Dec. 18, 2020
We hope you enjoy this year-end issue of the Bulletin.

In April, the Bulletin stepped up digital efforts, increasing member news coverage, launching a special section for those covering COVID-19 and adding a resource section. We also increased member news coverage by orders of magnitude. Overall, we served up more than 33,000 words in the People column this year, 29,700 of that since April. That’s about triple the amount for the same period last year. 

With the addition of OPC Award-winner conversations online, along with other panels and book nights, we hosted a total of 22 programs, also about three times more than previous years. Those 22+ hours are edited into more than 140 short video clips on our YouTube channel. If you want to catch up on programs you missed this winter break, please scroll down to the bottom to explore a list of links to each of the program recaps, which include the video clips. The conversations with award winners have been outstanding, and we are proud to have facilitated the "stories behind stories" and journalism insights for our video library.

Thank you to members who sent in news tips and links to stories so we can crow about your work in the People column. Please don't hesitate to keep letting us know what’s happening in your career, to share the work you're most proud of, and to send tips about your colleagues. Send news to info@opcofamerica.org, or feel free to ping us with an at-mention or DM on Twitter.

This issue, we have four program recaps, six previews of events coming up in early 2021, and more People coverage and resources. 

Chad Bouchard
Bulletin Editor
Upcoming OPC Events
RSVPs are essential. We will send Zoom links to those who register about an hour before each program. Please register early!
Jan. 5: The Madeline Dane Ross Award
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Please join the OPC for a discussion with this year’s winner of the Madeline Dane Ross Award, Karla Zabludovsky, the Mexico bureau chief and Latin America correspondent for BuzzFeed News, who won for the entry titled "The Fight for Women’s Rights in Latin America."

The moderator will be Hannah Allam, who served as head judge for the award.

The Madeline Dane Ross Award honors the year's best international reporting in the print medium or digital showing a concern for the human condition.

Judges for the award said:

"Zabludovsky wrote with great passion and a sense of urgency about ordinary women in Latin America whose lives were upended by the restrictive – and sometimes deadly – reproductive health laws that are the norm in the region."
Jan. 8: Book Night: A Red Line in the Sand—An OPC Chat with David Andelman
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Join the OPC for cocktails and conversation with OPC Past President David A. Andelman, to discuss his book, A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen.

Andelman concludes that more red lines—political, diplomatic, social, military—exist today than at any other single moment in history, many utterly indefensible and destabilizing.

A longtime columnist for CNN and a veteran correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News, Andelman combines history and global politics to help us trace the origins and better understand the exploding number of military, political, and diplomatic crises around the globe.

Questions Andelman will address include: When and how can such lines in the sand help preserve peace rather than tempt conflict? What mistakes were made during the four years of Donald Trump that must urgently be corrected in the early months of Joe Biden?

Deborah Amos, international correspondent for NPR, will moderate.
Jan. 12: The Kim Wall Award
Time: 12:00 p.m. (noon) Eastern Time

Please join the OPC for a discussion with this year’s winners of the Kim Wall Award, members of the New York Times team that produced "The Russia Tapes: Health Care and Civilians Under Attack in Syria."

The program will include Malachy Browne, senior producer, Christiaan Triebert, video journalist, Evan Hill, video journalist, and Whitney Hurst, senior producer. The Kim Wall Award honors the best story or series of stories on international affairs using creative and dynamic digital storytelling techniques.

The moderator will be Louise Roug, executive editor, international at HuffPost.

Judges’ comments:

“The New York Times team approached this under covered story with innovative use of digital tools – not just to enhance the storytelling but to report the story itself.”
Photo above, clockwise from upper left: Malachy Browne, Evan Hill, Christiaan Triebert, Dmitriy Khavin and Whitney Hurst.
Jan. 14: The Roy Rowan Award
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Please join the OPC for a discussion with this year’s winners of the Roy Rowan Award for best investigative reporting in any medium on an international story. The winners were members of a New York Times team with an entry titled “Russia’s Shadow War.”

