Harold M. Schmeck, Jr., a New York Times science writer who specialized in covering medical research, died of a heart attack in Hyannis, Massachusetts on April 1st. He was 89. Schmeck worked at the Times from 1957 to 1989. During the ’60s he wrote about the effects of space travel on astronauts’ bodies. In the ’80s he covered the early efforts to map the human genome. He was known for his ability to make difficult subjects easy for readers to comprehend. Describing the discovery of genetic markers on human chromosomes, he wrote that “the markers are like cross streets that enable a gene to be placed, say, between 15th Street and 16th Street along the avenue of the chromosome.” Schmeck was born in Tonawanda, New York and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He earned a degree in English from Cornell University and, after working for the university’s Alumni News and a small paper in Illinois, was hired by The Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union. It was there that he got his start in science writing. He published two books, “The Semi-Artificial Man—A Dawning Revolution in Medicine” in 1965, and “Immunology: The Many-Edged Sword” in 1974. He is survived by a son and grandson; his wife of 59 years, Lois, died in 2010.
Harry Press, a San Francisco journalist who went on to manage Stanford University’s journalism fellowships, died at a care facility in Palo Alto, California on February 6th. He was 93. Born in Santa Monica, California, Press wrote a one-page newspaper when he was in seventh grade. In 1935 he entered Stanford University and worked for the student newspaper, the Stanford Daily, beginning as a freshman and serving as managing editor during his senior year. He worked for the Anaheim Bulletin, the Palo Alto Times, and The San Francisco News, and when it merged with The Call Bulletin, he worked for the newly formed News-Call Bulletin. As city editor of the News-Call Bulletin, he often relied on wit and sarcasm to compete against the city’s better-funded dailies. After his paper was sold and folded into one of those competitors, The Examiner, in 1966, he returned to Stanford to found and edit the Stanford Observer, an alumni newspaper. He also served as associate editor of the Stanford News Service and was managing director of the university’s Professional Journalism Fellowships Program (now called John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford) until his retirement in 1989. “He was indefatigable, and his optimism and joie de vivre were legendary,” current fellowship director Jim Bettinger wrote on the program’s website. “Nobody who ever met Harry forgot him.” He is survived by his son and daughter, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren; his first wife, Martha, died in 1999, his second wife, Mildred, died in 2010, and another daughter died in December of 2012.
Robert Clark, former executive editor of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, died at a retirement community in Hudson, Ohio, on February 28th. He was 91. Clark was born and raised in Vermont and served in the Army Infantry in World War II, rising from private to captain and earning the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He began his journalism career at the Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1948. A year later, he was hired by the Bingham-owned Courier-Journal as a reporter and science writer. He spent the next 30 years with the family’s newspaper company. He served for a year as Washington correspondent in 1958. He was appointed managing editor of The Louisville Times in 1962 and was named executive editor of the Courier-Journal & Times in 1971. Between 1962 and 1979 the newspapers won three Pulitzer prizes under his leadership. In 1979 he left the company to become editor of The Florida Times-Union and the Jacksonville Journal, and in 1983 he became vice president for news at Harte-Hanks Newspapers in San Antonio, Texas, retiring in 1987. He was an active photographer in retirement, publishing his nature photos in calendars and postcards. From 1990-92, he taught as a distinguished visiting professor at Baylor University, where he also was also an editorial consultant. He was active in professional groups, serving as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association from 1974-75 and of the American Society of Newspaper Editors from 1985-86. He wrote two major reports for the Newspaper Association of America: “Success Stories, What 28 Newspapers are Doing to Gain and Retain Readers” in 1988 and “Keys to Success: Strategies for Newspaper Marketing in the ’90s” in 1989. He is survived by two daughters and two granddaughters; his wife of 62 years, Jeanne, died in 2011.
