Alumni Newsletter, December 2022

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Photo: Ayhan Uyanik

Dear Alumni,

It’s that time of year: Start thinking about your nominations for the J-School’s annual Stephen B. Shepard Prize for Investigative Reporting. Self-nominations are welcome! The deadline for entries is Feb. 28, 2023, and we’ll send out info about the submission process in January.

Speaking of that time of year… This week, we’re celebrating Commencement 2022 for our newest soon-to-be-alumni. Claudia Irizarry Aponte ​​​​​’18 is this year’s Alumni Speaker. You can live-stream the Commencement ceremony here on Friday, Dec. 16 at 11 a.m. ET.

Coming up in the new year: We’re creating more opportunities for alumni to mentor each other and to offer mentorship to current students. Stay tuned for more info, and for an invitation to join our new mentorship platform, PeopleGrove.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning to stop by the J-School anytime (we love seeing alumni around campus!), or if you need to know how to obtain your transcript or diploma or get access to other Newmark programs, check out the updated info on our Alumni Resources page.

Without further ado: Read on below for the latest updates from our alumni, plus a Q&A with Reuters video journalist Nathan Frandino ’11. He has what some would call a dream beat: covering Northern California, with regular hops around the globe—including a recent stint in Qatar, where he covered the World Cup.

Send us your news anytime you have something you want to share with our J-School community. And have a joyful, restful holiday season.


Salma Abdelnour Gilman
Head of Alumni Affairs

Header: Nathan Frandino ’11 of Reuters editing at Al Thumama stadium in Qatar during the World Cup. 



January Academy Registration Is On

January Academy, a series of enrichment classes unique to the master’s degree programs at CUNY J-School, starts on Jan. 4.

Offered every year between the fall and spring semesters, the program is open to alumni and includes a range of classes, all available at a nominal price ($32 each). The upcoming January Academy will have several alumni teaching classes: Rima Abdelkader ’09Walter Smith Randolph ‘​​​​​10 and Kayle Hope ’14.

Check out this year’s course offerings, and register here.

January Academy lighting workshop taught by Jennifer Altman on Jan. 8, 2019. Photo by John Smock.
January Academy lighting workshop taught by Jennifer Altman on Jan. 8, 2019. Photo by John Smock.

Upcoming Events


Amplify Your Job Search: Week 1 of 4

Job searching is tough—don’t do it alone. Participate in this virtual four-week series to improve your job search strategies, ask questions and share progress. This Career Services workshop is aimed at recent alumni and graduating students.

Dates: Wednesdays, Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25. 12-1 p.m ET

Location: Zoom

Register here. (If you don’t have a Handshake account, contact Career Services to register for the event:


IRE New York Workshop

Co-sponsored by Newmark J-School, the Judith Watson Investigative Reporting Fund and The McGraw Center for Business Journalism, this IRE workshop will offer a stellar line-up of panels and data classes focusing on data analysis techniques, business reporting, funding investigative projects and more. The workshop will have something for everyone—whether you’re a reporter, editor, producer, freelancer or all of the above—you’ll be guaranteed a plethora of new tips, tricks and skills for your tool belt. Register early as space will be limited. All attendees must be vaccinated, and must provide proof of vaccination prior to the workshop.

​​​​​​Dates: Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 21

Location: Newmark J-School, 219 W. 40th St., New York, NY

Fees: $100 for current IRE members (all levels); this includes the main workshop sessions on Friday and Saturday morning. $150 for expired or new members; this includes the main workshop sessions and a one-year membership. To receive this rate, you must process your IRE membership first, then email to get instructions to register for the workshop. Optional hands-on and master classes will be offered for an additional fee.

​​​Please note: You must renew your membership or apply to join IRE before purchasing a workshop ticket. ​​​​​​Join IRE here, and purchase workshop tickets here.

Cancellations are accepted until Jan. 13 and will incur a $50 processing fee; email to cancel. For more info about registration or the workshop, contact

Alumni Updates



Nicole Lewis
  • “Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation,” the latest book by Linda Villarosa ’13, was named as one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2022. The book also made TIME’s list of The 100 Must-Read Books of 2022. ​​​​​Villarosa is a faculty member and journalist-in-residence at Newmark J-School.
  • Nicole Lewis ’16, engagement editor at The Marshall Project, has been selected as a fellow in the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program 2023, on a Google News Initiative scholarship.
  • Claudia Irizarry-Aponte ’18 won a 2022 Front Page award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York for Local Reporting/Breaking News for her story in THE CITY, “Bronx Fire.”
  • Mary Steffenhagen ’21 won a 2022 Front Page Award for Investigative Reporting/Audio for her NYCity News Service story “When Home Is School.”


