The Department of Journalism and Media Studies Rutgers University School of Communication and Information 4 Huntington Street • New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Permit No. 157
The Newsletter of the Rutgers Department of Journalism and Media Studies
Volume 15, No. 2
J/MS alumni are cropping up at Patch.com By Lindsay Richardson and Joseph Schulhoff
One thing that cannot be taught is the ability to roll with the punches, or can it? As the media shift from print to digital platforms, J/MS is gearing up students not only to write but take photographs, shoot video, and upload content. And digital news outlets such as Patch.com are snapping up alumni as local and regional editors, knowing they have already adapted to many of the challenges of the journalism profession today. Patch is a hyper-local news site for communities. It focuses on covering school and town meetings, government, police, sports, opinions, traffic and event coverage for one town. The target audience within the community is typically adults and parents. A new media model with big ambition – it is owned by AOL – Patch is reaching out to communities across the country and has launched more than 750 sites to date. The editor is a virtual oneperson band, and the “news room” may be a corner of his or her living room.
Soldiers’ stories influence grad’s national column By Roxanne Belloni We all know the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Now meet the nationally syndicated column, “The Unknown Soldiers,” written by military journalist Tom Sileo, J/MS 2001. Launched in February, “The Unknown Soldiers” focuses on telling the personal stories of activePhoto supplied by duty troops, Tom Sileo veterans, and Tom Sileo military families. The inspiration for the column derives from Sileo’s deeply personal outlook on the military. “I remain overwhelmed by the courage being displayed by our nation’s warriors and their loved ones,” he said. In fact, he went on, “I believe honoring those who sacrifice is my calling as a journalist who loves my country. We should all be very thankful to live in a country where selfless men Continued on page 9
Six J/MS alumni are working as pioneering site editors, blazing a trail for the future of online news media. A seventh, Tom Davis, J/ MS 1989, is the Jersey Shore regional editor for Patch. One of the sites Davis supervises is in the community of Lacey, where Elaine Piniat, J/ MS 2010, has become the lone Patch site editor. “It is a challenge because there is only one of me, and there is so much going on, even if it is just one community,” noted Piniat. Since starting last November,
Photo supplied by Davy James
South Brunswick Patch editor Davy James
Piniat has eagerly adapted to the fast pace of the digital media and the pressure of having to post four or five stories a day. What has taken more time to adjust to is being “in the loop” on the array of different issues facing Lacey Township. While at J/MS, Piniat was a very dedicated student. She held internships at Whole Foods Magazine, Healthcare Intelligence Network, the Home News Tribune, Innervoice, Ath letes in Action and the Long Island Press before landing her position at Patch. J/MS, she said, played a huge role in achieving her career objectives. While she said that she misses having more time working on certain assignments, she has come to enjoy digital media, especially when you can see the results quickly. Variety of the subject matter is what Piniat enjoys most. “No story is ever the same, and it never gets boring,” she added. Unlike some other Patch editors, Piniat does not live in the town that she covers, so she has to work extra hard to create relationships and develop community ties. As Lacey’s
Photo supplied by Caitlin Mahon
Patch’s Caitlin Mahon reports news from New Providence. editor, she is constantly tapping way newspapers have provided into the numerous local sources community news for years,” to produce accurate, solid stories he explained. “Only now, our that she knows the community platform is digital.” will appreciate. Formerly a reporter for The Davis, Piniat’s boss, said, Record of Hackensack, Davis “Patch drives to provide the left the newspaper to join Patch local community news directly last year. He is also a part-time to people in a straightforward, lecturer in the J/MS department. Continued on page 11 objective way, similar to the
Class of ’54 journalism grads look back Freimark journeyed into sales/marketing
J/MS degree helps Olson with business
By Megan Schuster
By Samantha Behrooj
Although Al Freimark, J/MS 1954, is long retired from Eastman Kodak, he still remembers the pleasure of studying journalism and advertising at Rutgers. One could major in advertising back then, said Freimark in a delightful telephone interview from his retirement home in Hampstead on the North Carolina coast. And he wrote, too, part-time for the New Brunswick Daily News, now known as The Home News Tribune. There he learned that “the real world was quite a bit different” from the academic approach that his journalism professors were teaching. It was an important realization, he said. He never forgot the words of one of his advertising professors, who often used the words “ergo,” “beaucoup,” and “i.e.” throughout the course. Freimark and his fellow classmate, Lloyd Griffiths (see story on page 8), still use these words in correspondence to each other. “When I write those words at the end of an email or letter, even if I don’t sign my name, he knows it is
As an executive at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, Russell (Rusty) Olson, J/MS 1954, used his business skills to invest employee pension monies wisely. But he used his journalism skills to write four books that show how to make smart investments that secure workers’
Continued on page 8
Photo supplied by Al Freimark
Al Freimark and wife Cecelia at home in N. Carolina
Photo supplied by Russell Olson
A rare touch football game was played in November 1953, pitting Rutgers Daily Targum staff against the writers of the Columbia Spectator. Russell Olson is third from left. Many will know Art Kamin, J/MS ’54, second from right.