Joining the discussion will be Malachy Brown, senior producer of the visual investigations team, along with Michael Schwirtz, Dionne Searcey and David Kirkpatrick.

Head judge James B. Steele will moderate.

Judges said: "The analysis of the cockpit recordings, the digital forensics, the deciphering of the Russian military codes was unlike anything any of us had seen before by a news organization. It brought us a view of Russia much darker and sinister than we’d seen before."
Photo above, clockwise from upper left: Michael Schwirtz, Dionne Searcey, David Kirkpatrick and Malachy Browne.
Jan. 22: Memorial for Seymour Topping
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Please join the OPC for a memorial service over Zoom to honor the memory of longtime OPC member Seymour Topping, a veteran foreign correspondent and editor who died on Nov. 8 at the age of 98.

You can read more about Topping's life and work on our People Remembered page here.
Feb. 12: Book Night: You Don’t Belong Here - an OPC Chat with Elizabeth Becker
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Join the OPC for cocktails and conversation with Elizabeth Becker, an award-winning reporter, to discuss her book You Don’t Belong Here, the long-buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the official and cultural barriers to women covering war.

Ann Cooper, Professor Emerita of the Columbia Journalism School, will be the moderator.
Robert Spiers Benjamin Award Winner Details Reporting on Latin America
by Chad Bouchard

In 2019, Azam Ahmed, New York Times bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, embarked on a quest to find out what underlying conditions were driving such staggering numbers of Mexicans and Central Americans to seek asylum in the United States.

Those questions led him to locations across the region, where he embedded himself in communities under siege and witnessed firsthand the effects of the drug-fueled homicide crisis gripping the region.

On Dec. 17, the OPC hosted a discussion with Ahmed, whose work won a Robert Spiers Benjamin Award for best reporting in any medium on Latin America. His series, “Kill or Be Killed: Latin America’s Homicide Crisis,” included stories about Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala and Jamaica. The moderator was William Booth, London bureau chief for The Washington Post, who served as head judge.
Photo: Azam Ahmed, above, talks with William Booth.
Whitman Bassow Award Winners Share Stories From The Trenches Of The ‘WWF’s Secret War’
by Chad Bouchard

Two years ago, BuzzFeed journalists Tom Warren and Katie J.M. Baker set out to unravel a vast global conservation effort that had repeatedly ignored human right abuses and atrocities against Indigenous communities, including rape, torture and murder. Those abuses were allegedly committed by government agents who were funded and bolstered by a pattern of denial and secrecy within the largest conservation organization in the world, the World Wide Fund for Nature, or WWF.

On Dec. 15, 2020, the OPC hosted a discussion with Warren and Baker, whose year-long investigation won this year’s Whitman Bassow Award for best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues. The head judge for the award, Kim Murphy of The New York Times, served as moderator.

The series of stories, titled "WWF’s Secret War," took the team to five countries across Africa and Asia as they built a bulletproof body of evidence showing that the organization had ignored widespread complaints of abuse and knowingly funded park rangers and paramilitary groups that terrorized communities in the name of anti-poaching campaigns.
Photo above, clockwise from upper left: Kim Murphy, Katie J.M. Baker and Tom Warren.
Joe And Laurie Dine Award Winners Reveal Risks and Dilemmas
in Covering Venezuela
by Chad Bouchard

Reporters working in countries with authoritarian regimes such as Venezuela face particular challenges, not only in teasing out facts from rumor and propaganda, but in keeping sources and local journalist partners safe from dire consequences.

This year’s Joe and Laurie Dine Award went to the Reuters bureau in Venezuela for their series of articles titled “Maduro’s Venezuela,” which shed light on a system of violence, corruption and “machinery of repression.”

On Dec. 8, 2020, the OPC hosted a discussion with two of the winning team members, Angus Berwick, Reuters correspondent for Venezuela, and Brian Ellsworth, senior correspondent for Venezuela. The discussion covered some of the sticky ethical and logistical challenges the team faced as they reported on Maduro’s Special Action Force death squadslinks with Cuba’s intelligence networkshow the country’s military was reshaped to serve Maduro’s visionthe fate of a Chinese rice project that fanned the flames of corruptionendemic malnutrition and stories of immigrants fleeing the country.

