Alumni Newsletter Winter 2023/2024

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Photo: Paula Vlodkowsky

Dear Alumni,

Registration for January Academy 2024 is now live! Find more info under Events below, and register here.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Oct. 14 for our Alumni Homecoming 2023! We had the biggest turnout yet, even larger than last year’s Newmark-record-setting crowd.

We’re continuing our streak and setting an ever-higher goal for next year’s Homecoming, including more representation across all class years and in greater numbers. Look out for a brief one-question survey in early 2024, as we decide on the date of our next reunion. Read on for highlights and photos from Homecoming.

Homecoming moments, clockwise from top left: Ben Foldy and Sindy Nanclares; a full house in the newsroom; keynote speaker Masha Gessen; Jesenia De Moya Correya, Juanita Ramos and Natalia Gutiérrez.

We were honored to have Masha Gessen as our Homecoming keynote speaker. Gessen shared so many fascinating career backstories and funny anecdotes—as well as on-point advice for journalists—in an interview moderated by Jennifer Wilson. (We made a last-minute switch to Zoom for Covid-related reasons). The session was followed by a lively Q&A.

Clockwise from top left: Mankaprr Conteh, Kara Jillian Brown, Carolyn Adams, Rachel Rippetoe and Brandon Nix; Moises Mendez II and Mankaprr Conteh doing a lightning talk; Juliet Schaefer-Jeske and K. Jared Wright; Aisha Al-Muslim and Simone Sebastian; Austin Cope during the Q&A.

After the keynote, and a break for coffee and socializing, five of our super-talented alumniSusie Armitage ’13, Ann Marie Awad ’13, Mankaprr Conteh ’20, Moises Mendez II ’19 and Max Resnik ’17—went up on the newsroom stage to give lightning-quick glimpses into their current projects and take questions from alumni.

Clockwise from top left: Judy Watson, Caithlin Pena, Alicia Gajraj, Kiara Thomas and Vanessa Botelho; Max Resnik giving a lightning talk; Ann Marie Awad talking about her projects; Susie Armitage onstage; Randi Love, Gina Heeb, Elizabeth Napolitano and Pete Tomao (with faculty member Steve Daly in the background).

We had a dynamic start and end to the reunion: During the lunch hour that kicked off the day, newsroom leaders from the Associated Press, Reuters, ABC News, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, WNYC/Gothamist, and City and State joined us to meet and chat with alumni at tables in Room 308. To close things out, performer Alise Morales of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” did a hilarious comedy speed-set that sent us off into happy hour—which kept going strong until building security told us it’s time to leave. Can’t wait till next year!

Clockwise from top left: Jennifer Wilson interviewing Masha Gessen; Associate Dean Allison Lichter, Ann Marie Awad, Susie Armitage, Moises Mendez II, Dean Graciela Mochkofsky, Mankaprr Conteh and Max Resnik; comedian Alise Morales; student assistants and soon-to-be alumni Mrinalini Nayak, Amanda Salazar, Ana Valdez Saravia, Hannah-Kathryn Valles, Deidre Foley and Gerard Edic; Head of Alumni Affairs Salma Abdelnour Gilman, Assistant Dean Colleen Leigh and Director of Communications and Marketing Rachel Dávla Ramirez.

All Homecoming photos above by Paula Vlodkowsky. 

In other news, on-campus and off:

* This November, we launched the first session in our new series of workshops for mid-career alumni, kicking off with Jeremy Caplan‘s “Useful Tools for Journalists” session on Nov. 29. Stay tuned for the next alumni workshops coming up in 2024.

* The J-School has posted a job opening for a Distinguished Lecturer in Local News and Accountability Reporting. Apply if you’re interested and help us spread the word.

* Former Newmark J-School Dean Sarah Bartlett and faculty member Tim Harper were quoted in a piece about the impact of local journalism.

