June 17, 2024

People Column

2021 July-December Issue

December 21, 2021


Meg Bernhard, the Flora Lewis Fellowship winner in 2020, has an article in the Dec. 15 issue of the New York Times Magazine on loss and the concept of emotional closure. She interviewed Pauline Boss, an 87-year-old emeritus professor of family social scientist at the University of Minnesota, who previously studied fathers who were absent from their children’s’ lives due to work, and later on the wives of fighter pilots missing in action during the Vietnam War and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients. Such cases create a feeling of limbo and unresolved grief for family members, a phenomenon Boss coined “ambiguous loss,” a concept that has had “a resurgence of interest among researchers and journalists during the past two years, in the wake of the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.” Bernhard was a recipient of an OPC micro-grant this year to help sustain her work amid COVID-19 challenges.

Yi-Ling Liu, the 2017 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner, spoke to Yale University about Chinese internet culture on Dec. 6 during a Poynter Fellowship in Journalism event. Liu, who is currently based in China, walked a virtual audience through recent eras of internet access and the evolution of digital culture. Liu writes about Chinese society, technology and culture and has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Wired and The New Yorker.

2008 H.L. Stevenson Scholarship winner Mayank S. Bubna is launching a new education technology startup focused on helping creators and aspiring media founders. The project will include six-week long cohort-based programs, extended coding sessions, or “hackathons,” to quickly build the initial stages of projects, and coaching and webinars from industry experts.


OPC First Vice President Azmat Khan wrote a two-part multimedia piece for The New York Times investigating the human toll of American air strikes. The first piece was published on Dec. 18, and contained reporting on an overall pattern of “flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, years of civilian deaths — and scant accountability.” The second piece on Dec. 19 focused specifically on shortcomings that lead to civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

OPC member and photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg has a new book in the works that will revisit his reporting in El Salvador during the civil war in the early 1980s for TIME magazine. The book will use many unpublished images from his archives in an effort to shed light on the conflict. “In the Cold War era, no one took the time to analyze this, to hold themselves accountable for the policies that didn’t work in Vietnam and that were then applied to El Salvador,” Nickelsberg told Blind Magazine. “Most governments are incapable of admitting that they were wrong.”

OPC member and past award-winner Jonathan Katz, former Haiti-based reporter for The Associated Press, is slated to release a new biography on Jan. 18 that will detail the American foreign interventions of the 20th century and covers a 1930s coup attempt with direct comparisons to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire follows the story of Marine General Smedley Butler, who in 1934 revealed to the Special House Committee on Un-American Activities that he had been asked by New York brokers to lead 500,000 people in a putsch to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a plan that came to be known as “The Business Plot.” Katz won the 2013 Cornelius Ryan Award for his book about the Haitian earthquake and failures of the international relief effort.

OPC member Bill Gentile, a photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and author, had his new memoir listed among The Progressive Magazine’s favorite books of 2021 on Dec. 7. His memoir, Wait for Me: True Stories of War, Love and Rock & Roll gives insight into the stories behind images across his career from conflicts in Central America and Iraq, to his classroom at American University in Washington, D.C. Gentile was scheduled to speak about his book at the Bronx Documentary Center last week, but the event has been delayed due to concerns over a resurgence of COVID-19. A posting from the center says organizers hope to reschedule in the coming weeks.

OPC member Scott Sayare spoke on a Dec. 9 Harper’s Magazine podcast episode about his piece for the magazine looking into new research about human olfactory senses. The piece explores the secretive world of the fragrance industry and new methods of helping people who have lost their sense of smell, a common lingering effect of COVID-19.

Daniel Berehulak, an OPC member and 2016 Olivier Rebbot Award winner, was among the New York Times’ Year in Pictures photo article with an image taken in March in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, depicting migrants from Honduras after they were deported by surprise from the United States. “When journalists met [the migrants] at the crossing point they asked, ‘Where are we?,’” Berehulak wrote as background context for the photo. “When someone answered, ‘Mexico,” it hit them that they had been brought back over the border and that the whole journey, of borrowing money and dealing with coyotes and smugglers, had been for nothing. Their dreams were shattered and they were back in Mexico.” Also mentioned in the year-end piece is Kiana Hayeri, who won the OPC’s 2020 Robert Capa Gold Medal for work in Afghanistan, Meridith Kohut, winner of the 2020 Whitman Bassow Award; Tyler Hicks, winner of OPC photo awards in 2015 and 2013; past OPC panelist Adriana Zehbrauskas; and Adam Ferguson, who received assistance from the OPC via a micro-grant this year.


Many OPC members and colleagues are mourning the death of Carlos Tejada, deputy Asia editor for The New York Times based in Seoul, who died on Dec. 17. Michael Slackman, OPC member and assistant managing editor for international at The New York Times, said on a Twitter thread with hundreds of other condolences that “there are really no words. Carlos was so deeply and widely loved and admired.” OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi wrote that “Carlos was a wonderful colleague & a great editor. Such a tragic loss.” Tejada had worked in east Asia as an editor and a reporter since 2008 and worked for The Wall Street Journal for two decades. Friends and colleagues from the Times and Journal launched a GoFundMe page on behalf of his wife Nora to honor his life and legacy.


December 7, 2021


Sarah Trent, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2020, wrote an article published on Nov. 15 in The New York Times about a Philippine marine conservation effort led by women. She wrote about the political and personal fight to support the Maite Marine Sanctuary, a zone within the species-rich Coral Triangle where fishing is forbidden, writing about a recent study that found overall when women lead conservation efforts “indicators of success like solidarity, rule compliance and forest and fishery regeneration often go up, even as these women face doubt, discrimination and even threats of violence.” Her story is part of a special Times report on Climate Solutions, which looks at efforts around the world to curb and adapt to harmful effects of climate change. Sarah had an OPC Foundation fellowship on the science desk at The Wall Street Journal.

