August 3, 2021

People Column

2021 January-June Issue

June 18, 2021

SCHOLARS

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has named Brett Simpson, the 2021 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner, to its 2021 cohort of Reporting Fellows focused on the environment. Simpson plans to travel to Norway to report on the taking of Indigenous lands for Norwegian Arctic renewable energy projects, the subject of her winning essay. Simpson has worked as a metro reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, KQED, and Yale Climate Connections.

Annie Todd, the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting winner in 2020, was named the breaking news/community reporter for Argus Leader Media in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

A.J. Naddaff, the Richard Pyle Scholarship winner in 2019, has an article published on June 15 in Middle East Eye on the plight of independent bookstores in Beirut. Naddaff had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Beirut.

Claire Parker, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2019, has an article published in The Washington Post on June 6 about American ex-pats who want access to COVID-19 vaccines. She wrote that a growing chorus among the estimated 9 million Americans who live outside the U.S., who unlike most expatriates from other countries are required to pay taxes, is arguing that they should be entitled to receive U.S.-approved coronavirus vaccines.

Serginho Roosblad, the 2017 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone, will join the global investigative team at The Associated Press as the first hire in a new program funded by the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting. The program, based at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, is dedicated to increasing the presence and retention of journalists of color in the field of investigative reporting. Roosblad will serve as an investigative producer and reporter.

Military Times named Jp Lawrence, the HL Stevenson Fellowship winner in 2015, to its top ten list of military veterans in journalism. As a reporter for Stars and Stripes, Lawrence covered the ongoing threat from ISIS as the group has tried to recruit members of the Taliban. A U.S. Army veteran, he has reported for numerous outlets including The Associated Press and VICE. Lawrence had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Uganda. He most recently wrote an article for Stars and Stripes on June 10 about calls for the U.S. to evacuate thousands of interpreters and others who aided the U.S. military and government to the Pacific territory of Guam while they await decisions on immigration visas.

Portia Crowe, an OPC member who won the Reuters Fellowship in 2014, has been named an assistant editor on openDemocracy’s Tracking the Backlash investigative team, with a particular focus on getting the team’s Francophone Africa coverage off the ground. Crowe had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Nairobi. She was featured in a Bulletin profile last year and joined an OPC Foundation panel this spring on the future of global journalism.

Tess Taylor, who won the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in the name of I.F. Stone in 2004, has an article in Harper’s June issue on art as a catalyst for healing civic wounds, and the need for expression in the aftermath of what President Joe Biden called “our uncivil war.” She wrote about her own recovery process after the 2016 U.S. election that “stung like a fresh injury” as she arrived in Northern Ireland on a Fullbright scholarship. Taylor said living in a region that was still suffering the wounds of fierce division, “it dawned on me how many stitches of the urban fabric here seemed to be embedded in the arts.”

AWARDS

OPC member Lila Hassan on June 14 was named one of five Ida B. Wells Fellows for 2021-2022. The fellowships go to emerging and mid-career journalists, and each receives a $20,000 stipend and funds to cover reporting costs for their first substantial piece of investigative reporting. The program lasts for one year, during which they receive editorial feedback, legal counsel, research resources, mentoring, story placement, and publicity assistance. Hassan is an investigative journalist based in New York, and focuses on extremism, human rights and immigration. She plans to report on “ICE arrests and accountability.”

The Indiana Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) awarded OPC member Steve Raymer First Place in the Features Photography category (for publications with circulation above 30,000, news services and digital media) in its Best of Indiana Journalism 2020 Awards on June 14. The award honored his images for a piece titled “The Chin People of Indianapolis” for Indianapolis Monthly last December. In an email to OPC, he thanked the writer of the piece, Susie Salaz, who came up with the idea for the piece.

In May, MacDowell named OPC member Rukmini Callimachi as one of 47 artists for a residency fellowship. The residencies were originally awarded last spring just as the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was going into effect in the U.S. Awardees are from 13 U.S. states and three countries across seven artistic disciplines. Callimachi is in the “Writers and Poets” category. The fellowships are meant to give the fellows “uninterrupted time to work and enjoy the rare opportunity for multidisciplinary exchange.” Each has an average value of more than $13,000.

A number of journalists with ties to the OPC won accolades in this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. This year’s winners of the Kim Wall Award, Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News, received a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for their series on China’s Xinjiang camps. Their winning work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The same series was named as finalist for the Pulitzer’s Explanatory Reporting category.

OPC member Joshua Irwandi, a freelance photographer for National Geographic, was a finalist in the Breaking News Photography category for his photograph of a solitary coronavirus victim in an Indonesian hospital.

The OPC Foundation’s 2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner, Dake Kang, was a finalist in the Investigative Reporting category along with his Associated Press colleagues for reporting on shortcomings in China’s coronavirus response. Kang won this year’s Roy Rowan Award for the same reporting.

This year’s Joe and Laurie Dine Award winners, Margie Mason and Robin McDowell of The Associated Press, were also finalists in the Pulitzer’s Investigative Reporting category, both distinctions honoring their series on exploitation, slavery, human trafficking and sexual harassment in the production of palm oil. Mason and McDowell also won the 2015 Hal Boyle Award and Malcolm Forbes Award with colleagues for reporting on slavery in the seafood industry.

The New York Times staff who won an OPC Citation for Excellence in the Bob Considine category for reporting on the Trump administration’s coronavirus shortcomings was also a finalist in both the Pulitzer Prize categories of National Reporting and International Reporting this year.

Two-time OPC award winner Tyler Hicks of The New York Times was a finalist in that category for his images of the toll of the coronavirus deep in Brazil’s Amazon. Hicks won the 2015 John Faber Award and the 2013 Robert Capa Gold Medal Award.

UPDATES

Starting June 21, OPC member Jodi Schneider will begin serving as political news director at Bloomberg. She will direct political coverage across all of Bloomberg’s TV and Radio shows, including the flagship program “Balance of Power” with David Westin. Schneider will also oversee the editorial team in Washington. In a LinkedIn update, she said she is “very excited about and grateful for this next opportunity in the terrific ride that has been my journalism career— in the past 10-plus years with Bloomberg it’s meant great stints in D.C., Tokyo, Hong Kong and NYC.” Schneider is currently a senior editor on the Bloomberg News global business team, and has played a major role in coverage of Covid-19 vaccination. She joined the Bloomberg News Washington bureau in 2010, leading coverage of tax policy and the U.S. Congress. She was overseas from 2015-2020, as an economics editor in the Tokyo bureau and then as senior international editor based in Hong Kong, where she was also president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

OPC member Sarah Lubman wrote on her LinkedIn feed in early June that she worked her last day at SoftBank after nearly two and a half years. She said it was “the only company I ever considered going in-house for and I’m hugely grateful for the experience,” and added that this would be her last full-time gig. Lubman plans to pursue a book idea, travel with her husband, support causes, and tend her garden. She served as acting chief communications officer and as a corporate communications partner at SoftBank during her time there. Before that, she was a partner at Brunswick Group from 2005 to 2019, Asia editor at Newsweek in 2005, editor and reporter at the San Jose Mercury News from 1995 to 2004, and Wall Street Journal reporter from 1992 to 1995. Lubman spent six of her 17 years as a reporter in Tokyo and Beijing. She has also served as a longtime governor of the OPC and served multiple times as chair of the OPC Annual Awards Dinner.

A book by OPC member Abigail Pesta made The Boston Globe’s list of summer reads. The Girls, a book about doctor Larry Nassar’s years of sexual assault against gymnasts, and the girls and women who broke their silence to help seal his conviction. Globe books editor Katie Tuttle in a blurb on the paper’s app wrote that “in this harrowing exposé, Pesta focuses on the survivors to explore how the abuser Nassar gained access to the Olympic team, and even more victims.” The Girls is among ten recommended books in the Sports category.

Andrew Nagorski, an OPC member and award-winning journalist who spent more than 30 years as a foreign correspondent and editor for Newsweek, discussed pivotal events in the early years of World War II on the Leaders and Legends podcast on June 7. The interview focused on his book, 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War, in which he makes the case that Hitler sowed the seeds of his own defeat early in the war with blunders such as turning the Soviet Union from ally to enemy and goading the U.S. to enter the war. Nagorski told host Robert Vane of Veteran Strategies that his book tries to explain how the Allied nations joined forces, the relationships among them, and “what was Hitler’s crazy internal logic for constantly escalating this battle until he had to lose it.” Nagorski is also author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power and The Nazi Hunters, among others.

