November 27, 2020

People Column

2020 July-December Issue

November 2020

SCHOLARS

Krithika Varagur, OPC member and Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner in 2019, is launching a new column on the Life and Arts desk at The Wall Street Journal called “At Work,” about the modern workplace. Varagur had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in New Delhi.

Juan Arredondo, the 2020 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory I.F. Stone, has been named a Buffett Foundation Visiting Professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

Eva Dou, the winner of the 2012 S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, filed a piece for The Washington Post from Seoul on Oct. 29 about Chinese citizens who received an early dose of a coronavirus vaccine because their overseas plans put them in a higher risk group. China has rolled out vaccines before they are fully tested as safe and effective, Dou wrote, a move that could backfire if harmful side effects emerge. Zhejiang province officially opened access to vaccines to high risk groups in October, and others across the country have been given early access in some cases deemed to be urgent. Health officials have announced plans to officially expand vaccinations to high-risk groups across China in December.

AWARDS

OPC member Brent Stirton won two 2020 Siena International Photography Awards for Best Author and Storyboard categories. Both awards recognized his series “Pangolins in Crisis,” which focuses on the plight of the world’s most illegally trafficked mammals. The photos are available to view on his personal website here.

UPDATES

OPC member Anita Snow was among those covering election aftermath over the last week, with reporting from Phoenix for The Associated Press on Nov. 7 with Trump supporters protesting election results in the narrow-margin state, with a crowd of more than 1,000 Republican Party figures calling into question whether voting machines had any discrepancies. The piece included coverage from reporters in several other states including New York, Michigan and North Dakota.

Meanwhile, OPC member Tracy Wilkinson covered election aftermath on Nov. 10 from DC for the Los Angeles Times, with quotes from Joseph Biden saying he would not be hamstrung by President Trump’s attempts to undermine the transition of power, and calling Trump’s victory claims “an embarrassment.”

OPC member and Foreign Press Association President Ian Williams wrote a tribute on Nov. 3 to Irish and British journalist Robert Fisk, who died on Oct. 30 at the age of 74. Williams wrote that Fisk, who covered sectarian battles of Northern Ireland as well as conflicts in the Middle East from Beirut over many years, “brought a sense of history that Western media pundits on drop-in visit tend to lack, the cable and internet sock-puppets pontificating from faraway studios. Not least of his assets was that he lived in the region and spoke Arabic – and did so directly to ordinary people.”

Peter Spiegel, OPC Governor and U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times, reported on early morning results for the paper’s podcast news briefing, telling host Marc Filippino in the morning on Nov. 4 that results were still pending for the so-called Big Blue Wall states of the Midwest, consisting on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. He said because of the strange COVID-19 conditions this year, “we knew that these states were going to take longer than others to count, because they didn’t have provisions in state law that allowed them to start counting ahead of time.” He said despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows ballots arriving by mail in Pennsylvania to be counted up to three days after the election, President Trump “is livid, and claiming that this is a violation of election law, that ballots have to be received on [election] day,” and that Trump could challenge the result in court if the state’s vote tallies are within a tight margin.

An award-winning documentary directed by OPC member Hasan Oswald was released digitally across several platforms on Nov. 3. The film, titled Higher Love, focuses on a family battling the effects of drug addiction amid an opioid epidemic in Camden, New Jersey. In an email to the OPC, Oswald said he launched the project with no budget, “sold my blood, borrowed gear, taught myself editing and cinematography and then simply headed out to film.” The film has garnered several awards, including the Grand Jury Award for best documentary feature at the Slamdance Film Festival, the Spirit Award and Best New Director award at the Brooklyn Film Festival, among several others. Gravitas Ventures released the film on platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play and Fandango Now. Watch a trailer for the film here. Oswald recently worked in Iraq while shooting his second film, titled The Missing, about investigators’ search for justice and families trying to reunite following the ISIS genocide of Yazidi in 2014.

Shakti Langlois-Ortega, a New York-based freelancer who joined the OPC in September, posted a story on Who.What.Why.org where, as an intern, she is learning investigative reporting skills from OPC Past President Allan Dodds Frank. Frank called the story “a terrific round-up of a really critical and fast-moving subject: so-called militias and the threat to voting.” The piece, titled “Guns at Polls: The Right to Vote Meets the Right to Carry,” explores the proliferation of armed right-wing militias in 2020 and law enforcement concerns about voter intimidation in open-carry states. Langlois-Ortega cited troubling statistics from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which conducted 3.9 million firearms background checks nationwide in June alone, a 70 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

OPC member Louise Boyle, the New York-based senior climate correspondent for the U.K.’s Independent, had been covering environmental issues related to the election, most recently on Nov. 4 with a story covering the official U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that coincided with Election Day. Boyle wrote that President Trump had announced his intention to withdraw in June 2017, saying it was an end to “the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.” Boyle has written several election stories in recent weeks, including the candidates’ environmental platforms, fact checking statements during the presidential debates, and contributed to real-time coverage on election night.

Madeleine Schwartz, an OPC member and reporter for The New York Review, wrote a piece on Oct. 30 entitled “Anywhere But Here” that describes a website she launched earlier this year called The Ballot, which covers elections across the globe in places other than the U.S. The site has reporting from about 40 countries, she wrote, “many of which get little to no attention” in American media. Schwartz said many reporters talked about a shared global trend with the U.S., with “people seeing their democracy leeched from them,” including people in Hong Kong, Iran, and Belarus.

OPC member Roopa Gogineni, a freelance photojournalist, photographed a series of documents and objects at the Atlanta History Center and the Georgia Archives to chronicle the centuries-long struggle for the right to vote in the state of Georgia. The images can be seen on a page of the Guardian website posted on Nov. 1. Items include copies of the 15th Amendment prohibiting denial of the right to vote on the basis of “race or color, or previous condition of servitude,” a candidate slate from the 1896 “White Democratic Primary,” a pair of “citizenship guides” from the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP, literacy tests used to suppress Black voters, and several other documents.

Several photos from OPC member Tamir Kalifa appeared in stories and slide shows covering early voting for The Washington Post. Kalifa’s images depict voters and organizers at a campus registration drive at Texas State University. An Oct. 26 piece covered states that did not loosen rules about voting by mail, and a slide show posted on Oct. 25 included images from several contributors across the country in states where races were expected to be close.

OPC member Amberin Zaman wrote on Oct. 16 for Al-Monitor about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s accusations against European leaders, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, who he said was pandering to anti-Muslim “fascists” to bolster his electoral changes ahead of presidential elections in 2022. He also said that anti-Muslim rhetoric was spreading across Europe “like the plague. Places of business, houses, places of worship and schools that belong to Muslims are attacked by racists and fascist groups almost every day.” Zaman wrote that Marc Pierini, a former E.U. ambassador to Ankara and a fellow at Carnegie Europe, sees the brinksmanship and barbs between Turkey and its Western partners as a distraction from more systemic crises such as Turkey’s mounting economic woes.

MEDIA NEWS

The Columbia Journalism School announced in September that it would create a Center for Global Journalism named for founders Simon and June Li, who founded the new center with a $5 million gift. In a release, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger said the initiative would “deepen and extend Columbia’s commitment to international engagement by supporting journalism students and alumni who want to report on global stories, at a time when the need for serious journalism on matters of international concern has become inseparable from society’s progress.”

PEOPLE REMEMBERED

OPC member and award-winning veteran correspondent Gordon F. Joseloff died on Nov. 9 at the age of 75. Joseloff covered London, Moscow, Tokyo, and other world capitals for United Press International and CBS News for more than 20 years. He founded the WestportNow news site and served as editor and publisher covering his home corner of Connecticut since March 2003. He resigned as editor but remained publisher when he was elected first selectman of Westport in November 2005, and resumed his editor duties after resigning from the political post in 2013. At CBS, Joseloff started as a writer for Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, later covering major world stories including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, the start of the Solidarity trade union movement in Poland, the Soviet shoot down of Korean Air Lines flight 007, the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, the overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and the illness and death of Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

OPC Members Covering COVID-19

OPC member Adi Ignatius co-hosted a conversation with Anthony Fauci and other national health officials at the National Cathedral on Nov. 12, including Luciana Borio, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force. According to a piece by the Religion News Service (RNS), Fauci said families considering whether to gather for Thanksgiving should assess risks including “age, underlying conditions, travel, testing and quarantining of people who wish to dine together on the holiday.” The Ignatius Forum is an annual event at the cathedral with experts on current affairs. The forum was attended virtually by more than 7,000 audience members and by about 10 staffers and Ignatius family members who were at the cathedral in person.

OPC member Valerie Hopkins, who won the OPC Foundation’s 2013 Jerry Flint Internship for International Business Reporting, is covering COVID-19 from Eastern Europe, most recently with a piece on Nov. 12 about Hungary becoming the first EU state to begin trials on Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine. She wrote that an acquisition by Budapest and entry into the EU market “would represent a symbolic win for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which has been criticized by some experts for its rapid pace of approval and limited publicly available information on its efficacy.”

OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu wrote for The New York Times on Oct. 30 about the lifting of the “no sail” order for U.S. cruise ships. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday last week lifted a ban on cruise operations and outlined how the industry could restart. The new rules require cruise companies to demonstrate strict health and safety protocols including extensive testing, quarantine measures and social distancing. Yeginsu wrote that the original ban on American cruises in March followed a finding that “cruise ships played a major role in the initial outbreak of the coronavirus. The ships were remarkably efficient at spreading the virus: On board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan in February, each case of Covid-19 was transmitted to approximately 15 other people,” compared to transmission rates in Wuhan, China of one person transmitting to about four other people.

Deutsche Welle correspondent and OPC member Chelsey Dulaney talked to Cape Talk radio in South Africa from Berlin on Oct. 30 about “lockdown light” restrictions that Germany imposed this week, which closed down bars, restaurants and theaters while keeping retail stores open. She said Germany has been reporting about 20,000 new infections per day, due in part to increased testing, with hospitals straining to meet demand for intensive care beds. Dulaney said the restrictions have sparked resistance, with “a bit of a fight between the federal states that decided these regulations and the parliamentary members who didn’t get a chance to vote for these.”

October 2020

SCHOLARS

Krithika Varagur, the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner in 2019, won the 2020 Marie Colvin Award for Foreign Correspondence from the Newswomen’s Club of New York. Varagur had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the New Delhi bureau of The Associated Press. In an email to the foundation, she credited her award “in part to the stories I got to write at the AP in New Delhi as an OPC fellow. (It’s for a body of work over the past year.) Thank you for making it possible!” An OPC member, Varagur spoke at a club program in May about her new book, The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project, with former OPC Second Vice President Christopher Dickey, who died in Paris in July.

Micah Danney, the Theo Wilson Scholarship winner in 2018, won an award for a video he shot for ReligionUnplugged.com on “Guns and God: Why American Church Goers are Packing Heat.” The video won a 2020 Eppy for Best News or Event Feature Video with under 1 million unique monthly visitors. Now a freelance reporter for Alabama Political Reporter, Micah had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The GroundTruth Project in Jerusalem.

Republic of Shame, a book and deep-dive investigation into Ireland’s institutionalization of unmarried pregnant women and forced separations by Caelainn Hogan, winner of the 2014 H.L. Stevenson Fellowship, is newly available in the U.S. The book tracks the legacy of a joint effort between the Catholic Church and the Irish government to operate a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of so-called fallen women. The book’s cover is adorned by an endorsement by Margaret Atwood, who said: “At least in The Handmaid’s Tale they value babies, mostly. Not so in the true stories here.”

Sara Dadouch, the 2017 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2017, wrote for The Washington Post on Oct. 19 about reports indicating two senior U.S. officials visited Damascus in August for secret talks about the fate of missing American journalist Austin Tice. She wrote that according to the Syrian newspaper Al Watan, “U.S. Ambassador Roger Carstens, an envoy for hostage affairs, and Kash Patel, a top White House counterterrorism adviser, met with Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s intelligence agency, in his office in Damascus.” The visit coincides with increasing White House pressure to release Tice. Tice is a freelance journalist who was abducted in Syria in 2012, believed to be detained by the Syrian government or its allies.

