Newmark J-School Newsletter Spring 2022

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Photo: Paul Stremple '20

Above: Prof. Sandeep Junnarkar (left), director of the J-School’s Data Journalism program, and Data-Journalist-in- Residence Lam Thuy Vo are preparing students to deal with a digital information explosion. (Photo by Paul Stremple ’20)

1. Go figure: Our experts help students excel in reporting data’s big sway on people’s lives

To hold those in power accountable, journalists more than ever must be skilled in dealing with data, whether it is big, complex, hidden — or withheld. These powerful investigative and analytic capacities come into play not just in business and economic reporting. They are crucial to better cover underserved communities and to grasp why rising numbers of crucial decisions in people’s lives get made by algorithms — unseen mathematical formulations that affect everything from our health care, hiring, and employment to the way government programs get put in place. Students, fortunately, get a big kickstart in their numeracy with the teaching and support of Prof. Sandeep Junnarkar, director of the Data Journalism Program at the J-School, and his colleagues, like Lam Thuy Vo, our data-journalist-in-residence. “At this point, I think it would be irresponsible for any journalist to write an in-depth story without at least considering the available data to see if it backs up their conclusions,” Junnarkar says.


2. As the Ukrainian invasion dominates the news, alums cover all angles — including with valiant front-line reporting


J-School faculty members are producing powerful journalism of their own at leading news outlets.(Gif: Setty McInstoh, the J-School’s multimedia director)

Alumni News

Igor Kossov ’10

Russia’s ghastly assault on neighboring Ukraine has become a top 24/7 news story of 2022. And Newmark J-School alumni have raced to cover all angles of the outbreak of warfare in Europe, notably with sharp, valorous front-line reporting by Igor Kossov ’10. When he was at the J-School, Kossov was “a resourceful reporter who uncovered everything from a haphazard construction crisis in Brighton Beach to kindergarten cutbacks slamming families across the city. He never shied from any extra reporting and rewrites needed to get his class work published in local publications, including City Limits, The Queens Courier and the Brooklyn Eagle,” recalled Jere Hester, the school’s director of editorial projects and partnerships, who added: “Igor arrived at the J-School with a knack for finding people-driven stories on the ground level. He came in hungry and dogged — and left the same, bolstered by great training and his own hard work.” Kossov has become a must-read on the Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian startup that has seen its global audience explode in Politico Europe and on social media. On Twitter (@IgorKossov), he wrote: “I’m an American by citizenship and mentality. I’m also half-Ukrainian by ethnic descent. But I’m also half-Russian. And I wanted to expect better of my kinsmen. Evidently, that was too much to ask for.”

A sampling of alums’ invasion coverage, as of the newsletter’s deadline, includes reports by Shannon Firth ’12 on doctors’ struggles to deliver care in Kyiv, Irina Ivanova ’13 on the crisis hitting Americans’ pocketbooks, and Karishma Vanjani ’20 on the Swift international banking system and its role in Russian sanctions. As Audrey Carleton ’21 filed on the departure from Russia of BP and Shell, Jake Wasserman ’20 received his first byline at The Forward detailing how gay, Jewish activists in NYC gathered to support people forced to flee Ukraine. Benjamin Powers ’19 analyzed Russian warfare in cyberspace, as Amy Mackinnon ’18 has been writing almost daily, filing both exclusives and analyses.

These alumni also are winning notice …

Roxanna Asgarian ’11 won a celebrated 2022 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress award for her forthcoming book, “We Were Once a Family: The Hart Murder-Suicide and the System Endangering Kids.” It will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2023. Two authors annually are granted $25,000 each to aid them in completing significant nonfiction works on topics of American political or social concern. The awards honor a late, legendary, prize-winning foreign and national correspondent for The New York Times.

Paula Moura ’18 worked as a field producer and archival researcher on the film “The Territory,” which received a Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft and an Audience Award at the World Cinema Documentary competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. She was the 2021 Newmark Tow fellow at Frontline and is now a digital reporter there.

3. In a powerful burst, these professors remind anew that our faculty practice what they teach

Faculty News

In a powerful burst, these professors remind anew that our faculty practice what they teach
Since the beginning of the year, audiences across the country have seen a burst of the professional prowess of Newmark J-School’s full-time faculty. These five professors not only devote themselves to students and direct specialized programs at the J-School, they produce influential journalism of their own at leading news outlets. Their latest works underscore that our faculty practice what they teach:

Alia Malek, director of the International Reporting program, dug deep in a bloody, brutal trail for more than six months to detail for The New York Times Magazine “How a Syrian War Criminal Was Brought to Justice — in Germany.

