April 25, 2024

People Column

2024 January-June Issue

April 4, 2024


Francis Tang, the David R. Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship winner in 2023, has been hired as news reporter at the Japan Times. Tang has an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Reuters bureau in Tokyo.

Anna Jean Kaiser, the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner in 2021, celebrated her one-year anniversary as the Florida correspondent for Bloomberg, where she covers the business and politics. Before her time at Bloomberg, she was a staff reporter on the business desk at the Miami Herald. She previously freelanced in Brazil.

After two and a half years at the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Annie Todd, winner of the S&P Global Award for Economic and Business Reporting in 2020, is headed to the Cascadia Daily News in Bellingham, Washington, where she will cover criminal justice.

Wall Street Journal reporter Alexander Saeedy, the Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner in 2015, is now covering banking for the paper. He previously covered credit markets, financial distress and sovereign debt for the Journal. Before that, he covered corporate bankrupt for Reorg, and was a senior reporter for Leveraged Commentary & Data. Before covering finance and economics in the U.S., he was a reporter in Brussels, covering European politics. His fellowship for the OPC Foundation placed him at the Reuters’ bureau in Brussels at the height of the Greek debt crisis.


In addition to winning this year’s Peter Jennings Award from the OPC, the FRONTLINE (PBS) documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. OPC Governor Raney Aronson-Rath was part of the team that produced the documentary, produced in collaboration with The Associated Press, marking her sixth OPC award since 2015 for her work with FRONTLINE (PBS), and several citations over the same period. 20 Days in Mariupol’s production team includes Michelle Mizner, Derl McCrudden and Mstyslav Chernov. Chernov was also part of the team that won the 2022 Hal Boyle Award for AP coverage of Mariupol.

OPC member Alice Driver won a J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Award in the Work-in-Progress category for her book, The Life and Death of the American Worker: The Immigrants Taking on America’s Largest Meatpacking Company. The award comes with a $25,000 prize, presented by the Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Krithika Varagur, an OPC member and the winner of the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship in 2019, won the OPC’s Madeline Dane Ross Award for her piece in Harper’s Magazine, which follows the story of “what happens when you fall in love, but your genes are incompatible.” That article, titled “Love in the Time of Sickle Cell Disease,” involved a year of reporting from Nigeria.


The New York Times has hired OPC member Cassandra Vinograd as a news editor in London. She has reported news from Africa, Europe and the Middle East for almost 20 years, starting with The Associated Press in West Africa, and later working as an editor with The Wall Street Journal in Brussels and then in London, where she has freelanced and covered defense, foreign affairs and politics for the AP. She also previously worked for 60 Minutes and NBC News and was part of the NBC team that won a 2014 Peabody Award for coverage of ISIS and Emmy nominations for coverage of the 2016 attacks in Brussels and Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

OPC member Mady Camara wrote a piece for The New York Times on March 24, along with colleague Ruth Maclean, about the presidential election in Senagal that “many young people see as a chance to overhaul the political and economic order.” The election was beset by sudden changes, with incumbent President Macky Sall calling off the election three weeks beforehand, then reversing that decision, and releasing a rival, Ousmane Sonko, from jail along with a man Sonko was supporting for president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye. Faye won the election, with early counts showing he had garnered 54 percent of the vote.

Prue Clarke, an OPC member who is co-founder and executive director of New Narratives, a women-led organization that supports local news and independent journalism, noted that the group supported an investigation in Liberia, published on March 22, into the use of cleaner cookstoves to improve health and reduce environmental impact from cookpots on open fires. “Cookpots are often used in confined areas with little ventilation, exposing families to air pollution which causes diseases such as asthma, lung disease, pneumonia, and cancer,” wrote reporter Tina S. Mehnpaine, with support from New Narratives.

Anand Gopal, a club member and past OPC Award winner, wrote a longform story for The New Yorker’s March 18 issue about a U.S.-supported prison camp in Syria where tens of thousands of survivors and supporters of ISIS have are being held indefinitely in horrific conditions. Gopal wrote that about fifty thousand people, more than half of them children, are currently imprisoned in Al-Hol, a place that the United Nations has called a “blight on the conscience of humanity.” He described atrocious conditions at the prison, which is effectively under the control of its ISIS inmates. including assassination squads, makeshift Sharia courts where judges order floggings and executions, and bodies of murdered detainees regularly turning up in ditches. Gopal is a four-time OPC Award winner, most recently winning the 2021 Ed Cunningham Award for his examination of how Afghan women have been affected by waves of war.

