September 26, 2022

People Column

2022 July-December Issue

Sept. 22, 2022


Fatima Bhojani, the 2015 Theo Wilson scholarship winner, wrote a piece for Foreign Policy on Sept. 15 about the devastating effects of climate change in Pakistan. She wrote that monsoon floods in 2022 have submerged an area about the size of Italy, describing a cycle that begins with deadly heat waves and drought, then “more water than usual evaporates from the Indian Ocean and is eagerly embraced by a warmer atmosphere. When the seasonal monsoon hits, it hits hard, with rainfall three times the national average of the past three decades.“ Bhojani said developing countries like Pakistan bear the brunt of climate crises caused by industrialized wealthy nations, exacerbating fragile situations such as food insecurity and political power struggles. Despite recent pledges from G-7 nations, “it’s not clear that the even loftier needs of climate mitigation and adaptation will be met for the countries, like mine, most in need.

Anders Melin, an OPC member who received a Reuters internship in 2013 from the OPC Foundation, moved from the U.S. to Malaysia in August to write for Bloomberg Wealth and Businessweek. On Sept. 20, he tweeted that he’d filed his first byline out of Kuala Lumpur with a story about Southeast Asian governments floating new plans for visa programs that target professionals, retirees or other affluent people. “Several started taking applications, calling on tycoons, ‘rainmakers’ and digital nomads to consider a new harbor,” he wrote. A native of Sweden, Melin spent his 2013 internship in the Reuters bureau in Brussels.


After years of development, a movie based on a book by OPC Governor Charles Graeber premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sept. 11. The film, based on Graeber’s book The Good Nurse, follows the story of a serial killer, Charles Cullen, played by Eddie Redmayne, who as a nurse murdered dozens – if not hundreds – of patients. It also stars Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren, a nurse who helped police catch Cullen. Graeber attended the opening for The Good Nurse with his father, and tweeted photos with him and with Loughren and her daughter, saying “It’s surreal for them, me too.” The film, directed by Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, will open more broadly in theaters on Oct. 19, and on Netflix on Oct. 26.

Evgeny Afineevsky, a filmmaker and OPC member, showed his documentary at this year’s TIFF. The film, Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, is Afineevsky’s follow-up to his 2015 Oscar-nominated Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom. A Hollywood Reporter piece covering TIFF highlights said the new film “proved to be the definitive portrait, thus far, of the ongoing Russian atrocities — and remarkable resistance to them — in Ukraine.” It premiered on Sept. 7 at the 79th Venice International Film Festival. Freedom on Fire is still seeking U.S. distribution.

OPC member and filmmaker Benedetta Argentieri also premiered her documentary The Matchmaker at the 79th Venice International Film Festival this year. The film follows Tooba Gondal, a native Londoner alleged to have recruited teenage girls to become the wives of ISIS fighters. Argentieri interviewed Gondal in Syria before she was deported to France at the end of 2019.

OPC member Mehr Sher, an investigative journalist, has joined Report for America as a corps member and is now reporting on environmental issues at the Bangor Daily News in Maine. She has been working at the paper since August, filing stories on shortcomings of bottled water testing in the state, the ongoing drought crisis, and most recently on Sept 15 on the impact of climate change on small scale wild blueberry farmers who lack access to a consistent water supply.

OPC member Alice Driver spoke as guest lecturer at Arkansas State University on Sept 12 about immigration and femicide along the U.S.–Mexico border, a topic she has frequently covered over the last 10 years. Driver, a native of the Ozarks Mountains of Arkansas now based in Mexico, was supported by an OPC micro-grant in 2021 to help weather effects of the pandemic and to help her at the time to continue reporting on deaths of meat processing workers. She wrote a book about femicide in Mexico in 2015 titled More or Less Dead for the University of Arizona press, and a new book on labor rights and immigration, titled The Life and Death of the American Worker, is in the worksIn a 2019 Q&A feature for the OPC, she urged correspondents to “learn languages or take the time to understand the cultural context of events when they are reporting outside of their home country.”