futures. One of those books, The Inde pendent Fiduciary, published by John Wiley and Sons, is recommended reading for all financial investment companies. Another, The School of Hard Knocks, is a case history of Eastman Kodak’s $7 billion diversified pension plan that started in 1928 and ended in the late 1990s. The books that Olson has written about investing are based on career observations that he made throughout his years in the business. “These books did not entail a lot of new research,” he stated. “They were my effort to tell managers of endowments and pension funds what I believed I had learned over the years.” Although he has spent the bulk of his adult life outside the journalism field, Olson says that his journalism and public relations background has helped him immeasurably in his more business-oriented ventures. “The journalistic skills of identifying the heart of what you want to get across to a particular recipient and then saying it in the most concise, userfriendly way is fundamental to all good business writing.” This good advice comes from Continued on page 8
Page 2, Alum-Knights, Summer 2011
What’s in a name? Spelling can vary in diverse media By John V. Pavlik Chair, Dept. of Journalism and Media Studies Gaddafi, Qaddafi, and Khaddafy are just a few of the myriad spellings of the surname of the leader of Libya to appear in U.S. and foreign news media the first few months of 2011. But which is correct? The Associated Press, which many journalists look to as a trusted news style guide, spells it Gadhafi. The New York Times writes Qaddafi. The Libyan leader’s official Brother Leader web site (http://algathafi.org/ html-english/index.htm) spells his surname on the banner AL Gathafi but inside the site there are other spellings, including Qaddafi (http://www.algathafi. org/html-english/cat_1_2.htm). I put the question to an expert, Hamid Abdeljaber, a Rutgers University lecturer on Arab Media, Islam and Democracy, a member of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), and former chief of Middle East Radio Unit and News Center. Abdeljaber says, “In fact, his name is as confusing as much as the man himself. The first letter
of his last name must start with Q. Some people switched it to G as some tribal dialects pronounce the Q closer to the sound of G in gulf.” Things get more complicated regarding the use of the dd or dh. The bottom line is, Abdeljaber says, “Some will write dd or dh. None is 100 percent correct, yet I lean toward dd. I hope I did not confuse you even more.” Let’s face the facts. In today’s diverse, global news world, some facts occasionally may be fuzzy, even the correct spelling of a name, one of the most basic tenets of journalism. One indisputable fact is the number of journalism and media studies graduates continues to grow, with more than 250 students earning their bachelor’s degree in May. The department offered 38 courses for majors, with a total of 58 sections. The department also offered three sections of the introductory course, Introduction to Media
Systems and Processes, the pre-requisite course to entering the major. Faculty members have been busy. Christina Dunbar-Hester John Pavlik was an invited panelist on “Women in Technology: The Past, Present, and Strategies for the Future” in March, organized by the Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (UN), part of the UN’s 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. David Greenberg published an essay entitled “Creating Their Own Reality: The Bush Administration and Expertise in a Polarized Age,” in The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First His torical Assessment, Julian Zelizer, ed., Princeton University Press, 2010. An earlier article of his — “The Idea of ‘The Liberal Media’ and Its Roots in the Civil Rights Movement,” published in The Sixties — was second runner-up for the Farrar Media and Civil Rights History Award. Dave Karpf had an article published in January in IEEE Intel
ligent Systems, “Implications of the Mobile Web for Online/Offline Reputation Systems,” and had another paper accepted for publication in the Journal of In formation Technology and Poli tics, titled “Open Source Political Community Development: A Five Stage Adoption Process.” Karpf presented research at MIT’s Media Lab in February and served on a panel at a Columbia University conference titled “Information Overload? Navigating the Age of Democratized Media” (http://themorningsidepost.com/tmp-conference-2011/). He also presented research at a World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) conference in Segovia, Spain in March (http://www. transnationalconnections.ie.edu/ program) and that same month participated in a symposium on Civility and Democracy at the National Constitution Center. The chair gave two invited lectures on digital media and democracy, one Feb. 23 at the Bernardsville Public Library and the other Feb. 26 in Long Branch at the regional convention of the Middle States Region of Phi Theta Kappa International
Honor Society. Among the guest speakers sponsored by the department was Josh Silver, president and CEO of Free Press, who spoke March 8 on Net Neutrality. Maryland history professor Jeffrey Herf spoke Feb. 17 on Nazi Propaganda and Policy Towards the Middle East During World War II. Rick Kaplan, president of CBS News, spoke in the spring on the future of the news industry. In March the Journalism Research Institute (JRI) hosted seven Iraqi journalism and mass communication professors in a visit sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The J/MS Department is also profoundly grateful for a $200,000 endowment gift from alumnus Barry S. Kramer to create the Barry S. Kramer Endowed Scholarship Fund for the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. As requested, these funds will be used to support undergraduate students in the department. As the endowment grows over time, we hope to offer full tuition waivers to our top students.
