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Alumni Newsletter, November 2020

  • By Irena Choi Stern
Brigid Bergin ’07, City Hall and politics reporter for WNYC, interviewing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in August 2019. (See story below.)

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

J-SCHOOL GET TOGETHER
Nov. 6, 2020, 5:00 p.m. 
Dean Sarah Bartlett invites everyone who feels like it to come together virtually to share thoughts, music, poetry, drawings, or whatever you think might help us all get through these challenging times. Register here.

MEET THE MEDIA: CAREER IN PUBLIC RADIO WITH DOUG MITCHELL
Nov. 10, 2020, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Join Doug Mitchell, founder and project director of “Next Generation Radio” at NPR, and guests for a panel discussion about careers in public radio. To create an account on Handshake, click here (you can register using your personal email) and then join here.

MAKING SENSE OF #ELECTION2020: A REPORTERS’ ROUNDTABLE
Nov. 12, 2020, 12:00 p.m.
A panel discussion examining the latest analysis and data emerging from the aftermath of the historic 2020 general election, moderated by Laura Flanders of PBS. Guest speakers will answer audience questions live following the panel discussion. Register here.

 

FEATURED NEWS

STACY-MARIE ISHMAEL ELECTED CHAIR OF FOUNDATION BOARD
The directors of the Foundation Board of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism have chosen Stacy-Marie Ishmael, a digital media star who is editorial director of The Texas Tribune, as their next chair. She takes over the role from Founding Dean Emeritus Stephen B. Shepard, who will remain on the board.

FIRST COHORT OF “NICHE MEDIA ENTREPRENEURS” SELECTED FOR NEW PROGRAM
The inaugural cohort of 20 media entrepreneurs, including Newmark J-School Broadcast Associate Emmanuel “Mano” Alexandre Jr., started the Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program on Oct. 13. The 100-day online certificate program, led by Jeremy Caplan, will help participants develop newsletters, podcasts, local sites, and other niche news products serving their audiences and communities.

FIVE JOURNALISTS WIN MCGRAW REPORTING GRANTS
Five veteran journalists working on four projects have been named the latest recipients of the McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism. Each of the winning projects will receive a grant of up to $15,000.

 

ALUMNI NEWS

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

Clark Merrefield ’08, an economic research reporter for Journalist’s Resource (Harvard University), wrote Decisions, decisions: How national news outlets project and call presidential winners and The Electoral College: How America picks its president. For the latter story, he obtained dozens of presidential nominating documents to track down the names of nominated presidential electors in 13 swing states.

Megan Bungeroth ’10 and her husband Tim have created a PC video game and graphic novel called “Air Hares” that was inspired by their experience with infertility. Air Hares follows an intrepid bunny, Captain Rabbo, in a desolate world as she and her crew take to the skies in retrofitted remote control airplanes to seed the carrot crop and defend the warren of Winrose.

Perry Santanachote ’10 just completed and presented a “Diversity Toolkit” for Consumer Reports. A voluntary effort, the Toolkit is an internal resource designed to assist with reporting and editorial. It was presented to the Content and Marketing teams and is being shared throughout the company.

Alva-Amoin French ’11 was commissioned by BBC Reel to produce, shoot on location in New Orleans, and edit a mini-documentary on William Dorsey Swann, a former slave who became the world’s first documented drag queen, for the UK’s Black History Month. In October, French joined AJ+ as a video journalist.

Brianne Barry ’13, senior manager of Digital Video Production at Spectrum News, received three New York Emmy Awards for “7th Ave: A Cradle to the Modern Gay Rights Movement,” “Northern Boulevard: A Model of Tolerance for Centuries,” and “How Do We Combat Hate In The Digital Age?.” They were the first projects of the newly formed national team, and Barry was the editorial and production lead on two of them.

Irina Ivanova ’13 has been promoted to associate managing editor at CBS Money Watch.

Anna Teregulova ’13 was recently promoted to communications and public affairs manager, leading internal & executive video and live events at Google Cloud.

Kiratiana Freelon ’14 was selected from more than 1,000 applicants as one of 12 mentees in a new program called Substack Bridge, a two-month mentorship program that matches emerging and established Substack writers to help them reach their goals.

Maddy Perkins ’14 and Tobias Salinger ’13 have been working on the audio documentary series “Access Denied: Systemic racism in financial services” that launched Oct. 26 across many Arizent publications (American Banker, Financial Planning, Accounting Today, PaymentsSource, National Mortgage News, The Bond Buyer, etc.). For this five-part podcast, host Salinger spoke with more than 25 entrepreneurs, executives, and other professionals in fields like banking, wealth management, accounting, and asset management for a revealing look at institutional barriers and outright racist abuse. Salinger is senior editor, Financial Planning, and Perkins is managing editor, Editorial Operations, Arizent.

Max Willens ’14 was named Digiday’s senior editor of research and features.

Rachel Glickhouse, SocialJ ’15, partner manager, ProPublica, and Sebastián AuyanetSocialJ ’17, of SembraMedia and NowThis News, recently shared their expertise during two panel discussions called Collaborative Fact Checking 101 – in both English and Spanish – at ONA ’20.

Alison Kanski ’15 has joined Precision Oncology News as a biopharma reporter.

Joe Amditis, SocialJ ’16, associate director, Center for Cooperative Media, participated in the “Content-Sharing is the Media Industry’s Response to the Sharing Economy” panel at ONA ’20.