After a successful year as a member of the first class of New York Times fellows in 2019-2020, Amelia Nierenberg, the Flora Lewis Fellowship winner in 2018, is now a full-time newsletter writer with the New York Times newsletter division. Currently, she is writing the Coronavirus Schools Briefing and contributing to others. Nierenberg had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Dakar. The photo on the right shows Nierenberg at the 2018 OPC Foundation Scholar Awards Luncheon with longtime OPC member Jacqueline Albert Simon, who died on Aug. 10 at the age of 98.

Max de Haldevang, the Reuters Fellowship winner in 2015, is now based in Mexico as a reporter for Bloomberg covering economics and politics. He was formerly with Quartz in New York City. De Haldevang had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Mexico City.

2015 Stan Swinton Fellowship awardee Miriam Berger has been covering COVID news for The Washington Post, recently with an Oct. 13 article on a WHO statement about how trying to reach so-called herd immunity is unethical. At an Oct. 12 media briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.” Berger joined the Post’s foreign staff in August 2019.

Uliana Pavlova, the Theo Wilson Scholarship winner in 2017, has moved to Moscow where she will be freelancing for the Bloomberg Industry Group, among other outlets. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Uliana had an internship with Bloomberg as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Politico Europe. Most recently, she was a reporter for a regulatory news wire called MLex on the trade and financial services desks.

Kantaro Komiya, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2020, has signed on as a part-time editorial intern at Rest of World. Kantaro had an internship this summer with Dow Jones before returning to DePauw to complete his last semester. After graduation, he plans to return to Japan to do his OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Tokyo.

Claire Parker, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2019, wrote about Tunisians leaving Europe in The Washington Post. Parker, who also had a summer internship with Post, had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press bureau in Paris. She was freelancing in Tunisia when the pandemic hit.

Makini Brice, the OPC Foundation’s 2015 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, was part of a team that filed an article for Reuters on Sept. 27 on families mourning elders lost to COVID-19 in the U.S. The piece reported that as the country passes 200,000 deaths from coronavirus, about 70 out of every 100 people in the U.S. death toll are aged 65 or over. She posted on Twitter that “It was an honor to report on this story and talk to people about their parents and grandparents. Their absences will be felt for a long time.” Brice had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Dakar.

AWARDS

OPC member Christiane Amanpour of CNN is slated to speak at the virtual Courage in Journalism Awards on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The celebration honors “brave women journalists who refuse to step aside or be silenced in their pursuit of the truth.” Awardees this year include Jessikka Aro of the Finnish Broadcasting Company, broadcast journalist Yakeen Bido, Gulchehra Hoja of Radio Free Asia, multimedia reporter Solafa Magdy, Susan Goldberg of National Geographic and Yamiche Alcindor of PBS NewsHour.
The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) has decided to postpone its Annual Awards for a year to December 2021. The awards were to mark the occasion’s 25th anniversary this year. In an emailed statement about the decision addressed to “ambassadors, officials, colleagues and friends,” the UNCA also announced that it will establish a new UNCA Award for coverage of COVID-19 and its affect worldwide.
New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute announced its list of Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade at an online event on Oct. 14. The list of 122 nominations included several journalists with OPC and OPC Foundation ties. Sheri Fink, a member of the New York Times team that won the 2014 Hal Boyle award for its Ebola coverage, was among the top ten for her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Five Days At Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, which covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The nominees included Jonathan Jones, the 2009 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone and Ben Taub, the 2015 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner. Other nominees were OPC member and award winner Rukmini Callimachi, 2002 Ed Cunningham Award winner Lawrence Wright, two-time OPC Award winner T. Christian Miller, three-time OPC Award winner Evan Osnos, 2009 Morton Frank Award winner Michael Lewis, 2011 Lowell Thomas Award winner Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, 2012 Malcolm Forbes Award winner David Barboza, and 2017 Roy Rowan Award winner Andrew R.C. Marshall.

TIME magazine on Sept. 22 named Syrian filmmaker and Peter Jennings Award winner Waad al-Kateab among the world’s 100 most influential people of 2020. Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, who directed the Oscar-nominated film For Sama, will speak to the OPC on Oct. 7. The film is named after al-Kateab’s daughter who was born and raised during the siege, and tracks her work as she documents the Syrian revolution as a mother and a citizen journalist. Separately, on Sept. 30, Amnesty International announced during its Media Awards that For Sama won this year’s award in the documentary category.

UPDATES

A former Taliban commander accused in the November 2008 kidnapping of three people, including OPC member and award winner David Rohde, has been arrested and transferred to the United States to face six federal charges including kidnapping, hostage taking, conspiracy and using a machine gun in furtherance of violent crimes. A federal indictment against the former commander, Haji Najibullah, was unsealed on Oct. 28. He faces life sentences for each of the six charges if convicted. Rohde, who was working for The New York Times at the time, was abducted at gunpoint in Afghanistan along with Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin and Asadullah Mangal, their driver, and held for more than seven months. Rohde and Ludin escaped from a Taliban compound in June 2009. Mangal fled five weeks later. Rohde, who is now serving as the online news director for The New Yorker, won the OPC’s 1995 Hal Boyle Award for reporting on the Srebrenica Massacre for the Christian Science Monitor, shared the 2015 Joe and Laurie Dine Award along with Charles Levinson for reporting on the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention facility for Reuters, and also received the OPC’s President’s Award in 2015. He also received an OPC Citation for Excellence in 2009 for writing about his ordeal in Afghanistan.

OPC member Calvin Sims has started his new post at CNN as executive vice president of standards and practices. Sims is a veteran journalist with three decades of experience in news, foreign affairs and philanthropy. He most recently served as president and CEO of International House, a non-profit program aimed at cross cultural understanding and peace. He has also served in senior positions at The New York Times, the Discovery Times Channel, the Ford Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations. Sims will replace CNN’s outgoing head of standards and practices, Rick Davis, who is slated to retire in January next year. “I look forward to building on the great legacy of CNN’s news standards and ethics established by my predecessor Rick Davis and forging new and innovative ways to tell the truth with zeal and fidelity,” Sims said in a CNN release. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to return to my professional passion – quality journalism, especially at a time when it’s needed most and at a network that is as essential as CNN is today.”

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt wrote for TIME magazine on Oct. 21 about political and cultural implications of the brutal murder of schoolteacher Samuel Paty in France. Paty, a middle-school history and civics teacher, was attacked on his way home in the Paris suburbs on Oct. 16. He was stabbed to death and then decapitated. The murder was reportedly retribution for showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Walt wrote that the murder “cracked open a deep schism, that is rarely far from the surface in France,” and that it raises questions about “how the country’s 5.7 million Muslims – the largest Muslim population in the European Union – assimilate, or not, in a country whose constitution is based on an unyielding principle of secularism and which has seen multiple terrorist attacks by jihadists since 2015.”

OPC members David Burnett and David Hume Kennerly are among the photographers who will be honored at a virtual celebration hosted by the Los Angeles Center of Photography on Oct. 24 during the center’s 5th annual fundraising gala. Guests at the ticketed event will have access to a virtual gallery of over 100 photographs from artists, galleries and institutions, with audio clips of artists talking about their work. Photo, right, David Burnett; below left, David Hume Kennerly.

Separately, Kennerly spoke at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) on Oct. 15 at the University of Arizona about a range of topics as part of a celebration of the one-year anniversary of his archive launching in October 2019. Kennerly won a Pulitzer Prize at the age of 25 and became President Gerald Ford’s official White House photographer two years later. He joined the OPC in April 1992. A YouTube video of the talk is available here.
OPC member Ian Williams, president of the Foreign Press Association (FPA), got a mention during a U.N. press briefing for his statements about how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “I” Visa proposals would severely affect journalists’ work. Journalist James Bays, diplomatic editor for Al Jazeera, asked Stéphane Dujarric de la Rivière, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General on Homeland Security, during a press briefing on Oct. 19 about the possible consequences. De la Rivière answered that he “asked that we check that exactly, and how it impacts journalists that cover the U.N., if it does,” and pledged to answer Bays when he had a response.

OPC member Sima Diab’s photographs documenting people living in Egypt’s Nile Delta accompanied an Oct. 15 story for The Washington Post, part of which was written by OPC member Sudarsan Raghavan, about the massive Renaissance Dam project in Ethiopia. The story, which Raghavan co-wrote with colleague Max Bearak, said while the project could set Egypt on a path to lift millions out of poverty, “downstream in Egypt, where the Nile meets the sea, a starkly different picture emerges: The dam is a giant, menacing barrier that could be used to hold back the source of nearly all the country’s water.” Several of Diab’s images accompanied the long-form story, depicting farmers in a village about 60 miles north of Cairo who fear the project will hamstring irrigation for their crops.

OPC member Alice Driver contributed to a CBC radio story on Oct. 26 about Harrison, Arkansas and its struggle to escape a reputation as “the most racist town in America.” Driver contributed tape and photos for the sound-rich feature story. The town has a long history of white supremacy, and still has billboards promoting racist websites. The Ku Klux Klan headquarters is about 15 miles away in Zinc. Harrison drew attention over the summer with a viral video of residents shouting hostilities at a person holding a Black Lives Matter sign.

OPC member Mort Rosenblum’s new book, Saving Our World From Trump: Mort Reports, was published last month in time for election-season reading. Rosenblum wrote about Trump’s authoritarian tactics and how they mirror that of other democracies that have slid into dictatorship. “Today, a grasping megalomaniac sees the map as a Monopoly board and cons his cultists into believing that he dominates it,” he wrote. “Americans who oppose him focus on crisis at home, with scant attention to his global depredations that threaten human survival.” Rosenblum formerly served as editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris and spent four decades with The Associated Press based in Kinshasa, Lagos, Singapore and Buenos Aires. He was the AP’s chief international correspondent for 21 years.

OPC member Judith Matloff filed a story on Oct. 5 for The Daily Beast about a segment of so-called preppers that are stockpiling firearms and ammunition as the country faces a fresh wave of pandemic lockdowns and rising fear of political violence. She cited several examples of preppers posting incendiary comments about the need to defend against antifa and leftist mobs if the country descends into “times of desperation and social unrest.” Matloff reported that on the 25 most popular prepper websites, she had seen a significant uptick in articles about purchasing firearms during a pandemic and “more warnings than usual of ‘SHTF’ (Shit Hits the Fan.)” Matloff teaches crisis reporting at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her latest book, How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need, covers survival tips gleaned from her career working in conflict zones.

OPC member Rebecca Blumenstein of The New York Times moderated a panel at the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit on new forms of collective action on social justice and sustainability around the world. The session, titled Mobilizing New Power for Change, covered Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality, public awareness of the Brazilian rainforest fires, and consumer advocacy related to the Australian bushfires and deforestation in Kenya. Speakers included Michelle Miller of Coworker.org, Joao Paulo Brotto Gonçalves Ferreira of Natura and Co, Wanjuhi Njoroge of Nairobi Hub and Clarke Murphy of Russell Reynolds Associates Inc.
Roger Cohen, winner of the OPC’s 1994 Eric and Amy Burger Award, will head to Paris to serve as the New York Times’ bureau chief. Cohen is a veteran foreign correspondent with more than three decades at the Times. He covered the Balkan Wars early in his career, and won his OPC award for reporting on a Serbian-run concentration camp for Bosnians. He served as correspondent in Paris for the paper in 1994 to 1998, when he moved to Berlin as bureau chief. He started writing a column for The International Herald Tribune, and in 2009 became columnist for the Times. The Eric and Amy Burger Award honored the best international reporting in any medium dealing with human rights. He is slated to begin his new post in Paris in December.

Norman Pearlstine, the executive editor for the Los Angeles Times and sponsor of the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award, announced on Oct. 5 that he would soon resign, staying on until the paper finds a replacement that a Times story said “could chart a digital future and unite a newsroom that has been torn by controversies.” Pearlstine became executive editor in June 2018 in the wake of layoffs and mismanagement under Tribune Publishing, and worked to stabilize the newsroom with a hiring spree and boosts to technology. Over the last several months, the paper was beset with a series of controversies, including allegations of ethical breaches and management missteps, as well as a failure to diversify its staff during the surge of hiring in recent years.