OPC member Ben Taub, who won the OPC Foundation’s 2015 Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship and now writes for The New Yorker, was quoted in a The New York Times piece published on June 13 about the magazine’s ongoing labor disputes. The New Yorker formed a union in 2018 and has since been locked in negotiations over a contract that would lay out employee benefits, pay, and other issues. The piece by Times writer Ben Smith looks into how the magazine’s staff writers, including Taub, did not join the union and were excluded from some early meetings due to concerns they might leak information to management. Smith wrote that Taub confronted an organizer from NewsGuild during a meeting who had falsely claimed to colleagues over WhatsApp that staff writers were already being organized by NewsGuild. Taub won the OPC’s 2016 Best Investigative Reporting Award for his piece about Syria’s war crimes against its own citizens.

OPC member and freelancer Maggie Anderson, who is partly based in Rwanda, filed a story with many photos on the Free Malaysia Today news site on June 13 profiling community medical workers fighting COVID-19. She wrote that 83 percent of Rwanda’s infectious diseases are treated at home, and mobile health workers are a crucial part of the country’s front-line treatment and dissemination of health information.

Maria Hinojosa of the Latino USA program, which won this year’s Lowell Thomas Award, has secured funding for an investigative unit for the nonprofit news organization she founded in 2010 that produces the program. On June 7, Futuro Media announced that Futuro Unidad Hinojosa Investigative (FUHi) has gained support from Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP). The Harlem-based organization creates podcasts “that delve into and give voice to the diverse American experience.” Hinojosa has worked for nearly three decades as a journalist for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR and an Emmy Award-winning talk show on WGBH called One-on-One. Hinojosa shared the Lowell Thomas Award with colleagues Julieta Martinelli, Fernanda Camarena, Benjamin Alfaro and Marlon Bishop for their reporting on border issues between Mexico and the U.S.

In this installment of People, catch up on OPC Foundation scholars Brett Simpson, Annie Todd, A.J. Naddaff, Claire Parker, Serginho Roosblad, Jp Lawrence, Portia Crowe and Tess Taylor; notable awards for people with ties to the OPC including Lila Hassan, Steve Raymer, Rukmini Callimachi, Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing, Christo Buschek, Joshua Irwandi, Dake Kang, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Tyler Hicks; and updates on members Jodi Schneider, Sarah Lubman , Abigail Pesta, Andrew Nagorski and Ben Taub as well as OPC award winners Maggie Anderson and Maria Hinojosa.

June 3, 2021

SCHOLARS

Kantaro Komiya, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2020, has started his OPC Foundation Fellowship with The Associated Press in Tokyo. His first byline appears in a May 20 item about Japan’s health ministry giving preliminary approval to coronavirus vaccines developed by Moderna and AstraZeneca, a move that marked an expansion of the country’s slow-paced immunization program before the Tokyo Olympics.

Sandali Handagama, winner of the 2020 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting, wrote a piece published in Popular Science on June 1 about new airborne imaging technology used to spot bleached coral reefs that are submerged up to 70 feet below the surface. The images allow scientists to map reefs in detail that could not be seen with traditional methods of diving or satellite imagery. The story, co-written with colleague Agostino Petroni, was originally featured on Nexus Media News.

Diana Kruzman, winner of the 2021 Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, wrote a piece for Undark on May 31 that was reprinted in Mother Jones magazine about worsening water issues in the Southwest U.S. Kruzman wrote that as much as 17 percent of the alfalfa grown in Arizona and elsewhere in the western states is exported around the world, mainly to China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Alfalfa is a water-intensive crop, which means that significant water resources, already strained by drought and increasing demands on the Colorado River, are absorbed in crops that are then shipped out of the country.

AWARDS

Mellissa Fung, an OPC member and filmmaker, won several Golden Sheaf Awards at the Yorkton Film Festival, including Best of Festival, for her film Captive, which focuses on survivors of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria. The film won Golden Sheaf awards in the category of Documentary Social/Political, as well as the Emerging Filmmaker, Research and Mental Health categories. Separately, Fung talked with The Guardian for a May 23 article in which she discussed her abduction while on assignment in Afghanistan, an experience she said causes an intense bond with the teenage girls who were held captive by Boko Haram.

UPDATES

OPC member Brady Ng has been named chief editor for China and Southeast Asia for tech media outlet KrASIA. Ng will lead the site’s coverage of the region with a focus on “the intersection of tech, policy, culture and ingenuity.” He started his career as a photojournalist in the Middle East in 2009 and later reported in print and audio media during the Arab Spring, then in East and Southeast Asia. His work has appeared in VICE, The Guardian and Nikkei Asia.

OPC member Cassandra Vinograd shared a video on May 25 from her father, Serge Vinograd, a holocaust survivor, condemning U.S. Representative Majorie Taylor Greene for comments equating wearing a mask and vaccination badges to Nazis forcing Jews to wear yellow stars. Serge described his experience in France during World War II, when most of his family members were arrested and killed. “I saw Jews being arrested, jailed, shot, deported, he said. “Six million Jews were arrested, killed, and never came back. I would like to find a way to explain to Representative Greene that you cannot, should not, compare the two.” Serge’s comments were shared widely on social media and got a mention in a Business Insider article about Greene’s comments. Cassandra is a freelancer based in London who previously worked for 60 Minutes, NBC News, The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.

OPC member Abigail Pesta wrote a piece published in People magazine on May 19 following up with two 2014 Boko Haram kidnapping survivors who are now pursuing master’s degrees and plan to fight for girls’ education. Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were among 276 teenage girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in the Nigerian town of Chibok. Bishara, now 24, is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in social work, and Pogu, 23, has earned a degree in legal studies. They will both pursue master’s degrees at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

Martin Smith, an OPC member and veteran journalist who produces and reports for FRONTLINE PBS, co-produced a documentary with his partner, Marcela Gaviria, that aired on June 1, with the first interview of former Al Qaeda commander Abu Mohammad al-Jolani by a Western journalist. “The Jihadist” retraces al-Jolani’s 20-year campaign of Islamist militancy in Iraq and Syria. He is the leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an Islamist group that opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Smith interviewed al-Jolani in Syria. The interview marks the first time an Al Qaeda leader has participated in a televised interview with a Western reporter since Osama bin Laden in 1998. Smith and Gaviria won the OPC’s 2009 Edward R. Murrow Award along with colleague David Fanning for their coverage of the Afghan War.

OPC member Robert Nickelsberg’s photographs are featured in a National Geographic feature published on May 20 about the fate of Afghanistan’s cultural artifacts as NATO forces prepare to leave the country in September and the Taliban gains footing. When the Taliban were last in power in 2001, they demolished giant Buddha statues and wrecked and looted the National Museum in Kabul. For the story, written by Andrew Lawler, Nickelsberg photographed workers at the National Museum piecing together the remains of destroyed artifacts, the ruins of shrines and other pre-Islamic sites, and heritage conservation efforts across the country.

Newly joined OPC member Nicolas Niarchos, who is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, wrote a piece for the New Yorker published on May 24 about booming demand for cobalt for high-tech components and its effect on Congolese communities. He wrote that Southern Congo sits atop almost half the world’s known supply of cobalt, a discovery that has sparked mass movement, child labor and conflict among neighbors. Niarchos has contributed to The New Yorker since 2014 and is currently working on a book about the global cobalt industry.

Two OPC award winners who work for the Los Angeles Times are suing Minnesota State Patrol officers over attacks during a May 30 protest last year following the police killing of George Floyd. Molly Hennessy-Fiske, a staff writer for the Times since 2006, Carolyn Cole, a veteran photojournalist, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages for attacks they said violated their 1st Amendment rights. The lawsuit says police backed the two women and other journalists into a wall, pepper-sprayed them and struck the group with blunt projectiles despite group members identifying themselves as press and waving press credentials. Cole was pepper-sprayed in both eyes, temporarily blinding her and causing a corneal abrasion in her left eye. Hennessy-Fiske was hit at least five times by blunt projectiles and a tear gas canister on her left leg, according to the journalists’ complaint. Hennessy-Fiske was part of a team that won the OPC’s 2014 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award for coverage of migration from Central America to the U.S. Cole won two OPC Robert Capa Gold Medal Awards for coverage of conflict in Iraq and Liberia in 2003 and for photographs of a siege on a church in Bethlehem in 2002.