Photojournalist and past OPC Award winner Lynsey Addario has won a 2022 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). She will be honored along with other awardees at the IWMF’s ceremony on Nov. 9. Separately, an exhibit of her work is currently on exhibit at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Chelsea Gallery through Oct. 29. Addario, who has also won a MacArthur Genius Grant and Pulitzer Prize for her work, began her 20-year career in 1996, and has covered conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Somalia, Syria, South Sudan and Ukraine. She won the 2010 Olivier Rebbot Award for her series on Afghan women for National Geographic, a Citation for Excellence for the same year in the Feature Photography category for covering maternal mortality in Sierra Leone for TIME, and in 2017 received a citation in the Kim Wall category as part of a team from TIME following a refugee family from Syria. The SVA event is part of the school’s annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition, and was originally planned for fall of 2020. Admission is free and open to the public. SVA also hosted a conversation on Sept. 9 with Addario and Kathy Ryan, the director of photography at The New York Times Magazine.

Katie J.M. Baker, 2019 Whitman Bassow Award winner, has joined The New York Times as a correspondent covering social and cultural conflicts that divide the U.S. She previously worked as senior reporter on BuzzFeed News’s national desk. Baker took part in an OPC program in December 2020 about her award-winning reporting on a rights abuses exacerbated and ignored within the largest conservation organization in the world, the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Sept. 8, 2022


Humza Jilani, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2022, has earned his first byline for Reuters. The Sept. 1 story covers looming closures for pubs in the United Kingdom amid surging energy costs and a struggle to recover from the past COVID-19 years. Jilani, a Harvard graduate studying at Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in London.

Meena Venkataramanan, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2021, will be staying on at The Washington Post after her internship at the paper ended last week, to write more stories and anchor the About US newsletter “on identity, an initiative to illuminate conversations around race, gender and other crucial (and underreported) aspects of selfhood.”

Sam McNeil, the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship winner in 2014, now a video journalist who has been in the Beijing bureau for The Associated Press, has returned to the Middle East in the AP’s Jerusalem bureau. McNeil has been with AP since his OPC Foundation fellowship in AP’s bureau in Cairo.

Valerie Hopkins, winner of the Jerry Flint Internship for International Business Reporting in 2013, has continued to cover the war in Ukraine for The New York Times. She returned to Moscow for the first time in six months for a front page story published on Sept. 6 about the insulated nature of life in Moscow, where the war and even economic impacts felt elsewhere in the country have not appeared to change life for most residents in the city.

Alex Pena, the first Walter and Betsy Cronkite Scholarship winner in 2011, is now a producer and digital journalist for VICE News. Pena spent the last seven years at CBS News, ultimately as a producer for the CBS Reports Documentary News Series. He began his career as reporter for Stars & Stripes.


The New York Times announced on Aug. 26 that OPC Vice President Azmat Khan will join the paper’s staff and will serve as investigative reporter for both the newsroom and The New York Times Magazine, where she has been a contributing writer. “She has demonstrated again and again the difference that tenacious journalism — rigorous, principled and committed to holding power to account — can make in the world,” Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of the Times magazine, wrote in an announcement post. Khan is a professor at Columbia Journalism School and heads the Li Center for Global Journalism. She won the OPC’s 2017 Ed Cunningham Award for “The Uncounted,” a story in the Times magazine about civilians killed by drones in Iraq, and lead the team that won this year’s Roy Rowan Award for “Airstrikes Gone Wrong,” a piece expanding on her earlier drone reporting. She started her new post on Aug. 29.

OPC Treasurer Sandra Stevenson started a new job on Sept. 6 as deputy director of photography at The Washington Post overseeing international, climate and health. She was previously associate director of photography at CNN. Before CNN, Stevenson was at The New York Times, where she oversaw digital visual editors on the news desk and worked on visual content for Race/Related and Gender.

OPC member Barbie Latza Nadeau published a book on Sept. 6 about women in organized crime, titled The Godmother: Murder, Vengeance, and the Bloody Struggle of Mafia Women. She wrote that women in Italy-based criminal groups such as the Camorra “are making far more progress climbing the ladder and being treated as equals than their law-abiding peers.” Nadeau is an American journalist and author who has lived in Rome since 1996. She has worked as the Rome bureau chief for Newsweek Magazine and is currently bureau chief for The Daily Beast.