Hannah Allam of NPR, a 2005 OPC award winner and head judge of this year’s Madeline Dane Ross Award, reported on Oct. 8 about the alleged plot to violently overthrow the government of Michigan and kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Allam, who covers extremism for NPR, told All Things Considered host Audie Cornish that the FBI had confidential informants and undercover personnel involved in the investigation from an early stage this summer, which gives reporters “a fascinating window into this alleged plot through group chats and audio recordings that are in the court papers.” The group ultimately planned to abduct Whitmer, take her to Wisconsin, and stage a mock trial. Allam said among militias “there is infighting right now on the use of violence, how much to partner with organizations that are more explicitly racist and explicitly violent than some of the more self-described constitutionalist militias.” Allam was part of a team that won the Hal Boyle Award in 2005 for coverage of the Iraq war.

OPC member Elena Becatoros wrote for The Associated Press on Oct. 7 about a Greek court’s landmark decision calling the right-wing Golden Dawn party a criminal organization. The court handed down guilty verdicts for dozens of defendants with ties to the neo-Nazi group that gained a political foothold\during the country’s recent financial crisis. Seven were found guilty of leading a criminal organization, and the rest were guilty of participating in that organization.

OPC member and VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman was investigated for anti-Trump bias despite laws protecting the govt. funded broadcaster from political interference or influence. The move is the latest in a string of episodes pointing to the politicization of VOA since Trump appointed Michael Pack as CEO of its parent agency. NPR wrote on Oct. 4 that Trump appointees compiled a “confidential” report on Herman claiming he had been unfair to Trump in his social media posts and “likes.”

Meanwhile, Herman got a name check in one of the month’s most shared and trending news stories, as he asked President Trump on Air Force One about security breaches connected to the new Sacha Baron Cohen mocumentary, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The film includes a scene involving Trump attorney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in a hotel room with an actress pretending to be a Russian journalist. The actress was later shown interviewing Donald Trump Jr. at the White House. Herman asked Trump if he was worried about security breaches, to which he responded “I don’t know what happened, but years ago, you know, [Baron Cohen] tried to scam me and I was the only one who said no way. That’s a phony guy and I don’t find him funny,” according to Herman’s recounts on Twitter, which were widely quoted in articles from the Los Angeles Times to Hollywood Reporter.

For The Associated Press in Islamabad, OPC member Kathy Gannon wrote on Sept. 28 about Pakistan’s Supreme Court decision to accept an appeal from the family of slain Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl seeking to keep a British-born Pakistani man on death row for Pearl’s murder in 2002. The appeal is against a lower-court acquittal of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. On Oct. 7 a government order said he would remain in jail for another three months. Judges have adjourned the appeal hearing until Oct. 21.

OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard was among the team of experts on USA Today staff assigned to provide live fact check checking during the vice presidential debate on Oct. 7. Hjelmgaard posted the morning after on Twitter that “folks overseas who did not stay up to watch the #VPDebate are asking me who won and I’m telling them, uh, well, the fly.” He was referring to a fly that upstaged Vice President Mike Pence when it landed on his hair and stayed stubbornly for two minutes during the program. Also on Oct. 7, Hjelmgaard filed a story analyzing whether the U.S. should be concerned about a slide into authoritarianism under President Trump, comparing his moves to that of other countries like Hungary, Poland and Turkey that “quietly” crept into authoritarian regimes.

OPC Third Vice President Scott Kraft, managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, spoke on a panel titled “The Journalistic Reset” on Oct. 1 as part of the International Press Institute’s virtual World Congress. The panel was billed as a discussion of what organizers called “the great journalistic reset driven by the momentous social movements of our time: from moral clarity to deep context.” The panel also included Khadija Patel of IPI, Joe Davidson of The Washington Post, and Sarah Ward-Lilley of BBC News. An IPI tweet said Kraft spoke about managing diversity within the newsroom at the Los Angeles Times, with staff “going through [an] internal process of reconciliation, we need to look at ourselves and apologize about wrongdoings.”

OPC Treasurer Deborah Amos of NPR News received an honorable mention at the 2020 Dart Awards on Sept. 24 for “Syria Torture Survivors Seek Justice,” a series of stories about people testifying in European courts against a regime accused of war crimes. Judges called the series “a case study in thorough, humane, and complete reporting.” They applauded Amos for “swiftly and skillfully relating the background and current situation of each person she profiles, describing but not lingering on the traumatic situations they have endured, and then focusing on their resilience and the action to which their personal histories have spurred them.” During the program, a tweet from the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma quoted Amos as saying “Are these tragic victims or are these resilient survivors? I always kept it in my head that these are resilient survivors.”

OPC member Stéphanie Fillion wrote a piece written for PassBlue and published in Ms. magazine in September citing a lack of women’s voices speaking at the United Nations General Assembly this year, with only 11 women out of 196 speakers. Fillion wrote that among the first-day speakers were leaders from Brazil, the United States, France, Chile, China, Turkey, Cuba, Russia, Iran, Qatar and South Africa, and “nary a woman in the mix.” She added that several diplomats spoke about the need for more gender equality and were working to change the speaker lineup at the assembly, but did “not want to use their names for fear of looking self-promotional.”

OPC member Stefania Rousselle’s reporting on border issues last year was featured in a video published on Sept. 29 on the site Mission Local, originally a project launched at UC Berkeley’s Journalism School. The video follows two undocumented women facing the threat of deportation, who while “living in a perpetual state of uncertainty, these domestic workers and activists continue to help others like them by refusing to stay silent and invisible.” Mission Local’s multimedia editor Mimi Chakaorva also worked on the piece.

OPC member Amberin Zaman, senior correspondent for Al-Monitortalked on a panel on Sept 23 at the Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights about religious minorities being targeted in Turkey. The panel discussed religious freedom of Christians in Turkey, the Turkish government’s systematic deprivation of the rights of Christian institutions, as well as organizations representing other religious minorities. Panelists included Elizabeth Prodromou of Tufts University, author and activist Raffi Bedrosyan, and former pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned for several years by the Erdogan regime for his activities on behalf of Christians in Turkey.

PEOPLE REMEMBERED

Former CBS News foreign correspondent Bert Quint and OPC Award winner died at the age of 90 in Washington DC. Quint spent three decades with CBS News, most of that time based in Rome, covering a range of posts including Cambodia and Vietnam. Walter Cronkite had dubbed Quint “The Fireman” because of his exceptional work under pressure. He was part of a CBS team that won the 1971 Ben Grauer Award. During a reunion of Vietnam War correspondents in 1994, he said “I think we can all recall those exhilarating moments, in the midst of feeling scared and miserable, when we felt intensely alive.” His speech is archived on C-SPAN here (Quint starts at 19:00).
Erika A. Niedowski, a former Baltimore Sun foreign correspondent and Moscow bureau chief who was a 2004 Pulitzer Prize finalist and later worked for The Associated Press, died on Oct. 2 of undetermined causes at Rhode Island Hospital. She died two days before her 47th birthday. A family member told the Sun that she had previously tested negative for COVID-19, but suffered coronavirus-like symptoms before her death. Niedowski took over as the Sun’s Moscow bureau chief in 2005.

OPC MEMBERS COVERING COVID-19

OPC member Keith Bradsher wrote for The New York Times on Oct. 18 about China’s surging economy as the country reins in its COVID-19 infection rates with almost no local transmission. He reported that the Chinese economy “surged 4.9 percent in the July-to-September quarter compared with the same months last year,” according to the country’s statistics bureau. That restores growth to nearly the same rate it had before the pandemic, which was 6 percent. He said the country’s recovery would not ripple out to the rest of the world as much as it has in the past because imports have not increased as much as exports, and the recovery is linked to huge domestic infrastructure investments.

OPC member Chriss Swaney continues to cover worker’s rights and infringement in the era of COVID-19, with a piece for WorkersCompensation.com on Oct. 23 about the families of employees at a meat processing plant in Greely, Colorado owned by JBS USA, who are fighting for worker’s compensation following the deaths of several plant employees who fell ill during the course of their work. According to the Food and Environment Report Network, which has been tracking outbreaks, more than 44,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200 have died.

OPC member Wudan Yan wrote a piece for the October print issue of Spectrum, a trade publication for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), about the state of research into a “here-and-now” COVID-19 test. Yan, along with colleague David Schneider, wrote a deep dive into research around the world on the development of better coronavirus tests, and the prospects of breakthroughs that would identify asymptomatic infections and keep people from inadvertently spreading the virus. The piece examines the science behind several kinds of tests, identifying some of the most important recent innovations.

Meghan Sullivan, winner of the OPC Foundation’s 2020 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship, continues to cover COVID-19 stories in Alaska with a focus on Indigenous communities. She wrote for Indian Country Today about an increase in coronavirus cases in a remote Siberian Yupik village in Alaska. The village on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea had a total case count of 19 in a town of only 681 residents. The stakes of even small outbreaks are high in remote areas, she reported – it costs around $500 to fly to the nearest hospital in Nome, which only has about 10 respirators to serve more than a dozen villages. The outbreak also has knock-on effects as those exposed to people who test positive have to shut down essential facilities, such as the town’s general store being closed while managers wait for their own test results.

OPC member Lori Valigra has been reporting on COVID-19 in Maine extensively for articles in the Bangor Daily News, with a focus on the effect on businesses and the economy. Recent pieces include an Oct. 22 piece reporting that prices for the state’s home sales jumped 20 percent in September as out-of-state buyers search for a safe haven to ride out the pandemic. The trend is driven by low interest rates and a glut of buyers, according to a state realtors’ association. Maine’s viral load so far is among the lowest in the country, hovering in the bottom five for number of deaths per million population. Valigra also reported in September on the pandemic’s effect on two iconic state retailers, L.L. Bean and Renys, amid an uncertain holiday season and some supply manufacturers shutting down. In September she also reported Maine economists and retailers concerns about “federal stimulus uncertainty, ongoing pandemic, recession, November election, the regular flu season and cold weather that will force businesses that had expanded outside to move inside.”

OPC member Alice Driver wrote a personal piece for The Guardian on Oct. 3 on how upheaval from COVID-19 affected her work as a freelancer, and how she coped during different phases of 2020. “In the first month of the pandemic, there were days when I worried about my livelihood disappearing, and I did cry imagining the end of my career as a freelance writer,” Driver wrote. She wrote that she kept herself buoyant by helping other writers on social media and was encouraged by their successes. She is currently reporting a story in rural Arkansas with funding from the National Geographic Society Emergency Fund for Journalists.

For a health website titled The Doctor Weighs in, OPC member Judith Matloff wrote on Oct. 6 about ways to stay psychologically strong as the “next wave” of COVID-19 infections continues to rise. She provides tips and reminders about how to plan ahead and weather what is likely to turn out to be an isolating winter. She recommends avoiding complacency about exposure to the virus, planning ahead to ease anxiety, and curating social support. “Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Distance yourself from anyone who has a toxic effect,” she wrote. Matloff is an award-winning veteran journalist who has taught crisis reporting at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism for two decades. She is the senior safety advisor of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

OPC member Emily Schultheis on Oct. 6 reported on the effect of the pandemic on the Central European University in Vienna, which was just finding its footing after being forced out of Hungary in 2017. The George Soros–founded institution opened classes in late September, a “culmination of years of uncertainty and legal battles with authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s anti-Semitic political vendetta against Soros,” Schultheis wrote. The article was written for the Institute of Current World Affairs in DC, and republished on Slate’s website.

OPC member Nicholas Kristof took part in a video project for The New York Times posted in the op-ed section on Sept. 29 examining shortcomings in U.S. handling of COVID-19, despite 15 years of preparation for a possible pandemic disaster. The piece, “How America Lost 200,000 Lives to Covid-19,” constructs a timeline and compares viral surges in the European Union against that of the U.S., showing soaring rates in America as case numbers decline elsewhere. “I’ve always felt that I come from the country that helped invent public health,” Kristof told Times colleague Johnny Harris during the interview, “and now my own country, arguably the most powerful country in the history of the world, has taken a challenge that we kind of knew what to do with, and just blowing it in ways that have cost so many lives.”