Read on below for news about alumni awards, career and personal updates, and a Q&A with Tiffany Camhi ’13, who is doing brilliant work as an education reporter and former “All Things Considered” host at Oregon Public Broadcasting—that’s when she’s not out riding her motorcycle around the Pacific Northwest.

Cheers and happy holiday season!
Salma
Salma Abdelnour Gilman
Head of Alumni Affairs
salma.abdelnour@journalism.cuny.edu

 

Header Image: Alumni packed the newsroom to hear lightning talks from fellow Newmark grads at Homecoming.


Announcements

 

Fond Farewells

Over the past 17 years since this J-School launched, hundreds of students have taken classes with Jeff Jarvis and Judy Watson or have otherwise benefited from their experience and wisdom—long past graduation. In 2006, when Watson and Founding Dean Stephen Shepard co-created CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, Jarvis was the first full-time professor they hired.

It’s hard to believe, but this fall Jarvis and Watson both announced they’re retiring at the end of this year. We send them off with a deeply grateful goodbye—and a hope that retirement will also somehow include regular appearances around our 219 W. 40th St. neck of the woods.


Events

 

January Academy 2024

January Academy is a series of enrichment classes unique to the master’s degree programs at Newmark J-School. In January 2024, we’re offering a great array of skill-building sessions, hands-on trainings around digital safety and covering protests, and a variety of AI-related workshops.

A range of one-day and multi-day sessions are offered, some held in-person on campus and others remotely.

When: Jan. 8-23, 2024
Where: 219 W. 40th St., New York, NY, or virtually.
​​​​​​
Register here.


Opportunities

 

Just Tech Fellowship

The Social Science Research Council seeks applicants for the third cohort of its Just Tech Fellowship. The fellowship is designed to support and mobilize diverse and cross-sector cohorts of practitioners to imagine and create more just, equitable and representative technological futures. Fellows have committed to identifying and challenging injustices emerging from new technologies and pursuing solutions that advance social, political and economic rights.

The fellowship is a two-year, full-time, remote appointment paying $100K+/year.

Application deadline: Jan. 31, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. ET

Apply here.

 

Stephen B. Shepard Prize for Investigative Reporting

This prize will be awarded to a Newmark J-School alum who has produced the best investigative work in 2023. The honoree will receive $5,000, generously funded by The Tow Foundation. The award is named for Founding Dean Stephen Shepard.

Any student who has graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, from the classes of 2007 to 2022, is eligible to self-nominate or nominate a classmate for this prize, provided the work was published in 2023 (in any medium) and after the student graduated.

Nominations must include the name of the nominee (yourself or another Newmark J-School alum), contact info, and links or attachments to the work you are nominating. All nominations must be sent in using this submission form.

The winner will be chosen by a committee that includes Newmark J-School faculty and staff. Nominees’ work will be judged on subject importance, originality, reporting, writing and presentation.

Nomination deadline: Feb. 29, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. ET

Submit nominations here.


Alumni Updates

 

Win-Win

  • Chris Prentice ’10 was part of a team at Reuters that won a Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the collapse of FTX.​​​​
  • Nicole Acevedo ’17 is part of a team of journalists who won the NAHJ 2020 Ñ Award in the Print/Digital category for a story about Latino identity in the U.S.
  • Yara El Murr ’20 won AMEJA’s Best Coverage of the MENA Region award for her reporting work on the film “Intercepted at Sea” for Public Source.
  • Noelle Lilley ’20 won a New York Emmy Award for Special Event Coverage-Live as part of a team reporting on the News12 story “Line of Duty Funeral.”
  • Rommel Ojeda ’21 made it to the finalist round for the NAHJ 2023 Ñ Awards for a story in Documented about Latin American migrants using TikTok on their journey.
  • H Conley ’22 won the Excellence in Food Reporting Award from NLGJA for their Bon Appétit article that was part of BA’s first Pride package in June 2022.