Rebecca Wright, an OPC member, television presenter and journalist based in New Zealand, has become co-host of the political current affairs show Newshub Nation on the national TV channel Three. She will join Simon Shepherd on the program, replacing Oriini Kaipara, who stepped down from the role in August. She said in an interview that “it’s a fascinating time with the political landscape changing so much and I’m looking forward to diving into the issues on behalf of our audience.” Wright has more than 15 years of experience in television reporting.

Many OPC Governors and members are slated to speak at the 2022 International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress that runs from Sept. 8 to 10 at Columbia University. The event, which is held online and in person, will have welcome remarks from OPC member John Daniszewski, a “town meeting” program featuring OPC Vice President Azmat Khan and OPC member Michael Slackman, a program about the Pulitzer Prizes with OPC Governor and Pulitzer Prizes administrator Marjorie Miller, a program about local news with OPC President Scott Kraft and OPC member Sewell Chan, and other speakers from the OPC community such as Charles Sennott and Karen Toulon. To find out more, the schedule is posted here.


Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR who served in recent years as a judge for the OPC awards, died on Sept. 7 at the age of 71. She was a judge for this year’s Lowell Thomas Award as well as previous years, and in 2016 held a book night with the OPC to discuss Putin Country, a book about Chelyabinsk, an industrial “middle Russia” city about 1,000 miles east of Moscow. Garrels’ colleague, OPC Governor Deborah Amos, in a piece for NPR remembered meeting Garrels soon after she arrived in 1988 after serving as ABC News bureau chief in Moscow and Central America. “She’d had this long and remarkable career before she landed here … She was always braver than me, and I always understood that she was braver than me,” Amos said.

Bernard Shaw, an OPC Award winner who served as CNN anchor for 20 years, died on Sept. 7. He was 82. His career spanned the founding of CNN in 1980 and the two decades as anchor before his departure in 2000 included live coverage of events at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and live coverage of the First Gulf War from Baghdad in 1991. Shaw won the 1989 David Kaplan Award along with Dan Rather for coverage of China and was part of a CNN team that won the Edward R. Murrow Award in 1996 for a program looking back at the Gulf War. He was presenter for the OPC Annual Awards Dinner in 1990.

Aug. 26, 2022


Sarah Trent, the 2020 Roy Rowan Scholarship winner, on Aug. 23 was named one of two new interns for High Country News magazine. She recently moved to Vancouver, Washington, and said in an introduction that she is “looking forward to exploring climate stories in a region that is significantly impacted, but less covered by the national media.” Trent had an OPC Foundation fellowship on the science desk at The Wall Street Journal.

Dake Kang, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2016, has been reporting on how mineral mines in northern Myanmar have affected indigenous communities. The minerals are needed for components in green energy technology. “Their cost is environmental destruction, the theft of land from villagers and the funneling of money to brutal militias, including at least one linked to Myanmar’s secretive military government. As demand soars for rare earths along with green energy, the abuses are likely to grow.,” Kang and AP colleagues Victoria Milko and Lori Hinnant wrote in the piece. Kang was part of an AP team that won the OPC’s 2020 Roy Rowan Award for reporting on China’s human rights violations against the country’s Uighur minority. His OPC Foundation fellowship in 2016 was with the AP in Bangkok.


OPC Governor Marjorie Miller, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, was profiled in Editor & Publisher magazine on Aug. 15 to discuss this year’s awards, which have been called the most diverse to date. Miller told the magazine that it stemmed from greater diversity in newsrooms, and “then you get more diverse juries, and the board, over time, has gotten more diverse, and so they help present more diverse winners.” Miller served as vice president and global enterprise editor at The Associated Press. She became administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes on April 21, before juries began to select this year’s winners.