OPC member Peter Turnley had a photo exhibition titled “The human face of COVID-19” presented at the international photojournalism festival Visa pour l’image in Perpignan, France. Turnley spent time in lockdown in New York after he returned from Cuba. He told Euronews that he was stunned when exploring the city with his camera. “This is the first world war of our lifetime,” he said. “We have never experienced in our lifetime a moment that affected every single person on a planet like this moment. This is a war with an invisible enemy.” His photos, many of which are shown in the Euronews article, capture a spectrum of emotions during the crisis.

OPC member Borzou Daragahi reported on Sept. 29 for the Independent on COVID-19 from Turkey, with a focus on the deaths of thousands of medical personnel who “succumbed to the disease they are on the frontline of treating.” Amnesty International reported earlier in September this month that at least 7,000 healthcare workers have died of COVID-19 around the world, though those numbers could be much higher. Due to fear of contracting the virus, he said that in Turkey, 200 to 300 physicians have either applied to retire or stopped showing up for work.

OPC member Valerie Hopkins wrote about record numbers of COVID-19 cases in Hungary for the Financial Times on Sept. 18. Hungary had reported record daily numbers of infections, with active case numbers surpassing 11,000 that week. A virology research center told Hopkins that Hungary is second only to France in epidemic prevalence in the population. She wrote that as a second wave of cases swept across Europe at the end of August, Hungarian premier Viktor Orban “closed the borders from Sept. 1 to foreigners, making an exception for business travelers, and imposed quarantine restrictions on citizens.” But Hopikins added that as recently as the end of August, the country’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, spurned requests for employees to work from home, saying “I have never allowed that and will never do so.”

September 2020

SCHOLARS

New America has named Yi-Ling Liu, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2017, as the organization’s ASU Future Security Fellow for 2021. Liu’s work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Economist, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She is now writing a book about people in China who are navigating the boundaries of the Chinese internet, a project this fellowship will support.

Devon Haynie, the 2008 Flora Lewis Scholarship winner, wrote a piece on Sept. 11 for U.S.News & World Report about the U.S. decline in global rankings in its annual report on quality of life. She wrote that the U.S. was one of only three countries in the world to slide backward in the Social Progress Index over the last decade, along with Brazil and Hungary. The U.S. dropped 12 spots to number 28 on the list in the index measuring quality of life in areas such as personal safety; health and wellness; environmental quality; personal freedom and choice; and inclusiveness. OPC member Nicholas Kristof also wrote about the decline in a New York Times opinion column, calling the news “a reminder that we Americans face structural problems that predate President (Donald) Trump and that festered under leaders of both parties.” Haynie earned a master’s degree at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and had an internship with The Associated Press bureau in Johannesburg.

On Sept. 21 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, OPC member Krithika Varagur, the OPC Foundation’s 2019 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, will discuss her book The Call during an online event hosted by the organization Speakeasy. Tickets are $15. Read more and register here

Marta Orosz, the 2020 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner, has joined Business Insider Germany as a business editor. She will be working as part of a global team covering taxation, wealth and the business of tech.

Neha Wadeker, the Reuters Fellowship winner in 2015, has an article in New Humanitarian on the role of women protesting police violence in Kenya. Neha had an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters in Nairobi where she stayed to continue her freelance career.

Isabel DeBré, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2018, has been reporting for The Associated Press from Dubai with articles on Sept. 1 on the impact of COVID-19 on its participation in the global financial market, and an article on Sept. 3 about international port operator DP World’s deal with one of Canada’s biggest pension-fund managers. DeBré had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Jerusalem.

Scott Squires, the 2018 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner, is reporting for Bloomberg from Buenos Aires on Argentina’s recovery after restructuring $65 billion in overseas debt, saying in a recent article that the country has officially emerged from its ninth default. Squires had a foundation fellowship with Reuters in Buenos Aires.

Two OPC Foundation scholars were named among the recipients of grants from the Berkeley FILM Foundation. JoeBill Muñoz, the 2018 Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner, along with UC Berkeley journalism alum Lucas Guilkey, was awarded the $20,000 Al Bendich Award for their untitled expose on solitary confinement in the California prison system. Rachel Mueller, the 2019 H.L. Stevenson Scholarship winner, received a grant for her student film “8 Days at Ware” along with her filmmaking partner Meg Shutzer. Muñoz had a foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Mexico City, and Mueller had a fellowship with the GroundTruth Project in Nairobi.

Isma’il Kushkush, the 2016 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, landed the cover story of the current issue of Smithsonian magazine on the ancient civilization of Sudan. A former Ida B. Welles fellow, he had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Jerusalem.

AWARDS

OPC member Ali Velshi has found himself in headlines again as President Trump at several campaign events has been inaccurately retelling a story about Velshi getting injured while covering a protest. The MSNBC anchor and correspondent was struck with a rubber bullet in May while reporting on a Minneapolis protest prompted by the police killing of George Floyd. Trump has been using the story, incorrectly saying he was a CNN reporter and had been hit by a tear gas canister, to mock journalists and glorify violence against the press, saying “it was the most beautiful thing,” and adding that “it’s called law and order.” Velshi responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter, correcting details and asking “What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?”
OPC Governor Ishaan Tharoor wrote in The Washington Post’s international newsletter titled “Today’s WorldView” on Sept. 21 about President Trump’s call earlier this month for a campaign to promote “patriotic education” and how this push for “pro-American curriculum” borrows language from dictatorships across history, including policies of China’s Communist regime, Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and India’s Hindu nationalist party. Trump’s program is meant to counter what his nationalist supporters see as an education system that “overly stresses the legacy of slavery, racism and sins of America’s past,” Tharoor wrote.
OPC member Judith Matloff reviewed a new book by veteran foreign correspondent Christina Lamb on Sept. 22 about the use of rape against noncombatant women as a weapon during wartime. Our Bodies, Their Battlefields [September 2020] examines atrocities and recounts stories of survivors across continents and centuries, including her own reporting in the Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Bosnia, Iraq, Southeast Asia and South America. Matloff writes that most literature about conflict ignores rape and focuses on military strategy, male heroism and suffering, ignoring survivors of rape. She writes that Lamb argues men in power have not stopped combatants from “sexual pillage,” quoting Lamb: “War rape was met with tacit acceptance and committed with impunity, military and political leaders shrugging it off as a sideshow. Or it was denied to have ever happened.” Lamb is a longtime correspondent for The Sunday Times of London. Matloff has written about international affairs for 30 years, specializing in areas of turmoil.
OPC member Sofia Barbarani filed a feature story for The Telegraph on Sept. 22 covering the aftermath of a crisis in eastern Greece as thousands of migrants displaced in a devastating fire at a refugee camp on Lesbos were barred from traveling to mainland Greece. Barbarani recounted events through the eyes of a teenage girl who talks about her grueling journey from Afghanistan to Iran, Turkey and then Lesbos. She wrote that the girl, one of 4,000 minors on Lesbos waiting to be granted asylum, had been at the top of her class in school and won first prize in a contest to build a car model. Barbarani wrote about the particular toll of displacement on girls and young women: “UNESCO research shows that “the further girls progress with their schooling the more they develop leadership skills, entrepreneurship and self-reliance – giving them the tools to contribute to their own communities as well as their host countries.”
OPC member Rachel Waldholz, who has been covering climate issues in Alaska and then in the EU over the last few years, has been hired on as one of two reporters for a podcast focused on climate change titled How to Save the Planet. According to an interview on Sept. 18 with the show’s host for Vogue magazine, she will contribute expertise on “the oil and gas industry from the Alaska perspective and on international climate negotiations and policy.”
OPC member Gloria Dickie, a freelance journalist specializing in environmental reportage, moderated an online discussion on Sept. 16 in Concord, New Hampshire with journalist and author Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling about his new book, A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). The book details the story of a Libertarian mission to take over the small town of Grafton, New Hampshire, an operation called the Free Town Project. A recording of the conversation is on the bookstore’s YouTube channel here.
A true crime book by OPC member Barbie Latza Nadeau will be adapted as a movie starring Kate Beckinsale. Her book 2012, Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox, covers the titular killer’s sexual assault and murder of her roomate in 2007, and seeks to cut through some of the sensational media coverage of the case. The film, to be titled The Face of an Angel, is a BBC Films production, and filming reportedly begins “soon” in Tuscany, Italy.
OPC member Campbell MacDiarmid continues to cover the Middle East for The Telegraph, with a piece on Sept. 21 from Khartoum about Sudan’s prime minister calling for international aid as the country “teeters amid economic collapse.”

Madeleine Haeringer, one of the VICE News Tonight team members who won the OPC’s David Kaplan Award this year, was also among those named as executive producer on several stories that won a News Emmy announced on Sept. 21. VICE won a total of four awards, including categories in outstanding coverage, investigative reports, best story in a newscast and outstanding writing. VICE won the Kaplan Award for their coverage of the orphanage industry in Uganda, which you can see discussed in an online OPC program here.

FRONTLINE PBS, which garnered this year’s Morton Frank Award for coverage of trade war with the U.S. as well as the Peter Jennings Award for the program For Sama, won four Emmys, with Dan Edge named on the team for two of those programs, and Raney Aronson-Rath credited on three, both of whom are named on the award for For Sama. For Sama has also been nominated for an International Emmy Award, the winners of which will be announced at a later date. See the event reminder above or click here for details about an online program to discuss For Sama on Oct.7.
The Online Journalism Awards announced that this year’s James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting goes to Kiana Hayeri, a photojournalist currently based in Kabul whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Washington Post, NPR, Wall Street Journal, GEO, Foreign Policy, Buzzfeed, Le Monde, The Globe and Mail, among others. Kiana is a Senior TED fellow and regularly contributes to the Times from Afghanistan.

OPC member Abigail Pesta received in the mail her framed certificate of the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists that she won earlier this year. As reported in the July 10 Weekly Bulletin, Pesta won the award for her piece “Life after death in Parkland” in Notre Dame Magazine. Pesta profiled a family dealing with the fallout from the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. Posting a photo of the certificate on social media, she thanked survivor Todd Foote and his family for sharing their story with her. She also mentioned that she received a framed cover of her book, The Girls from the Library of Michigan. “Proud to see the book named among the best of the year. Kudos to the brave women who shared their stories, shedding groundbreaking insight into predator Larry Nassar and the abusive coaching that helped enable him. These stories have the power to stop predators,” Pesta wrote.

UPDATES

Jars Balan, a professor at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies in Edmonton, Alberta, contacted the OPC recently regarding a biography he is working on about Rhea Gertrude Clyman, a journalist born in Poland. Clyman grew up in Toronto and moved to New York in 1942. He learned of her involvement in the OPC when he found a copy of the OPC’s 1967 publication, How I Got That Story, where she contributed an article titled “The Story that Stopped Hitler,” based on an incident she reported on when she was the Munich correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph. Rhea passed away in New York at the Jewish Institute for Geriatric Care on July 9, 1981 at the age of 77. The OPC files on Clyman are stored at Columbia University and not available for research at this time. If any OPC member has information on Clyman, please email jbalan@ualberta.ca and info@opcofamerica.org.

OPC member Rachel Donadio filed a longform piece for the October issue of the Atlantic covering the saga of Nicola Gratteri, an Italian prosecutor who has spent the last three decades fighting a powerful Calabria-based criminal organization known as the ’Ndrangheta. Donadio called the secretive group “the least telegenic and most publicity-shy of Italy’s Mafias [and] the most aggressive.” In December last year the prosecutor orchestrated a police dragnet that rounded up 334 people, including “lawyers, businesspeople, accountants, a police chief, the president of the Calabrian mayors’ association, and a former member of the Italian Parliament” on charges related to ’Ndrangheta activity.

Several of OPC member Max Becherer’s photos of New Orleans residents preparing for Hurricane Sally were featured on Sept. 14 in a slide presentation on The Times-Picayune website NOLA.com. With the storm bearing down, residents boarded windows, bolstered with sandbags and prepared levees. Emergencies were declared in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama ahead of the storm’s arrival and New Orleans was among the cities with evacuation orders. Ultimately the storm made landfall on the Alabama coast and veered suddenly eastward, hitting hardest in near Mobile and Pensacola.