Featured News

  • Igor Kossov ’09 is contributing to War Notes, a weekly newsletter update presented by Kyiv Independent’s war reporters. Read one of his recent dispatches here.
  • Walter Smith Randolph ’10 (photo below) is returning home to New York City. He has joined WCBS/CBS New York as the station’s Investigative Executive Producer.
  • Cesar Bustamante, Jr. ’11 has been elected President of the incoming Deadline Club board.  Other CUNY J-School alums on the incoming board include Kimberly Chin ’17 (VP awards dinner/program) and Imad Khan ’17 (Secretary).
  • Cara Eisenpress ’12 has joined The Real Deal as Features Editor.
  • Erin Horan ’12 did a recent project for NBC for which she interviewed Tiger Woods, and she was the lead producer and showrunner for a network special on HBCU golfers and growing the game of golf. The show was also posted on the PGA TOUR platforms after it aired.
  • Kathleen Culliton ’13 is now Assistant Managing Editor for Raw Story, an independently owned news site.
  • Elly Yu ’13 has a new beat: After working on the investigations team at LAist.com/ 89.3 KPCC for nearly four years, she is now covering early childhood. She looks forward to reporting on the issues facing L.A.’s youngest residents and their caregivers.
  • Zainab Akande ’14 started a new job as Commerce Curation Editorial Manager at Yahoo.
  • Kristen Clark ’14 is running a youth-led community journalism initiative in the D.C. area through the Arlington Independent Media (photo below). The teens she works with recently launched a podcast called The Arlington Amp, which covers hyperlocal issues from a youth perspective. One of their stories ran on WAMU’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” She is hoping to connect with any D.C.-area journalists, mentors or advisory board members.
  • Jake Naughton ’15 photographed a cover story for Travel and Leisure, his first project with the magazine. T+L commissioned him to head to Costa Rica to shoot an expansive travel package that included visits to the jungle, the beach and the cloud forests. Naughton said he “rode a horse, made friends with monkeys, forded rivers and climbed high into the canopy of the cloud forest.”
  • Danni Santana ’15 started a new role as Personal Finance Editor at CNET.
  • Karen Shakerdge ’15 recently wrapped up reporting on an investigative podcast for WNYC, Gothamist and The Pulitzer Center called “Imminent Danger: One Doctor and a Trail of Injured Women.” ​​​​​​The show delves into the career of one OB-GYN and the systems for vetting doctors and protecting patients. This project came out of a class assignment that started back when Shakerdge was taking an investigative health course at the J-School. Various alumni have contributed to it, including Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky ‘18, Owen Agnew ‘15 and Catherine Roberts ‘15.
  • Luke Tress ’15 started a position as reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and New York Jewish Week in October.
  • Nico Grant ’16 is leading coverage of the Google antitrust trial for The New York Times.
  • Lisa Thomson ’16 joins NPR’s “Morning Edition” as an editor in mid-December. The move to NPR follows 6 1/2 years with Al Jazeera English. Thomson is also just wrapping up six months as a member of The Oxford Climate Journalism Network at The Reuters Institute at Oxford University.
  • Laura Calçada Barres ’17’s memoir, “Fucking New York: Història dels meus límits,” was published this past September. Her story chronicles the nearly five years she lived in New York City—the accident she experienced, the American family she found, and falling in love. The book, published in Catalan, is now in its third edition.
  • Kellie Ell ’17 ran the New York City Marathon for the first time last week. Ell covers private credit for Creditflux.
  • Oscar Gonzalez ’17 is now Breaking News Editor at Gizmodo.
  • Clarissa Sosin ’17 did a followup to her series looking at internal affairs in the Baton Rouge Police Department. The followup is a second five-part investigative series that brings the story to today, and gets at the heart of the battle to reform the BRPD.
  • Tasia Jensen ’18 produced and filmed a piece in Mexico City for CNBC’s “Make It”. The story is a short documentary on why Americans are moving there and the impact it is having on local communities.
  • Paula Moura ’18 wrote an essay about her enduring love for Queen for WBUR, where she works as a Climate and Environment Reporter.
  • Willa Rubin ’18 hosted a recent episode in her role as producer for “Planet Money.” The story is about the challenges of macroeconomics and looks at the Phillips Curve, one of the Federal Reserve’s favorite tools to examine inflation and unemployment.
  • Netsanet Negussie ’19 co-produced the documentary “Power,” about policing in the U.S. The film will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2024.
  • Maddie Kornfeld ’20 began working as a News Journalist at Storyful.
  • Natalie Peart ’21 debuted “​​​​Ghost Story,” a podcast she worked on for a year, in October. The show held the number one spot on Apple Podcasts for two days in a row. A photo she took for a Rolling Stone article was featured as the lead image for the article. 
  • Mariah Thomas ’21 (photo at right) has accepted a position as Associate Lifestyle Editor for Reader’s Digest after almost two years as an Assistant Editor for Good Housekeeping.
  • Jeff Winter ’21 is now a full-time Associate Producer in CNN’s New York Bureau.
  • Andre Béganski ’22 is joining the startup Coinage as its Head Writer.
  • Zoe Grueskin ’22  is now an Associate Editor at Audubon magazine.
  • Salman Ahad Khan ’22 is working as a producer for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show “Immaterial” for six months. The episode he produced about Clarence Thomas for WNYC’s “More Perfect” podcast made it onto The New York Times’s year-end list of the best podcasts of the year, following its inclusion on other prominent best-of lists in 2023.
  • Yvonne Marquez ‘2​​2Paige Perez ‘​​​​​​22 and Austin Cope’ 22 ran into each other at an Audio Spice event at the Freelancers Hub in New York City.