Robert Caro won the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award for Biography for “The Passage of Power,” the fourth volume in his “Years of Lyndon Johnson” series. Caro previously won the NBCC award in general nonfiction for “The Path to Power” in 1982 and was a finalist for “Master of the Senate” in 2002, both also from the Johnson series. In April, he collected the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize for “The Passage of Power.” “The Passage of Power” also received the Mark Lynton History Prize from the Lukas Prize Project Awards, administered by the Nieman Foundation and Columbia University. Caro has previously won two Pulitzer prizes for biography, for “Master of the Senate” and “The Power Broker,” his biography of former New York City planner Robert Moses.
Henry Bradsher‘s memoir, “The Dalai Lama’s Secret and Other Reporting Adventures: Stories from a Cold War Correspondent,” was published by LSU Press in April. Bradsher spent 27 years as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and The Washington Star, covering Russia, China, India and Southeast Asia. Some of the adventures he recounts in the book include reporting on the Dalai Lama’s 1959 escape from Tibet, hunting tigers in Nepal with Queen Elizabeth, and surviving a KGB car bombing. He also writes about meeting presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. After The Washington Star closed in 1981, Bradsher took a job with the CIA as an intelligence analyst. He has also written two books about Afghanistan.
G.J. Meyer‘s new book is “The Borgias: The Hidden History,” published by Bantam in April. Although the Borgia family has been painted as villains of the Renaissance—stories of bribery, blackmail, murder and adultery abound—Meyer sought to tell the real story, backed by evidence, about the family’s rise to power and half-century reign in Italy. In almost every case, he found that the true stories were less salacious than the gossip that has often passed for fact. This is Meyer’s third history book, following “The Tudors” in 2010 and “A World Undone” in 2006.
Michael Kirk won a George Polk Award as producer of the Frontline documentary “Money, Power and Wall Street.” Kirk and correspondent Martin Smith set out to tell the inside story of the financial crisis, from the rise of “too big to fail” banks to the government response to the crisis and the unchastened culture of Wall Street that still focuses on big risk trading. A producer of more than 200 national television programs, Kirk was the senior producer of Frontline from 1983 to 1987, when he left to start his own production company. The Polk Awards are given out annually by Long Island University to honor special achievement in journalism.
Howard Shapiro is now the theater critic for Philadelphia public radio station WHYY and its NewsWorks.org website. He is also the Broadway critic for public radio stations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Shapiro had been the critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer until October, when he took a buyout after 42 years with the newspaper. In comments posted to the website of the American Theatre Critics Association after he took the buyout, Shapiro wrote that he had committed “to continue pursuing theater criticism by exploring broadcast and other avenues as well as freelancing. … For one thing, I can’t imagine sitting in the theater without a pen in my hand. It wouldn’t feel right.”
Mike Pride‘s Read Pride’s interview with poet Donald Hall »new book is “Our War: Days and Events in the Fight for the Union,” published by Monitor Publishing. Drawing on the letters and diaries of soldiers from New Hampshire as well as newspaper accounts from the era, Pride tells the story of the state’s involvement in the Civil War. For 30 years, Pride was the editor of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor.
Greg Brock has won the 2012 Sam Talbert Silver Em award from the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The award is presented annually to a Mississippi-connected journalist whose career has exhibited “the highest tenets of honorable, public service journalism, inside or outside the state.” Brock, the senior editor for standards at The New York Times, is a native of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and graduated from Ole Miss in 1975. Other winners through the years have included Hodding Carter II, NF ’40, and his son, Hodding Carter III, NF ’66.
Barney Mthombothi resigned as editor of South Africa’s Financial Mail in February. Mthombothi had been head of the Johannesburg-based business weekly for eight years. In his farewell address to staff, he alluded to disagreements with the ownership over possible plans to merge the Financial Mail with its sister publication, Business Day. He was previously the editor of the Sunday Tribune in KwaZulu-Natal and editor in chief of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio News.
Michael Riley became CEO and editor in chief of The Chronicle of Higher Education Inc. in May. He is in charge of the Washington-based Chronicle’s weekly newspaper and website, the biweekly Chronicle of Philanthropy, Arts & Letters Daily, and a number of other websites. Previously, Riley was the managing editor of Bloomberg Government, which launched in 2010.