OPC member Dana Thomas wrote the script for a documentary about shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo that premiered on Sept. 5 at the Venice Film Festival. “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams” surveys the designer’s life and work, and was directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino. Thomas is a fashion and culture journalist based in Paris and has been an OPC member since 2002. Her book Fashionopolis about visionaries in the industry focused on sustainability and improving human rights was released in paperback on Sept. 11.

Katherine Eban, the Cornelius Ryan Award winner this year, was interviewed on Forbes India on Sept. 16 about Bottle of Lies, the book about fraud in the Indian pharmaceutical industry that won the OPC award. Her book tracked down whistleblower claims in a decade-long investigation into Indian makers of generic drugs such as Ranbaxy manipulating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and selling billions of unsafe drugs to the U.S. “I was able to piece together that there had been a very explosive PowerPoint that had been shown to [Ranbaxy’s] board of directors, the result of an internal probe that said Ranbaxy had falsified data for over 200 drug products,” Eban said during the interview.

OPC award winner Clarissa Ward on Sept. 8 published a memoir, titled On All Fronts, recounting her career as a conflict reporter covering wars in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine with postings in Baghdad, Beirut, Beijing, and Moscow. She told Brian Stelter on CNN Business about her stint at Fox News in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, remembering how producers focused on her appearance. “I’m sure you can appreciate the absurdity of being in Baghdad, being in a war zone, and getting an email telling you that you should be wearing your hair down.” She also talked about war correspondents’ need to care for their mental health and to talk about trauma covering war and “the absolutely inevitable toll that it takes on an individual.” Ward won the OPC’s 2016 David Kaplan Award for her coverage of rebel-held territory in Syria.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi appeared on Amanpour and Company to discuss the rise of domestic abuse during lockdown. Host Christine Amanpour, herself an OPC member, interviewed Fassihi, who writes about Iran for The New York Times, and Mexican journalist Gabriela Jauregui, about the spike in domestic violence cases.

OPC member Kristen Chick wrote for Nieman Reports on Sept. 3 about the push for pay equity amid a national uprising against racism and discrimination across U.S. newsrooms in recent months. She wrote that over the past four years, “dozens of unions at news organizations across the country have conducted pay studies, proving what many had long suspected: Women and people of color often earn less than their white male colleagues.”

OPC member Annalisa Quinn wrote a piece for The New York Times profiling men who do magic to cope with the loneliness and boredom of being in prison. The article, accompanied by photos by Vincent Tullo, looks at an inmate community that corresponded with magicians to learn and perform tricks. “If there is anything missing from a maximum-security prison, it’s wonder,” Quinn quoted magician and inmate correspondent Joshua Jay as saying.
OPC member Thomas Ginsberg wrote for The Philadelphia Inquirer on Aug. 26 about how the city’s high poverty rates cause it to trail its peers in several key business metrics, including the launch of new companies and the overall number of businesses per capita. The city’s small and mid-size companies were also in weaker financial shape and less likely to reach customers outside the region, Ginsberg wrote.
OPC Award winner and club member Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times has been covering the U.S. election and other politics for the Times, most recently with a piece on Sept. 1 that received copious social media shares outlining some of Biden’s foreign policies to “repair much of what he and his supporters consider to be the damage done by President Trump.” She talked with Biden’s top foreign policy advisor, Tony Blinken, who said among other foreign policy insights that that the former vice president would not return the U.S. Embassy to Tel Aviv, “but it is likely he would reopen a U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem that would cater to Palestinians and allow a Palestinian de facto embassy in Washington.” Wilkinson was part of teams that won the 2014 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award for a story about a surge of unaccompanied minors traveling from Mexico into south Texas, and the 2008 Hal Boyle Award for coverage of Mexico’s drug war.
The Washington Post announced that 2013 Malcolm Forbes Award winner Yeganeh Torbati is joining paper as economic policy investigations reporter. She most recently worked for ProPublica covering government responses to coronavirus. Torbati was part of the Reuters team that won the OPC award for “Assets of the Ayatollah,” a profile of how Ayatollah Ali Khamenei secured positions in nearly every sector of Iran’s economy and built his own $95 billion empire.

COVID-19

OPC member Jennifer O’Mahony filed a radio story for Public Radio International’s The World this month about the effect of COVID-19 on Spain’s bullfighters. She wrote that Spain recently became “the first country in Europe to register half a million coronavirus cases, leaving bullrings empty and toreros, or ‘bullfighters,’ out of work.” She added that a poll in May found almost half of Spaniards want bullfighting banned, with the number of events in sharp decline even before the pandemic. O’Mahony attended a bullfight as part of the story, concluding that “it’s not hard to see why it’s divisive.”
OPC member Ruchi Kumar wrote for Salon on Sept. 12 that rumors of an herbal remedy falsely claiming to be effective against COVID-19 sparked a frenzy in Afghanistan, which was tested and found to have opioids and other several addictive ingredients. “In Afghanistan’s deeply conservative society, many viewed these moves to protect public health as an affront to Afghan culture and religious values. When government forces tried to shut down the clinic, some Afghans took to the streets,” Kumar wrote.

Meghan Sullivan, the 2020 winner of the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship, shared a story she filed for the Anchorage bureau of Indian Country Today. The story focused on the consequences of one of Alaska’s largest air carriers going out of business due to COVID-19 constraints. She told the OPC in an email that “this development resulted in several remote Alaska Native villages being unable to receive critical supplies and food during the pandemic.” Sullivan had a foundation fellowship at the Associated Press bureau in Bangkok.

OPC member Aurora Almendral wrote for The New York Times on Sept. 9 from Bangkok about the effect of the pandemic on sailors around the world who are stuck with no way to get home after borders closed and many ports refused to allow sailors to come ashore. The United Nations called the situation a growing humanitarian crisis in June, Almendral wrote. She writes about the growing risk of injury and disaster from fatigued workers on extended contracts, citing examples such as a bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius in late July, spilling 1,000 tons of oil into the sea. Almendral won the 2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award along with Ed Ou for coverage of the drug war in the Philippines.

OPC member Anita Snow wrote a piece for The Associated Press on Sept. 5 about the struggles of refugee families trying to continue schooling with online resources in Phoenix, where Snow is based. She wrote that parents and students who speak more than a dozen languages once attended the Valencia Newcomer School, but when it shut down due to the pandemic they organized remote classes to keep students learning. She wrote that coronavirus paused resettlement of refugees who are vetted by the U.S. State Department and other agencies but “a trickle of arrivals has begun again, according to those who work with refugees.”

OPC member Barbie Latza Nadeau reported for The Daily Beast on Aug. 29 that Europe’s second wave of COVID-19 infections appears to be less lethal than the first strike this spring. She reported from Rome that though France and Spain were reporting their highest numbers of new cases since the lockdown ended in May, “hospitalizations and death rates are nowhere near the level they were the first time around.” She said authorities point to higher numbers of elderly who died in the first wave, with younger people now bearing more infections as beaches and clubs have opened for business.
Sandali Handagama, winner of the 2020 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting, has been reporting for Coindesk, site dedicated to blockchain news, including a Sept. 2 story on members of the U.S. Congress pushing for the use of blockchain to boost COVID-19 relief efforts, and a Sept. 1 story on the government of Bermuda’s use of a digital token to stimulate its economy in response to COVID-19. Handagama wrote that Bermuda launched a pilot program this week in partnership with local private payments platform Stablehouse, writing that “national governments around the world are evaluating the potential benefits or drawbacks of a blockchain-based payments system, whether that looks like a central bank digital currency or a similar payment rail.” She has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Mumbai.
Annie Todd, the 2020 winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, wrote for Gothamist about challenges for nearly 3,700 New York University students who had to endure two weeks of isolation because they arrived from states that trigger New York state’s quarantine order. NYU faced outcry after reports that the school provided poor quality meals, causing a public apology and an offer of a $30 Grubhub gift card daily to compensate. Todd also delved into the students’ mental health issues, added stress and other effects of quarantine.

PEOPLE REMEMBERED

Longtime OPC member Linda Goetz Holmes died on Aug. 18 at the age of 87. Holmes, who served as membership committee member for the OPC, wrote extensively about Allied POWs in Japanese custody during World War II, and penned three books on the topic, 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, Unjust Enrichment: American POWs Under the Rising Sun, and Guests of the Emperor: The Secret of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp.

In 2014 she spoke at an OPC storytelling evening about her memory of the news of attacks on Pearl Harbor, which you can watch by clicking on the YouTube frame above right. A remembrance from Past President William Holstein follows.

“Linda penetrated into the inner sanctums of both Japanese and American institutions. In 2008, she gave me a copy of the cable that Gen. Douglas MacArthur sent from Tokyo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington on Jan. 24, 1946. The Pentagon wanted MacArthur to put Emperor Hirohito on trial for war crimes. As most historians agree today, the Emperor was a driving force behind Japan’s war effort. It wasn’t just his generals who promoted the war.

“But MacArthur warned the Joint Chiefs that if he put Hirohito on trial, ‘it would be absolutely essential to greatly increase the occupational forces. It is quite possible that a minimum of a million troops would be required which would have to be maintained for an indefinite number of years.’ The Joint Chiefs acquiesced and MacArthur proceeded to foster the myth that Hirohito wasn’t directly involved. He feared that if he put the emperor on trial, the Japanese people would rise up against the American occupation. It was a decisive moment in history and Linda knew how to dig out documents that explained what really happened.”

OPC member Donald Shannon died on July 17 in a hospice facility in Summerville South Carolina following a weeklong stay in intensive care battling COVID-19. He was 97 years old. He served on the eastern front in World War II and in 1947 began reporting for the Rio Herald in Rio de Janeiro, launching a long career as a reporter and foreign correspondent that took him to London, Sub Saharan Africa, Paris and Tokyo, first for United Press International and then for many years for the Los Angeles Times, and later worked as senior editor for Georgetown & Country in Washington DC. He joined the OPC in 1972.

OPC member Duncan MacDonald died on July 18 in Martha’s Vineyard at the age of 104. After a start in the early days of television, she served as a longtime on-air host and interviewer for the New York Times radio station WQXR, and was executive director and founding trustee of the National Friends of Public Broadcasting, and was the New York president of American Women in Radio and TV. A collection of her recordings and writings is housed at the 20th Century Archives of American Journalism at the University of Wyoming. She joined the OPC in 1960.

Andrew Winning, a photojournalist and editor for Getty Images who also covered international news for Reuters for 22 years, died in London on Aug. 3 after a battle with brain cancer at age 49. Winning was born in Paris in 1970 while his father was serving as correspondent for Reuters. He started his career in photojournalism working with Johnny Eggitt at Agence France-Presse (AFP) in London. His career included postings in Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. He was based in London for several years after moving there in 2008. In 2018 he started working for Getty Images as news editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

August 2020

SCHOLARS
Neha Thirani Bagri, winner of the 2016 Jerry Flint Scholarship for International Business Reporting, landed a cover story in TIME magazine for the third week of August. She and a colleague wrote about how the deepening coronavirus crisis is reshaping India. A freelancer based in Mumbai, she had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The GroundTruth Project.

For the New Humanitarian, William Martin III, 2020 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner, contributed a report and film about the struggles of transgender migrants forced to wait in Mexico’s dangerous border cities, facing increased waiting time and risks due to the pandemic. Martin focuses on immigration policies and climate change. He recently received a fellowship with The GroundTruth Project to report on migration.

Kimon de Greef, 2020 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, wrote a 5,000-word article on Aug. 24 for VICE magazine about the black market for white sage (Salvia apiana), an indigenous herb used traditionally by several Native American tribes.

Krithika Varagur, 2019 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, wrote a piece for The Intercept on Aug. 25 about a paramedic in Minnesota who filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that police pressured him to use ketamine, a sedative, during an arrest. Varagur talked to the whistleblower, Joseph Baker, who said that the incident is part of a larger trend among law enforcement in using ketamine to “gain compliance” during arrests. The lawsuit also alleges falsification of EMS training credentials. Varagur has also been covering COVID-19 updates for the MIT Technology Review, recently filing six pieces in a series on coronavirus responses around the world, including Mongolia, Germany, Liberia, Sweden, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Georgia Wells, the 2012 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner who is now a reporter for The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco tech bureau, is also a long-distance open water swimmer. Last Saturday, she swam the 12 miles across Lake Tahoe in approximately seven hours. She has completed several long-distance swims, including ones around Alcatraz, Washington’s Mercer Island, a 9.3-mile trek in the South China Sea, and 24-hour marathon relay races, among many others. Before her current position at the Journal, she was an editor for WSJ.com and covered emerging markets for the paper. She also freelanced in Cairo during the Egyptian revolution.