New professor is journalist — and musician By Cassiopeia Neely “Innovator, Educator, Author, Musician, Brooklynite.” Sprawled across a web page banner that depicts a manipulated photograph of Gandhi with Yoda ears are the words new J/ MS professor Aram Sinnreich uses to describe himself on his website. A jack-of-all-trades, Sinnreich considers himself a “musician/ journalist moonlighting as a professor.” Music is at the core of his existence. When he isn’t teaching or writing, he plays fretless bass for the Brooklynbased progressive soul band, Brave New Girl. The band has produced two EPs, NYC and No One Ever Said. The members are currently working on their third studio album. This spring, Sinnreich introduced a new course, Musical Cultures and Industries. The class offers an exciting opportunity for students interested in the music industry. J/MS senior Michael Hennix said, “When I saw this class, I knew I had to take it. I love music, and I want to learn how I can make a career
out of it.” Sinnreich runs the class as a seminar, prompting his 18 students to consider the ways music affects their lives. He uses his first-hand experience and connections to give his students an insider view into the music industry. Recently, he invited punk journalist Vivien Goldman to give a guest lecture on the history of reggae music as a political force in Britain. “Vivien was there for anything that happened in punk between 1976 and the present,” noted Sinnreich. “She basically invented punk journalism, and she was one of the first reggae journalists.” Sinnreich joined the J/MS Department last fall. He received a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Southern California in 2007, an M.A. in communication at USC in 2005, an M.S. in journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 2000, and a B.A. in English and Music from Wesleyan in 1994. Though he has dedicated his life to the study of music, Sinnreich struggles to define it. “It’s
defined through the act of ascribing nonlinguistic meaning to sound,” he begins, before hesitating. “No, that’s no good. It’s the codification of ideology through organized sound.” He stops again to collect his thoughts. His eyes light up as he says, “Music consists of a system of meaning produced by recognition of the somatic and cognitive impact of acoustic vibrations.” He finally shrugs, “There are a lot of functioning definitions of music, and I don’t like any of them.” If there is anything Sinnreich stresses, it is that music is an intrinsic part of life. He contends that it is the basis of religion, identity and communication. “Music is like an operating system for humans. It helps people organize thoughts, define their identity and collaborate on social projects.” Music is an integral part of design and marketing. As the co-founder of Radar Research, a consulting firm for media companies, Sinnreich has had much experience in those fields. He was also a director at OMD Ignition Factory, an ad agency in
Photo by Cassiopeia Neely
Professor Aram Sinnreich invited legendary punk journalist Vivien Goldman to give a guest lecture in his class. LA, where he ran a marketing innovation unit focused on culture, technology and business. Sinnreich is also drawn by the fundamental correlation between culture and technology. His first book, Mashed Up: Mu sic, Technology and the Rise of Configurable Culture, published in 2010, focuses on this relationship. The book took almost five years to complete and covers es-
sentially everything he teaches. Being at J/MS provides a broad platform for his academic and creative pursuits. “I write about and research certain subjects that interest me and hope to get paid for it,” he said. “Academic publications, soundbites and lectures are all windows into a larger ongoing process of inquiry. There’s no sign of it ending any time soon.”
give them, without killing them, a little bit of that flavor here, which is really what it’s like sometimes,” she said. After a stellar undergraduate career, Cohen returned to Rutgers during the summer a few years ago to teach Media, Ethics, and Law. She found she really liked the classroom milieu. She kept in touch with J/ MS professor and undergraduate education chair Steve Miller and one day asked him if Rutgers was offering any environmental energy classes. “He said no, we don’t offer any of that,” recalled Cohen. “I said, ‘Have you thought about it?’ Then he told me to put together a proposal — what would you teach if you could teach it? And so I sat down and said okay, I think this would be great.”