PEOPLE REMEMBERED

Clarence A. Robinson Jr., a Marine Corps combat veteran, journalist and winner of OPC accolades, died on May 27 at the age of 87. Robinson was editor-in-chief of SIGNAL magazine, retiring from there in 1998. He won a 1983 Citation for Excellence from the OPC for best business reporting from abroad in magazines and books for his report on “Middle East Aerospace” for Aviation Week & Space Technology, where he served as senior military editor.

May 21, 2021

SCHOLARS

Annie Rosenthal, the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner in 2020, has been named a 2021 Report for America corps member. She will be the border reporter at Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, TX. Last year, as a Yale Parker Huang Fellow focused on migration and criminal justice and fluent in Spanish, she helped to produce a bilingual radio show, tracked Covid-19 deaths in U.S. prisons, and freelanced for publications like Politico Magazine and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Rosenthal has an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in the Buenos Aires bureau.

Genevieve Finn, the 2020 Richard Pyle Scholarship winner, has been working as a staff reporter at The Malibu Times. On May 5 wrote about homelessness in Malibu. Finn next heads to Trinity College Dublin for a master’s degree in Creative Writing, focusing on poetry and creative nonfiction. She has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Mexico City AP bureau.

Olivia Crellin, the Theo Wilson Scholarship winner in 2014, is head of multimedia at Open Democracy, an independent media organization based in the UK. She was previously with BBC News. Crellin had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Wall Street Journal in Madrid.

Valerie Hopkins, the winner of the Jerry Flint Internship for international Business in 2013, has been named a Moscow-based correspondent for The New York Times. Most recently, she was the Southeast Europe correspondent for the The Financial Times covering Hungary, Romania and the former Yugoslavia. Hopkins had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Belgrade.

Michael E. Miller, the Stan Swinton Scholarship winner in 2009, has been named Sydney bureau chief of The Washington Post, starting in mid-July. This is a new bureau, part of an ongoing expansion of the Post’s international footprint. Miller has been with the Post since 2015. He started as a reporter on Morning Mix, the overnight reporting team, before moving to the Local Enterprise team. Miller has reported for the Post from Afghanistan, Mexico and Northern Ireland. He won a National Press Foundation award in 2017 for his eye-opening reporting on MS-13, including work showing how the gang benefitted from U.S. refugee programs. Miller had an OPC Foundation fellowship in Mexico City with The Associated Press and spent five years at the Miami New Times.

Yi-Ling Liu, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2017, has an article in the May 14 New Yorker about how Chinese people have embraced use of the word “involution.” She explained how the Chinese term neijuan was described by one anthropologist as an “endless cycle of self-flagellation,” or being locked in endless, meaningless competition. It has been used on social media to refer to the mental state of stressed university students, the flagging post-pandemic economy, and strained workers in the country’s tech industry. Liu had an OPC Foundation fellowship in The Associated Press bureau in Beijing.

Jesse Coburn, the winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone in 2016, started a new job on May 18 as an investigative reporter for Streetsblog New York, where he said he would be “digging into all things transportation in the city.”

AWARDS

OPC member and award winner Aurora Almendral of NPR won a merit award for Explanatory Feature Writing in the 25th Human Rights Press Awards for coverage of teen moms in the Philippines. Her August 2020 piece featured photos of teen moms in the Philippines from photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales. She wrote about an anticipated baby boom this year due to unplanned pregnancies during the pandemic. Almendral won the 2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award along with colleague Ed Ou for their coverage of the drug war in the Philippines.

UPDATES

OPC member and photojournalist Nicole Tung spoke on a panel on May 20 about the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, which is open for applications this year until May 28. Tung received an honorable mention for the award in 2017. She spoke with Nadine Hoffman, the deputy director for the International Women’s Media Foundation. The award celebrates “courageous work of women journalists” and honors Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed in 2014 in Afghanistan while on assignment for the Associated Press. She was reporting with OPC member Kathy Gannon who was injured critically in the attack.

Sudarsan Raghavan, an OPC member and winner of multiple OPC awards, filed a longform piece for The Washington Post on May 8 about a Libyan town grappling with past and present atrocities. The Kaniyat militia killed dozens and possibly hundreds of civilians in the pastoral town of Tarhuna last year, Raghavan wrote, and “no one had stopped the militiamen or held them to account,” including Libya’s internationally recognized government or the United Nations. Officials have unearthed mass graves there in recent months, revealing the full scale of the Kaniyat’s atrocities that residents, human rights activists and former U.N. investigators had reported on as early as 2017. Raghvan won a 2001 Joe and Laurie Dine Award, a 2008 Bob Considine Award, and a 2018 Hal Boyle Award for work in the Ivory Coast, Iraq and Yemen, respectively.

A film based on the murder of an OPC member received a New York Times review on May 18. The 2019 film Georgetown closely tracks events surrounding the August 2011 strangulation and beating death of Viola Drath, an OPC member who was well known in diplomatic and social circles. Drath was 91 when Albrecht Muth, 44 years her junior and husband of more than 20 years, reported to police that he had discovered her body in their Georgetown home. OPC member and former People columnist Susan Kille recalled writing an item about the guilty verdict against Muth in 2014, when she wrote that more than a dozen witnesses supported the prosecution’s argument that Muth verbally and physically abused his wife. In the film Georgetown, actor-director Christoph Waltz plays a character named Ulrich Mott who is based on Muth.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, an OPC member, reported for CNN as two Californians on trial for the murder of an Italian police officer. Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth were charged with extortion and murder in the stabbing death of Mario Cerciello, an officer with Italy’s Carabinieri paramilitary police force, on a street corner in Rome in on July 26, 2019, after a botched drug deal. Since Nadeau’s report, both Americans on May 5 were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Separately, Nadeau also reported on May 11 for CNN about the discovery of bones of nine Neanderthals found in Italian cave.

MEDIA NEWS

The Washington Post on May 11 announced that Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of The Associated Press, will serve as the paper’s next top editor. Buzbee will become the first woman to serve as the Post’s executive editor since its founding in 1877 when she takes the helm on June 1. Buzbee, who served as Cairo bureau chief for the AP from 2004 to 2010 and led coverage of conflicts across the region, has had strong unofficial – but important – ties with the OPC Foundation and recently attended the virtual scholarship program in April. OPC Past President and current OPC Foundation President William Holstein said that AP under Buzbee “was one of the Foundation’s biggest media supporters, placing foundation winners in their bureaus every year, thereby launching many careers.” He said during her time, the foundation expanded the number of scholarships and fellowships in the name of AP heroes from one to four: Stan Swinton, Sally Jacobson, Richard Pyle and Edith Lederer.

May 7, 2021

SCHOLARS

Anna Jean Kaiser, the 2021 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, has been chosen as a 2021 Report for America corps member. She will be part of a team focusing on economic mobility in Dade County for the Miami Herald. Miami-Dade has shifted from a place where a middle income provided a comfortable life for hundreds of thousands to a metropolis beset by a housing crisis and a level of economic inequality that matches that of Colombia.

Kimon de Greef, the 2020 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, was a guest on NPR’s Morning Edition on May 4 to talk about finch singing contests and smuggling in New York. De Greef said a tradition of using songbirds for singing competitions in Guyana and neighboring countries is driving demand around the world among diaspora, fueling a secretive underground trade and competition. In New York the competitions happen at parks in Queens. He said when asked, competitors in the immigrant community told him that the singing competitions remind them of home.

Rebekah Ward, the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner in 2019, was just hired as an investigative reporter for the Times Union in Albany, NY. Ward had an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters in Mexico City.

Maddy Crowell, the 2014 Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner, was named a finalist for a Livingston Award, which is administered by Wallace House and the University of Michigan and honors the best reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35 across all forms of journalism. Crowell, a freelance journalist who has worked in India in the past as well as elsewhere, was nominated for a story in VQR in which she wrote about Caravan, a small but influential magazine in India.