The moderator was Anya Schiffrin, senior lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, who served as head judge. She asked Ellsworth and Berwick how the team separates fact from fiction in a country where even basic economic information like oil exports and trade statistics are invented.
Image above, clockwise from upper left: Brian Ellsworth, Angus Berwick and Anya Schiffrin.
OPC Rescinds 2018 Lowell Thomas Award for 'Caliphate'
The Overseas Press Club Board of Governors, noting the conclusions of The New York Times's internal review of its “Caliphate” podcast, has rescinded its 2018 Lowell Thomas Award for “Caliphate” to Rukmini Callimachi, Andy Mills, Larissa Anderson and Wendy Dorr.
OPC Condemns Detention of Bloomberg News Staff Member in Beijing
On Dec. 11, the OPC released the following statement:

The Overseas Press Club of America strongly condemns the detention of a Bloomberg News employee in Beijing by Chinese authorities.

In a Dec. 11 news story, Bloomberg said Haze Fan, a news assistant, was detained on Monday on suspicion of endangering national security.

“The Chinese should immediately release Fan,” said Peter Spiegel, chair of the OPC’s Press Freedom Committee and US managing editor for the Financial Times.

The Bloomberg report said Fan, a Chinese citizen, was seen Monday being escorted from her apartment building by plainclothes security officials.

“We are very concerned for her, and have been actively speaking to Chinese authorities to better understand the situation. We are continuing to do everything we can to support her while we seek more information,” said a Bloomberg spokesperson.

According to Bloomberg, Fan began working for the company in 2017 and was previously with CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera and Thomson Reuters.
Welcome New Members
Maggie Andresen
New York
Active Resident, Young
(29 or under)

James N. Bays
Diplomatic Editor
Aljazeera English
New York
Active Resident
Jon Gambrell
News Director - Gulf and Iran
The Associated Press
Active Overseas

Joshua Irwandi
Documentary Photographer
National Geographic
Active Overseas, Young
(29 or under)
OPC Members Covering COVID-19
OPC member and two-time award winner Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times contributed to a Dec. 12 article that said healthcare workers in California are set to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine this week. Health officials warned that the first batch of more than 300,000 doses would not likely curb the burden on state hospitals struggling to keep up with runaway infection rates. “It’s a welcome glimmer of hope,” the article said. “But it is expected to be months before the vaccine hits the general population in significant numbers.” Wilkinson and her colleagues won the 2014 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award and the 2008 Hal Boyle Award.
OPC member Ceylan Yeginsu wrote on Dec. 8 about the coronavirus lockdown in Istanbul and the government’s exemption for tourists, who are not subject to the same strict weekend curfews and restrictions as residents. Despite a spike in viral cases across Turkey, foreign tourists are allowed to sightsee and roam the streets, while Turkish residents could be fined for being outside from Friday evening to early Monday morning. She wrote that the country’s tourism sector is on pace to drop by 70 percent this year. Yeginsu looked at regulations across the EU and found that no other country had similar exemptions for tourists. Yeginsu is a London-based reporter for The New York Times.
On Dec. 1, OPC member Kim Hjelmgaard covered the early stages of vaccine rollout, writing for USA Today about the British government’s announcement that the U.K. would become the first western country to approve widespread use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech. The move was ahead of vaccine distribution in the U.S. and European Union, while China and Russia had already started a mass rollout of their own vaccines. 
Please send us your personal anecdotes, photos, and links to published pieces related to COVID-19 to info@opcofamerica.org, and we will publish them on our website and share with members. You can also share those stories directly with members on our OPC Connect group on Facebook, or tweet us @opcofamerica.
People by Chad Bouchard

