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Alumni Newsletter, July 2020

  • By Irena Choi Stern
Malgorzata (Gosia) Wojtunik ’11, video producer for Reuters covering Central and Eastern Europe, before and after Poland’s COVID-19 lockdown. (See story below.)

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPSKILL SUMMER 2020
Upskill Summer 2020 is a new virtual program of the J+ Professional Development Division that offers affordable one-week classes in July and August. Students who complete each course satisfactorily will receive a certificate of completion. Alumni receive 15% off the general admission cost.

 

FEATURED NEWS

AARON FOLEY NAMED BLACK MEDIA INITIATIVE DIRECTOR
Aaron Foley has been appointed founding director of the Black Media Initiative at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism’s Center for Community Media (CCM). In this new position, made possible by grants from several journalism foundations, he is tasked with helping Black press outlets nationwide grow, innovate, and become sustainable.

NEW CCM STUDY HIGHLIGHTS INNOVATIVE IMMIGRANT NEWS OUTLETS
From news on the coronavirus pandemic to coverage of mass protests over recent police killings of Black people, immigrant news outlets have proven themselves vital sources of information for communities underserved by mainstream media.

LABER-WARREN AND MALEK TO BECOME J-SCHOOL’S NEXT TOW PROFESSORS
Emily Laber-Warren, director of the Health & Science Reporting Program, and Alia Malek, head of the International Reporting Program, have been honored with Tow Professorships for the 2020-2022 academic years.

NYCITY NEWS SERVICE NAMED BEST IN NATION FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR
For the second consecutive year, the Newmark J-School’s NYCity News Service was named the Best Online Independent Student Publication in the Society of Professional Journalists’ national Mark of Excellence contest.

RELIEF FUND FOR JOURNALISTS IMPACTED BY COVIC-19 PANDEMIC
The Press Freedom Defense Fund (PFDF), a program of First Look Media, is launching a $200,000 emergency financial assistance program for journalists as the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic fallout continues to deepen across the country, devastating the ability of reporters to fulfill their public mission in these historic times. Cash assistance up to $1,500 will be provided in two or more waves, beginning in July, to help deal with the dire financial conditions facing so many journalists today.

NEW 1:1 MATCH ANNOUNCED FOR FUTURE JOURNALIST FUND
Craig Newmark, a member of the school’s Foundation Board, has stepped forward with a matching gift challenge to support the Future Journalist Fund. Craig has pledged to match each dollar raised for vital student aid up to $250,000. We receive new requests every day from current students seeking emergency financial assistance. In addition, we have begun to receive scholarship appeals from students who have committed to attend the Newmark J-School in the fall but who are now facing unexpected financial challenges.  Their dreams of studying at the Newmark J-School hang in the balance.

 

ALUMNI NEWS

The news below was submitted by faculty, staff, and alumni. Send your items to alumnioffice@journalism.cuny.edu.

Angela Hill ’07 was on the team that received the RFK Journalism Grand Prize for the documentary, “A Broken Trust.” The investigation examines how centuries of inequities, legal loopholes, and a profound ignorance of tribal issues by many in power in the federal government have not only left Native American women vulnerable to sexual assault but also made it difficult, if not dangerous, to report their attackers.

Dmitry Kiper ’07 is still teaching as an adjunct for the English Departments of both Borough of Manhattan Community College and Lehman College. He is also creating visual art and exploring its connection to both poetry and music.

Clark Merrefield ’08, an economic research reporter for Journalist’s Resource (Harvard University), wrote about scholars reflecting on the death of George Floyd and the long-term financial fallout of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Carla Murphy ’09 edited The View from Somewhere, Lewis Raven Wallace’s podcast about objectivity in journalism, which made the cut in The New York Times for podcasts to understand what’s happening now.

Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Tow-Knight ’12, was profiled as one of “8 Journalists on Reporting While Black, With the Weight of History on Their Shoulders” in Glamour magazine. Ishmael is editorial director of the Texas Tribune.

Ranjan Roy, Tow-Knight ’13, was a guest on a NYTimes Live chat event on June 17, discussing  his recent newsletter post about DoorDash and the mysteries of the food delivery business.

Sierra Starks ’13 wrote “The Trouble With Social Media Influencers and Non-AllyshipIf your favorite influencers aren’t using their platform to speak out, unfollow them” for Marie Claire.

Kiratiana Freelon ’14 recently started a Substack Newsletter “Coisa de Preto” (“It’s a Black Thing” in Portuguese), an English-language newsletter for people obsessed with Afro-Brazilian news, culture, activism, music, and history. She also wrote “Your Hairstyle Can Cost You Your Life In Brazil: Brazil’s Black hair revolution continues — despite increased danger of police violence” for Medium.

Rosa Goldensohn ’14, senior reporter for The City, wrote about how Layleen Polanco, the trans woman who died in a Rikers Island solitary confinement cell last year. She was pushed there by jailers over doctor’s objections and despite her seizure disorder, the city’s jail oversight board found.