After a year working as a reporter for The Moscow Times, Uliana Pavlova, the Theo Wilson Scholarship winner in 2017, has decided to go freelance full-time, mostly for The Associated Press and others.


On Dec. 1, in a grand ceremony at the Consulate General of France in New York, OPC Past President David A. Andelman was awarded the rank of chevalier (knight) of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian decoration. The medal was presented by Jérémie Robert, France’s consul general, on behalf of President Emmanuel Macron. In presenting the medallion, Robert said that “for your long standing friendship with our country and your lifelong commitment to promoting better understanding between the people of France and the United States, it is an honor to bestow the title of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor upon you.” Robert added that Andelman’s ties with France date back to the first term of President François Mitterrand in 1981 when Andelman took over as CBS News correspondent in Paris, encompassing more than four decades of reporting and commenting on France, its government and its people. Other celebrants including David’s wife Pamela Title and his longtime friend, Le Monde’s Patrice de Beer, pointed out that his ties go back decades earlier, de Beer and Andelman having first met at the tail end of the war in Cambodia in 1975. Title said that “walking through Paris with David is a stroll through the history and culture of a magical land, with the best possible guide.”

Valerie Hopkins, an OPC member and the winner of the 2013 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting, landed a front page story for The New York Times on Nov. 23 about Russian prosecutors’ attempts to shut down one of the country’s key human rights groups, Memorial International. Reporting from Moscow, she wrote that The effort is part of an ongoing campaign by the Kremlin to rewrite “the memory of one of the most painful times in Russia’s turbulent history: the era of the gulag, when millions of Russians toiled and died, mostly in the first half of the 20th century.” Hopkins also interviewed convicted Russian spy Maria Butina for an article in the Times published on Nov. 19. Butina, who spent 15 months in U.S. prisons for working as an unregistered foreign agent during the 2016 election, is now a member of the Russian Parliament, supported by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

Krithika Varagur, an OPC member and the winner of the OPC Foundation’s 2019 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship, has been working since October as a senior speechwriter at Fenway, a communications firm founded by President Barack Obama’s former chief speechwriter Jon Favreau and national security spokesman Tommy Vietor. Before October, she was the youngest staff columnist at The Wall Street Journal, writing the “At Work” column, about the “quirks, realities and frustrations of the workplace.” Varagur previously spent four years covering religion, politics, extremism and corruption in Southeast and South Asia for The Washington Post and The Guardian, among others. She authored The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project, which she spoke about during an OPC book night in May 2020 that was moderated by Christopher Dickey.

OPC member Amanda Florian wrote a piece for Discover Magazine on Dec. 4 on research into why musicians, particularly vocalists, have an apparent knack for learning new languages. She wrote that researchers found musicians tend to pick up language quicker due to training and talent focused on sound, “most notably when it comes to pronunciation and accent because, like parrots, they mimic what they hear.” The research indicates that more wrinkles in a particular type of ridge on the surface of the brain dedicated to sound could be a key indicator of musical ability and aptitude for learning new languages.

In an opinion piece penned to The Globe and Mail on Dec. 3, OPC member Hikmat Noori, an Afghan journalist who has reported on conflict, politics and culture in Afghanistan, called for the U.S. to provide more help to Afghan soldiers and others left abandoned by U.S. forces’ withdrawal this year. “For Afghan soldiers, who had been trained by their American counterparts and provided operational and moral support during the 20-year mission, it was as if ‘the rug was pulled from under them,’” he wrote. “It would be a disservice to roll them up in that same rug and bury them with the full weight of blame for the tragedy that has taken place in Afghanistan.”

The New York Times has announced that past OPC Award winner Raja Abdulrahim will join the paper’s Jerusalem bureau. She won the OPC’s 2012 Hal Boyle Award for her coverage of the war in Syria for the Los Angeles Times, which judges praised as “beautifully detailed stories from the conflict zone, giving readers a human portrayal of war.” She was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2014. A Nov. 3 announcement said that in the new post Abdulrahim will “roam widely, writing about Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, with a special focus on Palestinian affairs.”

Tony Cavin, an OPC Foundation board member and longtime journalist who spent two decades at CBS News, will take a new post at NPR as managing editor for standards and practices. As quoted in a note to newsroom staff on Nov. 2, Cavin said on his application for the position that “standards are what distinguishes a serious news organization and makes it stand out from the ever louder din of competing voices on the internet. Standards are how we maintain the trust of our audience and trust is something we cannot afford to squander.” He was slated to begin on Dec. 6.


Amanda Bennett, a past OPC Awards judge who resigned from a top post at the Voice of America in June 2020 amid turmoil at the organization, on Nov. 12 was named nominee for chief executive officer at the United States Agency for Global Media. She is an author, investigative journalist and editor who was named director of Voice of America in March, 2016 and stepped down last year when Congress confirmed conservative activist and filmmaker Michael Pack to be the head of the agency that oversees the government broadcast organization. Bennett was a member of the board of the Pulitzer Prizes and served as co-Chair of the Pulitzer Board in 2010.

November 12, 2021


Rose Gilbert, the 2021 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, is now a multimedia producer for This Is Nashville, on Nashville’s public radio station WPLN. Her new post follows a reporting internship at The Tennessean, where she covered Nashville and central Tennessee. In 2020, she was senior producer for the USA TODAY podcast “Changing the Game.”

Diana Kruzman, the recipient of the 2021 Harper’s Magazine Award in memory of I.F. Stone, filed a travelogue and photo essay for Insider on Nov. 1 recounting her 35-hour train ride aboard the California Zephyr from Denver to San Francisco. She described and photographed stunning views through the Rocky Mountains during autumn leaf season along the Colorado River and reviewed some of the frustrations of the slow-paced Amtrak as it stops to give way to freight traffic, and limited space and services.