Some Personal News

  • Monroe Hammond ’19 and Ben Powers ’19 were married at a ceremony in Atlanta in September.

Alumni Q&A

 

A CHAT WITH… TIFFANY CAMHI ’13


The surprising twists that led Tiffany Camhi ’13 to her jobs as “All Things Considered” host and now Higher Education Reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting started all the way back in high school, in Indianapolis.

“My high school actually had a radio station,” says Camhi. Working there during her teen years led to a similar gig during college at DePauw, where she hosted a music show for the campus radio station and became its program director. All those extracurricular hours were about one main obsession: music. But journalism? It wasn’t the obvious career choice.

“I had never listened to public radio growing up,” Camhi says. “I was not interested in reading the newspaper. If you would’ve asked 13-year-old Tiffany, news meant TV broadcasts or the 5 o’clock news, which I also didn’t enjoy.”

You wouldn’t know that now, looking at Camhi’s impressive journalism resume post-grad school. Since graduating from Newmark in the Arts & Culture concentration, Camhi has held down coveted jobs as a reporter, producer and host at KQED in San Francisco, and as a reporter and producer for the Bay Area’s KRCB, before joining Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Here, Camhi talks about how her music and journalism worlds finally converged, dishes about her brief but memorable experience interning for SNL—and explains how she manages to combine reporting with another great love of hers: motorcycles—Salma Abdelnour Gilman.

What made you shift from your goal of having a music career to pursuing journalism?

I had thought I would become a music teacher, with my radio experience and music education. So I thought an internship at WNYC’s “Soundcheck” [during college] would make sense for me. I realized after the internship that I really liked radio.

It seems like “Radiolab” is everyone’s gateway drug into audio. I was listening to that and I didn’t realize it was considered journalism, just really good storytelling. When I discovered it was journalism—longform—I realized I wanted to do it, and so maybe I should learn a little bit about journalism.

I didn’t even know the basic tenets of journalism. But I checked out some J-Schools and thought, this is what I want to do. I applied to CUNY and got in, thankfully.

Tiffany Camhi on the job.

How did it feel to go into your first J-School semester without any journalism experience?

I didn’t know what a lede was or how to write one. My first real taste of journalism was at J-School. Craft 1 was my first experience of, “Oh, that’s what journalism is: You go out and talk to people, you fact check stuff, you have a few hours to write a 500-word story.” It was like being thrown into the fire.

