April 16, 2024

People Column

2023 July-December Issue

Dec. 1, 2023

SCHOLARS

Youcef Bounab, the 2023 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone, is now the English-language Maghreb correspondent for Agence France-Presse in Tunis. He had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Paris.

Humza Jilani, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2022, has joined the Financial Times. He will spend his first six months covering international economic news from London and then head to Pakistan to be FT’s next Islamabad correspondent. Humza had an OPC Foundation with Reuters in London.

Hayley Woodin Hastings, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2022, has taken on an elevated leadership role in business journalism at BIV and within Glacier Media. She will be responsible for leadership of BIV events, strategic initiatives, partnership development and digital expansion. In her new role, Woodin Hastings also has editorial oversight of The Orca and Western Investor.

Brett Simpson, the Irene Corbally Kuhn Scholarship winner in 2021, is one of two journalists named for the Institute for Current World Affairs 2024-2026 fellowship. Starting next summer, she will be based in Tromsø, Norway, documenting Arctic climate changes and shifting geopolitics in an era of rising temperatures and tension. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the Arctic Council was suspended and all circum-Arctic data sharing on climate projects abruptly stopped. Ever since, for the first time in the era of climate change, the Arctic has been split effectively in half. Here is a story she reported for Foreign Policy.

Sarah Champagne, the 2019 winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting, won the Grand Prix Judith-Jasmin, one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Quebec, for her work on temporary immigrants. The prize honored both the work she did for the documentary, Essentials, as well as a series of articles that appeared in Le Devoir on the same subject entitled The Great Shift in Immigration.

Scott Squires, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner in 2018 and a reporter covering money and markets in Argentina from the Bloomberg bureau in Buenos Aires, will be moving to Bloomberg-Mexico City in 2024 to cover Mexico’s energy sector, Pemex, oil and Mexico’s renewable energy transition. Squires had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Buenos Aires.

Amelia Nierenberg the 2018 Flora Lewis Fellowship winner, reported from the Lewiston, Maine area for The New York Times during last month’s mass shooting that killed 18 people and wounded 13 others at a bowling alley and a bar. Nierenberg filed many reports from the shooting sites in Lewiston as well as from nearby Bowdoin, where the shooter Robert Card was from, and from Lisbon Falls, where his vehicle was found and later where his body was discovered after a 48-hour manhunt.

Kim Chakanetsa, the Stan Swinton Scholarship winner in 2011, is host of The Conversation at BBC World Service. She and her team recently won a third Clarion award in the radio/interview program category. Clarion Awards are presented by the Association for Women in Communications (AWC), an organization that promotes the advancement of women across all communications disciplines. Chakanetsa had an OPC Foundation fellowship in the AP bureau in Johannesburg.

Jeff Horvitz, the Fred Weigold winner in 2009 and now a tech reporter for The Wall Street Journal, has a new book entitled Broken Code: Inside Facebook and the Fight to Expose Its Harmful Secrets, billed as a behind-the-scenes look at the manipulative tactics Facebook used to grow its business, how it distorted the way people connect online, and the company insiders who found the courage to speak out. Broken Code tells the story of these employees and their explosive discoveries. Expanding on “The Facebook Files,” his award-winning series for the Journal, Horwitz details the architecture of Facebook’s failures and what the company knew and often disregarded about its societal impact.

AWARDS

Columbia Journalism School named two FRONTLINE documentaries — 20 Days in Mariupol and Afghanistan Undercover — as 2024 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award finalists. FRONTLINE’s editor-in-chief and executive producer is OPC Governor Raney Aronson-Rath. 20 Days in Mariupol, made in partnership with The Associated Press and produced and edited by Michelle Mizner with Aronson-Rath also serving as producer, covers the beginning of the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Ukrainian filmmaker and AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov. Chernov was part of the AP team that won the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award this year. Afghanistan Undercover, produced by a team including award-winning correspondent Ramita Navai and director and producer Karim Shah, investigates the Taliban’s crackdown on women in Afghanistan since August 2021. Both films have won several awards this year. Afghanistan Undercover won this year’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award. On Nov. 14, Aronson-Rath spoke at the Columbia Journalism School after a screening of 20 Days in Mariupol, along with Michelle Mizner, producer and editor of FRONTLINE, Polina Buchak, an award-winning New York-based Ukrainian filmmaker, and June Cross, professor and director of the Documentary Journalism Program at the Columbia Journalism School.