The 2021 Edith Lederer Scholarship recipient, Kira Leadholm, co-wrote an investigative piece published by the Illinois-based watchdog group Better Government Association on Nov. 8 about how the privatization of Illinois’ health care system has shifted hundreds of millions of dollars to insurance companies and away from frontline medical providers. The four-month project, conducted with colleague David Jackson, included “dozens of interviews and a review of thousands of previously unpublished documents.” They found the current system lacks oversight and allows for-profit insurance companies to “routinely deny, delay and reduce reimbursements to providers who treat low-income families, foster children, pregnant women and the elderly.” The piece got a mention in Politico’s Illinois Playbook column.

Arno Pedram, the 2021 Flora Lewis / Jacqueline Albert-Simon Scholarship winner, co-wrote a piece from Paris for The Associated Press on Oct. 24 about a campaign by French sexual abuse victims to denounce inappropriate responses from police involved in their cases. Pedram and colleague Sylvie Corbet wrote about the #DoublePeine campaign, a hashtag that translates as “Double Sentencing,” a reference to victim-blaming or mishandling of complaints from women reporting sexual abuse. A French women’s rights group, NousToutes, counted at least 30,000 accounts of police mistreatment shared over social media and a website collecting those stories.

2020 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner Meg Bernhard wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 3 about the territorial fight over solar farms in the Mojave Desert. Bernhard reported in from the Pahrump Valley in Nevada, speaking to protesters trying to block the Yellow Pine project, a 3,000-acre solar farm that would generate 500 megawatts of electricity for California, which activists say will disrupt fragile desert ecosystems.

The 2019 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, Claire Parker, has a new position at The Washington Post. She was named a staff writer on the foreign desk, where she first interned in 2019. Parker, who had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Paris, rejoined the Post in April as editor of the Today’s WorldView newsletter. She also spent a year in Tunisia studying Arabic and freelancing.


Bhat Burhan, who received a freelance micro-grant from the OPC earlier this year, was named Newcomer of the Year in the Free Press Awards. Burhan, a video producer, camera operator and a photojournalist based in New Delhi, was selected among two other nominees, Aye Min Thant from Myanmar and Israel Graca Campos from Angola. “His stories are risky and have landed him in police stations in 2018 and 2020 with his colleagues,” the award jury said in a statement. “He not only stands out with his documentaries but also writes in a comprehensive way.” The award includes a scholarship of 1,500 euros.


OPC member Andrew Nagorski has a new book set to publish on May 10 next year. Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom will follow the story of Sigmund Freud’s last-minute escape to London after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. Freud was eighty-one years old, battling cancer, and ready to stay in Vienna despite the Nazi threat. A group of concerned and well-connected friends urged him to emigrate to England, including a Welsh physician, Napoleon’s great-grandniece, an American ambassador, Freud’s youngest daughter Anna, and his personal doctor. The book’s publisher is Simon & Schuster. Nagorski won the OPC’s 1978 Bache Award for best business news reporting from abroad for work in Newsweek.

A Michigan judge dismissed felony charges on Oct. 26 against a Detroit Police Department officer accused of shooting riot control ammunition at three photojournalists, including OPC member and freelancer Seth Herald. Daniel Debono faced three counts of felonious assault in connection with the shooting of non-lethal ammunition that injured Herald, MLive photographer Nicole Hester, and Matt Hatcher, who was taking photos for Getty Images. Hester was struck by as many as a dozen pellets in her face and body, leaving welts and narrowly missing an eye, according to testimony. The shooting happened after midnight on May 31 last year while the group was covering a protest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis during his arrest on May 25. The journalists each had press credentials and carried multiple, large-frame cameras when they were shot from about 50 feet away while walking to their car in a nearby garage. The officer’s attorney argued that police gave an order to disperse before the shots were fired and that press badges the journalists carried were too small for officers to see.

OPC member Jim Brooke is slated to speak in an online program hosted by the library of his hometown in Lenox, Massachusetts on Nov. 21. His lecture is titled “Ukraine: The Gates of Europe, Besieged by Russia.” Brooke, who speaks Russian, worked as a journalist for eight years in Moscow, first as Bloomberg bureau chief, then as the Voice of America correspondent for Russia and the former Soviet Union. The program will start at 4:00 p.m. and is available to stream via Zoom, but registration is required. Visit the library’s website to learn how to access the livestream.

A photo provided by the OPC makes an appearance in a documentary about photojournalist André Liohn, winner of the 2011 Robert Capa Gold Medal Award. Liohn is the focus of You Are Not A Soldier, which premiered at the Hot Docs festival in late April and early May. OPC Executive Director Patricia Kranz sent a photo of Liohn with James Foley from an OPC awards dinner in 2012. 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 Foley and other colleagues Marie Colvin, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, who were killed during the course of their work.

OPC member Barbie Nadeau, correspondent-at-large for The Daily Beast, reported for CNN from Rome on flooding in Italy on Oct. 27. One man was found dead and others reported missing after flash floods inundated Catania on the Italian island of Sicily where up to 20 inches of rain fell over about two days. “This is a city that’s used to threats. They are at the foot of Mt. Aetna, a volcano that often rains ash on them,” Nadeau said, adding that the floods had devastated the city center.

OPC Governor Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer for FRONTLINE, spoke to Variety magazine for a Nov. 1 profile piece to discuss her career and the ups and downs of the changing media landscape. She talked about the rise of services like Netflix, and her push to increase transparency in their reporting as well as expansion of diversity among filmmakers. Aronson-Rath joined FRONTLINE in 2007 as a senior producer, becoming deputy executive producer in 2012, and executive producer in 2015. She has won a string of OPC awards over the years, most recently the 2019 Peter Jennings Award for the documentary For Sama.