Kevin Cullen won the 2013 Batten Medal from the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) in March. The award is given for work from the past three years that embodies “compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog,” according to ASNE. “In compact prose, Cullen tells powerful stories that move the heart and get results,” the judges wrote. Cullen, a Boston Globe columnist and reporter, also won the award in 2008. Cullen is co-author, with Globe colleague Shelley Murphy, of “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice,” published by W.W. Norton in February. Their book chronicles the life of James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious Boston gangster who became one of the country’s most wanted fugitives.
Mark Travis became publisher of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor in January. Travis, who was a stringer for the Monitor in the early 1980s, became a full-time reporter in 1986. For more than 20 years he worked there as a reporter and editor. He also was responsible for developing new projects at the paper and served as director of online operations. Since 2008, he had been publisher of the Monitor’s sister paper, the Valley News of Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Masha Gessen received the Media for Liberty Award for her April 2012 Vanity Fair story, “The Wrath of Putin.” In the piece, Gessen writes about the fate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was one of Russia’s richest oligarchs until he criticized president Vladimir Putin and the country’s rampant, state-sanctioned corruption in 2003. Putin had him arrested on trumped-up economic crimes, and he has been in jail ever since. The $50,000 prize given by Liberty Media Corporation honors work that highlights the connections between economic and political liberty. Gessen resigned as director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russia service to work on a book about the Tsarnaev brothers, accused in the Boston bombings on April 15. She has a contract with Riverhead Books.
Richard Chacón was named executive director of news content for public radio station WBUR in Boston. In the newly created position, he will oversee all of the local news content for WBUR and wbur.org. He begins June 10. Most recently, he has been overseeing a capital campaign at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his journalism career in 1984 when he worked at WBUR while attending Boston University. He subsequently spent more than a decade at The Boston Globe in a variety of reporting and editing positions. He also has held public policy and public affairs positions in state government.
Mary C. Curtis received a 2012 Clarion Award from The Association for Women in Communications. Curtis was recognized in the Online Journalism – Regular Column category for her work on The Washington Post’s She the People blog, The Root, and Politics Daily. She received the Green Eyeshade Award for serious online commentary. The awards, given by the Society of Professional Journalists, recognize the best journalism in the southeastern United States.
Andrew Quinn joined the Aspen Institute in February as director of the New Voices Fellowship, a new program to identify and train emerging experts in the global health and development fields. Quinn, a Nieman Global Heath Fellow, previously was the U.S. foreign policy correspondent for Reuters, covering the State Department. He also served as political editor, Johannesburg bureau chief, and China correspondent. The New Voices Fellowship is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had previously provided funding for the Nieman Global Health Fellowship.
Holly Williams won a 2012 George Polk Award for two stories she did for CBS News about Chinese human rights campaigner Chen Guangcheng. In May, Williams spoke by phone with Chen while he was recuperating in the hospital after his escape from Chinese authorities. The following month, Williams reported on the fate of Chen’s family, who remained in China. She and her cameraman entered his former village in the middle of the night after being turned away by hired thugs in the daytime. Williams recently became a staff correspondent for CBS based in Turkey. At the time of the reporting that won the award, she was working for Sky News in China. The Polk Awards, conferred by Long Island University, honor special achievement in journalism.
Hannah Allam was part of a team from McClatchy Newspapers that won a 2012 George Polk Award for its coverage of the civil war in Syria. Allam covers foreign affairs and the State Department for McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau and was previously the Middle East bureau chief based in Cairo.
Graciela Mochkofsky will spend the 2013-2014 academic year as a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She will receive access to the library’s archives, as well as a stipend and office space, to work on a book project. Mochkofsky, an Argentinian journalist who co-founded and edits the website El Puercoespín, will use the fellowship to work on a book and documentary about emerging Jewish communities in Latin America.
