed about the program on a local public access TV station.

OPC Secretary and Bloomberg editor Paula Dwyer helped write the introduction to the 90th anniversary edition of Bloomberg Businessweek. “The first issue of this magazine appeared on Sept. 7, 1929. Its black, red, and gold art deco cover was free of news,” the introduction begins. “It featured a big triangle pointing down at an inscrutable photo — an overhead, nighttime view of an intersection in an unidentified big city. The editors obviously had no way to know that seven weeks later the stock market would crash, ushering in the Great Depression.”

OPC Governor and ProPublica reporter Derek Kravitz investigated the emails of a former chemical industry lobbyist turned senior Trump official, who reportedly shared information and crafted policy with her former colleagues. The report, co-written with Guardian reporter Emily Holden and published on January 14, shows how Rebeckah Adcock, former chief lobbyist for the herbicide industry trade group, used her new position in the Trump administration to further the interests of Dow. “The ethics agreement Adcock signed said she would not work on ‘the impact of crop protection products (including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides) on water’, and the emails reviewed do not show her doing so,” Kravitz and Holden write. “But the agreement did not specifically bar Adcock from working with trade groups like the Farm Bureau on Clean Water Act enforcement.”

OPC Governor and contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine Azmat Khan was a guest on the Dec. 20 episode of Democracy Now to discuss the foreign policy platforms of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Khan and Democracy Now host Amy Goodman talked about the legacy of Biden’s support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the “Biden Plan” of scaling back the ground troops in the Middle East. “What we’re seeing is a reality in which there is a belief, a mistaken belief, that ending the war comes down to removing troops on the ground, when the reality is that most of these wars are being carried out via airstrikes,” said Khan. “It’s not just about ground troops.”

An exhibit honoring the life of founding OPC member Sigrid Schultz opened Jan. 20 at the Westport Museum for History and Culture in Westport, Connecticut, where she lived for four decades. The exhibit, titled “Dragon Lady,” showcases Schultz’s legacy as a reporter and social justice activist. “Our hope is that this exhibit will honor Sigrid Schultz’s bravery and personal sacrifices to as many people as possible,” said the Westport Museum’s executive director, Ramin Ganeshram.

Ishaan Tharoor, OPC Governor and foreign affairs writer at The Washington Post, reported from the Davos World Economic Forum, which ran from Jan. 21 to 24. He reported on Trump’s address, the first speech at the forum by a major world leader, in which he rejected climate change. “Trump didn’t directly attack the forum or some of the outspoken climate activists in attendance,” Tharoor writes. “But the contempt behind his message was unmistakable.” Trump, Tharoor wrote, “told European partners that they should consider purchasing U.S. energy – never mind the serious measures being attempted in Europe to wean it off fossil fuels.”

OPC member Rebecca Fannin recently completed a round-the-world book tour that took in six countries, 18 cities and multiple talks timed to the release of her latest title, Tech Titans of China [Hachette’s Nicholas Brealey Publishing, September 2019]. Her stops included the Foreign Correspondents Clubs of Tokyo and Hong Kong.

OPC member Andrew Nagorski discussed his 30-year career with Newsweek, starting in Hong Kong and taking him to Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw and others, for a radio audience on Jan. 13 in St. Augustine, Florida. He recalled early days in Hong Kong in the late 70s and having the resources to charter a small plane to cover Vietnamese refugees running aground in Malaysia. “These days, if you tried to do that, you’d be fired,” he said to host Scott Grant on WSOS. He also talked about his latest book, 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War, which explores tactical blunders such as invading Russia and declaring war on the U.S., which he argues set the stage for Nazi defeat four years later. “1941 was the year Germany attacked the whole world. And if you attack the whole world, eventually things are not going to come out so well for you,” Nagorski said. He has written seven books, five of them relating to World War II, including The Nazi Hunters, which he discussed at an OPC Book Night in June 2016.

OPC member and former Treasurer Abigail Pesta wrote a piece for Notre Dame Magazine about former Congolese child soldier Heritage Munyakuri, and traced his journey from life on the battlefield to becoming a pastor in Rochester, New York. She wrote that he was abducted as a child soldier for rebel groups three times and forced to fight twice before he finally confronted his captors: “I told them to kill me, I won’t fight. I had found Jesus.” He was beaten for his refusal, and witnessed his village and loved ones being massacred by the rebels. But Pesta wrote that he discovered religion in Burundi and eventually fled to the U.S. on a UN resettlement program. He was ordained in 2015 and uses his personal experience to guide immigrants through practical and personal challenges. She wrote that Munyakuri “wants immigrants who come to America to know that they belong here, that they have a future.” Pesta formerly worked as an intern for Notre Dame Magazine.

2013 Lowell Thomas Award winner Leila Fadel was a panelist at UC Santa Cruz’s “Questions That Matter: Reporting the Middle East and the future of investigative journalism,” along with fellow veteran NPR journalist Hannah Allam. “This event will be an opportunity for members of the UCSC community and the Santa Cruz community at large to engage with what it means to do journalism in today’s world,” said Jennifer Derr, the panel moderator and founding director of the Center for the Middle East and North Africa at UCSC. “It will also be a chance for all of us to understand how the profession has changed and the challenges – in both the Middle East and the United States – that its practitioners confront.”

PEOPLE REMEMEBERED

Karl E. Meyer, longtime foreign correspondent and editorial writer for The Washington Post and The New York Times, died on Dec. 22 in Manhattan at the age of 91. Meyer covered Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba, the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion there, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, among other big stories of the 20th Century. He co-wrote a book about the Bay of Pigs, along with Times colleague Tad Szulc, entitled The Cuban Invasion: The Chronicle of a Disaster. After earning a Ph.D. in political science from Princeton University in 1956, he began his career in foreign affairs at The Washington Post and served as the paper’s London bureau chief from 1965 to 1970, and then served as head of its New York bureau. He joined The New York Times editorial board in 1979, where he served until 1998 as the senior writer on foreign affairs, and later served as editor of the World Policy Journal quarterly until 2008. Meyer and his wife, Shareen Blair Brysac, who is also a journalist, wrote five books together, including Tournament of Shadows: The Race for Empire in Central Asia. He also authored The Culture Thieves about archeology.