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Alumni Newsletter, September 2021

  • By Virginia Jeffries
Photo by Terje Sollie via Pexels.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SEND US YOUR WORK
Newmark-J would like to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by highlighting alumni coverage. Please send links to your work, either from this year or past coverage, to rachel.ramirez@journalism.cuny.edu.

WHO GETS TO TELL WHOSE STORY?
Tuesday, September 28, 2021 @ 5 p.m.
Panel discussion moderated by filmmaker Yoruba Richen, director of the Newmark J-School’s Documentary Program, on the price we pay for not giving storytellers of color and diverse backgrounds broader access to media of every kind.

Panelists:

  • Richard Siklos, vice president of communications at Netflix
  • Michéle Stephenson, filmmaker; co-founder, director at Rada Studio
  • Touré, American writer, music journalist, cultural critic, podcaster, and television personality
  • Jennifer Wilson, writer; director of the Arts and Culture Reporting Program at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism

Register here

MCGRAW CENTER: GRANTS UP TO $15K FOR STORIES THAT FOLLOW THE MONEY
Deadline to apply is Thursday, September 30, 2021

The McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism is accepting applications for its Fall 2021 cohort. Fellows will receive up to $15,000 and editorial support to produce deeply reported investigative or enterprise stories on critical economic, financial, or business topics. Applicants need not be business reporters, but must have at least five years’ professional experience. The Fellowship is open to both staff and freelance journalists working in all forms of media. Journalists of color and journalists from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please contact jane.sasseen@journalism.cuny.edu if you know someone who’s interested or have an idea you’d like to discuss.

Apply here

SPARRING WITH SMOKIN’ JOE: INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR GLENN LEWIS
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 @ 6 p.m.

Sparring with Smokin’ Joe: Joe Frazier’s Epic Battles and Rivalry with Ali, by Glenn Lewis, reveals boxing champion Joe Frazier as he’s never been seen before, bringing him out from the shadow of Muhammad Ali and revealing not just the great boxer but his resilience, homespun humor, and heart, which sustained him throughout his tumultuous career and the ups and downs of fame.

Join us as Beth Harpaz, communications manager at Baruch College, interviews author Glenn Lewis, director of the journalism program at CUNY’s York College.

Register here

SAVE THE DATE: HOMECOMING
Saturday, December 11, 2021
It’s looking better and better 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!

FEATURED NEWS

SARAH BARTLETT TO STEP DOWN AS NEWMARK J-SCHOOL DEAN
Sarah Bartlett, dean of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, announced last month that after two decades at CUNY, she will retire next June following the end of the academic year.

During her tenure as dean, she expanded the academic footprint of the school, helping to design and launch a Master of Arts in Engagement Journalism, the nation’s first bilingual (Spanish/English) journalism master’s program, and, most recently, an online entrepreneurial certificate program for independent journalists looking to develop their own news ventures.

Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez will be sharing details on the national search process to appoint Bartlett’s successor in the coming months.

ALUMNI NEWS

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

Tatiana Flowers ’16 will be the new inequality beat reporter for the Colorado Sun in October.

Simon Galpern EngageJ ’16 was recently named one of this year’s John S. Knight’s Community Impact Fellows at Stanford University. His work will focus on creating a community-driven information marketplace to address a lack of local news and information for working class and people of color.

Nicole Lewis ’16 has joined Slate Magazine as senior editor of the jurisprudence section. Previously, she worked as a staff writer at The Marshall Project for three and a half years.

Max Resnik EngageJ ’16 recently began working at City Bureau as their first-ever Documenters Network Manager.

Rob Dozier ’18 started as a full-time producer with Somethin’ Else, Sony Music’s in-house production studio.

Claudia Irizarry ’18 won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her reporting in THE CITY on delivery workers in New York City organizing for better work conditions, in the national feature reporting digital news category.

Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky ’18 is now a data reporter on the health/science desk at WNYC/Gothamist.

Emilie Ruscoe ’18 gave birth to twin girls in August. Mother and babies are doing well.

Dominic McKenzie ’18 & Tow-Knight ’19 has accepted a position as assistant professor of communication and program director of broadcast journalism at Oakwood University — a historically Black university in Alabama.

Megan Myscofski ’19 started as the business and economics reporter at Arizona Public Media in Tucson, Ariz., covering a broad range of topics, including housing, agriculture, border economics and the business of water.

Francis DiFiore EngageJ ’20 began working as the crime and justice reporter at The Daily Sun in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Terrence Fraser EngageJ ’20 has accepted a position as a fellow at the Associated Press.

Ali McPherson ’20 is now an associate news editor at LinkedIn. She is working on their “Top Startups List” launch and other editorial duties.

Michaela Román EngageJ ’20 recently began working at Katie Couric Media as an audience and digital media strategist.


Two Newmark-J alums form life-long bond through the summer internship

Chester Soria ’12 and Colby Hamilton ’10

Colby Hamilton ’10 woke up at 6:30 a.m. in his hospital room one morning in May, reached for his phone and texted his friend Chester Soria ’12. Only three days earlier, Hamilton had awoken from a coma, the result of a motorcycle collision with a tractor-trailer.

“There was a lot of very intense emergency surgery. I had internal bleeding, damage to my organs,” he said. “ So there were a lot of touch and go moments.”

Hamilton had nearly died, but all he could think about that morning was how he could get a fruit smoothie. And he knew Soria was the one to help him.

“He was like, ‘is this for real?’ And I said ‘yeah, I really do want this. I need your help to get it,’” Hamilton said. “He had to find a place that was open that early. The hospital wasn’t open for visitors yet, so we had to get a nurse to go and meet him.”

Soria had been Hamilton’s go-to guy for almost a decade, since they worked together, covering New York City politics at WNYC. In 2012, when Soria was a student at the J-School, he did his summer internship there. Hamilton was his supervisor and the pair became friends.

“We have this brotherly relationship,” Soria said. “Personally and professionally, [Hamilton] has never been anything but an unwavering pillar of support.”

Eventually, they each left WNYC but went on to have similar career paths. They both covered City Hall for different outlets and later they found themselves working for different departments in government, Soria for the press office of the New York City Housing Authority and Hamilton as the chief of public affairs for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

In 2019, they became colleagues again when Hamilton recruited Soria to join his team. “He could have gone anywhere but I wanted him to work with me,” Hamilton said. “It was really for my benefit because I knew I could count on him to do great work and be a really excellent colleague for me and the rest of the team.”

They worked together for two years managing media relations and the department’s press and communication needs before Soria moved into a vice president role at the public relations firm Berlin-Rosen earlier this year.

Hamilton stayed at the Office of Criminal Justice. He was riding his motorcycle to work the morning of the crash. His injuries were so severe he barely remembers anything from those first few weeks.

“I was kind of out of it from about the point where the ambulance showed up at the hospital for about two weeks, two and a half weeks,” he said.

When Soria heard about Hamilton’s accident he wanted to help. Along with other J-School alumni, friends and family members, Soria organized a network to take care of tasks while Hamilton was in the hospital, including caring for his cat. Soria also launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with medical bills and living expenses. It raised over $16,000.

“The outpouring of support has been humbling and deeply appreciated,” Hamilton said. “[Soria] knows as much as anyone that I’m stubborn as hell and don’t like to ask for help. So he had to convince me that it was the right thing to do, and he was right. And I knew he was right.”

Hamilton returned to working remotely at the end of July, but he still has medical treatment and rehabilitation in his future. He and Soria get together whenever they can.

“First he was just a fellow alum, then became my supervisor, mentor and my boss,” Soria said of Hamilton. “Now he has just become family to me.”