J/MS major Raychal Martinelli, a junior, feels that Cohen is a great teacher and makes fun a subject that may be monotonous to some students. “To me it’s not necessarily a fun topic but, she’s really good, and I really like her,” said Martinelli. Originally, Cohen was drawn to journalism by its financial and political aspects. She believed that she would attend law school after her undergraduate career because of her passion for politics. But her plans quickly changed. “I thought when I left here I was going to go to law school, but I didn’t want to go right away,” recalled Cohen. “I always assumed that was the natural course but never got around to it. I had too much fun Continued on page 11
J/MS grad returns to Rutgers to teach environmental journalism course By Tiffany Dodson
Once a top achieving jour nalism major, Stephanie Inger soll Cohen, J/MS 1997, is back at Rutgers teaching Environmental Journalism, a class geared toward juniors and seniors that is small in size but big on interaction and work ethic. The class primarily focuses on the topics of wind turbines, solar energy and oil exploration within the United States. Throughout the spring her class examined the effects of last year’s BP oil spill. “We really have this beautiful experience where we have this conversation,” said Cohen, who commutes in once a week from Westchester, NY, where she lives with husband Eric and children, Gavriella, Nethaniel
and Joshua. “It’s not so much just me lecturing, but it’s lovely. It’s a very writing intensive class; we do a lot of writing.” And the course is very timely since Cohen zeroes in on issues involving energy and the environment. “You can’t sit down and open a newspaper and not read about an environmental issue,” said Cohen. Cohen puts a lot of emphasis on preparing her class for the working world. In time, some of them may get a job like the one Cohen has: working for the Bureau of National Affairs in New York City as a reporter covering infrastructure and financing, specifically large energy and renewable energy projects. She has also been an editor at the Bureau. According to Cohen, her
Photo by Tiffany Dodson
Prof. Stephanie Cohen
energy reporting work was the greatest learning curve of her life in terms of research and workload. She draws on much of her own reporting experiences when she teaches. “I’m trying to
Alum-Knights, Summer 2011, Page 3
New journalism website exposes student work to a wider audience By Carina Cruz
There is now an online showcase for the best work J/MS undergraduates are putting out. You can watch a video about the invasion of stinkbugs in the Northeast. You can read about safety in New Brunswick or the increasing digital divide for the disabled or students’ reactions to rising train fares. Everything from stories written in Investigative Reporting to videos done in Advanced TV Reporting is up on the newly launched site, which you can find at http://journalism.rutgers. edu. The goal of the website is to spread the word about the high quality output of J/MS majors beyond Rutgers, even nationally and internationally. The website has been in the works in since last spring. Professor Steve Miller,
undergraduate coordinator for J/ MS, and Santanu Chakrabarti, a graduate student and instructor, have been overseeing the project. Miller presented the idea to the department, and Chakrabarti undertook the technical aspect of putting the site together. The idea behind the site is to showcase the work students do for class that usually goes unrecognized. Miller said that the general thinking throughout the department is that the students produce great work that deserves a second look. “You do a story for News Reporting and Writing, you submit it, it gets graded, and it merely goes into your memory bank,” said Miller. He devised the site so that students are be able to reach a greater audience – such as “people who might one day decide to offer a student work,” said Miller.
