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Biakolo and Anderson Honored with Tow Professorships

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Kovie Biakolo, director of the Arts and Culture Reporting Program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, and Kalli Anderson, director of Audio Journalism, have been named Tow Professors for the 2022-2024 academic years.

The Tow Foundation established the professorships to enable CUNY’s Newmark J-School to support the research of two teachers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their fields.

“Kalli and Kovie are both leaders in the school and have exciting journalistic projects in the works. We are thrilled The Tow Foundation can support these two outstanding professors,” said Interim Dean Andrew Mendelson.

Biakolo (above, left) is hard at work on a book project about the heroines of the African diaspora that, as she says, will reveal “the connections between Black women across space and time and their contributions to our collective past.” Her reporting research requires numerous trips to Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.

In addition to her teaching and oversight of the Arts and Culture concentration, she will continue to work as a freelance reporter and writer focused on culture and identity, covering everything from representation in the entertainment industries to the inequalities faced by migrant communities.

Anderson is the director and underwater videographer of Open Water, a short documentary film currently making the rounds of film festivals in the U.S. and internationally, including Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and DOXA Documentary Film Festival. She is also a regular contributor of audio documentaries to Short Cuts on BBC Radio 4 and was a finalist for best short documentary at the 2021 Third Coast/RHDF Competition and the 2021 Hearsay International Audio Prize. 

As a Tow professor, Anderson will continue her work as an audio and film documentary maker, exploring new ways to incorporate formal experimentation and collaborative practices into journalistic and documentary storytelling. She will work with colleagues engaged in bridging the divide between audio art, documentary, and journalism towards creating new spaces for collaboration, critique, and the advancement of the art and craft of audio documentary. She will also undertake research and writing for a new book project about the history, theory, and practice of audio documentary. 

Previous recipients of Tow professorships on the J-School’s faculty were Emily Laber-Warren, director of the Health & Science Reporting Program; Alia Malek, head of the International Reporting Program; Associate Professor Lisa Armstrong; Graciela Mochkofsky, now dean, then executive director of the Center for Community Media and head of the Bilingual Journalism Program; Associate Professor Bob Sacha; documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen, and investigative journalist and digital media strategist Miguel Paz.

The Tow Foundation, established in 1988 by Leonard and Claire Tow, funds projects that promote transformative experiences and collaborative ventures in fields where there are opportunities for breakthroughs, reform, and benefits for underserved populations. Investments focus on the support of innovative programs and system reform in the fields of youth and adult criminal justice, medicine and public health, higher education, journalism, and culture. The Foundation has helped create similar Tow professorship programs to Newmark J-School’s, including at CUNY’s Brooklyn College and Barnard College.