OPC member Dana Thomas won a Signal Award in October in the category of “Best Host – Current Events” for her podcast, The Green Dream. The podcast, which covers sustainability and climate change, shared a Silver Award in that category with Jon Stewart, who won as host of his podcast, The Problem with Jon Stewat, and Reid Hoffman, for Masters of Scale: Brand While You Build. All three shared the top honor for the category – there was no Gold Award winner. For the Listener’s Choice Award, The Green Dream came in second after Jon Stewart, receiving a second Silver Award. This year, the Signal Awards received nearly 2000 entries and during the public voting stage more than 130,000 votes were cast for the Signal Listener’s Choice award. The awards were celebrated at an Oct. 23 reception at The Bowery NYC.

2020 Edward R. Murrow Award winner Ahmer Khan received the Martin Adler Prize for 2023 from the Rory Peck Trust during a ceremony on Nov. 16. The award judges said Khan’s journalism “sheds light on some of the toughest and most heated issues in India, while his writing shows impact and sensitivity.” Tweeting about the award, he said “I would like to dedicate this win to the brave journalists working in #Gaza who, in the line of duty, sacrificed their lives for journalism.” Khan and his VICE team won the 2020 Murrow Award for their documentary India Burning, about Muslim Indians at risk of losing their citizenship.

UPDATES

A documentary produced by OPC members and recipients of the OPC’s COVID-19 grants premiered at DOC NYC on Nov. 12. Mediha follows the life of a teenage Yazidi girl who has recently returned from ISIS captivity. The director, Hasan Oswald, and one of the producers, OPC member Fahrinisa Campana, received OPC grants in 2020 to help freelancers during the pandemic. OPC members Annelise Mecca and Alexander Spiess were also producers, along with Stephen Nemeth. Oswald was also a producer on the film. In November Oscar-winner Emma Thompson joined the production as an executive producer. The film is currently wending its way around film festivals.

OPC member Nicole Tung, an award-winning photojournalist for The New York Times who has covered conflicts around the world, talked to WNYC’s “1A Podcast” for their “Ask a War Photojournalist” series on Nov. 13. Tung joined photojournalists Lynsey Addario and Peter van Agtmael on the program. She talked about her experience working while embedded with military in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, and answered other questions sent by listeners.

Joseph Cox, an OPC member who formerly worked for VICE’s tech publication Motherboard, spoke to business magazine Fast Company on Nov. 19 for a piece about worker-owned publications such as the 404 Media company he and a circle of colleagues launched this summer. He said he reached a breaking point when he realized he couldn’t access the U.S. court system’s subscription database because VICE had fallen behind on bills, and then saw through public bankruptcy records that executives had received large bonuses. “That was the crystallizing moment for me,” Cox was quoted as saying. “I was astounded and angry and rather than tweeting any more about it, I pivoted that emotion into creating a new media company.”

OPC member Ruchi Kumar on Nov. 18 wrote a piece for The Telegraph covering Afghan refugees who were forced to bribe police to avoid deportation from Pakistan. She followed the story of one refugee, Shahid, whose rental home in Islamabad was raided by police just 24 hours after the government ordered 1.3 million Afghan refugees to leave the country by Oct. 31. Shahid delayed deportation temporarily by agreeing to pay a bribe of 10,000 Pakistani Rupees, about $35, Kumar wrote.

Barbie Nadeau, an OPC member who files dispatches for CNN from Rome, on Nov. 13 reported a story she described as coming “right out of a Fellini film,” in which an 8-year-old escaped circus lion was seen prowling the streets about 20 miles west of Rome. She said the lion, named Kimba, roamed the seaside town of Ladispoli for about 5 hours before he was shot with a tranquilizer dart, captured and returned to the circus. The town’s mayor, Alessandro Grando, joined animal rights activists in calling for “an end to the exploitation of animals in circuses.”

On a radio segment for WAMC Northeast Public Radio on Nov. 3, OPC member Amanda Sperber said she is encouraging her students to “rethink foreign correspondence,” which can be achieved by including more diversity in the newsroom and challenging long-established patterns of reporting that tend to frame global events through a Western lens. Sperber is serving this fall as the James H. Ottaway, Sr. visiting professor of journalism at the State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. She said she urges students to examine “journalism that challenges expectations and challenges the discourse of the powerful.”