Featured News

  • Alcione Gonzalez ’11 has finished production on the docu-series “Shadowland,” currently airing on Peacock. She served as a producer on the project. She’s now wrapping up an eight-episode Vice World News YouTube series called “Vice Debates.”
  • Chris Dell ’13 designed and built the website for Gallery Sports, a new Texas-based sports media startup owned by businessman and sports gambler Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. Dell currently serves as Gallery Sports’ digital editor and lead soccer reporter, producing 2022 World Cup content.
  • Cole Rosengren ’15 became the lead editor of Packaging Dive, an upcoming industry dive publication. He will also continue to lead Waste Dive, which provides news and analysis for waste and recycling executives.
  • Devin Holt ’16 is now the on-air, digital programming assistant at KQED Public Radio.
  • Milana Vinn ’17 is now at Reuters, covering mergers and acquisitions.
  • Sarah Matusek ’18 has been on the frontlines of big Colorado stories for The Christian Science Monitor. Recently, she covered the election seasonclimate issues and more.
  • Hannah Miller ’19 is covering the crypto crisis for Bloomberg and had her first cover story in BusinessWeek (right), about the collapse of FTX and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried.
  • Netsanet Negussie ’19 is now a producer at ABC News Studios, making documentaries for Hulu.
  • Roman Gressier ’20 was featured in Ronan Farrow’s Nov. 30 New Yorker piece “A Hacked Newsroom Brings a Spyware Maker to U.S. Court.”
  • Michaela Román, EngageJ ’20joined The New York Times as a social media editor.
  • Maddie Kornfeld ’21 recently finished working on the Frontline documentary “Putin’s Attack on Ukraine.”
  • Mariah Thomas ’21 worked on Good Housekeeping’s December print mini feature, for which she interviewed interior designers on how to decorate your home with greenery for the holidays.
  • Sewell Chan, Executive Program ’22, joins the Pulitzer Board. Chan is editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune.




Nathan Frandino ’11 at a Brazil vs. Switzerland match at the World Cup in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Nathan Frandino.

In a typical week, Reuters video journalist Nathan Frandino ’11 may be out reporting on an emergency surgery for a gunned-down mountain lion, covering the reactions to an Apple product release, shooting video of a fish-destroying algae bloom in the San Francisco Bay, and interviewing a librarian who collects items people leave behind in books. He’s also spent the past month in Qatar, covering the World Cup.

“It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Frandino about the mix of assignments he’s doing as Reuters’ go-to video journalist in Northern California, after moving to Oakland from the news agency’s Washington, D.C. bureau in January 2020.

On a fall morning, Frandino—who graduated from Newmark with an International Reporting concentration—chatted with us about his work life these days, his overseas reporting forays, and why he wakes up early on his days off too.


Reuters sent you to cover the World Cup this fall. What was it like working from Qatar? Any highlights of your time there?

Working from Qatar for the World Cup was a fascinating experience. Reuters had around 75 text reporters, video journalists, still photographers, editors and technical staff. The days and hours are long, and it’s a marathon of a story, but it’s one of the biggest and most multi-faceted stories you can cover.

We cover the sports angles—news conferences, training, matches—and we also cover the news angles such as the last-minute change in alcohol sales policy, the unequal enforcement in the stadium politics ban, and conditions for migrant workers. Logistically, it was a challenge at times due to arbitrary enforcement of rules and the need for permission to film in certain areas. A highlight for me is always meeting and working with colleagues from around the world with different backgrounds and skill sets. You develop strong camaraderie and friendships that last long after the assignment ends.

Frandino shooting video outside of Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar during the World Cup. Photo by Javier Andres Rojas.

Back in the U.S., what stories are taking up most of your time these days?

Environmental, wildlife and climate change-related stories. California is on the frontlines of climate change, and we see the impact out here– it’s pretty prevalent. There’s a project that’s getting underway here to install solar panels over the canal system. I flew the drone over the area where they’re installing them, and I interviewed the professor at UC Merced whose paper had inspired that project.

Frandino films a story in June about the Great Salt Lake’s disappearance due to drought and overconsumption of water, and the impact of this on the local ecosystem. Photo by Max Malmquist/National Audubon Society.

What does your day-to-day routine look like, if there is one?