Kimon de Greef, the 2020 David R. Schweisberg Scholarship winner, on Dec. 14 wrote for The New York Times about updates in the case of a white South African farmer who was shot dead in his home last year. Police arrested three suspects in the June 2019 murder of Stefan Smit, including his widow, Zurenah Smit, and two Cape Town men, one of which is a former police officer the farmer had hired to help with security. The case gained international attention and had been a rallying point among local white minority rights groups and their allies in the United States who blamed Black squatters and saw the case as evidence that white farmers were targeted. De Greef wrote that the arrests upended a narrative that became “a flash point in a wider political fight over land in South Africa.” 
A book by Jeff John Roberts, the Reuters Scholarship winner in 2010 and a staff writer at FORTUNE, was published on Dec. 15 by Harvard Business Review Press. Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street, traces “the rise, fall, and rebirth of cryptocurrency through the experiences of major players across the globe.” Roberts had an OPC Foundation fellowship in Paris.
J.p. Lawrence, the 2015 H.L. Stevenson Fellowship winner, wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review on Dec. 9 about his experience as war correspondent in Afghanistan for Stars and Stripes, and the Pentagon campaign and decision on Sept. 20 to scuttle the 159-year-old paper. The paper is partially funded by the military but has maintained editorial independence. Clashes with the military in recent years have “significantly curtailed transparency and access,” Lawrence wrote. Public outrage over the move and a change of posture under the incoming administration of President-Elect Joe Biden appears to have averted the paper’s closure. Lawrence, who served in the military for nine years as a public affairs specialist, outlined several examples of how the paper’s independent coverage provides crucial reporting on issues including “veteran suicides, sexual assault, and military housing problems, among other thorny topics.” As an example, he said lack of transparency in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan “is not good for democracy or for military service members and their families.” 
Annie Rosenthal, the 2020 Sally Jacobsen Fellowship winner, interviewed multimedia journalist Andalusia Knoll Soloff in late November for the Los Angeles Review of Books about her graphic novel, Vivos se los llevaron (Alive You Took Them), a five-year collaboration between Soloff and Mexican artists Marco Parra and Anahí H. Galaviz about the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping where 43 students were abducted and disappeared. The interview covers journalist safety issues for freelancers who lack backing from large media outlets, about which Soloff said “if we are attacked or detained or kidnapped, there’s often no one really paying attention. So that’s why I’ve gone on to found an organization called Frontline Freelance México, which is a combination between a press freedom organization, a somewhat informal trade union, and a mutual aid network for freelance journalists.”
Dake Kang, the 2016 Fritz Beebe Fellowship winner, filed a piece from Wuhan, China for The Associated Press on Dec. 3 that investigated the early days of the coronavirus outbreak and found that “widespread test shortages and problems at a time when the virus could have been slowed were caused largely by secrecy and cronyism at China’s top disease control agency.” He wrote that flawed testing prevented health officials from seeing an accurate picture of the disease’s spread, a factor that combined with delayed public warnings in China and information withheld by the World Health Organization helped the virus to spread globally.

OPC member Steve Stecklow was part of a Reuters team that won a British Journalism Award for Best Science Journalism for its reporting on COVID-19 and the U.K. government’s responses, which judges called “probably the most important series of reports into public health policy during the pandemic.” Stecklow shared the award with colleagues Stephen Grey, Andrew MacAskill, Ryan McNeill and Tommy Wilkes.