October 7, 2021


Tre’Vaughn Howard, the 2021 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship winner, is now working as a digital associate producer on the CBS News social media team in New York.

Rajiv Golla, the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner in 2017, is now a senior editor for a podcast studio called Campside Media. Golla spent the last few years reporting from East Africa, where he produced The Missionary, an investigative 8-part podcast, for iHeart Radio. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Nairobi.

Military Veterans in Journalism named J.p. Lawrence, the H.L. Stevenson Fellowship winner in 2015 and reporter for Stars & Stripes in Iraq and Afghanistan, to its list of Top 10 Military Vets in Journalism of 2021. Lawrence had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Uganda. He recently evacuated Kabul on a plane alongside U.S. embassy staff, recounting his experience in an Aug. 17 piece for Stars & Stripes.


The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) on Sept. 29 honored two photojournalists with ties to the OPC. Iranian-Canadian photographer Kiana Hayeri, who won this year’s Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, and freelance Brazilian photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas, who spoke on an OPC panel in September 2016 and contributed to the OPC’s Dateline magazine, each received honors from the IWMF. Judges said that Zehbrauskas, who is now working in Phoenix, Arizona, had “energetic yet sensitive portrayals of migration and the toll of COVID-19 in Latin America,” while Hayeri, who is based in Kabul, Afghanistan, “spotlighted the rising conflict and looming crisis in Afghanistan from an alternative perspective.” Palestinian Journalist Fatima Shbair received the organization’s Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award for her portfolio of images depicting “unique moments of tension, violence, devastation, and hope all captured from Gaza City in May 2021.”


Quartz announced on Sept 27 that OPC member Aurora Almendral will serve as senior reporter in Asia. Almendral, an OPC award winner based in Southeast Asia, has been reporting from the U.S.-Mexico border for Quartz. Her other recent work includes a New York Times Magazine piece about an experiment to retrofit cargo ships with sails to reduce carbon consumption and a piece for Nikkei on the global shipping crisis. Almendral won the 2017 David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award for coverage of the Philippine drug war along with collaborator Ed Ou, who won an OPC Foundation scholarship in 2007.

OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard, a correspondent for USA Today, spoke on a podcast episode on Oct. 3 covering Afghan journalist and colleague Fatema Hosseini’s escape from Kabul and his role in helping her. “Hjelmgaard swung into action to help Fatema escape. With assistance from military contacts, Kim managed to get Fatema a seat on plane bound for Ukraine. Later, she would make it to the U.S,” according to a description of the Five Things podcast episode. Hjelmgaard discussed the story with Hosseini in an interview recorded at a café in Ukraine only days after the events.

Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post correspondent, OPC member and past award winner, spoke on the WHYY program Radio Times from Kabul on Sept. 22 with his observations on how Afghans are coping with the new Taliban rule. He talked about an incident in which Taliban fighters severely beat two journalists from the Kabul-based paper Etilaat-e Roz who were covering protests, and then a week later Taliban officials visited their offices and apologized. “The event went viral, and the Taliban is extremely keen on presenting a good image to the world – at least the top officials are – in order to get Western aid. They want to keep the Western dollars flowing,” Raghavan said. The two journalists did not accept the apology, he added, as the officials appeared to blame them for the beatings and cautioned them about covering protests. Raghavan has won three OPC awards, most recently the 2018 Hal Boyle Award for coverage of the crisis in Yemen.

OPC member Jim Brooke submitted the following personal message to share with members:

“Shortly after college, I left my native Lenox [Massachusetts] and a part time reporting job at The Berkshire Eagle for a clerking job with James Reston, Washington columnist for The New York Times. Four decades and 100 countries later, I came home last month to Lenox. Now, the generational turn of the wheel brings me to columnizing: writing a fortnightly Foreign Affairs column for the Eagle. I have not hung up my foreign correspondent hat – five nights a week, I write 1,000 words for my morning news email, the Ukraine Financial News. Here in Lenox, I have bought out my siblings for a family house with four acres of field and woods. My 5-year-old George goes to the local elementary school, complete with a presidential seal of approval by the front door. After five years in Kyiv, wife Pen is enjoying country living, plotting to grow Cambodian vegetables and raise chickens. In addition to hiking, sailing and (this winter) skiing, I love the amazing cultural offerings here – Tanglewood, the Clark Art Museum, and last week, Shakespeare & Co. When OPC friends escape the city for music or fall foliage, drop me a line and let’s catch up over lunch in Lenox! – cheers Jim (jimbrookelenox@gmail.com)”

On Oct. 28, Miceál O’Hurley, an OPC member who serves as editor in chief of Diplomat Ireland, will participate in a day-long Public Relations and Media Professional Development Day along with a lineup of journalists and other media experts. Organizers have invited ambassadors, consul, counsellors, trade representatives and embassy staff to gather at the Stephens Green Hibernian Club in Dublin. Session topics will include how to make better use of press offices, storytelling tips for media releases, information handling during crises, and the relationship between diplomacy and journalism.

Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who spent almost two years in Tehran’s Evin prison, launched a podcast on Sept. 28 recounting his experience over more than 17 months in jail and the story of what it took to secure his release in January 2016. 544 Days has released five episodes so far, with a new installment published each Monday. It is a Spotify Original podcast, produced by Gimlet, Crooked Media and A24. Rezaian held a book night with the OPC in May 2019 to discuss his book about the ordeal, Prisoner, and in 2016 he lit the Candle of Remembrance at the Annual Awards Dinner to honor journalists killed, injured or missing in connection with their work.