OPC member Stephen Schlesinger spoke to PassBlue, a U.N.-focused news site, with Canada’s Ambassador Bob Rae in early September to talk about the 20th anniversary of his Schlesinger’s book, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations. A recording of the conversation was posted on Nov. 4. The two discussed how the U.N. was formed at the San Francisco conference in 1945, and what it means today. Rae asked Schlesinger, a fellow at the Century Foundation, how the U.N. can still play a constructive role in limiting abuses of power and consequences of conflict such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Schlesinger said he wished U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres had been more proactive before the Russian invasion. “I can’t always figure out why a Secretary General acts as they do, but the most important thing is that they act.”

Monica Montero, an OPC member who reports on migration, filed an article on Nov. 15 for Al Jazeera from Calais, France and England about the Rwanda Asylum Plan, with support from the Pulitzer Center. Montero is a post-graduate reporting fellow with the Pulitzer Center.

Edith Lederer, an OPC member and veteran Associated Press journalist covering the United Nations, interviewed Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs on Nov. 9, asking about the country’s position as neighbor and ally to Ukraine. Rinkēvičs said Russia is planning for a long war and appealed to countries to continue supplying arms to the Ukrainian military. “If we stop Russia in Ukraine, then Russia is not going to be able to challenge other countries,” he told Lederer. She has also been reporting extensively on the Israel-Hamas war from New York, including a piece about the U.N. Security Council’s many attempts to agree on a resolution on Nov. 14.

Oct. 19, 2023

SCHOLARS

Nuha Dolby, the 2023 Roy Rowan Fellowship winner, and Katherine Swartz, the 2022 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, have been named to the inaugural class of fellows at the Allbritton Journalism Institute (AJI). As fellows in the two-year program, they will learn from and work alongside top reporters and editors on AJI’s team. AJI is backed by a $20 million grant from Robert Allbritton, the founding publisher of Politico. The new non-profit organization and newsroom, staffed by veteran journalists, will train aspiring reporters to produce fact-based, non-partisan journalism on government and politics. As an OPC Foundation fellow, Dolby covered business and technology this summer in the London bureau of The Wall Street Journal.

Francis Tang, the 2023 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, has started his OPC Fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Tokyo. In his first published story, about abuse in the J-pop industry, he shared a byline with Reuters reporter and the 2020 Stan Swinton Fellowship winner, Kantaro Komiya. Komiya started his career with an OPC Fellowship in the Associated Press Tokyo bureau.

Yuchang Tang, the 2023 Richard Pyle Scholarship winner, published seven articles, including three feature stories and several breaking news pieces during his OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Bangkok, including articles on young Chinese nomads and Chinese LGBTQ tourism in Thailand.

Kaela Malig, the Sally Jacobsen Scholarship winner in 2023, was named this year’s Tow Journalism Fellow. She will spend her year-long fellowship at FRONTLINE immersed in all phases of documentary storytelling, from reporting to the production process. Before attending Columbia Journalism School, she reported on the bloody drug war in her native Philippines. A four-time winner of the Society of Publishers Asia Awards for Editorial Excellence, she interned for Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa’s news outlet Rappler and reported for The Washington Post and CNN before working for the Philippines’ biggest broadcast company.

Youcef Bounab, 2023 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F.Stone, recently returned from his OPC Foundation fellowship with the Associated Press bureau in Paris. Among the stories he covered were French lawmakers approving tapping devices, booksellers along the Seine, and Bastille Day celebration after recent unrest.

Claire Parker, the Stan Swinton Fellowship winner in 2019, was named Cairo bureau chief for The Washington Post, leading the coverage of North Africa and Yemen. She was previously a staff writer on the Post’s international desk and a freelance journalist in Tunisia. She was an OPC Foundation fellow with The Associated Press in Paris.

Jeff Horwitz, who won the Fred Wiegold Scholarship in 2009, and a team of journalists from The Wall Street Journal received the 2022 Impact Award for Distinguished Financial Journalism from the New York Financial Writers Association for their “Facebook Files” series, which details Facebook’s knowledge of the harmful impact of Instagram on young users – particularly teenage girls, and how the company hid and played down this knowledge. View the winning articles here.

AWARDS

The judging committee for the 2023 Hinzpeter Awards announced winners in four categories in September. Winners include the documentary “Inside Russia: Putin’s War at Home,” which covered narratives inside Russia following the onset of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, won the grand prize of The World at a Crossroads Award; “The Battle of Bakhmut,” with reporting from reporters Adam Desiderio, Julia Kochetova and Ben C. Solomon, covering southeastern Ukraine’s treacherous battleground, won the Award for News; “Russian Soft Power in The CAR,” with reporting from Carol Valade and Clément Di Roma, exposing manipulated public opinion and brutality by Russia’s Wagner Group in the Central African Republic, won the Award for Features; and four Ukrainian journalists from Central TV in Ukraine, honored for their coverage of the ground coverage of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant catastrophe, won the May Gwangju (Lifetime Achievement) Award. An awards ceremony will be held on Nov. 8 at the National Assembly Library Auditorium in Seoul, Korea.