I thought I was going to be a music educator and now I’m here, writing news stories. I’m in this room with these people who knew they wanted to be journalists since they were 10 years old.

Good old imposter syndrome.

I still have it. But now I can feel like I deserve to be in the room with all these people because I’ve done this work. I had really good supporters and professors who told me I belonged there.

My Craft professor was Rebecca Leung, and I was so grateful I had her. She was so supportive and she made me feel like I belonged there, and that it should be OK to make a mistake in school because that’s where you’re learning.

Another professor, Tina Pamintuan, had started the audio program [at Newmark]. She was also very supportive and active in her students’ work, making sure that we thrived. I remember going into her office and telling her that I actually don’t like writing that much. She asked me, Do you read those stories in the Atlantic, those longform stories? I said only when I’m assigned to read them. I was trying to fit myself into a box I didn’t fit into.

She told me that if I’m not consuming that kind of media in my free time, then I shouldn’t be doing it. I think I needed to hear that permission.

Camhi on the air at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

How did you get your jobs in radio after J-School?

I had done an internship at KALW in San Francisco, then started at KQED as an intern in 2014  and stayed there for six years. They hired me [after the internship]. I started as a general assignment reporter, and I did everything I needed to do to make that job full-time. It took two to three years before I could quit my coffee shop job and work there full-time. Whatever on-call thing was available, I wanted to be the first person they thought of.

While at KQED, I also worked at a small station in Sonoma County, KRCB, as a part-time reporter, until I applied for the “Weekend Edition” host at KQED and got it. That was where I got my journalism experience. I had great mentors there who helped me tremendously.

I interviewed for the Oregon Public Broadcasting job in November and December of 2019, and I got an offer in February 2020. Hiring in the public media world moves at the pace of molasses.

What was your daily routine like as host of ​​”​​​All Things Considered”?

At Oregon Public Broadcasting, there are two “All Things Considered” hosts. The reason why we tried that out [instead of one host] is because I wanted more freedom to produce and tell my own stories. It’s really hard to do that if you don’t have the built-in time to do reporting and producing.

It’s important to reduce the chance of getting burnout. If three hours of the day is hosting, that leaves just five hours for everything else.

It’s really hard to write for the ear, different from writing in print. It’s hard for someone listening on their smart speaker or in their car to go back and listen, so you only get one chance. I would usually give myself two hours to get all that done so that it sounds good. We often have our own local features or Q&As, so it takes up about an hour to prepare for that. If there are meetings, and there are always meetings, that’s going to take up the rest of your day. Hosting a three-hour show is an eight-hour thing.

I tried for the first year at OPB to do both reporting and hosting, and I was working more than eight hours. It would take me three months to produce a feature since I had so little time in the day. I decided I can’t do that anymore.

My coworker and I came up with a pitch to leadership, about how it could possibly work to have two hosts. Doing that allowed us to produce way more content and to be happier people.

When she’s not on the air, Camhi is likely on the road somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

What stories have you worked on for Oregon Public Broadcasting recently that stand out to you most?

One story I’ve done recently that I filed for NPR and did for OPB is on wealth redistribution through housing. A local group called the PDX Housing Solidarity Project helps connect people who have wealth, actually money or a house that’s been in their family that they want to sell, with Black or indigenous people in Portland who are trying to buy a house. I’d never heard of this idea of radical wealth redistribution– redistributing your resources to people who have been left out of the wealth equation. People who have not had all the opportunities that white people have to generate wealth. Home ownership is one way to do that.

OPB skews, like all public media does, to white college-educated women. I wanted to introduce this idea to them and hopefully get them thinking about wealth redistribution and what their privilege has given them and different ways to distribute that.