September 24, 2021


After a year reporting on cryptocurrency in countries around the world for CoinDesk, Sandali Handagama, the 2020 Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting winner, is now focused exclusively on financial regulation with a special focus on Europe. In a story filed on Sept. 10, Handagama wrote about a new report from the European Securities and Markets Authority that framed cryptocurrency as a rising financial force, but also said it was volatile and a threat to sustainable finance due to increasing environmental costs from crypto mining.

Meg Bernhard, the 2020 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, has an article in the September issue of Catapult on the impact of climate change on the wine industry. She wrote about her exploration of effects on wine in California’s Napa Valley, including rampant wildfires. “The quantity of grapes pressed for wine was down 40 percent, due to fires, the state’s drought, and smoke, which had damaged many surviving grapes,” she wrote. Bernhard is also writing a book about wine and power. The OPC supported her work with a micro-grant to offset hardships from COVID-19 earlier this year.

Tim Patterson, the Jerry Flint Fellowship for International Business Reporting winner in 2015, was one of nine veterans who John Ismay, the Flint winner in 2014, interviewed for a Sept. 8 story Ismay wrote for The New York Times about their experiences in Afghanistan. Patterson had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Mexico City, and Ismay had an OPC fellowship with the GroundTruth Project. Ismay is now a Pentagon correspondent in the Washington bureau, and previously covered armed conflict for The New York Times Magazine. He was part of a team of Times reporters awarded a George A. Polk Award in 2015 for their coverage of SEAL Team Six.

Alexander Saeedy, the 2015 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner, is now a reporter with The Wall Street Journal covering bankruptcy and corporate distress. He was an OPC Foundation fellow in the Reuters bureau in Brussels.

Two OPC Foundation scholars, Jeff Horwitz, the Fred Wiegold Scholarship winner in 2009, and Georgia Wells, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2012, were part of a Wall Street Journal team that produced a news-breaking article and podcast in September describing Facebook’s knowledge of the harmful impact Instagram poses for some young women. Horwitz also broke a story on Sept. 13 about Facebook’s XCheck program that shields an elite group of users from Facebook’s abuse rules. Both are based in San Francisco. A Columbia Journalism Review article summarized the Journal’s “Facebook Files” investigation series here.

Simon Akam, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2009, shared the 2021 Feature of the Year Award for from the Medical Journalists Association for his article on how the NHS handled the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The article appeared in The Economist’s 1843 Magazine. The judges wrote: “A compelling, moving, account of what it was like within the NHS in the first three months of the pandemic. Fear, guilt, anger, anguish, and at times even exhilaration. If anyone ever writes a better account, it is this they will have to top.” Akam is the author of The Changing of the Guard: the British army since 9/11. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Istanbul.

Sun Yu, winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic And Business Reporting in 2008 and an economics reporter for the Financial Times in China, recently wrote about how China uses an anti-fraud app to track access to overseas financial news sites, including the Bloomberg app.

Garance Burke, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2004, was one of the women the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley chose to honor to commemorate the 150th anniversary of women being admitted to the university. Burke is an award-winning global investigative journalist with The Associated Press. Her recent stories on the treatment of migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border were a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the subject of an Emmy Award-winning documentary film partnership between AP and FRONTLINE PBS.


Krithika Varagur, an OPC member and the winner of the OPC Foundation’s 2019 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship, won first place in the Arts and Entertainment Feature category for large circulation publications from the Society for Features Journalism, an organization that “promotes the craft of writing and innovation in lifestyle, arts and entertainment journalism.” Her story, “The Fight to Save A 44,000-Year-Old Painting,” about an Indonesian cave painting, appeared in 1843 Magazine, from the Economist. The judges wrote: “This standout piece features an awe-inspiring subject (the earliest known figurative paintings), immersive reporting (we would not have climbed that ladder) and a deep knowledge of the subject. And it’s all presented in an approachable style.” Varagur, who had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in New Delhi, writes the At Work column in The Wall Street Journal, about the quirks, realities and frustrations of the workplace today.


OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi on Sept. 18 wrote a piece for The New York Times about Israel’s assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Co-written with colleague Ronen Bergman, the piece retraces a high-tech operation that deployed a remote control sniper gun fired by an assassin 1,000 miles from the site of the shooting. The account, described as a “straight-out-of-science-fiction story of what really happened that afternoon and the events leading up to it,” was based on interviews with American, Israeli and Iranian officials, intelligence officials and public statements from the victim’s family members.

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt appeared on France 24 on Sept. 8 on the eve of the trial of 20 suspects in the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. Three suicide bombers killed 130 people in the city’s northern suburb of Saint-Denis, and more than 400 more were injured. Walt, a correspondent for TIME and FORTUNE based in Paris, said during the segment that people in Paris feel more secure now than they did in the immediate aftermath, but need reassurance from the government. “Don’t forget that the November 13 Paris attacks came many months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Charlie Hebdo was an incredibly shocking event. It brought a million people out onto the streets of Paris. Leaders from all over the world came to Paris with one message – that this would never happen again. Ten months later, it did happen again, and worse.”

Anand Gopal, an OPC member and past award winner, filed a longform piece for The New Yorker’s Sept. 13 issue talking with women in rural Afghanistan about the era of occupation under the U.S.-led coalition and thoughts on the recent withdrawal after two decades. The piece outlines a pattern of collusion with warlords and strongmen who had previously terrorized the community, as well as civilian killings by U.S. forces and Afghan security forces. Gopal traveled to northern Helmand Province, writing that many in the area were relieved about the end of U.S. military presence and hoped for an end to perpetual civil war and violence. He said a random sample survey he conducted in the area revealed families lost an average of between 10 and 12 members of their family in the last two decades due to violence. Gopal won the OPC’s 2016 Ed Cunningham Award for reporting on ISIS for The Atlantic, the 2017 Cunningham Award along with OPC First Vice President Azmat Khan for their investigative piece “Uncounted” in The New York Times Magazine on underreported civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, and the 2018 Cunningham Award for coverage of Syria in The New Yorker. Gopal is scheduled to speak on a New Yorker panel on Sept. 30 about the future of Afghanistan. Read more in the Resources section below or click here.