Julius Motal ’14 has joined NBC News as photo editor. He also had a photograph from a Black Lives Matter protest in a double-page spread in the June 8-21 issue of New York magazine.

Mia Garchitorena ’15 wrote about how Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigrant Health & Cancer Disparities (IHCD) Service, transportation services, and hospital leadership collaborated to deliver groceries to MSK and non-MSK patients who are immunocompromised and/or food insecure via MSK jitney and NYC taxi drivers. Garchitorena is a senior communications associate at MSK.

Cole Rosengren ’15, senior editor of Waste Dive, was part of a team that recently won a Dateline Award from the SPJ DC chapter for best series in the newsletter/trade publication category. The three-part series explored challenging labor conditions at U.S. recycling facilities.

Joe Amditis, Social Journalism ’16, was chosen for the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists’ “Ron Miskoff Award for journalism educator of the year.” He is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. 

Philip Clapham, Social Journalism ’16, recently began working with the Colorado Media Project, a nonprofit agency that funds and facilitates collaboration in local media ecosystems. He helped launch a media and resource hub called COLab and has contributed to reporting on the impacts of COVID-19 across diverse communities in Colorado. He’s also helping to coordinate a series of conversations among newsrooms to discuss reporting on race and policing, with the state’s journalists of color leading the discussions.

George Goss ’16 concluded a Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism Fellowship in May and started work as a communications specialist for The Philos Project, a nonprofit. His fellowship capstone project about discovering a cost-effective way to combat COVID-19 was published in the Saturday Evening Post.

Caroline Shin, Tow-Knight ’16, wrote “You Never Call Us. We Didn’t Know You CaredHow the pandemic healed our broken family,” a personal essay for The New York Times about her family’s pandemic experience.

Rob Dozier ’18 spoke with DJ and producer Kaytranada and comedian and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White for one of Paper Magazine’s Pride issue covers. The conversation covers coming out, the role of the internet in queer identity, and what’s giving them hope in this moment.

Ariama Long ’18 is a 2020 Poynter-Koch Media Journalism Fellow for the coming year, writing about local politics, arts, and culture. She is a staff reporter at Kings County Politics.

Chase Brush ’19 will be a Poynter-Koch Fellow, working as an assistant editor at American Heritage.

Stephanie Chukwuma ’19 has joined WPTZ-TV (My NBC5) in South Burlington, VT as a producer, following a Fred Young Hearst TV Production Fellowship with WLWT in Cincinnati.

Evelina Nedlund ’19, an associate editor at Employee Benefit News, wrote about what employers can do to support black employees right now as Americans around the country demand justice and change following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Chris Polansky ’19, reporter/host for KWGS (public radio) in Tulsa, OK, broke a story about the Tulsa Police Department, “TPD Major: Police Shoot Black Americans ‘Less Than We Probably Ought To,’” which was widely re-published and re-reported, and he covered the Tulsa mayor’s apology for comments about Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man killed by the Tulsa police in 2016, the body-cam footage of officers last week handcuffing two Black teens for “jaywalking” and the president’s Juneteenth rally.

Kedisha Samuels, Tow-Knight ’19 completed the NYU Tandon Future Labs Veterans Entrepreneurship Training program this past winter, which led to her acceptance into the NYU Veterans Future Lab Apex Program beginning in September.

Sean Sanders ’19 pitched and produced “Remembering Breonna Taylor’s life and legacy on her 27th birthday” for Good Morning America, where he is a production associate. He focused on broadcast while a student at the J-School.


Malgorzata (Gosia) Wojtunik ’11

Malgorzata (Gosia) Wojtunik ’11 has been working from home in Gdansk, Poland since mid-March but continues to produce stories from the field as a video journalist for Reuters. Early in the lockdown, she covered how the city of Gdynia was placing giant masks on its buses to encourage citizens to follow government regulations. More recently, she produced a wire story on how Poles are shunning foreign resorts and opting for holidays in remote rural settings, a story that was also picked up by The New York Times.

Wojtunik covers Central and Eastern Europe, an area that includes 16 countries. When borders were closed due to the coronavirus, Wojtunik had to scramble, quickly coaching text correspondents in how to conduct interviews via Skype or Zoom to record video. The efforts paid off, producing a plethora of multimedia stories, including one on how a Polish scientist has created a board game in which players can join the global race to create a vaccine.

As a university student in Poland, Wojtunik dreamed of studying in the U.S., and her dream was realized with a Fulbright Scholarship. “I was happy not only to study journalism in the U.S., but also that it was in New York City,” Wojtunik said. “When I found out that CUNY was located right next to Times Square, I just was like, WOW! Passing by Times Square every day to go to school was really, really great.”

It was through a Newmark J-School classmate, Nathan Frandino, a video journalist with Reuters, that Wojtunik first heard Reuters was hiring for a video team in Poland four years ago.

Poland began relaxing its lockdown restrictions in late May and reopened its borders to EU countries in June. But Wojtunik will continue to work from home for the time being, producing multimedia stories ranging from the booming sales of chickens in Estonia due to the coronavirus to the manufacturing of social distancing shoes in Romania.