Christopher Inoa ’16 was one of the contributors earlier this month on Vulture’s “100 Sequences That Shaped Animation,” writing eight out of the 100 entries.

Monica Cordero ’17, an investigative reporter for the Cross-Border Investigative Project, wrote a story for Univision about the latest Latino poll in battleground states.

Karina Hernandez ’18, a business news associate at CNBC, is working with CNBC Investigations, which recently published this story that aired on Squawk Box and The Exchange. It’s about the U.S. government blocking the purchase of a fertility clinic in San Diego by a Chinese entity.

Fruhlein Econar ’19 has joined CNN as a photo editor.

Daniel LaplazaSocialJ ’19, is working with Shape Up The Vote, a non-partisan campaign to turn out the vote in 2020, by activating barbershops as voter engagement hubs in their communities.

Rosie Misdary ’19 is a 2020 Kroc Fellow at NPR. 

Annie Todd ’19 started as the temporary newsletter and website editor at WNYC. 

Diara J. Townes, SocialJ ’19, recently moderated a panel discussion with three journalists who are connecting the dots between climate and environmental justice, changing U.S. policy, the impacts of COVID-19, and more. Townes, First Draft News’ community engagement lead and an investigative researcher, as well as a former marine and environmental scientist, interviewed: Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist for ABC News; Rebecca Hersher, reporter on NPR’s Science Desk; Rachel Ramirez, reporter and creator of The Breaking Point.

Isadora Varejão, SocialJ ’19, organized a panel discussion for RetroReport: “Covering Domestic Violence: How Can We Do Better?” It featured Melissa Jeltsen, Rossalyn Warren, and Andrea González-Ramírez – three journalists with expertise covering domestic violence – and Kelli Owens, executive director of New York State’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.


Brigid Bergin broadcasts from home while filling in for Brian Lehrer in June.

BREAKING STORIES ABOUT NEW YORK CITY POLITICS

When the Washington Post published its 2020 list of reporters to follow, it was no surprise to see WNYC’s Brigid Bergin ’07 on it. The City Hall and politics reporter has broken numerous stories for WNYC and Gothamist while working remotely since March, continuing to cover her beat while also filling in for Brian Lehrer, Tanzina Vega ’07 on “The Takeaway,” and Allison Stewart on “All of It.”

“Working during the pandemic has meant wearing different hats, doing things differently,” Bergin said. “I have colleagues who have done amazing reporting out in the field covering protests and things related to COVID in hospital settings and healthcare settings, and I really haven’t done that. I have focused on the policy side coming out of City Hall, the leadership questions facing the Mayor and other elected leaders — obviously lots of coverage of the election, particularly around election administration or how an election actually runs.”

Ensconced at home with her husband Bob Hardt, political director for NY1, and their two-year-old daughter Patricia Jane (“PJ”), Bergin has reported everything from court battles to cancel the presidential primary to potential voter disenfranchisement over postmark problems on absentee ballots. Back on the City Hall beat, she covered the administration’s management of the coronavirus crisis, including the departure of health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and, in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd, the Mayor’s personal perspective on anti-bias training.

Bergin broke the story about erroneous absentee ballots mailed to Brooklyn voters and, more recently, the disproportionate allocation of voters to early voting sites.

While she appreciates being immersed in the main news stories of the day, Bergin also looks for projects that offer readers different perspectives. In 2017, she worked on “The People’s Guide to Power.” She produced a four-part series examining the Democratic machine in Queens, which was, at the time, led by the fourth most powerful man in Congress, Joe Crowley. Among those profiled was a little-known candidate named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a segment titled “How to Challenge an Incumbent.”

Bergin is a career changer who came to journalism after more than eight years working for JP Morgan Chase in technology, project management, and communications.

She was considering business school until a mentor at work dissuaded her, saying, “You’re going to hate it. Why aren’t you going to journalism school?” She was accepted to both Columbia and what was then the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

“There was something about this new program that I really liked,” she said. “I liked that it was more than a year and that it was a public institution. I went to SUNY-Albany undergrad and I take a lot of pride and really believe we should be supporting our institutions of public education.”

“The moment I met my classmates, I was like, I found my people,” Bergin said. “It was the best feeling. I just remember feeling so completely replenished — something that had been drained over eight years of not being where I should have been.”

She admits it was difficult being back in school and older than most of her classmates, many of whom had lots of internships under their belts with clips to show for it.

“I learned everything from scratch and had to slug it out,” she recalls. “I always felt like I was the oldest intern in every setting. I was 30 when I was in my third semester, and I would be interning with kids who were sometimes still in college or just out of college. It took me a long time to build my confidence and to find my voice.”

She has worked at WNYC since graduating from Newmark J-School in 2007, steadily working her way from a producer position, which required her to report to work at 4:00 a.m., to 4-½ years later, her current role as a reporter.

Bergin is concerned about voter fatigue from the 2020 presidential election and hopes New Yorkers can stay focused on the upcoming municipal election.

“We have ranked-choice voting for the first time, two-thirds of the City Council, and all of the city-wide elected leaders,” Bergin said. “These are the people, more so than the federal government, that can affect your daily life. We need people to pay attention and stay engaged. As journalists, that is a challenge for us — how do we try to help tell the story that people need to know.”