OPC member Dana Thomas spoke on a panel for France 24 on Sept. 17 about the latest controversy surrounding Brexit after British retailer Marks & Spencer closed 11 stores across France amid supply chain issues and blame leveled against the British government. “It’s a bad sign for Britain’s economy and also a really bad sign for Paris, which already has a blight of empty stores after COVID,” Thomas said from Saint-Tropez. She made her comments on the program The World This Week. Thomas is a Paris-based style writer for multiple outlets and is author of the book Fashionopolis.

OPC member James Brooke wrote a piece for The Berkshire Eagle on Sept. 9 about his experience covering the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks from Kandahar, Afghanistan for The New York Times in 2002. He recalled filing a series of stories, venturing out into the city from his hotel with an interpreter to talk with Afghans in a market, visiting a U.S. base for a one-year anniversary ceremony, and then the next day flying by Chinook helicopter on a mission to supply a Special Forces unit in an isolated mountain village. That story, titled “FRONT LINES; U.S. Tasks in Afghan Desert: Hunt Taliban, Tote Plywood,” was on the front page.

Adam Ferguson, a photojournalist and OPC member who received an OPC freelancer micro-grant earlier this year to offset hardships from COVID-19, had several photos published in a piece for The Atlantic on Sept. 10 covering American service members’ reflections on their time in Afghanistan. “The movement that accompanies a firefight is exchanged for stillness in these images. Yet violence stalks them,” Ferguson wrote about the photos. “The quiet moments can be the loudest.”

OPC member Lila Hassan, who spent last year as a Tow Reporting Fellow at FRONTLINE PBS, is now a freelancer with a fellowship at Type Investigations as one of their 2021-22 Ida B. Wells fellows. She has been reporting on ICE arrests and accountability for the organization since the fellowships were announced in June.

Karen Toulon, secretary of the OPC Foundation, has written a children’s book illustrated by her husband, Eric Rhinehart that is set to be published in October. The ABC’s of Paradise Found is based on Toulon’s personal recollections of her Caribbean family and folklore. The publisher is Wordee, a Black, woman-owned company. The book features a forward by former UN Ambassador Andrew Young.

August 5, 2021

Matthew Reysio-Cruz, the winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting in 2021, has been named to the Pulitzer Center’s Class of 2021 Post-Graduate Reporting Fellowship Program. He will report on the present-day consequences of the U.S. “Secret War” on Laos and will investigate failures to assist the survivors of accidents involving leftover U.S. bombs.

Rose Gilbert, the 2021 Stan Swinton Scholarship winner, has a reporting internship with Tennessean covering Nashville and Middle Tennessee news. She recently wrote about how Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and his wife are trying to ways to ensure a future for the Tennessee Tutoring Corps, which they founded in the spring of 2020 to address summertime learning losses exacerbated by classroom closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annie Todd, the winner of the 2020 S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, is now a breaking news and community reporter for Argus Leader Media in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She has been covering the story of Rosebud Sioux funeral ceremonies for the remains of Indigenous children whose bodies were uncovered at the Carlisle Indian Reform School in Carlisle, PA, and returned to their native tribal lands in South Dakota. In her winning essay for her OPC Foundation award, Annie wrote about a memorial in Sarajevo for victims of the 1995 massacre whose bodies were identified and moved to the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial.

Dake Kang, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2016, was the first Western reporter to get inside one of the largest detention centers in China, perhaps the world, in Xinjiang, home to the Uyghurs. He recently wrote for The Associated Press about the facility, which is twice the size of Vatican City and can hold at least 10,000 inmates, the AP estimates. Kang, an OPC Award winner this year, had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Bangkok. Kang, an OPC Award winner this year, had an OPC Foundation fellowship with AP in Bangkok.

Valerie Hopkins, winner of the Jerry Flint Internship for International Business in 2013, had her first page-one story in The New York Times. She wrote about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who she described as an “unlikely pro-democracy leader from Belarus” now building what she called a “phalanx of Western opposition” from exile. Before recently joining the Times, Hopkins spent several years with the Financial Times in Budapest. She had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Belgrade. Hopkins also recently co-wrote a piece for the Times on Aug. 3 about an international scandal centering on Belarusian Olympic sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya, whose delegation forcibly tried to send her home after she criticized coaching staff on social media.

Simon Akam, the Emmanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2009, was recently interviewed by the Guardian regarding the problems he encountered when Penguin Random House (PHR) won the rights to publish his book, The Changing of the Guard. Later published by Scribe, the book is a critical study of the British army’s time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and details the army’s extensive efforts to shut down criticism directed at it. Akam recalled how PHR made unreasonable demands. Calling it “a terrifying precedent,” he described a situation in which a publisher could make exceptional demands of investigative journalists, including making writers submit their books to their sources for approval, effectively allowing them to edit themselves – and claim the writer has broken their contract if they refuse to do so. Akam had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Istanbul.

Maria Repnikova, the Alexander Kendrick Scholarship winner in 2009, was interviewed by The Washington Post on ways China is trying to influence other countries’ governing models. A political scientist and communication scholar at Georgia State University, Repnikova has written a new book on Chinese soft power that will be published soon, and she is completing a longer manuscript on Chinese soft power in Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia.