The Washington Post’s multi-part story “The Amazon, Undone,” which received the Robert Spiers Benjamin Award this year, has also won a Gerald Loeb award for international reporting. The investigation, led by Terrence McCoy, the Post’s Rio De Janeiro bureau chief, examines the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest. The series also won a George Polk Award and was a Pulitzer finalist for explanatory reporting earlier this year.

UPDATES

OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard is covering the war in Israel for USA TODAY, with the most recent piece covering President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and his assurances on Oct. 18 that the U.S. would stand by Israel and provide help in its war against Hamas. Other reports include an Oct. 11 piece about a 67-year-old American activist for Palestinian rights who was presumed kidnapped by Hamas. He wrote that Cindy Flash, along with her Israeli husband Igal, were among more than 100 who vanished from areas near Gaza. “They are breaking down the safe room door,” Hjelmgaard quoted Flash as writing in one of her final messages to her daughter Keren, who had been communicating with her parents from a few houses away. Hjelmgaard also wrote breaking news updates on the Hamas attacks, and contributed to a piece about the history of Israeli and Palestinian conflict in graphics. on Oct. 18

Nilo Tabrizy, a visual forensics reporter for The Washington Post who serves as OPC governor, spoke to the Post Reports daily podcast in late September about crackdowns in Iran, where human rights groups say security forces have killed at least 530 protesters over the last year. “I think that the government understands the power of grief and how powerful that can be to move people,” she said. Tabrizy detailed her recent reporting on the Heydari family, which was among the first to go public about the death of a loved one after their son Javad was killed on Sept. 22 while protesting in the northwestern city of Qazvin.

OPC member Borzou Daragahi, a journalist and nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Program, talked to WNYC’s Here and Now program on Sept 18 about a U.S.-Iran prisoner exchange that included one of his friends. In exchange for the release of five American prisoners, the U.S. released five Iranian prisoners and gave Iran access to $6 billion in oil revenues that were previously frozen under sanctions. Daragahi’s friend, Siamak Namazi, who like all five Americans had duel citizenship with Iran, was held in Evin Prison on unsubstantiated charges of spying. “It broke my heart watching this [incarceration] happen to him. His family, his father was held for a long time, a very elderly father,” he told host Scott Tom. “These are just ordinary people, successful in many respects, there is a common denominator – successful in the West – trying hard to lead a life in the West without their home country of Iran, and they paid an extremely high price.”

Photographs from Ukraine’s front lines taken by OPC member Nicole Tung are on display in a group exhibition through Nov. 12 at Place de la Liberté in Bayeux, France. The display is part of a series of exhibitions in connection with the 30th Bayeux Calvados-Normandie War Correspondents Awards. Her work is on display with six other photographers in an exhibition meant to capture “the resilience, hope, and harsh realities of war.”

Nico Hines, an OPC member who serves as World Editor for The Daily Beast, spoke on a panel from London on “The World This Week” program on France 24 about the Nobel Peace Prize going to human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who’s currently serving what amounts to 12 years behind bars in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Hines called Mohammadi a “particularly brilliant” winner, “someone who has put their own life on hold for years and years for a determined cause, for liberation for women, something that people all around the rest of the world get to experience on a daily basis.”

OPC member Andrew Nagorski contributed to a piece for the Foreign Service Journal about an online reunion of classmates who attended primary school at the Cairo American College (CAC). The group of so-called third-culture kids included 10 classmates from 60 years ago who had been invited for a reunion in September 2021. The group has been meeting online monthly since then. Nagorski, who was born in Scotland to Polish parents, moved to the United States as an infant, and then traveled the world as his father joined the U.S. Information Service (USIS), serving as a press attaché in Cairo, Seoul, and Paris where he attended American schools. “The initiative by some of my Cairo schoolmates to reconnect so many years later brought back a flood of memories, not just of Egypt but of other postings: riding horseback by the pyramids, getting my first exposure to tear gas while observing South Korean students protesting against the regime of military strongman Park Chung Hee, and celebrating the end of my senior year at the American School of Paris prom at the Eiffel Tower,” Nagorski wrote.