The story followed one woman who had a house and wanted to sell it specifically to a Black family. She wanted to bring another Black family back into the neighborhood. She is white and recognized her privilege in college and carried a lot of shame, and she found a group that helps people find ways to redistribute their wealth. Her family has a lot of money and she already had a second home, and she realized it was wealth hoarding and wanted to give it away. I thought that was super radical thinking. I got a lot of good feedback on the story.

You were a “Saturday Night Live” intern back in the day. Any fun behind-the-scenes moments you remember?

I did that internship when I was in college. It was all based on who you know. They needed music interns for SNL, and a music professor I had knew a musician in New York who was friends with the music director at SNL. I can’t say that I earned it, but I feel like I was a good intern.

I felt grateful to be there because I grew up watching SNL. It was not in line with my career, but I couldn’t turn it down.

A lot of it was getting coffee. When I was there the band was in the midst of archiving and digitizing their music, so I did a lot of that work. I did get to rub shoulders with a lot of the musical guests at the time but you weren’t supposed to bother them. I remember one of the other interns was brown-nosing with them but he got fired.

There were two chances when I could’ve been in one of the skits. The first was, I was in the music office doing my digitizing work, head down, and one of the phones rang so I answered it. Someone needed another body to be in a skit: “Is there anyone who can come down and help us out?” I defaulted to saying, “Of course not, I’m busy.” When [my boss] Lenny Pickett came back and I told him, he said that if that ever happens again, I should definitely say yes. He said, It’s your 15 minutes of fame! Do it. It’s fun.

The second time, they specifically wanted me, because it was a skit with Dwayne the Rock Johnson and Fred Armisen and they were in Hawaii in a resort, and they needed someone who kind of looked Hawaiian. They asked my supervisors and they called me, but I had my cell phone off because my battery was almost dead. I was trying to be a good intern and conserve my battery energy for when I would really need it, from 9pm to 1am.

Still, the internship was a great experience.

Taking a break at Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

Your OPB bio says: “When Tiffany’s not on the radio, you can usually find her riding a motorcycle or trying to figure out a way to talk about motorcycles on the radio.” So, talk about motorcycles! What kind do you have?

Two motorcycles– I just added another to the stable. My main motorcycle is a Royal Enfield Himalayan. It’s a smaller motorcycle by American standards. It’s what’s called a dual sport. I can ride it on the pavement on regular roads or off-road.

I like to do adventure motorcycling, in forests or deserts or logging roads.

The motorcycle I bought a month ago is technically a dirt bike. They’re not legal to ride on the road. It accidentally hit a tree a few weeks ago, but luckily I didn’t hit the tree. It’s a Kawasaki KLX 140.

I love motorcycling. The feeling of being free, similar to flying, that’s what you get on a motorcycle. And of course, it’s, like, badass.

I’ve been a motorcyclist since 2015. I learned in the Bay Area when I made a few friends who happened to ride motorcycles. I rode on the back, and I remember going over the Golden Gate Bridge and thinking, I want to be able to do this myself. I’ve been riding ever since. But I don’t ride year-round in Portland. I don’t ride in the rain. I’m a fair weather rider.

Have you been able to work motorcycles into your radio stories recently? 

Not recently, but this is a reminder that I should. I usually do it once a year.

I covered the World Wide Women’s motorcycle relay, which went on every continent and people were handing off a baton. When they came through California I rode with them. I did a story for KQED and it also aired on “The World.” Through that story, Google News or someone from Google heard it and sent a film crew out. They wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t do the official story.

So, I got paid to ride my motorcycle.

Hitting the road, with or without a story assignment.

Any tips for early-career journalists?

As someone who is Filipino-American—my mom is Filipino and my dad is white—I have some advice to give to BIPOC people entering the workplace:

Find who those allies are, and keep those people close to you. They can help you get through the hard times and the day to day. They can help you find story ideas and to make change.

For example, switching from one to two “All Things Considered” hosts: I could not have done that on my own. But I had my producer, and she was my ally. Finding allies can also mean talking to your mom on the phone. You need a support network.