Ben Hubbard, the Stan Swinton Scholarship winner in 2007, was one of two New York Times reporters targeted for hacking by Pegasus, the Israeli spyware maker. Now the Times bureau chief in Beirut, Hubbard was also an attempted hacking target in 2018 by an operator linked to Saudi Arabia after he investigated rights abuses and corruption in that country. He also wrote a recent biography of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Hubbard had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Jerusalem.


A VICE News story by OPC member Amanda Sperber surrounding the toll on survivors of civilian victims from U.S. airstrikes in Somalia sent ripples to Washington last month. For her piece on July 22, she spoke with three of the four families of casualties that the U.S. has taken responsibility for during 14 years of airstrikes that started in 2007. The day after it was published, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar cited the story in a letter to U.S. President Joseph Biden. The letter, as reported by The Intercept, said the administration had failed to make reparations promised to the families, and challenged the administration’s justification for its airstrike on Somalia in July, the first since Biden took office. The Pentagon claimed that attack targeted suspected members of al-Shabab.

OPC member Abigail Pesta wrote a tribute for Olympic gymnast Simone Biles for TIME magazine’s commemorative issue on the games, chronicling how Biles survived trauma of abuse by Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, and highlighting the “profound disappointment in the organizations that failed to protect her, all while training in the isolation and uncertainty of a pandemic.” Pesta is author of The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down.

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt wrote about the ups and downs of the International Olympic Committee’s Refugee Olympic Team for TIME magazine on July 8. The first IOC refugee team competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. This year the team had 29 members, nearly three times as many as in 2016. But Walt wrote that some athletes struggled with expectations, tensions over their training, and “dissatisfaction with a system that, to them, appeared to deny them opportunities to create lives outside the program.” Six of the refugee team’s strongest athletes quit the program from 2017 to 2019.

OPC member John Daniszewski, the vice president and editor-at-large for standards for The Associated Press, was elected co-chair of Pulitzer Prize board. He will serve with Katherine Boo, a Washington, D.C.-based author and journalist, and Gail Collins, opinion columnist for The New York Times.

In a July 5 piece for The New York Times, OPC Governor Farnaz Fassihi wrote about a brutal murder case that has gripped Iran, in which an Iranian couple confessed to killing their son, daughter and son-in-law over the course of a decade. She wrote that the parents, 81-year-old retired army colonel Akbar Khorramdin, and his wife, 74-year-old Iran Mousavi, do not appear remorseful. Khorramdin stated in a television interview from jail that he “killed people who were very morally corrupt.” Fassihi wrote about the case’s wider context as the country grapples with generational conflict over traditional values, so-called honor killings and calls to reform the country’s penal code, which exempts fathers and grandfathers from the death penalty in murder charges against their own children or wards, with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The online news magazine Discourse has gained a footing during the last half year under the editorial leadership of OPC member John Koppisch. Stories published over the last month have covered healthcare and COVID-19, the legacy of James Balwin, news media’s relationship with advertisers and consumers, Critical Race Theory and mainland Chinese identity in Hong Kong. Discourse launched late last year and focuses on economics, politics and society. It is published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Koppisch, a longtime business journalist, was named assistant managing editor of Discourse in December 2020. Previously, he 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.

Freelance photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas, who spoke on an OPC panel in September 2016, was named a recipient of a 2021 Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on the Americas on July 21. This year for the first time all of the Cabot Prize winners are women. Zehbrauskas, a U.S.-based Brazilian photojournalist and documentary photographer, was honored for “illuminating portraits of people in desperate circumstances” showing intimacy and empathy and greatly contributing “to our understanding of the Americas.” She participated in an OPC panel with three other accomplished female photojournalists at the Columbia Journalism School in 2016. Read a recap and watch an archive video of that program here. She also wrote an article for the OPC’s Dateline magazine in 2019 about her project to photograph family members of missing students in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Other Cabot Prize winners this year are Adela Navarro Bello, director of ZETA in Mexico; Mary Beth Sheridan, correspondent at The Washington Post; and Eliane Brum, an independent journalist in Brazil.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) on Aug. 4 named Sharon Moshavi as the organization’s nex president. Effective Sept. 7, Moshavi will replace Joyce Barnathan, who is retiring after more than 15 years in that post. She is currently serving as ICFJ’s senior vice president of new initiatives, and according to a release she has “played a pivotal role in the organization’s tremendous growth and impact during a time of both massive upheaval and new opportunities for news media across the globe.” Barnathan announced her retirement in early 2020 but remained to help the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Danish Siddiqui, a Reuters photojournalist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and a 2017 OPC Citation for Excellence, was killed in Afghanistan in mid-July while covering clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban. He was 38. Siddiqui was an Indian national and Reuters staff journalist. He was embedded with members of Afghanistan’s elite special forces in the former Taliban command center of Kandahar. Siddiqui was killed when the soldiers came under Taliban fire during a mission retake a border district near Pakistan. He had been a Reuters journalist since 2010 and covered events across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He shared his 2017 OPC citation with a Reuters team for their coverage of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.


July 9, 2021


Luca Powell, the 2021 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, has been chosen as a 2021-2022 Report for America corps member. He will spend the year as an investigative data journalist reporting for the Traverse City Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan. His focus will be using data to tell stories of local and state issues and trends. Powell joins two other OPC Foundation scholars who are members of the current Report for America corps: Anna Kaiser, the 2021 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, who is part of a team focusing on economic mobility in Dade County for the Miami Herald; and Annie Rosenthal, the Jacobsen winner in 2020, who is the border reporter at Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Texas.

Jack Stone Truitt, the 2021 Schweisberg Scholarship winner, has landed a digital internship with Nikkei Asia in New York City. Nikkei Asia is published by Nikkei Inc., the world’s largest financial newspaper with a daily circulation exceeding three million.