The Los Angeles Times announced on Dec. 14 that OPC member Norman Pearlstine, the executive editor for the paper, has moved into a role as senior adviser during the ongoing search for his successor. As noted in a previous People item, Pearlstein announced on Oct. 5 that he would soon resign and planned to stay on during the search. As part of the move, two managing editors including Scott Kraft, OPC Governor and head awards judge, will take over daily newsroom operations along with Kimi Yoshino. Pearlstine has been an OPC member since October 1995 and is sponsor of the OPC’s Hal Boyle Award. The photo above of Pearlstine, on left, is by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Rodale, with Kraft on the right.
OPC member Amanda Sperber published the results of her massive investigation into Uber’s practices in Kenya for NBC News in late November. Her story, which she called her biggest of the year, involved interviews with more than 80 taxi drivers, as well as “dozens corporate sources, academics, historians, labor activists, bank tellers, car sales people, lawyers and union leaders in Nairobi and Mombasa.” Sperber found that Uber had lured drivers with promises of good pay, but slashed its fares four years later, after many had taken out loans to pay for vehicles. Saddled with debt, in many cases through loan programs Uber itself had set up, some drivers were living out of their cars after selling off belongings to keep their vehicles from being repossessed. The story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
A photograph by Joshua Irwandi, a newly joined OPC member and National Geographic photojournalist based in Jakarta, received widespread attention and controversy. His photo from July depicts the body of a suspected COVID-19 victim lying on a hospital bed in Indonesia, wrapped in layers of plastic to prevent the spread of the virus. The photo, taken as part of a National Geographic Society grant, prompted more than a million “likes” on Instagram and was spread on social media via screenshot without Irwandi’s consent and widely used by television news and government agencies. A popular Indonesian singer falsely accused Irwandi of staging the image and even using a mannequin, while downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. The Indonesian government, which has been very slow to recognize the severity of infection rates in the country, questioned Irwandi’s ethics and said he should reveal the name of the hospital where the photo was taken. The country’s association of photojournalists backed Irwandi and asked the singer to apologize, which he has done. “It’s clear that the power of this image has galvanized discussion about coronavirus,” Irwandi said in an article about the photo. Longtime OPC member David Hume Kennerly, who was White House photographer during the Gerald Ford administration, encouraged Irwandi to become an OPC member.
OPC member Lucy Sherriff, after searching for a media partner in November to secure a $10,000 grant, has partnered with the Los Angeles Times to produce a short documentary about environmental racism in a Central Californian Latino community, focusing on a family fighting a toxic waste facility that was recently given approval to expand.
New York Times op-ed columnist and OPC member Nicholas Kristof on Dec. 4 filed an extensive piece about videos of exploitation and assault hosted on the Canadian website Pornhub. Since then, the investigation spurred the company to announce new measures meant to curb abuses by changing its policies to ban unverified uploaders, to remove millions of videos, and Mastercard and Visa dropped the platform. Kristof cheered those moves, but said continued monitoring and pressure would be needed, and he hoped to see other porn video companies pressured to follow suit.
OPC member Borzou Daragahi, international correspondent for the Independent based in Istanbul, talked to WBUR’s flagship show Here and Now on Dec. 2 about the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear scientist whose death Iran blamed on Israel. Daragahi told host Robin Young that the timing of the shooting during a transition of leadership in the U.S. suggests careful planning. Asked to assess the current risk of Iran developing nuclear weapons, he said it was “an unrealistic fear. I think that Iran is content with just reaching the maximum available capabilities, in terms of its nuclear program, without ever taking that final step.” More recently, he wrote for The Independent on Dec. 12 about the secretive security court trial and execution of Paris-based journalist Ruhollah Zam, who ran one of Iran’s most popular news outlets. Daragahi is a veteran correspondent who had covered the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey, for English-language news organizations. He won an OPC Citation for Excellence in the Bob Considine category for 2017 coverage of Iran-U.S. relations for BuzzFeed.
The Washington Post has named Gerry Shih, the recipient of the OPC’s Citation for Excellence in the Hal Boyle category this year, as the paper’s next India bureau chief. A Dec. 11 announcement by Post senior staff, including foreign editor and OPC Governor Douglas Jehl, said Shih “has already demonstrated his ability to tackle big stories that play out on a staggering scale.” He previously served as China correspondent for the Post since September 2018, most recently following the coronavirus outbreak from the beginning of the crisis before he was effectively expelled from China in March along with a dozen U.S. correspondents who were stripped of accreditation amid U.S.-Beijing tensions.
New Resources

Reporters Without Borders, known by the French acronym RSF, has published its year-end roundup of journalists detained, held or missing in 2020. The report said 387 journalists are currently detained in connection with their work, 54 are held hostage and four are missing. The total number held is around the same as last year despite an large increase in press freedom violations linked to COVID-19. The report also found that the number of women journalists in prison has increased by 35 percent, from 31 last year to 42 now. Read and download the full report here.