Corrie MacLaggan, the 2002 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, was named the new statewide managing editor for the public radio stations of The Texas Newsroom where she will lead a staff of eight journalists based at stations across Texas. She will also be the chief connector among more than 100 public radio journalists statewide. MacLaggan spent the last eight years at The Texas Tribune, the last five as managing editor. The Austin native reported and edited for Reuters, the Austin American-Statesman, the El Paso Times and publications in Mexico City.

AWARDS

Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, an OPC member and winner of multiple OPC awards, is among the finalists for the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ)’s award in the broadcast category for the CBC TV series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The series has been sweeping accolades with a long list mention in the Best Factual Show category for a TV Choice Magazine Award in the UK, and a nomination for a Rockie Award from the Banff World Media Festival in the History and Biography category. Jacobovici was part of teams that won three OPC awards over the years, including Edward R. Murrow awards for 2006 and 2013, and a Carl Spielvogel Award for 2004.

OPC member Joshua Irwandi garnered second place in the All About Photo’s (AAP) 2021 Mind’s Eye Competition, which comes with a $10,000 award. The award is for his photo of a body wrapped in plastic at an Indonesian hospital, part of a series titled “The Human Cost of Covid-19” that he shot in April last year. The photo also won second place in the World Press Photo of the Year in the General News, Singles category. The photo was published in National Geographic and sparked uproar on social media among those who sought to diminish the impact of the pandemic.

UPDATES

OPC member Miceál O’Hurley was arrested in Ireland in January and charged with harassment for documenting issues related to civic corruption. Ireland’s national police service, An Garda Siochana, said photographing purported corruption, including discrimination against immigrants, on public streets constituted a crime. At trial, O’Hurley said, the prosecution’s case collapsed when witnesses were confronted with proof of what would constitute perjured testimony. The state withdrew their case and O’Hurley was acquitted. However, an arrest record can serve as a barrier in many countries against obtaining a journalist visa. O’Hurley told the OPC that he remains concerned that Ireland would attempt to criminalize a journalist for taking photographs of public officials operating on public streets and attempt to use arrests as a tool to thwart investigative journalism. “The oppressive act of using arrests to create fear for journalists is becoming all too common, even in what were previously deemed liberal societies. I was bolstered by the support received from the OPC and my colleagues.” The Oireachtas, the Irish legislature, previously rejected legislation that would make it an offense to photograph police and other civil servants on public streets, including during protests or in the course of exercising journalistic freedoms.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz filed a story on May 6 for The City about the revelation this week that New York still has the bodies of about 750 COVID-19 victims in refrigerated trucks at Brooklyn’s 39th Street Pier, and that there is “no timetable for when those New Yorkers will be moved to Hart Island or elsewhere.” Kravitz wrote that according to medical examiner estimates, hundreds of bodies have been stored in trucks since April 2020, “fluctuating between 500 and nearly 800.” City officials discussed the situation during a City Council committee meeting on May 5. The story is part of a collaboration called “Missing Them,” between The City news site and Columbia’s Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting, to remember all New Yorkers who died from COVID-19.

OPC Governor Adriane Quinlan worked on a May 3 piece for VICE News following the shooting massacre of 8 people in a FedEx facility in Indiana on April 15 where the overwhelming majority of workers are Sikh. Reporter Angad Singh presented the report on how police handled the investigation and determined the shooting was not racially motivated despite evidence. “Really proud to have worked with my friend on this beautiful piece,” Quinlan wrote in a tweet. “It was a real break from the grind; at one point, I was just quietly listening to the colleague I usually hustle with as he talked about his life growing up.” Quinlan is supervising writer for VICE News.

OPC member and 2018 Flora Lewis best commentary award winner Trudy Rubin will appear on a Philadelphia Inquirer online event on May 21 to talk about U.S. President Joseph Biden’s foreign policy, including efforts to manage competition with China and Russia, restoring the nuclear accord with Iran, and plans to help poor nations access the COVID-19 vaccine. The panel is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 21.

Andrew Nagorski, OPC member and author, has been contributing to a podcast series titled “Message from the Holocaust” about Jan Karski, a courier from the Polish underground during World War II who tried to warn the world about the Holocaust. Nagorski discussed meeting Karski in 1998 when he and the editorial team for Newsweek were working on a list of the most important events of the previous century. Nagorski talked with Karski soon after his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, and two years before his death in 2000. “I picked him [as an interview subject] immediately because I thought he exemplified what I meant to resist the most treacherous regime of the 20th Century.” Nagorski served as Newsweek’s Warsaw bureau chief from 1990 to 1994. The series is part of a larger podcast called Untold Stories from the Secret State.

Photojournalist André Liohn, winner of the 2011 Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, is the subject of a documentary titled You Are Not A Soldier that premiered at the Hot Docs festival this week. The film by director Maria Carolina Telles follows Liohn’s struggle with grief and life as a conflict photographer, as he copes with the horrors he has witnessed and the loss of colleagues Marie Colvin, James Foley, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros who were killed during the course of their work.

OPC member Kathy Eldon returned from her tour of Kenya a little early due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Eldon served as journalist in Kenya in the 1980s. Her son Dan Eldon was killed in Somalia while working as a photojournalist. Kathy moved to London and in 1998 and along with Dan’s sister Amy started the Creative Visions Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting people “like Dan who use their creativity, through media and the arts.” As Kathy wrote in a newsletter, the recent trip to Kenya included a series of conversations among Kenya-based creators and activists to forge connections and collaborations as part of the foundation’s mission. The newsletter includes a list of some of those creators and links to their work.

MEDIA NEWS

The Los Angeles Times announced on May 3 after a six-month search that Kevin Merida of ESPN will serve as its next top editor. Merida, who previously worked at The Washington Post for 20 years, will take on the new role in June. He is the paper’s second executive editor since billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele B. Chan, purchased the paper in 2018. Merida succeeds OPC member Norman Pearlstine, who announced on Oct. 5 that he would resign. OPC Governor Scott Kraft, who serves as head awards judge, took over daily newsroom operations along with Kimi Yoshino during the search, and Pearlstine stayed on as senior advisor. Merida was the first Black managing editor at the Post from 2013 to 2015, and in 2020 he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists and was elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board in December.

The top U.S. hostage negotiator told The New York Times in an article published on April 27 that he believes Austin Tice, an American journalist abducted in Syria in 2012, is still alive and his release is a top priority for the administration of President Joseph Biden. Roger D. Carstens, the State Department’s hostage envoy who served in the same post under President Trump, said “I think that Austin is alive and that it is our job to bring him home to his family.” However, Andrew Tabler, who served as director for Syria on the National Security Council and then as senior adviser to the U.S. special envoy for Syria, told the Times that hopes for brokering Tice’s release were greater under the Trump administration compared to that of President Joseph Biden, because Syria had more incentive to cut a generous deal before Trump left office. Biden administration officials said they were committed to finding and freeing Tice, and the State Department said in April that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had spoken with the Tice family and assured them that the U.S. had “no higher priority” than to secure his release.

PEOPLE REMEMBERED

OPC member Rosalind Massow Luger, a veteran journalist and editor who was once president of the Newswomen’s Club of New York, died on May 5 at the age of 100. Massow served as women’s editor of Parade and wrote two books, Now It’s Your Turn to Travel [Macmillan, 1976], and Travel Easy: The Practical Guide for People Over 50 [Amer Assn Retired Persons, April 1985]. A photo on the Newswomen’s Club of New York website shows Massow with actress Bette Davis at a Front Page Ball. She served as president of the club in 1964 and 1965, and was one of eight women to join the Silurians when the group ended its male-only policy for the first time in 1971. She earned a Batchelor of Arts degree from Hunter College and attended Columbia and New York University. In 1959 she married Norton Lugar, who was director of medicine at the Salvation Army’s Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing. He died in August, 2007.

Carl Spielvogel, an advertising executive and newspaper columnist who was a longtime supporter of the OPC and had an award in his name, died on April 21 in New York at the age of 92. Spielvogel stepped down as executive of advertising firm Interpublic Group of Companies in 1979 and started his own agency with partner Bill Backer. Backer & Spielvogel became a Madison Avenue powerhouse with clients such as Campbell’s Soup, Paddington Corporation, Seven-Up, Philip Morris, Quaker Oats, Hyundai, Arby’s and Magnavox. He remained in advertising until his retirement in 1993, and served briefly as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia in 2000 and 2001 during the Bill Clinton administration. OPC awards of varying descriptions for best international reporting in broadcast media carried Spielvogel’s name from the early 90s to 2010.