Kovie Biakolo, the new director of the Arts and Culture Reporting program, chronicled for The Nation the horrors of “The Black Migrant Trail of Tragedy.” She told the painful story of how “immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean who make the dangerous trek across the Americas to the U.S. face racist policies and practices everywhere they go.”

Yoruba Richen, the director of the Documentary program, collaborated with journalists at PBS’ Frontline to pull back the shroud of history to reveal “an untold story of the Civil Rights movement and Black resistance” in their documentary “American Reckoning.” The work delves into who killed Wharlest Jackson Sr., a local NAACP leader whose 1967 murder remains unsolved.

Greg David, director of the Business and Economics Reporting program and a reporter for The City, raced ahead of New York’s competitive media with this story, “NYC Black Unemployment Stuck Above 15%.

Emily Laber-Warren, director of Health and Science Reporting program, asks whether a truly flexible office should allow employees to work not only where but when they want, in this guest essay for the Opinion section of The New York Times.

Left: Self-portrait of a dancer turned journalist. Right: Jesús Armand Chapa Malacara ‘22 is in the J-School’s pioneering bilingual master’s program (Photo: John Smock)

4. Meet Our Students: Jesús Armand Chapa Malacara

Grand leaps are part of his life and work, leading to high hopes in bilingual journalism

Jesús Armand Chapa Malacara took a detour between graduating from Yale in 2004 with a political science degree and entering the bilingual program at the Newmark J-School last fall. Drawn to dancing as a kid, he took classes in college, then spent six years performing mostly with small, contemporary ballet companies in New York. Asked what his family thought about the career choice, he replied with a smile, “My mother and grandmother were just relieved I didn’t drop out of Yale.”

He said he eventually grew tired of “the politics of the dance world” and threw himself into other work as a professional photographer and software developer. His stunning photos of dancers in motion have won acclaim in the art world; his technical skills allowed him to skip the J-School’s introductory data curriculum to take more advanced, third-semester courses.


5. Upcoming Events

Accountability for crimes against humanity in Syria and beyond
March 28 | 6 p.m. ET | Goethe-Institut, 30 Irving Place, NYC

After the landmark conviction in a German court of a Syrian government official for crimes against humanity, a survivor, a journalist, and a lawyer will discuss the global fight for justice and accountability. The panelists will include:

  • Wolfgang Kaleck, founder, general secretary, and legal director of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
  • Alia Malek, the International Reporting program director and author of “The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria”
  • Ruham Hawash, a plaintiff in the prisoner and detainee abuse trial in Koblenz, Germany, and co-founder and deputy director of the Berlin-based nonprofit, Impact Civil Society Research and Development


Rethinking Leadership and the Future of Media
April 1 | 11 a.m. ET

The Newmark J-School will host a virtual event showcasing participants of the J+ Executive Program. They will present via Zoom their transformative learning and final projects, including: consultant Gabriel Sama sharing his recipe for corporate media innovation; The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan detailing better ways to bring aboard new media managers; Annika Ruoranen of the Finnish National Broadcasting Co. describing what she learned about product and leadership; and McClatchy’s Cynthia DuBose discussing whether algorithms can save local news.



2022 Awards for Excellence
May 17 | 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET | Virtual ceremony

Save the Date: Four Newmark J-School alumni will be honored for their achievements as students and professionals, with the selections announced in April and the prestigious annual award presentations in May.


Latino Media Summit
June 3-4 | Virtually and at The Clemente

The Newmark J-School, for the fifth time, will gather the country’s leading Latino media professionals for two days of a celebration of ideas, innovation, and opportunities for Latinx journalism and its community. This annual event will occur both virtually and at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Stay tuned for more details about this fully bilingual event.



Why journalism matters to 3 savvy recent grads
Why become a journalist? How can Newmark J-School get students ready, help them master the craft, and get a job? How can journalism make a difference, right a wrong, heal a wound, light the darkness? Perspective matters. Jazmin Goodwin ’19, Rachel Sherman ’20, and Jill Shah ’20 recently sat down to offer short thoughtful takes, via video, on why journalism and why it matters. (Videos by Broadcast Associate Emmanuel Alexandre Jr.)