Alumni Newsletter, October 2020

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Gustavo Martinez Contreras ’16, a reporter for the Asbury Park Press, is taken into police custody after a march against police brutality in Asbury Park ended in violence on June 1, 2020. Read more below about Gustavo’s life and his testimony in Congress about violations of First Amendment rights. (Photo: Andrew Mills | NJ Advance Media for


Oct. 8, 2020, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Join Max Patiño, director of admissions; John Keefe, graphics/multimedia editor at The New York Times and Newmark J-School adjunct professor; and Melissa DiPento ’17,  educational program coordinator for our Social J and Executive programs, and fellow graduates attending the Online News Association conference at a virtual Happy Hour via Zoom. RSVP to by Oct. 6 and you will be sent the Zoom link.

Oct. 23, 2020, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Meet media companies looking to connect with current students, soon-to-be graduates, and alumni for jobs, internships, fellowships, and freelance opportunities. The school is partnering with Handshake to take the event virtual this fall. To create an account on Handshake, click here. (You can register using your personal email.) You’ll be able to engage with employers in a variety of formats, including video, audio, and chat communication and group meetings of up to 50. If you would like to recruit at the event, please contact



Katie Honan ’10, who covers City Hall for The Wall Street Journal, will be the alumni speaker at the Class of 2020 online commencement ceremony on Dec. 18. Noelle Lilley ’20 has been chosen by her 2020 classmates as the student speaker. It was announced in September that Soledad O’Brien, an award-winning broadcast journalist and longtime friend of the J-School, will be the keynote speaker.

The Newmark J-School is launching a 100-day, online-only program to help independent journalists develop newsletters, podcasts, local sites, and other niche news products serving their audiences.

Dean Sarah Bartlett was named one of the most influential leaders from New York’s top higher education institutions.

J+ just launched a tuition-free training program that will start taking applications in mid-October, and you can sign up for an alert. Poynter wrote about how product thinking is key to long-term digital transformation in news.

Newmark J-School will provide executive training for The Lenfest Constellation News Leadership Initiative, a comprehensive management development program for Philadelphia-area media professionals of color pursuing senior roles in local news media enterprises. The inaugural class includes Jesenia De Moya Correa ’17, reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

All alumni have free access to these databases and may borrow print materials from the Research Center collection.



The news below was submitted by faculty, staff, and alumni. Send your items to

Fritzie Andrade ’08 is Insider Inc.’s first Managing Editor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Daniel Macht ’08 has moved to California to be the digital manager of KCRA.

Inés Bebea ’10 recently launched Let’s_Get_Uncomfortable podcast. Guests will join conversations to probe how the running community can be a conduit for change in the current climate of protests and demands for access and representation. It is available on Spotify and iTunes.

Danny Gold ’10 produced “One Week,” a documentary short that premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival on Sept. 30. It follows a young man in St. Louis for his last week of freedom before a jail sentence for selling fentanyl. Additionally, he launched a podcast on organized crime called “The Underworld Podcast” with the journalist Sean Williams.

Almudena Toral ’10 and the teams at TIME and Univision News won an Emmy Award for the multimedia project: “In El Salvador, Violence is Driving Girls to Kill Themselves.”

Lauren Friedman ’11Kevin Loria ’12, and Catherine Roberts ’15 won a Folio Award for their COVID-19 coverage (News Coverage/Association/Nonprofit category).

Annais Morales ’11 is a segment producer at CNBC, working on the new show “The News with Shepard Smith.”

Nabil Rahman ’12a writer and multidimensional artist, had his second solo exhibition “Water bodies” open on Sept. 7 at Studio 6/6 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Heather Martino ’13, a producer at Redglass Pictures, worked on “Dear Future Me,” about the annual tradition of 6th grade students writing and later opening letters addressed to their future selves (as high school seniors).

Jessica Bal ’15 co-facilitated Heirlooms/Evidence as part of Photoville 2020. An archival workshop in which participants collect and reflect on personal objects and images that represent their own lineages of whiteness and privilege, these items act as a sort of physical evidence—as well as a concrete place for starting a dialogue about how identity impacts our work as media-makers.

Luis Miguel Echegaray, SocialJ ’15, recently started a role at CBS as a presenter, host, and soccer content development strategist for CBS Sports Digital. Previously, he worked at Sports Illustrated as a presenter/host.