April 21, 2021

SCHOLARS

Leah Finnegan, the Stan Swinton Scholarship winner in 2010, has been hired by Bustle Digital Group as editor in chief for the relaunch of Gawker. Most recently Leah, a former Gawker editor, was executive editor at BDG’s Outline until its sudden shuttering in April 2020. She was once a staff editor at the mobile Opinion team at The New York Times. On hiatus from HuffPo in the spring of 2011, Finnegan went to Cairo on a OPC Foundation fellowship to cover the Arab Spring for The Associated Press.

Meg Bernhard, the 2020 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, wrote an article published in The New Yorker on April 11 about significant challenges in shipping the body of a college athlete who died in upstate New York and his final 9,000-mile trip back to be buried in New Caledonia. She wrote about the knotty bureaucracy of sending bodies across borders, which requires “a combination of notarizations, translated apostilles, health-department authorizations, burial permits, letters that certify bodies do not carry infectious diseases, and other official sign-offs.” Even after some countries opened their borders, Bernhard wrote, officials were hesitant to accept bodies from the U.S. because of its high rate of COVID-19 infection.

Claire Parker, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2019, is returning to The Washington Post’s foreign desk as editor of Today’s WorldView. In addition to her editing responsibilities, she will cover international news from DC. Parker had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press bureau in Paris.

UPDATES

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz, who works on FOIA and data journalism projects at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation in New York, was named one of 28 recipients in the latest round of grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ). Grant recipients do not reveal the nature of the stories they are working on until after publication. Separately, Kravitz and the Documenting COVID-19 team at The Detroit Free Press have been rolling out findings from months of research about how the U.K. variant has ravaged Michigan over the last few months.

OPC Past President Allan Dodds Frank wrote about the life and misdeeds of Bernie Madoff for The Daily Beast following the notorious fraudster’s death in a North Carolina prison on April 14 at the age of 82. He chronicled how Madoff built trust among wealthy Wall Street investors and ultimately carried out the largest Ponzi scheme ever prosecuted. Dodds Frank quoted Madoff’s former defense lawyer, Ira Sorkin, who also served as a federal prosecutor and a Securities and Exchange Commission regional enforcement chief, as saying that Madoff should have seen warning signs much earlier and would have stopped the scheme sooner.

On April 12, Reuters announced that Alessandra Galloni, winner of the Malcolm Forbes Award in 2003 who later served as awards judge, will be the news service’s next editor-in-chief. Galloni previously served as global managing editor at Reuters. According to a Reuters news release, she will “oversee all editorial functions for the newsroom and its 2500 journalists in 200 locations around the world,” and will become the first female editor-in-chief in Reuters in the news service’s 170-year history.

OPC Past President David Andelman is slated to speak at a virtual event hosted by the Harvard Club of the United Kingdom on April 28 about his book, Red Line in the Sand. The book examines physical, military and diplomatic boundaries nations and opponents have established across the world. The moderator will be former BBC journalist Richard Howells, who currently works as a lecturer, author and broadcaster. The OPC held an event to discuss Andelman’s book in January with OPC member Deborah Amos. Andelman released a companion podcast to the book that is available on Spotify and other podcatchers.

OPC member Robert Nickelsberg spoke and showed his photographs at a virtual event on April 17 hosted by the Explorers Club Washington Group. He discussed his experiences as a photographer covering the civil war in El Salvador from 1981 to1984 for TIME magazine and working in Afghanistan for three decades. Nickelsberg’s book, Afghanistan – A Distant War, received the 2013 Olivier Rebbot Award. His latest book, Afghanistan’s Heritage: Restoring Spirit and Stone, done in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, was published in English and Dari in May 2018 and will soon be published in Pashto. He was an Explorers Club fellow in 2015.

Filming has started on the Netflix adaptation of OPC member Charles Graeber’s book, The Good Nurse. An April 17 article on the “What’s on Netllix” site reported that BAFTA-nominated Danish writer-director Tobias Lindholm will direct the film, with a script written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay on 1917. Graeber’s 2013 book, titled The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, chronicles the true story of Charles Cullen, a serial killer suspected of murdering up to 400 patients during his 16-year career as a nurse.

Aryana Noroozi, a photojournalist and OPC member, had several photographs accompany a story for an April 4 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune about added challenges that displaced people in a Somali community faced as a result of the pandemic. Noroozi photographed families for the piece by Kate Morrissey, which followed Somali residents in San Diego struggling to secure affordable housing, employment and education and facing language barriers that were magnified during lockdown.

April 8, 2021

SCHOLARS

Tik Root, the 2017 H.L. Stevenson Fellowship winner, is joining the Climate and Environment team as a reporter for Climate Solutions at The Washington Post. Most recently, he was at Newsy, a live news channel, where he worked in the documentary unit. A veteran freelancer, his work has appeared many times in the Post, including as a lead author of the paper’s daily newsletter from the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. Root has written about climate solutions in the past, including a story about an effort to restore coral reefs in Belize for National Geographic and a piece about the pitfalls of individual action to fight climate change for The New York Times.

AWARDS

OPC member Sonali Prasad was named among the 2021 TED Fellows on March 30. In a release, the organization said TED Fellows are selected for “remarkable achievements, the potential impact of their work and their commitment to community building,” and said Prasad’s work as artist and environmental journalist “tells stories about loss, survival and resilience in response to environmental crises and natural disasters. She establishes new rituals and practices to help us mourn a world stricken by catastrophic climate events.” The TED Fellows program is in its twelfth year, and to date includes a network of 512 Fellows from 100 countries.

UPDATES 

OPC Governor Sandra Stevenson has accepted a new position at CNN as Associate Director of Photography. She previously worked as assistant photo editor for The New York Times, where she served in various roles since 2005. Separately, in March Stevenson was on a panel of judges that selected winners of this year’s Leica Women Foto Project Awards, the second year of a project that is part of “an ongoing commitment to diversity in visual storytelling to help empower the female point of view through photography.” At the OPC, Sandra was one of the judges for the freelance grant program that gave out $1000 grants to 92 journalists in March.

OPC member John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s magazine, was featured in a New York Times article for the Media section that chronicled challenges and turbulence in the magazine’s recent history. The article, titled “Inside America’s Most Interesting Magazine, and Media’s Oddest Workplace,” chronicles MacArthur’s beginnings as publisher in the 1980s when his family’s foundation rescued the magazine from bankruptcy, his hiring of editor Lewis Lapham and building a crew of excellent writers, navigating the dawn of the digital age, and turbulent conflicts between staff and management over the last decade. Most recently, the magazine drew a spotlight for publishing a letter last year signed by more than 150 writers and others that MacArthur characterized as “a public stand against political correctness and ‘cancel culture.’” The letter sparked outrage publicly and among many staff members who saw it as a rejection of protests against racism.

OPC member Sima Diab provided several photos from Egypt for a New York Times story on March 27 about the Ever Given container ship that ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week. Diab’s photos accompanied a story by Vivian Lee that outlined efforts to free the ship and profiled Manshiyet Rugola, a small Egyptian village on the banks of the canal near the grounding site where residents of the poor community watched in fascination. Diab’s photos depict the ship towering over the town, where Lee wrote that people were reluctant to talk to journalists because government security personnel “had passed through, warning residents not to take photos of the canal and generally spreading unease.”

OPC member Sudarsan Raghavan also covered the Ever Given crisis for The Washington Post. On March 31, he wrote an autopsy of the disaster along with colleagues Siobhán O’Grady and Steve Hendrix that reconstructed a timeline of the rescue effort and ripple effects across the world. In a followup on April 7, he examined how the effort from Egyptial salvage crews boosted national pride and provided a shift in the narrative of what Raghavan called “a low expectation of Egypt’s ability to fix its own problems.”