Evening Post Books in Charleston South Carolina has recently acquired OPC member Will Cathcart’s novel, with an expected publishing date of July 1 next year. The book has a working title of The Chopin Agency, and explores the “fractures and violent flareups that constitute that relentless fault line between East and West and the Byzantine pockets of Europe scattered in between,” Cathcart said in an email. “Europe is a tendency, not a geography, and for centuries it has fallen prey to the Russian empire’s oscillating capacity for expansionism—killing what it does not understand. This is a story of survivor’s guilt and existential regret.” The book spans multiple points of view and timelines from 1877 to 2017, beginning in the American South and threading through Warsaw, Paris, Tbilisi, Brussels, and finally the Turkish border. Cathcart is an American war correspondent living in Tbilisi, Georgia, and is originally from Charleston, South Carolina.

Jim Bittermann, an OPC member and senior correspondent for CNN, reported from Paris on the sweeping bedbug infestation and its possible effect on next summer’s Olympics. Bittermann said in an Oct. 2 dispatch that bedbugs are a global problem, but he they are getting noticed more in Paris now because of preparations for the Olympics. “One of the things that has augmented the number of bedbugs, if indeed they are a growing problem, is the fact that after Covid, a lot of people were again traveling. During Covid people were sleeping in their own beds, not moving around, and the amount of contagion was probably restricted,” he said.

OPC member Sayyara Mammadova, a research assistant with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) based in Azerbaijan, spoke at the EU DisinfoLab Annual Conference, which was held from Oct. 11 to Oct. 12 in Krakow, Poland, on tools for public interest investigations. Mammadova and her colleagues from DFRLab presented case studies and an overview of resources for Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) investigations through a hub known as the European Open Source Intelligence Organisations Observatory, or ObSINT. The session focused on ObSINT guidelines, which is available to explore via this link.

Sept. 8, 2023

SCHOLARS

Daniel Shailer, the Walter and Betsy Cronkite Fellowship winner in 2023, had an item in the Aug. 21 New Yorker about a long-distance swimmer’s record-setting swim around Staten Island. The piece is titled “Tits Out under the Verrazano.” Shailer, also a long-distance swimmer who once swam the English Channel, is just completing an internship with the Tucson Sentinel. He heads to Mexico City soon for an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press.

Zane Irwin, winner of the 2023 Flora Lewis/Jacqueline Albert-Simon Scholarship, has been covering breaking news for The Associated Press from Senegal, including the deadly capsizing of a boat carrying more than 100 migrants bound for Europe in late August. On Aug. 22 he cowrote a story with colleague Ndeye Sene Mbengue about a few dozen survivors who were reunited with their families in Senegal, a week after they were found adrift off the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde. Irwin previously covered Cameroon as a Pulitzer Center reporting fellow in 2022.

AWARDS

Mellissa Fung, an OPC member and filmmaker, has been nominated for a Golden Panda Award for Best Director of a Documentary for her film Captive. The film follows Fung as she talks with the teenage girls who were held captive by Boko Haram, and reflects on her experience being abducted by Afghan rebels while on assignment in Afghanistan. This is the inaugural year for the Golden Panda Awards, which is organized by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles.

UPDATES

OPC Governor Vivienne Walt co-wrote a piece for The New York Times on Sept. 2 investigating how retailers and manufacturers whose food products are marketed for weight loss could see ripple effects from the rise of drugs like Ozempic. The story, written with colleague Lauren Hirsch, includes insights from executives of companies such as Medfast, which makes weight loss products like shakes and protein bars. “On several earnings calls in August, chief executives reassured investors that the Ozempic revolution had not left them in the dust, and that they could somehow share in the blazing success of new diabetes and weight loss drugs,” Walt and Hirsch wrote.

Laurie Hays, an OPC Governor and founder of a consulting firm, has been publishing a Substack, titled “Boardroom Confidential, aimed at providing insights into “important business news” and to help readers “see around the corner for what’s coming next.” Her most recent post on Sept. 6 examines United Auto Workers (UAW) talks and what employee demands mean for the future of workplaces. Hays is managing partner and founder for Laurie Hays and Assoc. and advises on strategic, financial and corporate governance communications.

OPC member Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff, an author, New York University instructor, and communications consultant specializing in global sports, published her second book, Basketball Empire: France and the Making of a Global NBA and WNBA, on Sept. 7. The book, published by Bloomsbury, explores why so many French basketball players have joined the NBA and WMBA, and what this has meant for the league and generations of players since 1950.