OPC Governor Derek Kravitz, who is a project editor at Columbia’s and Stanford’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation and investigations editor at MuckRock Data, was among the researchers who created a new archive to help academics and journalists make sense of the early days of COVID-19. In a piece for The Intercept on Aug. 20, Kravitz is named as the leader of an effort to request records from state and local agencies for sensitive records like COVID-19 death tolls and conditions in meatpacking facilities. The new archive will expand and compliment that work, according to the article.

OPC member Abigail Pesta wrote a feature for Rolling Stone magazine on Aug. 21 about a survivor of child sex trafficking who has become an activist and organizer working to thwart predators. She wrote that Jose Alfaro, a gay man from a small Texas town, had broken his silence and is telling his story, “as he has done in criminal and civil court, providing deeply personal insight into how traffickers ensnare young men and boys, exploiting them emotionally, physically, and sexually.”

Emily Schultheis, an OPC member and freelance journalist based in Berlin, wrote a longform piece for the online news site .coda on Aug. 4 about death threats and harassment from anti-vaxxers leading up to the suicide of physician Lisa-Maria Kellermayr in Austria. She writes that Kellermayr faced seven months of coordinated harassment before the closure of her practice in late June then taking her own life on July 29. Police called her initial reports of cyberbullying “false” and dismissed subsequent threats to her life without investigation, Schultheis wrote. Police are now investigating a man alleged to have sent a message suggesting a “tribunal of the people” would convict and execute Kellermayr.

Yasmine Mosimann, an OPC member and freelance journalist based in Baghdad, produced and presented a video piece for France 24 on Aug. 23 covering Iraq’s worst political crisis since the U.S.-led invasion. The country’s judiciary suspended work on Aug. 23 after supporters of powerful Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, demanded that the body dissolve parliament. Mosimann said the more halted all legal processes across the country. “This just marks another escalation of what is now an over ten-month process to form the government.”

OPC members Robert Cooper (left photo) and Will Cathcart wrote a story published in Air Mail on Aug. 20 about a program to sponsor military support for Ukraine by allowing donors to sign grenades launched at Russian soldiers. They wrote that for $2,000 on, a Ukrainian soldier will write a message on a grenade, drop it from a drone onto a Russian soldier, and send a video of the attack to the donor. Other donation offerings include writing a message on a tank turret or howitzer shell. Cooper and Cathcart said that the project has raised more than $200,000 for an NGO that has donated vehicles, medical supplies and food to Ukrainian fighters. Most donors are American and European, the two reported.


Longtime Associated Press correspondent and editor Marcus Eliason died on Aug. 5 in New York at the age of 75. OPC member John Daniszewski, former international editor for the AP, told the AP in a remembrance that Eliason was “a wonderful writer and editor, erudite, wise and supporting.” He began covering global news in the late 1960s, eventually landing in the AP Paris bureau in 1978. Over his career spanned the 1967 Six-Day War, apartheid-era South Africa, war in Afghanistan, turmoil in Belfast, Ireland, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the handover of Hong Kong.

Tim Page, a renowned British photojournalist and OPC Award winner who was wounded four times while covering the Vietnam War, died on Aug. 24 at his home in Australia at the age of 78. Page covered Vietnam from 1965 to 1969, having arrived at the age of 20. He co-published a book in 1997 with Horst Faas, titled Requiem, that included the work of 135 photographers who died in the war. The book won a Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, as well as a George Polk Award. He was known as a risk taker and renegade whose personality inspired Dennis Hopper’s character in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. In 2013 he told VICE that “any war picture is an antiwar picture.” He added that while photography didn’t necessarily stop the war, “I think it contributed to swaying public opinion.”

Aug. 11, 2022


Ha-kyung Kim, the 2022 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner and an OPC Foundation fellow with The Wall Street Journal in Seoul, earned her first byline on July 22: The piece, titled “South Korean Shipbuilder Daewoo, Workers Reach Deal to End Strike,” covered a deal between one of the world’s largest shipbuilders and subcontract workersthat ended a weekslong strike that cost about $600 million in losses delayed deliveries of liquefied natural gas. Kim recently graduated from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Sandali Handagama, the Jerry Flint Fellowship winner in 2020, was named deputy managing editor of the policy and regulations team at CoinDesk. Based in Italy, she oversees digital economy policy updates and news for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Max Strasser, the Alexander Kendrick Scholarship winner in 2008, will be the new editor of the recently renamed and redesigned Sunday Opinion at The New York Times. Strasser, who has been with the paper’s opinion desk for seven years, went to London at the start of 2018 to oversee its international coverage, leading a team of editors across three continents. For the past year, he was on the desk’s special projects team where he has been instrumental in projects like “Postcards From a World on Fire” and the recent “I Was Wrong” package from Times columnists.