Meanwhile, a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which uses its own system for counting press freedom violations, said the number of journalists jailed globally because of their work hit a new high in 2020 as governments cracked down on coverage of COVID-19 or tried to suppress reporting on political unrest. In its annual global survey, the CPJ found at least 274 journalists in jail in relation to their work on Dec. 1 this year, exceeding the high of 272 in 2016. Read the CPJ report here.

On Dec. 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a massive data set on COVID-19 hospitalization rates and capacity around the country, revealing hotspots where medical facilities are most strained. The data includes reporting on capacity from hospitals in 2,200 counties and revealed that on Dec. 7 hospitals were had reached 90 percent of occupancy in 126 counties. Before this set was released, only state-level data had been available. Read more and explore the data here.

On Dec. 11, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) hosted an online Q&A with Jon Laurence, the supervising executive producer of AJ+, moderated by ICFJ vice president of content and community Patrick Butler. The discussion covered changes in the AJ+ newsroom as a result of the pandemic, including communication, workflow, training and development. The talk was part of the ICFJ’s Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum, which has hosted more than 60 panels since launching in March. Watch the session here.

On Dec. 7, the Foreign Press Association hosted a press conference with Kasur Gyari Dolma, the first woman candidate for the election among Tibetan exiles for President of the Central Tibetan Administration. Ian Williams, FPA president and OPC member, and Bill Holstein, OPC past president, conducted the interview. Kasur Gyari Dolma discussed the election, the current state of the government in exile, as well as prospects for Tibetans in the face of China’s power. Watch the interview here.

On Dec. 7, the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) hosted a webinar on “Combating Violence Against Women Journalists,” with a panel of press freedom advocates and journalists who discussed “the aftermath of the COVID-19 breakout, and the next steps for women journalists to combat different forms of violence against women journalists online and offline.” The panel is available to view online here


Applications are open until Jan. 29 for the next round of grants from the McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism, which provides up to $15,000 for “high-impact investigative and enterprise stories on critical issues related to the U.S. economy, finance or business.” Read more and apply here.

Applications for Report for America Corps Member are open until Jan. 31. The program will send a small group of mid- to late-career journalists to newsrooms across the country “to report on under-covered topics and communities.” This is a two-year program with a one-year check-in to review prospects for a second year. In 2021, the organization plans to place about 300 corps members across the county; around 100 of those will be new placements. Read more and apply here.
More Resources
  • First Draft has been hosting a series of presentations on COVID-19 for journalists, and you can browse the archives here.
  • Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation has compiled a large repository of documents on COVID-19 via FOIA requests. Explore the database here.
  • ACOS assembled a substantial list of COVID-19 resources for journalists, including links to practical safety advice, funding opportunities, hardship and emergency funds, and reporting resources such as guides for fact checking.
  • ICFJ launched a page for COVID-19 resources for journalists.
  • Rory Peck Trust has a resource page for pandemic coverage. It includes safety guidelines, funding sources, job opportunities and online training 
The OPC has added these links to a special COVID-19 section on the member-only Resources page available to members who have logged in. Watch that page as we share more. Click the button below to go directly, or find it in your Member Dashboard under "Resources."

If you have any issues accessing the resources page, please contact Chad Bouchard at chad@opcofamerica.org for credentials. 
OPC Programs in 2020
This year during lockdown, the OPC has hosted 22 programs online, about as many programs as the previous three years combined. If you have a moment to catch up this holiday season, please take a look back at the event recaps linked below, each with embedded video that totals more than 22 hours of content and more than 140 individual clips from our conversations with award winners, book nights, panels on pressing issues, and more. You can also watch our Twitter feed @opcofamerica over the next couple of weeks as we post video clips from the year's events.