OPC member Barbie Nadeau reported from Rome for CNN on Aug. 28 after more than 4,200 migrants and refugees landed on Lampedusa island, a record number that overwhelmed migrant facilities and send the Italian government scrambling for an emergency plan. Nadeau said during an on-camera dispatch that before the incident, the Italian government had sequestered three rescue boats from NGOs, which officials alleged had violated new rules put in place to prevent the organizations from rescuing migrants. “That’s why these numbers are so big. That’s why the photos and images are so astonishing,” Nadeau said. Most of the refugees had set sail from Tunisia.

Kathy Gannon, an OPC member and longtime former correspondent and news director for The Associated Press who covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for 35 years, spoke on an online Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) panel in August to mark two years since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and discuss the Taliban’s authoritarian rule and human rights violations. During the program she said when looking at what has changed since 2020, it’s important not to oversimplify ideas like hope and quality of life for Afghan people. Gannon cited a 2018 survey indicating barely 3 percent of respondents said they had hope for the future at the time. “The poverty level was 50 percent, 85 percent of the money in Afghanistan came from outside, all of which stopped once the Taliban took power.” She said former President Hamid Karzai and other officials told her in interviews that if President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani had stayed in Kabul in August 2020 and allowed for a negotiation with the Taliban, the situation would be dramatically different today. “Poverty was excruciating in many parts of the country before the Taliban arrived, and it has been exacerbated, of course,” she said.

Two OPC members have continued their coverage of issues in Morocco with a story about the country’s decisive action and success in its response to COVID-19. Jacob Kushner wrote the story, which was supported by the Pulitzer Center, with photos and additional reporting by Kang-Chun Cheng. Jaouad El Bakili also contributed to the piece. The story compares the country’s early vaccination rates of 10 percent by early March 2021, when countries in North America and Europe were still struggling to procure doses. “Though many experts agree that the country’s decisive response to the pandemic is a case study of success,” the authors wrote, “some say it was at the cost of civil liberties and the country’s autocratic regime may have underreported COVID-19 deaths.” Kushner was the winner of the OPC Foundation’s 2013 Nathan S. Bienstock Memorial Scholarship.

Aug. 24, 2023

SCHOLARS

Krithika Varagur, the winner of the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship in 2019, had a piece published in Harper’s Magazine in August that involved a year of reporting from Nigeria. The article, titled “Love in the Time of Sickle Cell Disease,” follows the story of “what happens when you fall in love, but your genes are incompatible.” Varagur has recently returned to foreign correspondence after a stint working as senior speechwriter at the communications firm Fenway. She previously covered Southeast and South Asia for The Washington Post and The Guardian, among others, was a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and wrote 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.

Serginho Roosblad, the 2017 winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone, and his colleagues at The Associated Press and FRONTLINE, won a 2023 Online Journalism Award for “How Russia is Smuggling Ukrainian Grain to Pay for Putin’s War.” The team won in the category of Digital Video Storytelling, Medium Form, Large Newsroom. Roosblad is a video producer for the AP Global Investigations team.

UPDATES

The Sperber Book Prize, which OPC Governor Beth Knobel directs, has published a second season of its podcast about journalism. The prize is administered by Fordham University and honors biographies, autobiographies and memoirs by those involved in journalism. Recently published authors speaking in Season 2 include former New York Times public editor and Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, former CNN tech reporter Laurie Segall, Catholic University of America dean Vincent Kiernan, and journalist Steven V. Roberts speaking about his wife, NPR and ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts. The first episode features author Elizabeth Becker, winner of the 2022 Sperber Prize and guest at an OPC Book Night in 2021, speaking about how three women changed reporting of the war in Vietnam and her book You Don’t Belong Here. More on the award is at sperberprize.com.