OPC member and freelance journalist Nicolas Niarchos was arrested and detained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for five days in July while setting up an interview about alleged ties between mining groups and separatists in the country. In a statement on July 20, Niarchos wrote that his passport was seized by the Agence Nationale de Reseignements and a photo of the passport was leaked on social media. He said neither he nor his Congolese colleague Joseph “Jeef” Kazadi, who was also arrested but detained for a longer period, were charged with a crime. He tweeted a photo of Kazadi on Aug. 4 saying he had been freed after 22 days. “Journalism is not a crime, is is the fertile soil from which a democratic society can grow,” Niarchos said in his statement. A government official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Niarchos was questioned about his contact with armed groups, particularly the separatist group Bakata Katanga. Niarchos writes for The Nation and The New Yorker, which he thanked along with press freedom organizations who supported him and Kadadi during the ordeal.

Kathy Gannon, a longtime OPC member who recently retired as Associated Press news director for Pakistan and Afghanistan, was named among the 2022 Joan Shorenstein Fellows on Aug. 4. In a release, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy announced three fellows, including Phillip Martin, senior investigative reporter for The GBH News Center for Investigative Reporting and Seth K. Goldman, honors associate professor of communication at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Gannon will be researching conflict reporting, with a focus on international reporting on conflict in Afghanistan and its effects on policy and public perception.

OPC member Nicholas Kristof has rejoined The New York Times after stepping down as columnist for the paper in October last year to pursue the gubernatorial race in Oregon. His bid to appear on the Oregon ballot was rejected after state courts decided he did not meet residency requirements. A Times release about his return to the Opinion desk said that he would resume his column this fall after he completes a new book. Kristof worked as reporter, editor and columnist for Times for 37 years before his departure from the paper last year. He won two OPC awards during his career, including the 2011 Best Online Commentary. He won the 1989 Hal Boyle Award along with his wife Sheryl WuDunn for their reporting on the pro-democracy movement in China and at Tiananmen Square.

OPC member Edith Lederer, who has reported for The Associated Press more than four decades, spoke to AP colleague Allen G. Breed for a July 25 story about her role in breaking the so-called Tuskegee Study in which hundreds of Black Americans were denied treatment for syphilis and became unwitting medical research subjects. Lederer received a sheaf of documents from a friend and health researcher who had acquired 10 reports from the Communicable Disease Center about the study. The researcher, Peter Buxtun, reported the unethical study to superiors, but was shut down. He later passed them to Lederer, who did not feel prepared to take on the story herself, so in the press room of the 1972 Democratic National Convention, she passed the documents to a colleague with more investigative skills, Jean Heller. “I knew that I could not do this,” Lederer said in the recent story. “AP, in 1972, was not going to put a young reporter from San Francisco on a plane to Tuskegee, Alabama, to go and do an investigative story.”

OPC members Ruchi Kumar and Hikmat Noori filed a piece on July 27 for NPR about the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The article for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog spotlights a surge in rates of child, early and forced marriage since last year. According to UNICEF, even before the Taliban returned to power, nearly 28% of Afghan women and girls between the ages of 15 to 49 years were married before age 18. An Afghan journalist interviewed for the story who was forced to flee, identified only by the initials F.J., told NPR that circumstances she left behind have left her in mental anguish. “I used to be the voice of Afghan women, and overnight, I became voiceless, with no rights, and no one to fight and defend my rights.” Kumar is a freelance journalist who reports on conflict, politics, development and culture in India and Afghanistan, and Noori is a freelancer who writes for The Guardian, Al Jazeera, NPR and Foreign Policy magazine, among others.