David Jackson was part of a three-member team from the Chicago Tribune that won the FOI Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). The Tribune series “An Empty-Desk Epidemic” exposed how nearly one out of every eight Chicago public school students missed a month or more of class every year. According to the IRE announcement, Jackson spent more than a decade fighting with the school board to get the data and documents used in the story. The series also received the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College in New York.
Dorothy Parvaz was named the 2013 recipient of the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Parvaz, a reporter for Al Jazeera English, was detained for 19 days after trying to enter Syria in 2011. In announcing the award, the judges highlighted Parvaz’s unflinching reporting in 2012 on the Syrian regime, women’s rights in Libya, and the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami.
Peter Wolodarski became editor in chief of Dagens Nyheter in March. Wolodarski has been with the Swedish daily since 2001, when he started as an editorial writer. In 2009, he became political editor and head of the editorial board.
Andrei Zolotov has been named Vienna bureau chief for Russian news agency RIA Novosti. In July 2012, Russia Profile, the English-language news website Zolotov founded and edited, merged with RIA Novosti’s English language service, which had published it since 2007.
Beth Macy won a 2012 Best in Business award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for her Roanoke (Va.) Times series “Picking up the Pieces.” Macy explored the effects of outsourcing and globalization on industry in Virginia. In one of the pieces, she profiled third-generation furniture manufacturer John Bassett III, who is fighting back against Chinese manufacturers that undersell domestic producers. She is expanding his story into a book, which was the winner of an award from the Lukas Prize Project.
Tony Bartelme won a 2012 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for “Storm of Money,” a series of stories in The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier that explained the complex factors that drive up the costs of hurricane insurance. The series was recognized in the Non-Deadline Reporting category of the Sigma Delta Chi awards, and also won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2013 Award for Public Service. In addition, Bartelme, a special projects reporter, was named a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.
Florence Martin-Kessler has co-directed a new documentary, “State Builders,” with filmmaker Anne Poiret. The pair followed the process of creating a new country in South Sudan, beginning with its first day of independence on July 9, 2011. In an op-ed for The New York Times, the pair described what they saw while filming: “the deep joy of a people free and sovereign at last; the good intentions and hard realities of state building; and the ‘gray zone’—that murky area between peace and war that holds as much peril as promise.”
Hollman Morris took part in a forum called “Journalists: Harm, Memory and Healing” in Bogotá, Colombia in February. During it, Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, NF ’88, praised the journalist for his work and noted their Nieman connection, saying “Hollman Morris, you are a great journalist and were even in the same program I was at Harvard University. It was the best year of my life, I don’t know if it was the best of yours, but here I’d like to recognize you. ” Santos’s predecessor, Álvaro Uribe, had accused Morris of being allied with the FARC guerillas and had him under surveillance by DAS, the state intelligence agency. Later in the event, Morris acknowledged the symbolism of Santos’s words, saying “The beginning of the healing was when President Juan Manuel Santos recognized my good name, that of my family and my work. Today, I’m thankful for his gesture but obviously the call for justice continues. Those who threatened my children, my family, my wife, who singled us out and stigmatized us and unleashed a ferocious criminal hunt by the DAS against us, they will have to answer before the courts, only then can impunity be fought and justice served.”
Deb Price was named the Southeast Asia editor of The Wall Street Journal, based in Hong Kong, in January. In addition to editing stories out of 10 countries in the region, Price wrote in an e-mail to Nieman Reports that she’s enjoying being a member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong and betting on horses at the Happy Valley Racecourse. Before moving to Hong Kong, she spent more than 20 years working in the Washington bureau for The Detroit News.
Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge received a Hellman/Hammett grant from Human Rights Watch in December for her commitment to free expression in the face of persecution. Sonali’s husband, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was murdered in 2009 for his work as editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. She left the country shortly after his death and has been living in exile in the U.S. For 2012-2014, she is writer-in-residence with Ithaca City of Asylum, a sanctuary organization. She is also a visiting scholar at Ithaca College as well as in the South Asia Program at Cornell University.