Kantaro Komiya, the 2020 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, amassed a total of 42 byline stories during the 10 weeks of his remote internship with BarronsOnline this summer. He has an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Tokyo.
Tess Taylor, 2004 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of IF Stone, has been awarded the Andrews Forest Writing Residency for fall 2020. An accomplished poet, Taylor is the author of Work & Days, The Forage House and Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Review, the Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, the Times Literary Supplement, Memorious, New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker. She has chaired the poetry committee of the National Book Critics Circle and reviews poetry on-air for NPR’s All Things Considered.

J.p Lawrence, the 2015 H.L. Stevenson Fellowship winner, wrote a story on Aug. 12 from Kabul for Stars and Stripes saying Taliban negotiators are likely to reject proposals for the U.S. to establish a lasting counterterrorism presence in Afghanistan during upcoming peace talks with the government in Kabul, according to analysts. A report from the International Crisis Group said that “any remaining foreign presence is a nonstarter among Taliban members.” Lawrence had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Uganda, and joined Stars and Stripes in late 2017.

The OPC Foundation is well represented among the recipients of the The GroundTruth Project’s Global Migration, Refugees and Resettlement Reporting Fellowships. Thomas Nocera, the 2020 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner, was the OPC Foundation’s GroundTruth Project fellow. Nocera did some work for GroundTruth this summer on its Democracy project. Also joining GroundTruth is William Martin III, the 2020 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner. Most recently, he has been working with indigenous communities in Brazil to create a short documentary on the growing and sometimes violent conflict between the environment, those who protect it, and the exploitative economies poisoning it. Also among the new Migration fellows is Joseph Ataman, the 2017 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner. Ataman had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Turkey. He has been working as a freelance video producer with CNN.

A number of OPC Foundation scholars reported on the massive deadly explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4, including 2007 Stan Swinton Scholarship winner Ben Hubbard, whose breaking news reporting on the tragedy and its aftermath was on the front page of The New York Times. Hubbard currently serves as Beirut bureau chief for the Times. 2014 Jerry Flint Fellowship winner John Ismay, who covers armed conflict for The New York Times Magazine from the Washington bureau, wrote a piece on Aug. 6 about how he used his military training and bomb expertise to bolster the Times coverage of the explosion.

2017 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner Sara Dadouch, now a Beirut-based correspondent for The Washington Post, wrote a harrowing first-person account of her experience during the blast, as “every door inside my apartment, hinges and all, was ripped out of the walls. So was my air conditioner. My big fan split right in half. My massive living room windows flew at me. The glass didn’t just shatter; the windows themselves flew clean off. I genuinely, even now, have no idea how I am not dead.” She detailed scenes of aftermath and rescue efforts, including “Volunteers and paramedics were combing the streets late into the night, shining blue lights and calling out for people to signal to them if they were stuck in the rubble.” Dadouch had an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters in Beirut before she landed the Post gig.

AWARDS

The winner of this year’s OPC Edward R. Murrow Award, an episode of the New York Times’ Weekly show, titled “Collision,” also garnered three News and Documentary Emmy nominations. The piece, which investigates the ISIS murders of bicycle tourists Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan in Tajikistan, received Emmy nominations in the categories of Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Video Journalism: News, and Outstanding Editing: News. Nominations were announced on Aug. 6. The OPC will host an online discussion with the team from “Collision,” including OPC members Singeli Agnew and Rukmini Callimachi, on Sept. 17 (scroll up to read more and RSVP or click here).

Several other OPC members took to social media to celebrate Emmy nomination announcements, including OPC Governor Adriane Quinlan, supervising writer for VICE News and winner of the OPC Foundation’s 2013 Flora Lewis internship, who noted that the group received 18 nominations, including 16 for VICE News Tonight, which is the most of any nightly newscast. OPC member Sara Just, executive producer of PBS NewsHour, touted the show’s seven nominations. OPC member Christiane Amanpour’s show received two nominations, for Outstanding Investigative Report in a Newscast and Outstanding Live Interview.

Waad Al-Kateab, a filmmaker who won the OPC’s Peter Jennings Award this year, served on the jury for the BAFTA-GSA student film awards this year. The jury gave a Special Jury Prize to Laura Zéphirin from New York University for the film “Making Waves,” a film following one woman’s work in marine wildlife conservation. Other jury members included actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Clarke Peters, and directors Isabel Coixet and Reinaldo Marcus Green.

UPDATES
OPC Governor Jim Laurie has published a memoir exploring his earliest adventures and in Cambodia and Vietnam, titled The Last Helicopter, Two Lives in Indochina, now available in paperback and due for release on Kindle and I-book on Sept. 1, with an audio book version slated for Sept. 15. The book is “drawn from recorded interviews with Soc Sinan and from the contemporaneous writings of Jim Laurie,” and “captures the drama and tensions of the early 1970s, while also recalling places of grace and beauty now gone forever.” It is currently available on Amazon in the U.S., U.K., Australia and France, and other places later. Laurie is an award-winning international broadcaster, writer and media consultant, a recipient of the OPC’s 1983 Ben Grauer Award for best radio spot news from abroad, as well as Emmy and Peabody Awards. He served as radio and television correspondent first for NBC News from 1972 to 1978, and then ABC News from 1978 to 2000.

OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu, who joined The New York Times Turkey bureau in 2013 and has been working from the London bureau in recent years, will join the Travel desk as a reporter on Sept. 1. An announcement about the new posting on Aug. 19 said that the pandemic had pushed the paper’s travel coverage to become “newsier, more urgent and more focused on answering the questions readers have about how to travel safely.” Ceylan is a graduate of the University of Leeds and earned a master’s degree in digital media at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award winner Aurora Almendral continues to contribute stories for NPR from Southeast Asia, writing the text of a piece on Aug. 21 featuring photos of teen moms in the Philippines from photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales. The story includes reporting on an anticipated baby boom in 2021 due to hundreds of thousands of unplanned pregnancies from conditions during the pandemic.

Fresh allegations against a photographer at the Magnum Photos agency have invoked a 2018 article in the Columbia Journalism Review by OPC member Kristen Chick, who interviewed 50 women in the photography industry and outlined accusations against agencies, publications and institutions for turning a blind eye to abusive behaviour. A recent article referencing Chick’s work covered the Magnum agency’s suspension of David Alan Harvey over allegations that he harassed a colleague. Separately, Magnum also recently faced allegations that it had hosted historical images that may represent child sexual exploitation in its archive, which was taken offline in response.

OPC member Nicole Tung had work displayed at a photojournalism exhibition in the French-Catalan town of Perpignan through late August. For 16 days, Visa Pour l’Image included Tung’s portrayal of young protestors “continuing to live in hope despite the increasingly bleak prospects for the political future of Hong Kong.” She also had work published for a story this month on the website Rest of the World, which covers technology. Her photos accompanied an article about competition in the motorcycle delivery business in Istanbul by Kaya Genc.

OPC Robert Capa Award-winning photographer Dieu Nalio Chery’s photos have been widely published in stories covering the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Haiti for The Associated Press. Chery’s images capture massive flooding in Port-au-Prince as residence sought safety and recovered damaged belongings in the storm’s wake.

The Daily Beast on Aug. 21 posthumously published a piece by OPC Governor Christopher Dickey, who died in Paris on July 16 at the age of 68, in an article described as an “ode” to the organization’s international coverage and to Dickey’s extensive network of correspondents around the world. After rounding up stories and reporting challenges that spanned several continents, Dickey wrote that “it’s a 24/7 world of trouble, but it can’t be ignored, and it better be understood.” The piece was written as part of The Daily Beast’s membership drive in a series about the backstory behind the organization’s coverage.

OPC member Cam Simpson co-wrote a piece for Bloomberg, sharing the byline with colleagues Michael Smith and Nach Cattan, on Aug. 26 about a chemical manufactured in Mexico by a publicly traded American company that cartels use to cook methamphetamine. The piece outlines the production and sale of acetic anhydride by U.S. company Avantor Inc., despite the chemical being one of the world’s most strictly controlled “precursor and essential chemicals” for the production of illegal narcotics.

OPC member Ilana Ozernoy was featured along with her wife Nina Mouritzen in a News York Times “Vows” feature written by Vincent M. Mallozzi on Aug. 21. The piece chronicles the relationship between Ozernoy and Mouritzen, both of whom moved to New York as immigrants in 2000, later meeting at a wine bar. “It felt like we just picked up in the middle of a conversation and I did not want to stop talking to this person,” Ozernoy was quoted as saying. The two were married on July 4 at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

OPC member Campbell MacDiarmid has been reporting on the aftermath of the massive explosion in Beirut for The Telegraph, writing on Aug. 12 that protesters blame politicians for corruption and mismanagement leading to the blast. She said in the days immediately following the blast on Aug. 7, volunteers started clearing rubble and rebuilding, “filling the void of an absent government.” On Aug. 18, MacDiarmid filed a story about a United Nations-backed tribunal’s conviction of a member of the Lebanese group Hezbollah for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a bomb blast in 2005. She wrote that the tribunal found no evidence that Hizbollah leadership or the Syrian government were involved in the bombing.

OPC member Kathy Gannon reported from Kabul for The Associated Press on Aug. 14 that Afghanistan has released the first 80 of a final 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for negotiations between the warring sides in Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict. Gannon wrote that prisoner releases on both sides are part of an agreement signed in February between the U.S. and the Taliban calling for the release of 5,000 Taliban held by the government and 1,000 government and military personnel held by the insurgent group, “as a good will gesture ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations.” She reported that Afghan leaders told the AP talks could begin by Aug. 20.

OPC member Simcha Jacobovici is director and executive producer for a docuseries on the Epix network titled “Enslaved,” which will feature three storylines, including a historical investigation led by Jacobovici, along with colleague Afua Hirsch, that will track sunken slave ships using 3D mapping and ground-penetrating radar to shed new light on a chapter of history that is often marginalized or suppressed. The series will also follow actor Samuel L. Jackson’s personal journey to identify his ancestral tribe. “Enslaved” is set to premiere on Epix on Sept. 14. The trailer is available to watch on YouTube here.

Karen Toulon, secretary of the OPC Foundation, has been honored with the title of “2020 Business News Visionary” by her peers at Bloomberg News. Toulon was appointed chief of the organization’s New York bureau after serving eight years as team leader overseeing Bloomberg’s newsmaker and broadcast interviews. She currently, serves as a senior writer on Bloomberg’s global team dedicated to exploring inequality in all its forms. Toulon was the presenter at this year’s Scholar Awards Luncheon in February.
OPC member Rachel Waldholz is contributing to a newly launched podcast on climate change, titled How to Save a Planet, produced by Spotify and Gimlet. Waldholz, who joined the OPC in March 2019, is a freelancer based in Berlin. The podcast will “explore ways to solve the ongoing climate crisis and what we need to do to implement these necessary changes.” The show will also feature Kendra Pierre-Louis, a former New York Times climate reporter. The first episode is slated to drop on Aug. 20.

OPC member Amberin Zaman has been covering developments in a deal between an obscure American oil company and the Kurdish-led autonomous administration of northeast Syria. She outlined on Aug. 4 details of a 25-year deal between Delta Crescent Energy and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Zaman wrote that Mazlum Kobane, the Kurdish commander of SDF, forged the deal to secure objectives that align with that of the White House, including keeping the U.S. military in northeast Syria, restricting oil supplies to the Syrian government to pressure President Bashar Al-Assad to cut ties with Iran, and make Syrian Kurds less financially dependent on the U.S. “In Kurdish minds, the injection of US business will, over time, lead to deeper political engagement between the US government and Syrian Kurds,” she wrote. Zaman is staff correspondent for Al-Monitor. She joined the OPC in June 2019.

