Alumni Newsletter, April 2021

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Nicole Lewis ’16, a staff writer forThe Marshall Project, conducted a survey of the political leanings of those currently imprisoned, gathering more than 8,000 submissions from across the country during one of the most historic elections in U.S. history. (See story below).


Friday, April 9, 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (3 sessions)
A look at the current status and future of engagement journalism as it continues to evolve to become more and more ambitious in its transformation of news that is participatory and centers on the needs of historically marginalized or oppressed groups. Register here.

Tuesday, April 27, 6:00 p.m. 

Three prominent education journalists discuss the big challenges faced by students after a year of remote classes, lost learning and emotional disruption. Register here.

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021
Fingers crossed for an in-person reunion at 219 West 40th Street — and a special happy hour with the Dean for the 10th reunion classes of 2010 and 2011!


The News Leaders Association has awarded the staff at THE CITY with the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and Columbia Journalism School the Punch Sulzberger Innovator of the Year Award for “Missing Them,” a project to remember each of the more than 30,000 New Yorkers lost to COVID-19.

Newmark J-School’s groundbreaking degree in Social Journalism, launched in 2015, has been renamed the Master of Arts in Engagement Journalism.

Greg David, director of the Business and Economics Reporting Program at Newmark J-School, talks about his series for The City, examining the impact of the pandemic on the New York City economy.

Vo will work closely with the department head, Professor Sandeep Junnarkar, to further develop the data journalism curriculum.

25 journalists from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will focus on product thinking in the newsroom.  Applications are now open for journalists in Asia-Pacific (deadline April 21).

The Center for Community Media has launched the 2021 City Elections Initiative, an information and resource hub as New Yorkers prepare to go to the polls in November to elect a new mayor, five borough presidents, 51 city council members, a comptroller, a public advocate, district attorneys for Manhattan and Brooklyn, and more than 100 judges.


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

Hannah Rappleye ’10 and her NBC News colleagues were semi-finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for “A Profitable Death Trap,” which exposed the abuse and neglect of at-risk children in residential treatment centers operated by a national, for-profit behavioral healthcare company called Sequel Youth & Family Services.

Simone Sebastian ’10 was named The Post’s America editor.

Patrick Hickey Jr. ’11 has written “The Minds Behind Shooter Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers” (McFarland, March 26, 2021), as well as the first issue of his new comic book series. Hickey is also on the journalism faculty of Kingsborough Community College.

Cara Eisenpress ’12 has joined Crain’s New York Business as a senior reporter for hospitality, tourism, and the arts.

Chester Soria ’12 has joined BerlinRosen as vice president.  Until recently, he was the communications manager for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Nadja Thomas ’13 and Cariba Party ’15 received a Brown Girls Doc Mafia Black Directors Grant, which supports documentary projects by Black directors from within BGDM whose demonstration of craft, storytelling ability, and unique point of view reflects and uplifts some aspect of the Black experience or perspective. They are co-directing an Untitled Project.

Minda Smiley ’14 is marketing brew editor at Morning Brew.

Kat Long ’15 recently wrapped up “The Quest for the North Pole,” a nine-episode podcast that she created, wrote, and hosted with Mental Floss and iHeartRadio. The podcast dives into the adventure, danger, and politics surrounding our obsession with the North Pole and looks at what pushes explorers ever further into the unknown.

Nick Perez ’16 started a new role as data reporter with the federal government, joining the U.S. Agency for Global Media in Washington, DC.

Lucy Huang ’17 started a new role as associate producer for Spoke Media.

Jesenia De Moya Correa ’17 and Frances Solá-Santiago ’17 were featured in Nieman Reports’ “Get to Know the Newsrooms Focused on Elevating Latinx Voices in the U.S.,” about how they are bringing nuanced, in-depth coverage to the issues impacting Latinx people.

Eddy Martinez ’17 started a new role as a reporter for the Connecticut Post.

Molly Enking ’18 has been selected as one of only six 2021 Biomedical fellows for the Logan Science Journalism Program at the University of Chicago’s Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Fellows conduct research alongside scientists, to better inform/educate them in their science journalism work. Enking has also moved to Italy, where she freelances and works part-time for NewsHour Weekend.

Juan B. García ’18 and Hernán Goicochea ’18 published their capstone in Telemundo. The  multimedia story is an investigative work about an asylum seeker who was persecuted in Venezuela because he denounced the shortage of antiretroviral drugs in his country.

Samantha Maldonado ’18 will be joining The City as a reporter.  Previously, she was energy & environment reporter for Politico.