OPC member James Brooke will speak about Ukraine and Russia on April 9 for an online chat at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community College. Brooke lived and worked in Kyiv and Moscow for a total of 14 years as correspondent for The New York Times, Voice of America and Bloomberg, among others. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Registration is free, and the program will be recorded and posted on the OLLI YouTube channel afterward.

OPC member Judith Matloff has been working as a consultant for an HBO pilot comedy about war correspondents. The show-runner for the project is actress Amanda Peet.


Neil Hickey, a past OPC member and awards judge, died on March 22 in Mahopac, New York at the age of 92. Hickey started his career in journalism in Baltimore, serving for three years as a naval officer aboard a destroyer during and after the Korean War, and then resuming his career as a reporter in New York. He reported from Vietnam, the 1991 war in Kuwait, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba, the Baltics, Northern Ireland, Singapore, and around the U.S. He was New York bureau chief for TV Guide, and served as editor-at-large for the Columbia Journalism Review and was adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was welcomed as a new member of the OPC in 1962. Hickey was a judge for the OPC Awards for a number of years spanning from about 2007 to 2019. His book, Adventures in the Scribblers Trade, was published in February 2015. His wife, Lisa Lane, a champion chess player, died on Feb. 28 at the age of 90.

Feb. 28, 2024


Jesse Coburn of Streetsblog NYC, who was the winner of the Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in Memory of I.F. Stone in 2016, won the 2023 George Polk Award in Local Reporting for the “Ghost Tags: Inside New York City’s Black Market for Temporary License Plates,” the product of a seven-month investigation that uncovered an extensive underground economy in fraudulent paper license plates that motorists used to evade detection while driving on suspended licenses, dodging tolls and tickets and committing other more serious crimes. The awards will be presented at a gala luncheon on April 12.


Rest of the World, a nonprofit publication covering global technology where OPC Governor Anup Kaphle serves as editor-in-chief, received two nominations in this year’s National Magazine Awards. The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) announced on Feb. 15 that the publication was nominated in the categories of Design and General Excellence, Literature and Politics. The organization will announce winners April 2 at Terminal 5 in New York City.

Jane Ferguson, an author, PBS NewsHour correspondent and OPC Award winner who spoke about her work at an OPC book night last October, was awarded the inaugural Neal Conan Prize for Excellence in Journalism. The award is named for Conan, an American radio journalist who spent nearly four decades in multiple roles including host of Talk of the Nation. The award includes a $50,000 prize. In a tweet about the award, Ferguson said his “legacy is incredible – for public broadcasters, foreign correspondents, storytellers who care deeply about the world.” Ferguson spoke with award-winning veteran reporter Elizabeth Becker at an OPC book night on Oct. 19 to discuss No Ordinary Assignment. A recap and recording of the program is available here.


OPC Governor Daniella Zalcman will have her photographs on display as part of the Xposure International Photography Festival in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates from Feb. 28 to March 5. The festival includes presentations from 150 visual storytellers from around the world. The work Zalcman will have on display is titled “Signs of Your Identity: Forced Assimilation Education for Indigenous Youth,” a project she started in 2014 after she traveled to Canada for a story about HIV rates in First Nations communities. Zalcman also spoke on a panel for The Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) on Feb. 7 on the role that different forms of media play in the fight for human rights and issues that women journalists face in their work. She is the founder of Women Photograph, a non-profit that works to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists.

OPC member David Hume Kennerly will also have his work featured at the Xposure festival. He is slated to deliver two talks at the festival. The first, “Behind the Scenes of History” will take place on Feb. 28 and the other, “Behind Closed Doors in the Oval Office” with President Barack Obama’s official photographer on March 5. Kennerly served as President Gerald Ford’s personal photographer during his administration.

The Associated Press announced on Feb. 5 that Mary Rajkumar, an OPC Governor, will co-lead AP’s global investigations team and “work across the organization to develop and produce in-depth investigative projects.” Rajkumar will be joined by Jeannie Ohm, who has guided visual storytelling and analysis for the global investigations team since 2020. She has been with the AP since 2013. Rajkumar, who joined the AP in 2007, has been working as editor for the global investigations team and led the team that produced “Seafood from Slaves”, an investigation into forced labor that won two 2015 OPC awards and a 2016 Pulitzer Gold Medal. Stories she edited have won a total of eight OPC awards.

Ahmed Baider, a past OPC Award winner with VICE News, has been reporting for international media outlets covering the Red Sea crisis in Yemen. His work with production teams on the ground has included video reports for TRT World on the effects of conflict on civilians, Yemeni history, humanitarian aid, and an ITV News report on cargo shipping disruption around Yemen, among others. He wrote in an email update that “more work, interviews, and multimedia features will be published in the coming weeks.” Baider was part of the VICE News Tonight team that won the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting in Yemen, along with Isobel Yeung, Amel Guettatfi and Javier Manzano.