Leslye Davis, filmmaker of the Netflix documentary Father Soldier Son who was part of the team that won the 2016 David Kaplan Award for coverage of ISIS-led terrorist attacks in Paris, has signed a contract with the entertainment industry giant United Talent Agency. Davis has worked as a documentarian and photographer at The New York Times since 2012, and in 2017 was on the list of Forbes 30 Under 30 for Media.

Two members of the New York Times team that won this year’s Kim Wall Award were part of a widely shared Times story in which reporters watched and detailed the full 65 minutes of footage from the police body cameras of officers involved in the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert, both members of the Times’ Visual Investigations Team, were among the reporters working on the story. A Minnesota county court only recently released the footage for the first time to the public. The story says that footage “fills in blanks, raises new questions and gives insight into both Mr. Floyd’s state of mind and how the police response to his apparent use of a counterfeit bill became a deadly encounter.” Hill and Triebert, along with Malachy Browne, Whitney Hurst and Dmitriy Khavin, were named as winners of the Wall award for their reporting on Russia’s attacks on civilian targets in Syria.

Along with OPC Foundation scholars mentioned above, OPC member Campbell MacDiarmid has been covering the explosion extensively in Beirut for The Telelgraph as the paper’s Middle East correspondent. He filed a total of eight stories since the blast struck on Aug. 4. His Twitter account declares that he is “soon to be based in Beirut.” MacDiarmid was formerly with the AFP, and joined the OPC in 2016 as a freelancer based in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.

OPC member Amy MacKinnon wrote a piece for Foreign Policy on July 29 about the arrest of more than 30 fighters from Russia’s private military contractor Wagner Group in Belarus that sparked government speculation about Russian interference ahead of next month’s election. She said the Belarus state new agency alleged that more than 200 Russian-backed militants have been dispatched to the country to destabilize it ahead of the election on Aug. 9. She said other analysts have said Belarus is merely a pass-through point for mercenaries en route to conflict areas such as Syria, Sudan and Libya. Mackinnon serves as staff writer for Foreign Policy.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong announced on Aug. 5 that journalism and editor Kate Springer will serve as editor of the club’s magazine, The Correspondent. During her journalism career in Hong Kong, Springer contributed to regional and international magazines including Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, Vogue and Tatler. A writer and editor, she has founded her own content agency. She is also the managing editor of Ariana, a Hong Kong-based publication focused on social justice issues, and the Hong Kong and Macau correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.

COVID COVERAGE
OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi, who has been reporting on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran for The New York Times, was interviewed on Aug. 20 in a Times roundup of pandemic news about Iran’s second wave of infections as the country marked 20,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Fassihi said Iran’s surge in new cases is due to the country reopening too soon. “When the virus first arrived in the country, they closed down for just two weeks during the New Year holiday in mid-March. They didn’t meet any of the benchmarks when they reopened. There’s no contact tracing. There’s no quarantine,” she said. Separately, Fassihi also wrote a piece on Aug. 22 about Facebook engineer Behdad Esfahbod, who said he was was arrested by Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents on the streets of Tehran, held in solitary confinement for seven days and psychologically tortured.

OPC member and freelancer Stéphanie Fillion wrote a piece for IJNet on Aug. 18 covering the impact of the pandemic on Haiti’s deaf community. Fillion interviewed Hatian journalist Milo Milfort, who wrote about the effect of masks on the country’s deaf population, and discussed challenges in accessing information and sources that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
OPC member Dana Thomas of The Washington Post wrote on Aug. 9 about the closure of two hot spots in Saint-Tropez after four staff members reportedly tested positive for the virus. A week later, 20 out of one bistro’s 30 employees tested positive for COVID-19, Thomas wrote. The news came after widespread reports of flouting social distancing and other safety measures at the French Riviera resort town. She quoted Saint-Tropez Deputy Mayor Sylvie Siri as saying she hoped venue closures would “serve as an electroshock” to reckless tourists and business owners.

OPC member Elena Becatoros wrote from Greece for The Associated Press about the effects of COVID-19 on a traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage on the island of Tinos on Aug. 15, the feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the most revered holiday after Easter. She wrote that while the celebration is “normally a resplendent and crowded affair, with a navy band and honor guard leading a procession carrying the icon down the hill from the church to the port,” this year the icon stayed inside the church and an attendant inside the church disinfected the glass case surrounding it each time a visitor kissed the icon. She wrote that Greece is experiencing a surge in cases, from daily new cases in the double digits at the beginning of the summer rising to more than 200 per day in recent days.

OPC member Stanley Reed, a London-based journalist who has been writing for The New York Times about energy, the environment, and the Middle East since 2012, has been reporting on European oil companies like British Petroleum and Shell stepping up efforts to produce cleaner energy in part due to the pandemic. “For some executives, the sudden plunge in demand for oil caused by the pandemic — and the accompanying collapse in earnings — is another warning that unless they change the composition of their businesses, they risk being dinosaurs headed for extinction,” Reed wrote in an Aug. 17 article. He said U.S. companies have been slower than European counterparts to commit to climate-related goals for green energy. Before writing for the Times, Reed served as London bureau chief for BusinessWeek magazine.

OPC member Chriss Swaney has continued to cover the effects of COVID-19, including pieces for a website focused on workers’ compensation. On Aug. 11, she wrote about the Pittsburgh assistant district attorney fighting for workers’ compensation while battling COVID-19. She wrote that the county assistant DA, Ted Dutkowski, believes he contracted the coronavirus at the Allegheny County Courthouse, and is appealing a decision to deny his claim for compensation. In July, Swaney wrote about workers facing food insecurity amid lost wages. She said that as a result of the pandemic, “1 in 5 mothers of young children reported that their children weren’t eating enough – a level five times higher than in 2018 – because they couldn’t afford enough food, according to a nationally representative survey from late May.”

OPC member Alice Driver wrote an op-ed piece for CNN about the effects of the pandemic on America’s reputation abroad, saying that “for the first time in my life, I am witnessing how the lack of US leadership on COVID-19 is devaluing the US passport I carry.” She cited several cases in which U.S. tourists have been barred from entering countries due to ballooning infection rates at home. Driver is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on migration, human rights and gender equality.

OPC member Anita Snow has been reporting on COVID-19 from Arizona for The Associated Press, including a piece on Aug. 1 looking at shortcomings of the state’s health officials in spreading the word to Phoenix’s hardest-hit Latino neighborhoods. Snow reported that about 45,000 coronavirus out of 60,000 test kits went unused during a 12-day testing blitz, highlighting “limitations in promoting the availability of health care resources to communities of color during the pandemic and the hesitancy from those often most at risk from COVID-19 even if they know about those options.” In a separate piece, Snow also reported for the AP with co-author Jaques Billeaud on Aug. 6 that according to Arizona corrections officials 517 inmates at the state prison in Tucson tested positive for the coronavirus even as the overall spread in the state was showing signs of slowing.

Katherine Eban, winner of this year’s Cornelius Ryan Award, wrote an investigative piece for Vanity Fair on July 30 that explores possible political motivation to explain why a massive national COVID-19 response plan let by Jared Kushner, which included widespread viral testing that could have brought the pandemic under control, was scuttled in early April despite ballooning infection rates across the country. A source told Eban that a member of Kushner’s team had expressed that “because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically.” The story, titled “How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan ‘Went Poof Into Thin Air,’” has been quoted extensively in other media. Eban won the Ryan Award for her book Bottle of Lies: Inside the Generic Drug Boom, about Indian drug makers who evaded the U.S. FDA and sold billions of dollars in unsafe drugs to the U.S.

MEDIA NEWS

The Jerusalem Press Club has launched a series of interviews on its YouTube channel titled “Journalism is Alive and Kicking” to cover some of the “biggest names in the international media.” The first episode featured Israeli TV anchor Jacob Eilon as host interviewing Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times. Addressing the title of the series and the fate of journalism in general, Friedman said the pandemic presents an opportunity for the industry to dramatically reorganize, adding that “these are the big moments – 9-11, 2008 and 2020 – where you can really define yourself as a news organization and as a journalist.” The second episode featured Jeremy Bowen, the Middle East Editor for the BBC. Discussing the explosion in Beirut, Bowen said that “straight away, Lebanese people were saying this is a lot more than an explosion. It’s a sign of a terrible cancer that is in our society, a cancer of corruption and ineptitude.”

July 2020

SCHOLARS

Annika Hammerschlag, winner of the 2016 Irene Corbally Kuhn scholarship, had a story in The New York Times on July 22 on how Black Lives Matter protests have inspired a call for black athletes to attend a historically Black college or university. Until COVID-19 sent her back to the U.S., Hammerschlag had been freelancing in Dakar and says she hopes to return as soon as possible.

Thomas Nocera, 2020 Nathan S. Beinstock Memorial Scholarship winner, has started his OPC Foundation fellowship with GroundTruth Project. He and his colleague Grace Eliza Goodwin co-wrote a July 15 story for the organization’s Democracy project exploring the rise of young leaders from the ranks of 15-26 million Black Lives Matter demonstrators across the U.S. 

Kantaro Komiya, 2020 OPC Foundation Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, filed his first earnings story on July 29 as part of his Dow Jones internship this summer. The story tracks PayPal’s reporting of its strongest quarterly performance ever due to increased dependence on contactless payments amid the pandemic.  

2014 H.L. Stevenson fellow Caelainn Hogan has published her first book, Republic of Shame, which exposes a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment, and exploitation of “fallen women” who had become pregnant out of wedlock. The system, run by the Catholic Church and the Irish government, operated until the late 90s. “I never understood how surreal and cruel this system was, or how many people’s lives are still being impacted, until I wrote this book,” she said. Penguin Random House published the book on July 16. Hogan is a freelance journalist in Ireland whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Al Jazeera English, VICE, The Guardian and The Irish Times. She was an OPC Foundation fellow for The Associated Press in Lagos in 2014.

Marta Orosz, 2020 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner, has received the 2020 French-German Journalism Award for her project, Grand Theft Europe, a collaborative investigation involving reporters and newsrooms from 30 countries. Orosz described the effort at the 2020 OPC Foundation Scholar Awards Luncheon in February.

Suman Naishadham, H.L. Stevenson Fellowship winner in 2018, has been hired by The Associated Press as a desk editor and reporter covering 13 states in the western U.S. Naishadham, who had an OPC Foundation fellowship at the Reuters bureau in Mexico City, has been freelancing in the capital city, where she also had done an internship with The Wall Street Journal.

AWARDS

OPC member Ruchi Kumar has won a 2020 Khaled Alkhateb award for a piece she co-wrote for Foreign Policy in January, along with colleague Hikmat Noori, about Iran’s mass deportation of refugees from Afghanistan. The article cites data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saying that as of the first week of last December, more than 450,000 Afghans returned from Iran in 2019 alone, and more than 250,000 were forced deportees.

All three finalists for the Deadline Club Award in the Feature Photo category this year are past OPC Award winners. Rodrigo Abd of The Associated Press was named a finalist for his series of photos depicting the crisis in Venezuela. Abd won the OPC’s Feature Photography Award in 2010 for photos of Guatemala and in 2014 for photos of Peru. James Nachtwey is a finalist for his photos of Rohingya in TIME magazine. He has won five photo awards from the OPC over the years, including Robert Capa Awards for 1983, 1994 and 1998, and an Olivier Rebbot Award as well as a special photo award in 2001. In 2008, he received an OPC President’s Award for his work. Also a Deadline Club Award finalist is Moises Saman of TIME for his coverage of Kurds in Syria after U.S. troops pulled out. Saman won the OPC’s Olivier Rebbot Award this year for images of El Salvador for National Geographic. Saman is also a finalist in the Digital Video Reporting category. Deadline Club Award winners are slated to be announced during an online ceremony on Sept. 14.

Emily Kassie, who shared the OPC’s 2016 Best Digital Reporting on International Affairs with Malia Politzer, is a Deadline Club Award finalist in the Digital Innovation category for work with The Marshall Project and The Guardian on the U.S. immigrant detention system. Kassie’s 2016 OPC award was for coverage of those who profited from the global refugee crisis.