Paula Moura ’18 published her first story “The Worst Has Passed’: Recovered From COVID, a Family Weathers Challenges Shared by Many Latino Immigrants” as the 2021 Tow Journalism Fellow at Frontline.

Vrushank Nayak ’19 is a data reporter at the Financial Times’ P&C and HealthPayer Specialist.

Eliana Perez ’18 has joined The Desert Sun as a reporter covering California’s eastern Coachella Valley, including the cities of Indio and Coachella.

Shantal Riley ’19, a fellow at Frontline PBS, wrote about how cremations are on the rise in Black and Latino communities during the pandemic.

Maria Robins-Somerville ’19, an associate producer at Pineapple Street Media, worked on the podcast “My Fugitive,” an eight-part series focusing on Howard Mechanic, who was accused of burning down an Air Force building in St. Louis. He subsequently went on the run and became one of the longest-running fugitives in U.S. history.

Benjamin Chambers ’20 was awarded a Summer Pulliam Fellowship at the Arizona Republic in Photography/Videography.

Jocelyn Azucena Contreras ’20 is with the data verification site of Univision Noticias.

Gus Fisher ’20 published his capstone project, “Prison Laborers Are Paid Pennies to Maintain the Prisons They’re Incarcerated In,” in Truthout.

Amanda Glodowski ’20 will start as a data editor at Crain’s New York Business in mid-April.

Román Gressier ’20 is a reporter and translator at El Faro.

Joseph Jungermann ’20 has joined The Real Deal as a researcher.

Korey Matthews ’20 was featured in an International Journalists Network (IJNet) interview “Building a journalism career in a pandemic.”

Ali McPherson ’20 won third place in the Broadcast News Story category in the Associated Collegiate Press Clips and Click Contest for “Homeless New Yorkers Speak Out,” which was published on AudioFiles and the NYC News Service.

Malique Morris ’20 has joined The Information as a reporter.

Ana Lucia Murillo ’20 is on the breaking news team of The Daily Beast.

Arno Pedram ’20 has been interning and working on the upcoming season 4 of the Motive podcast at WBEZ Chicago Public Media. A look at prison towns in Illinois, the podcast should release in September.

Lisa Salinas ’20 is a New York Women’s Foundation Fellow with “In the Thick” at Futuro Media.

Jill Shah ’20 has joined Bloomberg News as a reporter.

Nicole Lewis ’16 is often asked to speak on the issues she covers, including a recent national political survey of currently incarcerated people.


What Do We Really Know About the Politics of People Behind Bars?,” a project that Nicole Lewis ’16 worked on for The Marshall Project and Slate, received an honorable mention from the Philip Meyer Journalism Awards earlier this year. The judges noted that the project was “remarkable not only in its mission — to survey the political leanings of those currently imprisoned — but also in its reach, gathering more than 8,000 submissions from across the country during one of the most historic elections in U.S. history.”

“I have a whole database now — 4,500 people in prison across 30-40 states,” said Lewis, a staff reporter for The Marshall Project. “Anytime we have another question, I can dip back in. I just wrote a story about vaccinations in prison (with Tow Fellow Ariel Goodman ’20), and I was able to talk to so many people because of this database we have. It’s changed the way I’ve been able to report, because we are so deeply sourced now.”

The survey was conducted via a prepaid insert in News Inside, a print magazine created by Lawrence Bartley, a former inmate, along with a digital version provided by Edovo, a tablet company. Currently, Lewis is working with David Knight, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, who is weighting the data, which will provide a more representative look at the broader prison population. There are nearly 2.5 million incarcerated people in the U.S.

Before joining The Marshall Project, Lewis wrote for The Washington Post’s “The Fact Checker” blog. She was the recipient of the 2016 Education Writers Association National Awards for Education Writing in magazine and feature writing for her contribution to a series on desegregation in the public school system. After graduating from the University of Michigan, Lewis spent several years working as a community organizer in New York City, serving as a chapter coordinator to support grass roots movements for racial and economic justice.

“I always had an interest in marginalized groups and work that helps to highlight inequality,” she said. “I have always been interested in social justice and issues of power, civil rights and racial equity that I had been organizing around.”

Lewis applied to journalism school, receiving acceptances from both the Newmark and Columbia J-Schools.

“I knew I didn’t want to pay a million dollars, and when I went to the Columbia Open House and saw the difference in student body, make up of staff, and the kinds of stories presented, it was a no-brainer. By the time I had gotten to the lunch portion of the CUNY Open House I thought, ‘I’m definitely coming here.'”

The Marshall Project has been a good fit, according to Lewis. “The kind of accountability journalism that we do here is so important, and the quality of work is so great, such as the amount of time I get to delve into an issue.”