Noah Caldwell ’16 published/aired “Gasping For Air: Autopsies Reveal Troubling Effects Of Lethal Injection,” a long investigative feature that he reported with Ailsa Chang for “All Things Considered,” where he has been a producer since 2017. Caldwell spent two years collecting the autopsies of inmates executed by lethal injection to check out claims that inmates’ lungs were filling with fluid as they died.

Joseph Darius Jaafari ’16 is a reporter with Spotlight PA, which announced its merger with the PA Post, where Jaafari worked, joining together the two statewide news organizations. Spotlight PA brings together its original partners, The Philadelphia Inquirer, PennLive/The Patriot-News, and TribLive/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, with WITF Public Media, original founders of the PA Post project.

Zameena Mejia ’16 just started a new position as National Domestic Workers Alliance Gender and Racial Justice Press Strategist.

Graison Dangor ’18 is now a contributor to Forbes, where he will focus on stories about mental health, particularly how it’s affected by the economy and public policy.

Hiram Durán ’19 has joined The Riverdale Press as its new photo editor. Durán replaces longtime chief photographer Julius Motal ’14, who now works on the photo desk for NBC News.

Beatrix LockwoodSocialJ ’19, and Nicole Lewis ’16 created the Marshall Project’s “The Hidden Cost of Incarceration,” which was nominated for the Online Journalism Awards’ “Excellence in Newsletters” category.

Megan Myscofski ’19 started a new job as a Morning Edition host and reporter at Montana Public Radio, where she interned as a student.

Ann Seymour ’19 published an article this week in American Heritage Magazine that grew out of her capstone project. It’s a deep-dive into the history of Prince Hall Freemasonry and the often unrecognized involvement many of its members have had in supporting the rights of African Americans in the United States.

Clockwise from top: Gustavo Martinez Contreras ’16 in a doors-off helicopter on assignment for the AP covering the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico City and the neighboring states of Morelos and Puebla (Sept. 20, 2017); with Julia Sclafani ’17 before the 2016 commencement ceremonies; Martinez interviews Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Mermelstein in his home about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Jewish prayer among the Orthodox community in Lakewood, N.J. (Photo: Boruch Perlowitz).


On Oct. 7, Gustavo Martinez Contreras ’16 will testify before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about violations of First Amendment rights during the recent U.S. protests. This follows his June 29 appearance before the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

“On June 1, while I was live-streaming police misconduct in Asbury Park for the Asbury Park Press, police targeted me, yelled ‘F— him, he’s the problem!’ and then officers tackled me, slapped my phone out of my hand, and took me to jail,” Martinez said.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called Martinez the next morning to apologize and said all charges would be dropped. Martinez has since filed a federal lawsuit, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Representing him pro bono is Shireen Barday, a partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who was connected to Martinez by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because a press badge should not be a bullseye,” Martinez tweeted. “Today I’m standing for the First Amendment rights of journalists who report on police misconduct.”

As a young boy growing up in Mexico City, Martinez, 40, was fascinated by the news. While his friends watched cartoons in elementary school, he tuned to coverage of the Balkan War or the invasion of Iraq. In his teens, he immersed himself in basketball coverage, which led to winning a radio sports trivia contest and an invitation into the broadcast booth to share his viewpoints.

He got his start in journalism while a student at El Paso Community College, when a photography professor encouraged him to apply for a job with the local Spanish daily, El Diario. In his journalism career, which has taken him from Juarez to Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New York City, he has covered Major League sports, immigration, the 2017 Mexico City earthquake, and more.

It was through the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) that he heard about scholarships for mid-career journalists to attend the Newmark J-School.

“I thought it was a great opportunity,” Martinez said. “I wanted to cross over to English language media and gain multimedia skills. I decided to take a chance on my future, and I’ve never looked back.”

While at the Newmark J-School, Martinez served as NAHJ chapter president and was elected by his classmates to be their commencement speaker. It’s also where he met his girlfriend, Julia Sclafani ’17, currently covering health for Searchlight New Mexico.

An amended lawsuit has been filed, and Martinez continues to pursue the case to protect the rights of all journalists. As he said at the subcommittee hearing, “I speak up today because the silencing of journalists by law enforcement is a fundamental threat to American democracy.”