On Aug. 4, OPC Governor Deborah Amos spoke on a “World Review” panel hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about international news including peace negotiations in the Middle East, elections in Pakistan, and updates on the war in Ukraine. Amos, who stepped down from NPR earlier this year after a 35-year career at the network and currently serves as professor of journalism at Princeton University, said the negotiations hinge on Saudi Arabia, which has a back-channel relationships with both the U.S. and Israel. “We haven’t seen anything this high profile since the Camp Davids accords, and there’s lots at stake,” she said. Amos outlined what the parties want, including Saudi Arabia’s desire for protection from Iran, help from the U.S. on a civil nuclear power program, and gains of some kind for Palestinians. “If this deal works, it’s a windfall for the Israelis. It would be the biggest breakthrough in 40 years. It would solidify the legacy of Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The New York Times Book Review will include OPC member Andrew Nagorski’s latest book, Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom, in its Paperback Row section in the Aug. 27 issue, calling the book a “thrilling” account of Freud’s last minute escape from Vienna. Saving Freud was published in August 2022, and received positive reviews. The Wall Street Journal called it “a psychobiographical thriller about the limits of genius;” and The Sunday Times (London) called it “astonishing,” noting that “in the American journalist Andrew Nagorski this tale has found its ideal narrator.” After its release in paperback this month, the same newspaper hailed it as a Best Paperback of 2023. The Guardian wrote that the book is “thrilling…as edge-of-your seat gripping as any heist movie.” Seth MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Productions has now optioned the film rights.

Anand Gopal, a four-time OPC Award winner and a club member who is currently a writer for The New Yorker magazine, is slated to deliver a lecture at Town Hall Seattle in February next year on “the rise and fall of American democracy in the context of historical thinking about what makes democracies flourish.” The talk on Feb 28 is part of a free public lecture series sponsored by the University of Washington. Gopal is a professor at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University, and the author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, which won the Ridenhour Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award.

OPC member Kang-Chun Cheng, a photojournalist based in Nairobi, Kenya, filed a piece for Grist on Aug. 23 uncovering widespread environmental and public health problems stemming from pesticides used in a United Nations-led attack against locusts. Cheng spoke with farmers who were not aware that the FAO and other humanitarian groups had procured pesticides that were either already banned in the U.S. and Europe or soon would be. Long-term exposure to the chemicals distributed in that program have been “linked to cognitive impairment, psychiatric disorders, and infertility in men,” Cheng wrote.

OPC member and investigative journalist Steve Stecklow co-wrote a special report for Reuters on July 27 alleging that Tesla had a secret scheme to rig dashboard readouts on how far owners could drive before needing to recharge, and suppress complaints about the issue. The piece, written with colleague Norihiko Shirouzu, included reports from Tesla employees who had been instructed to thwart customers complaining about poor driving range, revealing that last summer a “Diversion Team” in Las Vegas was created to cancel as many range-related appointments as possible.

Jacqueline Charles, a member of the Miami Herald team that won this year’s Kim Wall Award, was named winner of the 2023 ICFJ Excellence in International Reporting Award. Charles, the paper’s correspondent for Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean, is also a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Emmy Award-winner, and recipient of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for coverage of the Americas. Charles spoke on an OPC panel on Jan. 16 along with other editors and correspondents about the challenges of covering Haiti.

CBS News announced on Aug. 14 that Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, a past OPC Governor, is the news operation’s new president. Ciprian-Matthews will oversee CBS News’ content across all platforms, including broadcast, streaming, digital and radio. She will also head global newsgathering, bureaus, standards and practices, special events, politics, elections and surveys, social as well as the race and culture unit.

July 18, 2023

SCHOLARS

Three OPC Foundation fellows have started their summer internships at The Wall Street Journal and already landed bylines. Simon Levien, the Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship winner for 2023, Nuha Dolby, the Roy Rowan Fellowship winner for 2023, and Humza Jilani, the Roy Rowan Scholarship winner in 2022, have been reporting on a range of topics including culture wars in the U.S. Congress, Facebook’s legal setbacks in ad revenue for Europe, and real estate woes in a London business district. (Photos above, left to right: Levien, Dolby and Jilani.)

Youcef Bounab, winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory of I.F.Stone in 2023, started his internship and OPC fellowship at The Associated Press in Paris. Bounab reported on unrest in France following the police killing of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, with stories about the implications for tourism, diplomacy with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the effect on Bastille Day celebrations amid restrictions on fireworks and public transportation.

Zane Irvin, the 2023 Flora Lewis/Jacqueline Albert-Simon Scholarship winner, has been writing for The Associated Press during his OPC fellowship this summer from West Africa, with reporting on violence in Cameroon’s English-speaking areas, forced deportations in Ghana, and military killings and torture in Burkina Faso. Irwin previously covered Cameroon as a Pulitzer Center reporting fellow in 2022 with a focus on conflict in the battlefield and on social media.

Rachel Nostrant, the 2023 Edith Lederer Scholarship winner, has also been filing stories for Reuters since the beginning of July, with recent stories about a heat wave in Arizona on July 16, a story about a Florida judge’s decision on July 12 to allow a filmed re-enactment in the Parkland school shooting case, and another story on July 12 about a study showing flagging learning levels among U.S. students since the pandemic.