OPC member Dexter Roberts, the director of China affairs at the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana, spoke to NPR as part of a piece about the Evergrande Group, a large Chinese real estate developer, which a Hong Kong court ordered to be liquidated after failing to restructure the $300 billion it owed investors. Speaking to reporter Scott Neuman, he called the company’s fall a “controlled implosion,” adding that “China has known for a long time that their economy was imbalanced and too reliant on debt, with the real estate sector the most indebted industry of all and Evergrande the poster child for the most indebted company in that sector.” Roberts also spoke to the BBC for a piece about the Evergrande collapse. He is author of The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World.

Jan. 26, 2024


Kailyn Rhone, the 2023 Reuters Fellowship winner, who had an internship with The Wall Street Journal in the spring of 2023 is returning to the Journal as a finance reporting fellow for the next 12 months. She had an internship with Reuters last summer.

Portia Crowe, who won the Reuters award in 2014, is joining the Reuters Dakar bureau as a West and Central Africa correspondent. She had an OPC Foundation fellowship at the Reuters bureau in Nairobi. She was featured in an OPC Bulletin profile in 2020 and joined an OPC Foundation panel in 2021 on the future of global journalism.

Jad Sleiman, the 2013 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, recently got his job back at WHYY, an NPR member station in Philadelphia. Despite excellent reviews, he had been fired from his job as a reporter at The Pulse, a nationally syndicated health and science program, when his bosses discovered clips of his work as a stand-up comic online and deemed them offensive. He did his comedy routine under an assumed name and never mentioned his employer or his day job. The arbitrator “performed an in-depth analysis” of the clips and found that many of them were funny or an “astute critique” of power – though they also ruled that Sleiman must delete the clips.

Jeff Roberts, the Reuters winner in 2010, has been named Fortune Magazine’s new finance editor, overseeing stories that track the intersection of money and power. His focus will include how tech – notably crypto and AI – is changing finance. Jeff had an OPC Foundation fellowship in Paris.


The PBS FRONTLINE documentary Afghanistan Undercover, which won the OPC’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award last year, won a Dupont Columbia Award, which was celebrated in a Jan. 25 ceremony. The piece focuses on the work of correspondent Ramita Navai and photographer Karim Shah as they documented the conditions for women after the Taliban returned to power.

The Associated Press team that won a Hal Boyle Award last year for the entry titled “Erasing Mariupol” also won a Dupont Award, in collaboration with PBS FRONTLINE, for the series of stories titled “20 Days in Mariupol.”


Laurie Hays, an OPC Governor, is now serving as CEO and Editor in Chief for The Fuller Project, a global newsroom dedicated to groundbreaking reporting that catalyzes positive change for women.

OPC Governor Anup Kaphle spoke to the Nepali outlet Ukaalo News in December to talk about the state of Nepali media, its challenges, and what may be needed to fix what’s broken.

OPC member James Brooke is now the Russia-Ukraine correspondent for The New York Sun. Writing twice a week for the New York-based news site, Brooke draws on his six years in Kyiv, reporting for his own business newsletter, and eight years in Moscow, first as Bloomberg bureau chief, then as VOA bureau chief.

Hasan Oswald, a filmmaker who works with OPC member Fahrinisa Campana, provided updates on a film titled Mediha, in which the titular teenage Yazidi girl who had just returned from ISIS captivity documents herself to process trauma while rescuers search for her missing family members. The film won the Grand Jury Award at DOC NYC last year, and has been invited to screen at the UN in February, where Mediha will speak. The film has also been invited to serve as the opening film at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in March as its UK premiere and to be part of the Activist Competition at Movies that Matter. The film will be screened in at least 30 festivals in the coming months. Oswald and Campana both received OPC grants in 2020 to help freelancers during the pandemic. OPC members Annelise Mecca and Alexander Spiess were also producers on the film, along with Stephen Nemeth.

Adriana Zehbrauskas, a past recipient of a Citation for Excellence in the Robert Capa category and a panelist at an OPC event, announced on Jan. 6 that she will serve as the Howard G. Buffet Visiting Professor of Visual Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University this semester. “It’s a huge honor (and responsibility) to help form a new generation of creative and ethical photojournalists,” she wrote. Zehbrauskas spoke on an OPC panel at Columbia University in 2016 with other female photojournalists discussing their in-depth documentary work.