OPC member Rachel Donadio reviewed a book for The New York Times in March, her first since leaving the paper in 2017. Donadio wrote about Philippe Sands’ non-fiction work, The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive, which follows the story of Otto Wächter, a high-ranking Nazi official in occupied Poland who was indicted on a charge of mass murder after the war, but escaped. Donadio credits Sands for suspenseful storytelling and “his fiercely inquiring mind, his excellent researchers, the wealth of documents and his ability to make them come to life.” She has served as contributing writer for The Atlantic in recent years, writing about COVID-19 and a police campaign against crime syndicates in Italy last year.

OPC member Borzou Daragahi connecting dots in tactics used for disinformation campaigns from Syria, Russia and the Capitol Hill insurrection in January in a piece he wrote for the Independent in late March. He wrote about how the Syrian government’s campaign of violence against its own citizens and the its “machinery of lies that fuelled the conflict” was copied elsewhere. “One can trace a line between the barrage of Assad’s chemical weapons that struck the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta in 2013 and the hordes of American fascists who stormed the United States Capitol on 6 January,” Daragahi wrote.

The OPC heard from Dana Rowan, son of OPC Past President Roy Rowan, that Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York is maintaining an archive of his father’s work. Roy Rowan died on Sept. 13, 2016, at the age of 96. Dana noted that the archive includes references to Roy’s tenure as OPC President from 1998 to 2000, items about the OPC Foundation’s Roy Rowan Scholarship, photographs and more. Click here to see a detailed inventory of the Roy Rowan Manuscript Collection. There is also a website about his life and work at royrowan.com. OPC Past President William Holstein and other friends and colleagues contributed to an extensive remembrance page on the OPC website here.

 

March 25, 2021

OPC MEMBERS COVERING COVID-19

OPC member Keith Bradsher co-wrote a piece for The New York Times on March 21 with colleague Sui-Lee Wee about the ripple effects of China’s strict border closures and quarantine measures over the last year. To stanch the spread of coronavirus, China banned tourists and short-term business travelers, and ramped up restrictions for foreigners, even those who have lived there for years. Those moves resulted in separated families, disrupted businesses, and set thousands of international students adrift in uncertainty, the writers said. The story notes that the number of foreign business managers in China has declined, and an American Chamber of Commerce survey of 191 businesses indicates that the proportion of companies with no expatriates had surged to 28 percent, compared to 9 percent a year earlier.

OPC member Vernon Silver was part of a Bloomberg Businessweek team that reported on problems and blowback in the uneven distribution of the Pfizer vaccine. The March 4 story recounted panic and outrage over a Pfizer announcement in January that the company would temporarily cut vaccine supplies while its manufacturing facility in Belgium closed for an upgrade. Italy, one of the world’s worst-hit countries, threatened “unspecified action” against the company and accusations of incompetence. Silver, along with colleagues Stephanie Baker and Cynthia Koons, wrote that vaccine distribution was an “opaque process” involving “a mix of order size, position in the queue, production forecasts, calls from world leaders, the potential to advance the science, and of course the desire to make a profit.”

OPC member Jim Bittermann reported from France for CNN on new lockdown restrictions on March 19 as the country tries to bring a surge of COVID-19 cases under control. He said for the next month that in particular targeted sections around Paris and Nice, an estimated 110,000 non-essential businesses would be shut down. “Travel between parts of the country which are under restrictions and other areas will be forbidden,” he said in a video dispatch.

SCHOLARS

After her fellowship with Rest of the World ended, Mehr Nadeem, the Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner in 2019, was hired to stay on as a contributing writer covering all things tech in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Persian Gulf. The OPC Foundation funded Mehr’s internship with Reuters in Pakistan.

Gabriela Bhaskar, the 2017 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, has been named as member of the 2021-22 New York Times Fellowship class. A photojournalist based in New York, Gabbie’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters and more.

AWARDS

OPC member Steve Stecklow was among the winners named in a Reuters’ 2020 Journalists of the Year Award in the category of Enterprise Reporting for the series on coronavirus response mismanagement called COVID Kingdom. The series also won a British Journalism Award for Best Science Journalism late last year.

OPC member and photojournalist Joshua Irwandi has been nominated for a 2021 World Press Photo Award. Irwandi is a photographer based in Jakarta for National Geographic. This year’s nominations include 45 photographers from 28 countries. Winners will be announced on April 15.

UPDATES

OPC member Evgeny Afineevsky is scheduled to participate in a panel tonight (March 25) at 8:00 p.m. following the screening of his film, Francesco, which features interviews with Pope Francis and provides “an intimate look at a global leader who approaches challenging and complex issues with tremendous humility, wisdom and generosity towards all.” The film is scheduled to premiere in theaters on March 26, and will be available on the Discovery+ service on March 28. Click here to RSVP for the virtual screening, which will begin at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Veteran freelance photojournalist Peter Turnley, who has been an OPC member since 1992, is among those slated to present his work during an online symposium on March 30 and 31. Hosted at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the School of Visual Communication, The Schuneman Symposium on Photojournalism and New Media will focus on covering global crises. Turnley’s photographs have appeared on Newsweek’s cover 40 times, and he has worked in more than 90 countries and published eight books. Many other photographers, journalists and filmmakers are scheduled to speak, and the two-day event will also feature film screenings, including “The Nightcrawlers” about Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs,” and “Essential Journalists,” about journalists’ adaptations in covering COVID-19. Turnley’s presentation is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Eastern Time on March 31.

OPC member Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press interviewed former Afghan President Hamid Karzai on March 11 to discuss a draft deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Karzai told Gannon that Afghans were “in a hurry for peace” and healing after decades of conflict. She wrote that President Ashraf Ghani would likely oppose portions of the deal that would diminish the president’s power during a transition government, and the Taliban would push back against liberal reforms and secular rule. Karzai served as president from 2001 to 2004 and has no formal role in negotiations, but is considered to be an important player behind the scenes, Gannon said.

Lucy Sherriff, an OPC member and freelancer based in California, wrote a longform piece for the Medium project Future Human on March 15 about a research project in Hawaii to translate forgotten archives of native-language newspapers for mining valuable climate data. She wrote that there were once more than 100 native language newspapers in circulation in Hawaii that chronicled daily life on the islands. That record was once thought to be lost, but in the early 1990s, Puakea Nogelmeier, a professor of language at the University of Hawai‘i, discovered that local libraries and museums had hoarded its old newspapers. He started the slow process of translating and digitizing each article. Sheriff said that data extracted from the weather reports “enabled meteorologists to track Hawaii’s extreme weather past, which, in turn, led to critical legislation protecting Hawaiians from similar weather in the future.”

OPC member and USA TODAY reporter Kim Hjelmgaard participated in an AMA (ask me anything) thread on Reddit on March 17 to discuss his recent reporting on the United States’ vast overseas military empire. Asked whether the Biden administration intends to reduce U.S. military presence overseas, Hjelmgaard said one key indicator of that intention would be a commitment to reform the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, or AUMF. “This is the legislation that has permitted the U.S. to wield military power all over the world while hunting for terrorists in places like Syria,” he said. “It was intended more narrowly for 9/11-related wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq. The Obama admin also signaled it would reform AUMF. It never did.” Links to Hjelmgaard’s recent reporting on the issue, including a longform piece in February titled “A Reckoning is Near,” can be found in the introduction of the AMA thread.

Henry Peck, an OPC member and freelancer based in East Sussex, U.K., wrote about the UK government’s placement programs on the south coast for people displaced by conflict in Syria and Sudan for Open Democracy on March 17. The article explores a flagship government called the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), and examines how effective it has been in practice. Peck wrote that the program has offered one of the only safe routes to Britain for displaced people, but has been used to justify an antagonistic approach to asylum seekers crossing the English Channel. “Across the world, resettlement serves fewer than 1 percent of refugees, but as Europe grapples with fatal sea crossings, xenophobic politics, and overcrowded asylum facilities, the successes and shortcomings of the VPRS hold lessons for the wider region’s immigration policies,” he wrote.

OPC member Kathy Eldon recently traveled to Kenya for a tour and working vacation to visit old and new friends as well as check in on humanitarian aid programs. In a personal newsletter, she wrote about a visit to the Shining Hope for Communities project in a poor community of Nairobi that provides essential services to several local charities. Eldon also wrote about a stop at the nearby Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a haven for elephants and rhinos, a visit with an Empowered Women group, and more. A browser-friendly version of the email newsletter is available here, where you can also find a link to subscribe for future issues.