I’m a one-man band. I shoot video and photos, and sometimes I contribute color and quotes to our text colleagues, depending on the story. For the stories out of Northern California, most of the time they’ll be produced by me. I’ll do everything from pitching stories to setting up logistics for the shoot to shooting B-roll and A-roll to cutting what we call an agency edit.

Since we’re a news agency, we do the wholesale video model where we provide the raw B-roll and raw sound bites. So if you’re a producer for the local news channel in Sacramento or New York or wherever, if there’s a story Reuters produces that you want to use to fill your A, B or C blocks, you can use the material for your newscast. Or if you’re on the digital video desks for The New York Times or Washington Post, you can download our clips and use our coverage within yours.


What are the upsides and downsides of being a one-man band?

The best part of this job is the variety of stories I get to do. I get to have full control of the shooting and the editing, and over the general editorial direction of the story, both visually and editorially. I get to work on my own schedule and don’t have to arrange logistics for other people. Sometimes I work with a still photographer and text reporter, but the majority of the time I’m working by myself.

The cons: It’s a very physically demanding job. Depending on the kit I’m bringing out, sometimes I’m carrying a DSLR, Go-Pro, a broadcast camera and a tripod. It’s a lot to carry. I do a lot of driving for this job, and sitting for hours in traffic affects your back and neck and hips. There are assignments where you’re out there for 14 or 16 hours.

Frandino in Charleston, SC, covering a solar eclipse. Photo by Randall Hill.

How do you unwind?

We do the California thing and go camping a lot. I try to go surfing when I’m in town and don’t have other plans.

I also watch soccer, any of the European leagues. So I’m up early on weekends too.


Besides the World Cup, do you often do stories outside California or the U.S.?

Yes, for Reuters I’ve been to Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Barcelona, and to Tokyo for the Olympics.

To cover a big event like that, the sports video producer brings in a team of reporters from all over the world.


You were also editor of the Santiago Times in Chile for a year after J-School. How did that come about?

I went there for my internship for the Santiago Times and then returned after I graduated to work as an editor. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to sit at a desk and direct coverage, that I wanted to do the coverage myself. I like to be out in the field.

Frandino walks through tear gas while reporting during his summer internship in Santiago, Chile. Photo by Javier Romero.

What brought you to Newmark J-School?

I was an undergraduate in 2008 when the recession started. I knew friends at newspapers who were being let go. I wanted to delay going into the job market.

I met Colleen Leigh at a college media convention, and I visited the campus in 2009 and sat in on Lonnie Isabel’s class and on Sandeep [Junnarkar]’s class. I applied and got in, and that’s where I learned the video and audio skills.

Frandino on assignment as a field producer, interviewing Senator Lindsey Graham outside the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, site of a mass shooting in 2015. Photo by Brian Snyder.

Which J-School classes and professors made the biggest impression on you?

I learned a lot about storytelling from Bob Sacha, especially thinking in terms of scenes and sequences and preparing for shoots, and thinking about the visuals that can be used to help tell a story. I didn’t take a photo class at CUNY, but I learned DSLRs from Bob Sacha’s class.

I took a broadcast class with John Schiumo, who was then at NY1, and that was very much about writing short, and writing conversationally using video.

I took Fred Kaufman’s feature writing course. Despite working in TV, there’s a significant portion of my job that is writing. Every video I put out is accompanied by a text portion used for broadcast narration on a newscast. It’s often a traditional news story but it’s clear and concise. I credit Fred Kaufman because he’s a fantastic professor and writer. Even if the style is different from what I’m writing now, the core elements are the same: good descriptive writing.


When you think back to your J-School days, which memories or experiences stand out most?

We were all in the same boat. We were all under stress from everyday things, whether that was life outside of campus, going home and paying rent, going out and getting your groceries, trying to have a social life. On campus we’re all facing the same deadlines, looking for stories and story ideas. That helped us develop friendships and relationships and camaraderie, things that are also similar to being in a newsroom at Reuters.

I’ve been told by multiple editors that they’d like to clone me, and that speaks to the experiences and skills that Newmark teaches: being able to write and shoot visuals and report, and being a valuable working member of a team.


What’s coming up next for you?

Down the road, I think my wife and I want to move to Europe, preferably with Reuters since it has bureaus everywhere. If I stay in the U.S., maybe a move down to L.A. to prepare for the 2028 Olympics. I could very well do that with Reuters.

I feel there are aspects of my job I can improve on, and I’m happy in my current position, continuing to look for and pitch stories.