Photo supplied by Santanu Chakrabarti
Chakrabarti added, “Some of this work is of great relevance not just to the Rutgers community, but the state, region and even the nation.” The site also has a “Mentor Speak” section that is designed as a forum for industry professionals and academics who have worked with students at J/MS. To increase visibility, Chakra
barti and Miller already have a dedicated youtube channel linked to this site at http://www. youtube.com/user/JMSRutgers and a Flickr site for photojournalism at http://www.flickr.com/ photos/58073904@N03/. How does student work get on the new website? Instructors pick out student work that they feel is exceptional and deserves to be featured on the site. “What better editors to have than the faculty?” said Miller. He decided against open submissions to preserve order and maintain quality. “I believe you run into possible problems if you just let everybody and anybody submit,” he explained. “And those problems include not just not quality work but an overabundance of material that would just overwhelm the site. And then there is the organization of it, the set up of it
and things like that.” Both Miller and Chakrabarti predict the website will flesh out in the coming semesters with more student articles, news videos and work done by the public relations, web design and Media Publishing and Design classes. “We are hoping, of course, that students will want to actively focus on writing/shooting stories for journalism.rutgers.edu, and we will certainly revisit this method of getting work onto the site,” said Chakrabarti. He requests that alumni visit the site and spread the word about the exciting work J/MS students do. According to Chakrabarti, under every story there is already a “Share/Save” button that site users can access. He and Miller are also going to establish a Facebook presence linked to this site soon.
Students prepare for the future of online journalism with itsonbad.com By Jasmine Kelley
With the advancements made in technology seemingly every day, educators need to have students stay ahead of the game if they are going to land jobs. Professor Benjamin Davis is doing just that as the director of a J/ MS student-built website called “ItsonBad.” As one of the members who helped create the world-renowned MSNBC website, Davis knows the importance of a strong understanding of digital journalism in today’s world. “Broadcast doesn’t exist the way it used to,” he said. To enlighten students about the changing field, his Broadcast News Writing class learns how to write for digital media and submit its final work to ItsonBad, which was created more than a year ago to reach a target audience of young adults 16 to 25 years old. Davis designed the shell of the website but left his students to decide on one important detail: its name. ItsonBad was born
when students decided to replicate professor Davis’ initials — B.A.D. — found at the bottom of their graded assignments. The founding students felt they wanted to put Davis’ name on the product, according to Rutgers seniors Amanda McGuire and Danielle Gaglioti, this year’s editors. Both took Broadcast News Writing with professor Davis last year, and now they are playing a big role in assignment of content and production. McGuire told Alum-Knights, “I love my position with ItsOnBad.com. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s a great learning experience. It’s given me an idea of what editing is like with an actual news company, and also taught me about running a business.” When Davis’ class is not submitting stories, ItsonBad’s editors and writing staff update their assigned sections twice a week to keep content fresh. Gaglioti told Alum-Knights, “Itsonbad has been one of the best experiences of my college career. I have been able to de-
Photo by Jasmine Kelley
ItsOnBad staff meeting in Professor Ben Davis’ classroom. velop a website — write articles, design a layout, interview wellknown figures. It keeps me busy, and though it may be stressful, I know that this is what will help me get a job after graduation. But my favorite part is definitely the experience of working with an amazing team to build something that will last, even after we all graduate.” Website articles Gaglioti mentioned deal with politics, sex, entertainment and much more. The tragic story of Rutgers freshman
Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in September after his roommate secretly filmed him in a homosexual encounter, was one of the most read articles on the website to date. Recently, ItsonBad has been trying to do more original stories. J/MS major and Army veteran Jerilyn Richardson received a lot of hits with her story about military suicides. According to Davis, traffic on the site has increased dramati-
cally since it was launched in 2010. “As of February this year ItsonBad receives about 25,000 page impressions per month, with 10,000 unique visits from users in the United States and at least 20 other counties,” reported Davis. ItsonBad writers promote their website and work through Facebook. They have also attracted web attention through an article that was done on the project on the hyperlocal news site Patch. com. Still the biggest challenge remains for this young website: sponsored ads. Eventually, the goal is to create enough sponsor ads to support a more robust operation, which would include sales and marketing. Davis said, “I am very impressed with what the students have done. They still need the ability to do more original stories in which they can use more Rutgers professors as experts for interviews.” He went on to say, “I am very confident that the site will grow into a very popular destination for 16- to 25-year olds globally.”