March 11, 2021

SCHOLARS

Meena Venkataramanan, winner of an OPC Foundation award this year, has been named a member of the 2021 class of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She is one of 24 U.S. students to receive full funding for graduate studies at the University of Cambridge. The scholarship website says that criteria for selected students includes a demonstration of “outstanding intellectual ability,” “reasons for choice of course,” “a commitment to improving the lives of others,” “and leadership potential.”
Jimin Kang, also one of this year’s foundation award recipients, was one of three recipients of a Sachs Scholarship this year, one of Princeton University’s highest awards. The award is given to students to pursue postgraduate education. According to the Daily Princetonian, Kang plans to pursue two master’s degrees at University of Oxford’s Worcester College in comparative literature and critical translation as well as environmental studies.

Yi-Ling Liu, the 2017 winner of the Fritz Beebe Fellowship, landed an extensive piece for Wired magazine on March 9 about Chinese science fiction writer Chen Qiufan, who has risen to a level of cultural status she describes as oracular. She said he has now joined the ranks of many science fiction writers in China whose work has garnered acclaim in the tech industry in recent years.

Kimon de Greef, the 2020 winner of the David R. Schweisberg Scholarship, wrote about the effects of the pandemic on the underground realm of finch smuggling and competitions for a March 10 piece for Guernica magazine. He wrote about his reporting on the same story for his winning OPC Foundation essay and spoke about it during the Scholar Luncheon in 2020.

UPDATES

Fanne Foxe, who co-wrote an autobiographical book with OPC member Yvonne Dunleavy, died on Feb. 10 at the age of 84. Foxe, a stripper dubbed the “Argentine Firecracker,” became the center of one of the biggest sex scandals of the 1970s when she jumped from a limousine owned by Arkansas Representative Wilbur D. Mills into the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. Foxe and Dunleavy co-write a book about the affair, titled The Stripper and the Congressman, which has been frequently quoted in Foxe’s obituaries.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz is slated to speak on an online panel on March 18 about the fight for open government and access to public records. The program, hosted by the News Leaders Association and the First Amendment Coalition, will cover added challenges to public access during the pandemic, and journalists’ efforts to break through the barriers. Other speakers include Nancy Ancrum of the Miami Herald, Andrea Gallo of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, and First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder. Kravitz is a contributing reporter for ProPublica and works on data and FOIA projects for the Brown Institute. The panel gets underway at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

The answer to a question from OPC member Edith Lederer, chief correspondent at the U.N. for The Associated Press, was cited widely in coverage of the arrest of AP journalist Thein Zaw in Myanmar. Lederer on March 4 asked Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary General, for comment on the arrests of Zaw and anti-coup protesters. A video taken at the time shows Zaw photographing security forces arresting protesters before being placed in a chokehold and was arrested himself. Dujarric answered that the “video is extremely disturbing to anyone who sees it,” and said that harassment, arrests and physical attacks on journalists in Myanmar “must cease” and those who have been detained should be freed.

Meanwhile Barbie Latza Nadeau, OPC member and correspondent-at-large for The Daily Beast, has also been covering unrest in Myanmar and the military junta’s crackdown on free expression. She wrote on March 10 that at least two Myanmarese poets, Myint Myint Zin and K Za Win, had been shot and killed and dozens more poets and artists arrested for protesting the Feb. 1 coup. “The targeting of poets in Mynamar predates the recent military coup thanks to laws that control public speech,” Latza Nadeau wrote.

OPC member Ryan Delaney, education reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, has been covering the pandemic’s impact on students and families, including a feature in late February about how a year of online classes is starting to drag down students’ grades and “drain their love of school.” He wrote that school administrators around the country are reporting a sharp increase in the number of students failing classes, and many students have stopped logging on altogether.

Dexter Filkins, New Yorker writer and winner of multiple OPC awards, was a guest on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on March 4 to discuss the status of the war in Afghanistan as the Biden administration grapples with how to handle the Trump deal to withdraw troops by May 1. Filkins won the 2004 Hal Boyle Award and the 2005 Ed Cunningham Award for reporting in Iraq, and the 2008 Cornelius Ryan Award for his book The Forever War.

Feb. 25, 2021

SCHOLARS

Makini Brice, the Flora Lewis fellow in 2015, has a new role in the Reuters DC bureau.  She was covering breaking news but has now joined the Capital Hill team. Brice had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Dakar.

2013 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner, Jacob Kushner, has  announced that he landed a deal to write a book slated to be out in 2024, entitled White Terror, about an anti-immigrant killing spree in Germany. The story follows the story of three radicalized neo-Nazi terrorists and a spate of assassinations and bombings they carried out against immigrants in the name of white nationalism. Kushner received support from the OPC in May last year with a micro-grant to offset the effects of the pandemic on freelancers.

Letícia Duarte, the 2019 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F. Stone, co-wrote a story for the New Yorker on Feb. 16 with three colleagues on the impact of climate change on xenophobia. The piece opens with the story of undocumented migrants in the Bahamas who sought shelter in government camps after Hurricane Dorian struck in August 2019, only to be deported along with thousands of others. The piece, co-written with Cristina Baussan, Ottavia Spaggiari and Sarah Stillman as part of the Global Migration Project at the Columbia Journalism School, outlines key points from more than a hundred and fifty interviews with displaced people, climate scientists, government officials, and other experts discussing the “distinct dangers that extreme weather poses to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.” Duarte had an OPC Foundation fellowship with the GroundTruth Project. Duarte also received a micro-grant from the OPC in May last year.

AWARDS

A project led by OPC Governor Derek Kravitz has received a 2020 Free Speech and Open Government Award from the First Amendment Coalition (FAC). The Brown Institute for Media Innovation project, called “Documenting COVID-19,” has amassed a huge trove of public records on the pandemic and is used for investigative projects in partnership with 30 newsrooms. “This project is a shining example of the tremendous good that can come when journalists collaborate — with one another, with computer scientists and with open-records experts,” FAC Executive Director David Snyder said in a press release about the award. The project is a collaboration between Columbia University’s Journalism School and Stanford University’s School of Engineering. Kravitz serves as project lead, and was named on the award along with his colleagues Georgia Gee, Kyra Senese, Caitlin Antonios, Siddhant Shandilya, Qiaoge Zhu, Arusha Kelkar, Kanak Manhip Singh, Ivan Ugalde and Tim Robertson.

UPDATES

OPC member John Koppisch has joined Discourse as the assistant managing editor. Discourse is a new online magazine of economics, politics and society published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It focuses on the U.S., but it has been running a series on India and will start ones in March on Taiwan and China and the challenges they pose for the Biden administration. Previously, Koppisch was a senior editor at the Asia edition of Forbes magazine for 13 years after stints at BusinessWeek magazine, the Asian edition of The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Mail in South Africa. He spent 12 years abroad, in Johannesburg and Hong Kong.

OPC member Kenneth R. Rosen published a new book in January investigating the trauma and aftermath of “tough-love” programs for young adults in the U.S. The book, titled Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment, follows four survivors of these wilderness boot camps and treatment programs across the country, where so-called troubled teens undergo therapies in a private industry that he argues are largely unregulated and leave children open to abuse. Rosen, himself a survivor of such a program, spent three years reporting and conducted more than a hundred interviews for the book. Troubled was named a #1 bestseller on Amazon, and garnered a New York Times Editor’s Choice accolade. The OPC supported Rosen with a micro-grant last year.

OPC member Kathy Eldon launched her new book on Valentine’s Day during an online celebration with a list of noteworthy guests. Hope Rising: A Musing to Help You Feel Better about Life, Love and the Future of Humankind, is a collection of poems, drawings, and “musings about love, parenthood, the pandemic, and what happens after wild and precious lives are over.” The event touted Hope Rising as the start of a movement for a more positive future, and featured appearances by Julian Lennon, Rain Phoenix, Diva Zappa, Sting’s son Joe Sumner and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku.

OPC member Kim Murphy has joined the leadership team for the The New York Times’ National Desk as deputy for investigations. The paper announced Murphy’s new role on Feb. 12, along with Monica Davey as a deputy and the No. 2 editor on the desk, Julie Bloom as a deputy, and Jamie Stockwell as head of “Race/Related,” a weekly newsletter focused on race, identity and culture.