Genevieve Finn, the 2020 Richard Pyle Scholarship winner, is one of 12 journalists chosen to attend the 2021 Date Institute, an intensive virtual workshop from the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, ProPublica and OpenNews on how to use data, design and code for journalism. The program will run from July 12 to July 16. Finn has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Associated Press bureau in Mexico City which she hopes to begin after a master’s program at Trinity College, Dublin.

After more than four years at the Fuller Project, Sophia Jones, the 2012 Reuters Scholarship winner, is joining the Starling Lab, a new research center based at Stanford and the University of Southern California, as executive editor of a new journalism program. The program will explore how innovative tech can support investigative journalism on human rights violations and war crimes. She will continue to be based in Barcelona and will work with tech experts, investigative journalists and newsrooms as they build out and utilize tools in the field to securely capture, store and verify sensitive digital records. The OPC Foundation funded Jones’ fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Ramallah in 2012.

After nearly 12 and a half years as correspondent for Reuters in Budapest, Marton Dunai, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2003, has joined the Financial Times as a correspondent in Hungary and Southeast Europe. His hunting area, he noted, will involve some of the most interesting corners of 11 countries, small and large power collisions in Europe.


OPC member Jaime FlorCruz, who worked as a foreign correspondent in China for about 40 years, was named one of ten laureates of the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding (APPCU) for 2021 on June 29. The ten recipients, one of which is Imelda Marcos, are awarded for their efforts to promote mutual understanding between the two nations across various means, including mass media. FlorCruz, identified in a release as founding president of the Peking University Overseas Students’ Alumni Association, was awarded for his “major contributions.” The awards will be given in a ceremony on Aug. 6.


Pete Hamill, a newspaper icon and former OPC member who died last August at the age of 85, was honored on June 23 in his birthplace of Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a ceremony to name a street in his memory. The event marked what would have been his 86th birthday with street signs carrying his name at 12th Street and 7th Avenue. Hamill was a prolific journalist and author who worked in various roles at the New York Post, New York Daily News and Newsday. He was an OPC member from 1999 to 2009. His wife, Fukiko Aoki Hamill, is a member.

OPC member Judith Matloff filed a story for The Daily Beast on June 19 cautioning those who find themselves in violent situations to rely on the advice of the Hippocratic Oath and “do no harm.” In the piece, titled “Don’t Be a Good Samaritan Unless You Know What You’re Doing,” Matloff recounts a recent experience getting caught in a fog of pepper spray from thieves while shopping in Manhattan. Out on the street, a well-intentioned bystander offered milk to wash away the irritant, and another offered seltzer – both of which Matloff says can increase irritation or risk of infection, or damage the eyes. The incident reminded Matloff, who teaches conflict reporting at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, that untrained Samaritans can do a lot of harm. She listed the following advice to amateurs: don’t apply the Heimlich maneuver to choking victims, smack them on the upper back instead; don’t try to use a belt as a tourniquet without proper training; and don’t put a severed finger directly on ice – put it inside plastic and then surround it with ice on the outside.

A documentary directed by OPC member and filmmaker Madeline Gunderson was released on Vimeo for rental on June 24. A Valley Divided centers on the fruit-growing region of Yakima Valley in eastern Washington state, where populations are increasingly majority-Latino, but elected representatives are still overwhelmingly white. A summary of the film says that a 2020 lawsuit against Yakima County alleges its voting system dilutes the agency of Latinos, violating the state Voting Rights Act, and calls for ranked-choice voting to better reflect constituents. The film uncovers decades of political discrimination and “holds up a mirror to the larger story of a changing United States.” The film was screened at the NYU News and Documentary Student Film Festival on May 8, at a Yakima Parks event on May 16, and at the Gesa Power House Theatre in Walla Walla on June 23.

On July 2, OPC member Kenneth R. Rosen launched a newsletter titled “War, U.S.A.,” which he said is “about conflict in the broadest sense: the difficulties we face at home and the ones we engage with abroad.” In an email to the OPC, he said he hopes to learn and share more about changes in the United States “as we draw down our military engagements abroad.” Rosen is also calling for contributors and suggestions for coverage. Subscribe to the newsletter and find out more here.

Aurora Almendral, an OPC member and award winner based in Southeast Asia, wrote a piece for The New York Times published on June 24 about the climate impact of cargo ships, and efforts to use wind power to reduce their carbon footprint. She wrote that global shipping produces 2.9 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions, almost equivalent to that of South America. Almendral spoke with a trade association with 40 member companies now working on wind-propulsion, or “modern sail” technologies.

OPC member Jessica Obert wrote a piece for The New Humanitarian on July 5 about COVID-19 in Haiti, one of only a handful in the world that has not started a vaccination program. Despite a recent fourfold uptick in weekly coronavirus deaths, Obert wrote, Haiti is still awaiting its first vaccine delivery from the international COVAX program, an effort meant to provide equal access to coronavirus treatment worldwide. She contrasted that with the Dominican Republic, the other half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, where vaccines have reached nearly 35 percent of the population.

Megha Rajagopalan of Buzzfeed News, one of the winners of this year’s Kim Wall Award, was a guest on the Longform Podcast on June 30 to discuss her coverage of Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang, China. That reporting, carried out with colleagues Alison Killing and Christo Buschek with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, won the Kim Wall Award as well as a Pulitzer Prize. Rajagopalan details the reporting process during the interview, which involved the use of satellite images and 3D imagery to uncover a massive industrialized internment system.


An article for the Columbia Journalism Review by OPC member Kristen Chick on July 6 details a pattern of complaints against New York Times international picture editor David Furst before his departure from the paper in April. Chick’s piece references a 2018 human resources probe into employee complaints, among other incidents, and spoke with photojournalists who described unusually hostile and capricious behavior, particularly toward freelancers. Furst served as governor of the OPC from 2017 to 2019.