Erika Fry, who received a Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s Malcolm Forbes Award this year, is a finalist for the Deadline Club Award in the Business Feature category for her article in FORTUNE, “Epidemic of Fear.” She received the OPC citation for the same article, which told the story of French pharma giant Sanofi’s disastrous rollout of a dengue fever vaccine in the Philippines. That story also won a SABEW Best in Business Award in the Explanatory Journalism category in March this year. Fry is also a finalist in the Deadline Club’s category for Science, Technology, Medical or Environmental Reporting for “Death by a Thousand Clicks,” which covers deadly problems with electronic health records in the U.S.

Andy Greenberg of WIRED magazine, who received this year’s Citation for Excellence in the OPC’s Cornelius Ryan Award, is a finalist for a Deadline Club Award in Magazine Feature Reporting for his article, “The Untold Story of the 2018 Olympics Cyberattack, the Most Deceptive Hack in History.” Greenberg got the OPC citation for his book, Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, published by Penguin Random House/Doubleday.

OPC member Abigail Pesta won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Magazine Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists for her piece “Life after death in Parkland” in Notre Dame Magazine. Pesta profiled a family dealing with the fallout from the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The ICFJ will honor CNN host Fareed Zakaria, Egyptian editor Lina Attalah, and Russian journalist Roman Anin during the organization’s virtual tribute on Oct. 5. Zakaria will receive the ICFJ Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism, while Attalah and Anin will receive the ICFJ Knight Trailblazer Award. CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer will host the program.

Gwen Ifill, who was co-anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour until her death in November 2016, posthumously received the highest professional honor awarded by The Society of Professional Journalists on July 2 for her extraordinary contribution to the profession of journalism.

UPDATES

OPC Governor Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post columnist covering foreign affairs, geopolitics and history, has been filing regularly in “Today’s Worldview” on topics including rising U.S. confrontation with China on July 24, parallels between protests in the U.S. and Hong Kong on July 27, the decline of U.S. global credibility on July 28, and the international space race to explore Mars on July 29.

OPC member Dexter Roberts was featured on a podcast and livestreamed show on YouTube on July 22 called “Global Hint with Abhivardhan,” talking about his book The Myth of Chinese Capitalism. The show is produced by Indian media company Internationalism.

OPC member Rukmini Callimachi will explore the story of Breonna Taylor, the 27-year-old Black woman who was killed by police officers on March 13 while she slept in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in a New York Times documentary series. The Times launched a new hour-long series, The New York Times Presents, which will replace the 30-minute program The Weekly on FX. Callimachi will serve as reporter on the Taylor episode, with Director Yoruba Richen of The New Black directing the program. The program will include an investigation into Taylor’s death.

OPC Past President Allan Dodds Frank received a warm shout-out from one of his former mentees, Jason Zweig, now a Saturday columnist for The Wall Street Journal. “My first mentor was the great Forbes reporter Allan Dodds Frank, who taught me to ignore nothing and pursue everything,” he said in a Q&A for the email newsletter Journalist Voices by Sarah Chacko, who is an audience engagement reporter for the Journal. “You never know which detail will turn out to make or break a story,” Zweig added. Zweig writes the Journal’s weekly column “The Intelligent Investor,” and is author of Your Money and Your Brain, on the neuroscience of investing.

OPC member Keith Richburg, a professor and director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, spoke about press freedom concerns on a panel of media and law experts at the Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club last week. The panel discussed uncertainty in Beijing’s new national security law and its potential to force media to self-censor reports. “If it operates the way it is in the mainland, I see potential visa restrictions on journalists, the second thing is that we might get called in for tea,” a euphemism for detention, the Asia Times reported Richburg saying. Richberg has also talked to journalists covering unrest in Hong Kong, and was quoted in a July 1 New York Times piece by Vivian Wang and Alexandra Stevenson, “In Hong Kong, Arrests and Fear Mark First Day of New Security Law,” saying staff members at his center wondered aloud “where the red line would be and whether certain topics would be off limits.”

OPC member Sewell Chan, editorial page editor for the Los Angeles Times, will participate in a panel for the National Press Club Journalism Institute to help journalists hone their point of view and ensure that editors hear it on July 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time. “Being Heard: How to Use Your Voice so People Listen,” will include remarks from Chan as well as L.A. Times columnist Erika Smith, New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones and New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein. You can register here.

A new book has been released about the life of Kim Wall, an OPC member who was murdered in 2017 by a Danish inventor while she was profiling him for a story. Kim’s parents, Ingrid and Joachim, wrote the book, A Silenced Voice: The Life of Journalist Kim Wall, to help humanize their daughter and counteract what they saw as a disproportionate focus on her death in media coverage. The book was published by Amazon Crossing on July 7. The OPC renamed its digital reporting award in Wall’s honor after her death in 2017, and Ingrid and Joachim attended the Annual Dinner to light a candle of remembrance during a ceremony to honor journalists killed or persecuted during the course of their work.

Barbara Demick, winner of the 2005 Joe and Laurie Dine Award who has served as OPC awards judge over the last several years, is set to publish a new book profiling a Tibetan town that was a longtime base for resistance against China. Random House is slated to publish Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town on July 28. Demick, who became Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times in 2007, traces the history of Ngaba and its violent first encounter with Red Army in the 1930s, when soldiers plundered monasteries and set the stage for decades of abuse to come. The book takes its title from this era, when starving soldiers survived by eating skins of sacred drums and offerings to Buddha in temples. This is Demick’s third book, including Logavina Street, a book focused on a neighborhood in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, and Nothing to Envy, which reports on life inside the North Korean port city of Chongjin.

OPC member Mohamed Brahimi, humanities professor in Boston at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, participated in an online panel hosted by Morocco World News on June 10 to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. Brahimi told attendees that civil unrest in the U.S. has implications for many parts of the world. “What’s happening in America should serve as an impetus for other countries to take a look at themselves in the mirror and try to do an honest assessment of how they are treating their own minorities,” he said. Brahimi added that the movement applies to the way Sub-Saharan Africans are described and treated in countries like Morocco, where mockery and harmful stereotyping in entertainment are normalized. Also speaking on the panel were Greg Hill, human and world geography teacher in Texas, and Bill Day, a lawyer focused on discrimination and civil rights.

Joe and Laurie Dine Award winner Aurora Almendral reported on Thailand’s handling of the pandemic for National Public Radio (NPR) in June, writing about how the success of a sever lockdown made the country’s death rates among the lowest in the world, but at a mental health cost with potentially deadly consequences. She wrote that the WHO puts Thailand’s suicide rate as the highest in Southeast Asia, and cited a report published end of April that found that “of the more than 80 suicide attempts they reviewed in April, 44 were related to hardships caused by the economic lockdown.”

MEDIA NEWS

Voice of America (VOA) is on the brink of losing many of its international journalists after President Trump appointed a new boss for the U.S government-funded international broadcaster. Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who previously collaborated with Breitbart co-founder Stephen Bannon, was confirmed as head of the Agency for Global Media that oversees VOA in June. NPR reported on July 9 that three people with current or past ties to the agency said Pack has signaled that he would not approve visa extensions for dozens of foreign nationals working as VOA journalists. The decision could affect as many as 62 contractors and 14 full-time employees at Voice of America. Many would be forced to return to home countries with authoritarian governments. On Tuesday, July 21, the Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a talk with Sanford J. Ungar, who served as VOA director from 1999 to 2001. RSVP here.

COVID-19 COVERAGE BY MEMBERS

Kimon de Greef, winner of the OPC Foundation’s David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship this year, filed a piece for The New York Times covering how COVID-19 has upended burial traditions in his native country of South Africa. He wrote that travel restrictions have disrupted a crucial cultural practice for many Black residents in Cape Town, in which families return the bodies of loved ones hundreds of miles to homes in the Eastern Cape province. South Africa imposed one of the world’s most severe lockdowns in March. “For some poorer families, the rules are forcing a choice between breaking tradition and breaking the law,” De Greef wrote.

OPC member Keith Bradsher, Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, has been covering pandemic news from China. On July 5, he filed a piece, “China Dominates Medical Supplies, in This Outbreak and the Next,” exploring the country’s development of a low-cost industry for front-line weapons to stave off outbreaks, including masks, testing kits and other gear. Bradsher wrote that early investments have laid the groundwork for domination of the market for protective and medical supplies for years to come, adding that “China’s grip on the market is a testament to its drive to dominate important cogs in the global industrial machine.” Bradsher also filed a piece on July 13 on China’s sanctions against three U.S. lawmakers; Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Representative Chris Smith, as well as Sam Brownback, President Trump’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz, investigative journalist and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, has announced the release of a sweeping data project, Documenting COVID-19, that has compiled a shareable document repository through hundreds of freedom of information requests with 7 record sets comprising more than 400,000 pages. News organizations have already made use of the resource, including a New York Times investigation into safety issues at meatpacking plants, a Washington Post story on dubious technology and reopening plans in Georgia, and local media outlets disclosing hotspots that hadn’t been reported elsewhere. The project is funded by the Brown Institute and partners including the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism along with FRONTLINE PBS, National Geographic and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

OPC member Kathy Gannon reported for The Associated Press in late June on the push to reopen Pakistan despite the country having one of the fastest COVID-19 infection rates in the world. She said while the government touts social distancing and masks as methods to stem the spread of the virus, many are ignoring safety measures in public. “Millions crowd markets and mosques. Hard-line clerics tell followers to trust that faith will protect them. Many call the virus a hoax,” she wrote. She said Pakistan is an example of many developing countries forced to live with rising infections because fragile economies cannot withstand extended lockdown.

OPC Past President David Andelman reflected in a piece for CNN Opinion in late June about the likelihood of extended self-isolation due to lifelong asthma and severe health risks if he should contract COVID-19. Cloistered in a cabin in northeast Pennsylvania since his return from Paris three months ago, he said news of the partial reopening of his home city of New York sparked thoughts of “some hard, and very sad, facts of life” for himself and others with vulnerable health conditions. “I recently arrived at the

disturbing conclusion that I may be unable to return to my New York City apartment, or visit my family in Paris, for years,” he wrote. He said even the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine may not change realities for those with ongoing respiratory conditions. “As we celebrate America’s opening up, there must be millions of Americans just like myself asking themselves, is this my life until the end?”

OPC member Anita Snow wrote for The Associated Press on July 7 that American vacationers from hard-hit Arizona were turned back by protesters on the road to the popular tourist resort of Puerto Peñasco over the July 4 weekend. The protest group Sonoyta Unidos briefly shut down all southbound travel to the coastal town on Saturday of the holiday weekend. She said a cross-border agreement between neighboring municipalities broke down as officials worked to get southbound traffic moving again.

OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi was interviewed on CNN and PBS in late June by Christiane Amanpour, also an OPC member, about the epidemic of domestic violence against women that has accompanied an era of quarantine and lockdowns across the world. Fassihi and Gabriela Jauregui, a Mexican author and women’s rights activist, discussed rising violence and murders of women in what the United Nations has called a “shadow pandemic.” Fassihi recounted her reporting on an “honor killing” in Iran in which a 14-year-old girl was beheaded by her father. She cited a study showing that 30 percent of murders in Iran are of women at the hand of a male relative. Jauregui said the number of distress calls connected to family violence in Mexico was up 97 percent in April, a statistic Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called “fake news” from political opponents.

OPC member Livia Hengel, a freelancer based in Rome, landed a piece on the front page of Il Mattino, the leading newspaper of Naples. The article, written in Italian, covers Italy’s hard-hit tourist market following the country’s early battle as a hotspot for coronavirus infections, and tensions about the return of foreign tourists, particularly those from the U.S. Hengel has also recently written several travel pieces for Forbes, including two pieces about the Sorrento Coast on July 8 and 9, and a story about Italy’s coffee industry on July 2.

PEOPLE REMEMBERED

Peter McGrath, retired Newsweek editor whose team won the OPC’s 1990 Ed Cunningham Award for coverage of the first Persian Gulf War, died on July 15 in Annapolis at the age of 76. McGrath first joined Newsweek as a foreign editor, supervising coverage of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War. He eventually became the magazine’s first editor of digital journalism, and developed its earliest online content. McGrath founded the Washington Journalism Review, which was renamed the American Journalism Review. He taught journalism at George Washington University and Rutgers University after retiring from Newsweek.