OPC member and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky is set to premier his latest documentary, Francesco, on Discovery+ on March 28. The film examines Pope Francis’s leadership on many of the most important problems facing the world.

A Feb. 16 article in Los Angeles Magazine mentions several names of candidates in the search for an executive editor at the Los Angeles Times, including OPC member Sewell Chan. The piece mentions unnamed sources who cited up to 30 candidates are in a “Hunger Games” competition vying for the paper’s top job since OPC member Norman Pearlstine announced in October that he would step down. The piece outlines strengths and weaknesses for ten of the candidates they identified after “checking in with dozens of informed sources both inside and outside the paper.” Chan serves as editorial page editor for the paper, and previously worked as reporter and editor for The New York Times for 14 years. Others mentioned are Kevin Merida of ESPN, Janice Min of The Hollywood Reporter, Dean Baquet and Carolyn Ryan of The New York Times, Anne Kornblut of Facebook, and Julia Turner, Shani O. Hilton and Kimi Yoshino and Gustavo Arellano of the LA Times. In December last year, the paper announced that OPC vice president and head awards judge Scott Kraft would take over day-to-day operations at the paper along with Yoshino. Kraft’s name has also been mentioned in speculation about who would succeed Pearlstine.

OPC member Peter Gwin, National Geographic’s editor at large, recounted a trip to the Himalaya to track snow leopards for the Overheard at National Geographic podcast on Feb. 2. He joined explorer Prasenjeet Yadav on his search for one of the planet’s most elusive animals. During the episode, Gwin talks about how Himalayan communities have long regarded the snow leopards as threats to their livelihoods, and how conservation efforts and tourism are changing attitudes.

Robert McMahon, OPC member and managing editor for the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed challenges facing the Biden administration for the Feb. 19 episode of The World Next Week podcast. McMahon and co-host James M. Lindsay discussed the COVID-19 death toll approaching five hundred thousand in the U.S., as well as the Biden administration formally rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate and addressing world leaders at the virtual Munich Security Conference.

OPC member and Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius interviewed Bill Gates for the Feb. 16 episode of the HBR Ideacast. Gates discussed his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.

OPC member Dana Thomas told attendees at the Fashinnovation virtual forum on Feb. 11 that the fashion industry is damaging to the planet and humanity, and must find a more sustainable path. Thomas, author of a book titled Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, said that the industry reaches far corners of the world, and that “everywhere you turn fashion is somehow happening, it could be a farmer growing cotton or a seamstress sewing in a couture atelier or a model on a runway or a sales clerk ringing up the clothes you want to buy.” The OPC supported Thomas with a micro-grant for journalists suffering the effects of COVID-19 in May last year.

February 11, 2021

SCHOLARS

Jacob Kushner, the 2013 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner, landed a major feature for National Geographic that he said in an email was made possible by an OPC micro-grant he received last year. The Jan. 29 story credits the OPC’s support. “Back when I had lost all my work due to COVID, I was able to make an initial reporting trip to Lake Naivasha to investigate rumors about hippo attacks, job loss, and the lake’s uncontrollable rise,” Kushner wrote to the OPC. Due to a 100-year flood at the lake and waning demand in Europe for flowers from Kenya, thousands of laid off workers resorted to fishing on the lake, putting them in closer range of the deadly animals. In addition, Kushner filed a story in January for the BBC about researchers in northern Kenya trying to prevent a dangerous coronavirus known as Mers from jumping from camels to humans again, as climate change causes greater challenges to that effort.

Simon Akam, the Emmanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2009, has just published his new book, The Changing of the Guard: The British Army Since 9/11. His controversial account of the Army’s two-decade long evolution was published on Feb. 11. In a piece published on Jan. 13 for the Book Brunch website, he talked about how his experience in 2003 and 2004 serving a one-year commission for the Army informed his reporting, as a “military insider-outsider“ who could “speak fluent Army.” He also wrote about facing considerable institutional resistance and inertia against the book’s publishing.

Alizeh Kohari, the 2016 Walter and Betsy Cronkite fellow, wrote about preserving a place for Urdu in the tech age for Rest of World City on Feb. 9. Urdu, spoken by nearly 170 million people in South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, is written in an alphabet derived from Arabic but uses a more ornate script. Kohari wrote about a developer who created an Urdu keyboard application in 2010, and is pushing for better software to help preserve the language, which is endangered as so much contemporary communication is in the digital realm. Kohari now divides her time between Karachi and Mexico City, where she had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau.

AWARDS

OPC member Simcha Jacobovici has been nominated for a 2021 NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Directing in a Documentary in Television or Motion Picture for his series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The series, hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, retraces 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World, and includes the efforts of scuba divers to locate six sunken slave ships. The series, which premiered on EPIX last September, also recently won the Outstanding Achievement award from the Impact DOCS Awards. The NAACP Image Award winners will be announced on March 27 during a ceremony broadcast on several networks.

UPDATES

The New York Times announced on Feb. 9 that OPC member Rebecca Blumenstein, one of the paper’s deputy managing editors, will take on a newly created role and report directly to publisher A. G. Sulzberger. As deputy managing editor, she has overseen the paper’s website. Her new title will be deputy editor, publisher’s office. She joined the Times in 2016, and previously served as deputy editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, as well as China bureau chief, international editor, page one editor and managing editor of the Journal’s website. In a Times story about her new role, Blumenstein said she would miss the newsroom but wants to help the paper face challenges. “We have to do whatever we can to see around the corner of what’s coming and make sure The Times is the best place for our people and our journalists,” she said.

OPC member and Canadian journalist Mellissa Fung’s new film Captive is set to premiere on the TVO network on Feb. 16. For the documentary, she traveled with a crew into Boko Haram-occupied territory in Nigeria to interview some of the young girls who escaped after being held hostage in 2018. In an article about her film on the Toronto news website City News, she said the film in part is a personal reflection on her experience being kidnapped and held captive for 28 days in Afghanistan in 2008. She told City News that experience informed her reporting for the documentary and how she approached survivors but added that while she had access to mental health services to help process her trauma, for Boko Haram survivors in Nigera, trauma treatment is a luxury. Captive is a TVO network original and is set to premier on Feb. 16 at 9:30 Eastern Time but will be available to stream on the network’s website and YouTube Channel afterwards.

OPC member Anne-Elisabeth Moutet was a guest on the Jan. 28 episode of The Edition, the podcast of The Spectator magazine, to discuss a story about allegations of sexual abuse against French professor and political commentator Olivier Duhamel. His step daughter published a book earlier this year detailing abuse against her twin brother at the ages of 13 or 14, as well as a network of protective silence among the country’s academic elites. Duhamel resigned as head of a foundation that oversees the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris, among other posts. The book was among other sexual abuse and incest allegations that has sparked a mirror of the #metoo movement, marked with its own hashtag of #metooinceste. In her interview, Moutet described Duhamel as a powerful man in every way, “in French society, in his own family, within his circle of relations and the interlocking circles of power, that very obviously he felt that he could do anything, everything was possible.” To hear the segment featuring Moutet, skip to the 17-minute mark of the episode. She is a Paris-based columnist for The Telegraph.

OPC member Lila Hassan contributed to a ProPublica/FRONTLINE story tracking down more than 20 Boogaloo Bois members with ties to the armed forces. The Feb. 1 piece, with a byline shared among A.C. Thompson of ProPublica and Karim Hajj of FRONTLINE, examined case studies from the list and looked into previous domestic terror investigations of the identified members.

MEDIA NEWS

Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron on Jan. 26 announced plans to retire at the end of February. Baron has led the paper’s newsroom for the last eight years. Post publisher Fred Ryan said in a letter to employees that during his tenure Baron had “significantly expanded our coverage areas, inspired great reporting, managed an awesome digital transformation and grown the number of readers and subscribers to unprecedented levels.” Baron wrote to colleagues that “I am proud to have joined you in ambitious, high-impact work that is essential to a democracy. You stood up time and again against vilification and vile threats. You stood firm against cynical, never-ending assaults on objective fact.” Baron delivered the keynote speech at the OPC’s Annual Awards Dinner in April 2019, telling attendees that “while this is journalism we admire, even more important, it is work we need.” A video clip of his remarks can be found here.