Lucy Papachristou, the 2023 winner of the Jerry Flint Scholarship for International Business Reporting, has been filing stories about Russia for Reuters since mid-May, most recently with a piece about the passage of a bill banning gender change on July 14, and another story on July 5 about charges against the chief executive of Yandex for alleged offenses under the country’s so-called “LGBT propaganda” law. She has an OPC Foundation fellowship with Reuters.

Sarah Raza, the Rick Davis-Deb Amos Scholarship winner in 2023, has started her internship on the metro desk of The Boston Globe, with seven bylines on topics spanning climate change, city council scandals and implications of the over-the-counter birth control pill, Opill. Raza was previously a beat reporter and desk editor for The Stanford Daily and plans to earn a master’s degree in journalism.

AWARDS

OPC member Astrid Landon received a Gold Award in the Digital Health Awards contest in June for work in MindSite News. Landon was honored for pieces titled “How I Passed a Test To Be a Grief Therapist Without Really Trying,” and “Buyer, Be Aware: An Inside Look at Four Grief Counseling Programs,” which examine the problems of the unregulated mental health care certification industry.

UPDATES

On July 10, the Foreign Press Association (FPA) spoke with OPC Past President David A. Andelman from Paris about riots in France following the police killing of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk. OPC member Ian Williams, the FPA’s president, asked Andelman about cultural changes and attitudes toward marginalized groups in France. He said neighborhoods that were once segregated by ethnicity have become more integrated, inflaming tensions and nativist sentiments. “Unfortunately the police are drawn from a segment of the population that is very much like that,” he said, adding that self-selection and institutional attitudes within the French police force deepens the problem. “They come more from the milieu of people who don’t trust Nahel [Merzouk], and feel hostile toward him, and don’t necessarily think they belong in France, even though Nahel was born in France and was a citizen.”

OPC member Jim Bitterman also discussed the unrest for CNN from Paris on July 4, as French President Emmanuel Macron met with mayors across the country hit hard by violence. To illustrate division in France over the incident, he contrasted two fundraising campaigns, one for the family of the police officer who shot Merzouk, and another for Merzouk’s family, with funds for the police outpacing that of Merzouk by a factor of up to five times. “It’s a very telling figure, and some people are using that this morning to make their arguments, saying what’s needed here is a tougher police crackdown, and not so much better police work,” he said. “On the other hand, there are plenty of people who say the police need more training and more sensitivity.”

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, an OPC member and columnist for The Telegraph in London, on July 3 discussed the riots in France with the right-leaning British broadcast channel GBNews. “We now are beginning to understand that the first day, which may have been crucial to set the tone, there were severe instructions to police not to have another incident, and therefore they held out, rather than risk another killing. The result is that there was an emboldenment of the movement by people who have no political demands whatsoever.” She rejected the labeling of unrest as protests, saying that “they are riots by people who essentially are out to get revenge.”

Elena Becatoros, an OPC member based in Athens who serves as Associated Press bureau chief for southeast Europe, spoke to NPR on June 21 about the deadly wreck of a crowded ship off the coast of Greece carrying 750 migrants from Pakistan, Syria and other countries, which claimed the lives of at least 500 people. Becatoros talked about testimony from survivors who described appalling conditions, with “women and children mainly held down below in the hold, which is why there have been no women or children among the survivors.” Nine Egyptians were arrested and charged in connection with the incident amid allegations of violence on board the ship and links with a human trafficking ring.

OPC member Ben Taub, a staff writer for The New Yorker, wrote a longform piece on July 1 that closely examines events and safety concerns leading up to the Titan submersible disaster. Through extensive interviews and access to emails with OceanGate expedition leaders and staff, Taub reveals that many warnings were ignored. He wrote that experts “had been warning of the submersible’s design flaws for more than five years, filing complaints to the U.S. government and to OceanGate itself, and pleading with [OceanGate founder and Titan pilot Stockton Rush] to abandon his aspirations. As they mourned Nargeolet and the other passengers, they decided to reveal OceanGate’s history of knowingly shoddy design and construction. “You can’t cut corners in the deep,” Taub quoted Rob McCallum, a veteran expedition leader, as telling Rush. “It’s not about being a disruptor. It’s about the laws of physics.” Taub won OPC Foundation’s Emanuel R. Freedman Scholarship in 2015 and won the OPC’s 2016 Best Investigative Reporting Award for his piece about Syria’s war crimes against its own citizens.