Planet Forward teams up to collaborate with Rutgers TV students By Jennifer Ortiz
Journalism and Media Studies major Russell Cox had always been “a bit obsessed with the environment,” particularly the ocean, he says. Now, through his Advanced Television Reporting class, he is doing videos for Planet Forward, a well known Washington, DC, website where experts and engaged citizens weigh in on energy, climate and sustainability. Rutgers oceanographers had designed an underwater submersible that was the first fully remote controlled glider to go nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. Planet Forward was interested in a video, recalled Cox. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity,” he said. “I originally heard about Planet Forward from my professor in Advanced Television Reporting, Steve Miller,” explained Cox, “He told me about a website cosponsored by PBS and National Geographic that was looking for environmental stories, and I jumped at the chance.” Planet Forward has been teaming up with schools throughout
the country to create Perhaps the next J/MS mavideos about environ- “Media are constantly changing, jors to win Planet Forward mental issues. “Planet and students need to keep up.” recognition are the students Forward exposes stuin professor Stephanie CoProf. Steve Miller hen’s environmental writdents to real-world situations and displays ing class (see profile of what students can do,” Cohen on Page 2 in this ismental information about where explained Miller. The websue of Alum-Knights). Working they were going and had been. site, which is produced by The alongside Planet Forward, she I also researched what type of George Washington University’s insisted, “is not a class requirestory would be the best fit for the Center for Innovative Media, ment, but it is an opportunity Planet Forward site. looks for ground-breaking ideas, students have.” “Then, of course, the other informed opinion and first-hand Cohen reported that she is group members (Shibi Murali, experience, according to Miller. encouraging her students “to Amy Meerovich, and Devin The best ideas from around the tackle their class writing projPortnoy) and I had to write, country get featured not only onects with a mind to submitting shoot, interview, interview, inline but on TV. a completed video or article to terview, edit, convert, drink a “Media are constantly changPlanet Forward, a great platform lot of caffeinated beverages, edit ing, and students need to keep for students to see their work some more, reshoot, and edit up,” emphasized Miller. “You published.” before we were finally happy can’t stay stuck in what you Noted Cohen, “Students have with the finished product,” Cox know. That’s why working with the option of turning their work joked. Planet Forward is great. Enviinto Planet Forward when they “I came up with the project ronmental journalism is very are done.” idea, wrote the story and reimportant right now. It’s a winThis past semester Cohen set ported it, but Amy Meerovich win situation.” up a Skype between Planet Forand Devin Portnoy helped with Cox talked about what it was ward and her class so that stuthe filming and tech aspects, and like to work on this hands-on dents could pitch story ideas to Shibi Murali helped me with the project. “I basically had to use website editors. “It’s a wonderediting. It was definitely a group every skill I had learned at Rutful opportunity,” she said. “Here effort, and I couldn’t have done gers for this story,” he explained. is this great additional prospect. it without them.” “I had to research to get all the You have to submit your project This is the first in what J/MS information I could on the glidanyway, so why not also walk hopes are many environmental ers’ previous missions, their caaway from a class with one more stories that will be placed on pabilities and just basic environcredential?” Planet Forward, noted Miller.
Photo supplied by Russell Cox
Russell Cox, J/MS 2011
Photo by Nat Clymer
J/MS Professor Steve Miller
Page 4, Alum-Knights, Summer 2011
A group of J/MS majors and high school students are interviewing the children who lost a parent in 9/11, and they are finding out a lot more than they ever imagined about the events of a decade ago.
Graphic composed of commercial clip art and is displayed for illustrative purposes only.
Students find a decade can bring a lot of change Junior journalism major Megan Schuster thought about bringing along a box of tissues to wipe away the tears – hers and those of her subjects – when she interviewed three teenaged sisters from suburban New Jersey about losing their father on Sept. 11, 2001. Schuster just completed a fascinating one-time J/MS course that dealt with reporting the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and interviewing the children of New Jerseyans who perished in the World Trade Center collapse. Interviews with the children will appear in newspapers statewide in early September as America observes the solemn anniversary. Called the 9/11 StudentJournalism Project, the wildly popular spring semester course was a joint endeavor of J/ MS and the New Jersey Press Foundation, the charitable arm of the New Jersey Press Association. The Press Foundation awarded the department a $50,000 grant to teach the course and simultaneously involve high
school student journalists from across the state. The high school students involved were all members of their student newspapers. This part of the program was organized by the Garden State Scholastic Press Association, the state’s association of high school student newspaper advisers. In the Rutgers course de veloped by professors Ron– ald Miskoff and Liz Fuerst, journalism majors learned to use narrative journalism techniques, the web, video, and social media to cover the emotional 9/11 anniversary story. When the course was announced, so many students tried to get in that the department had to actually cut off enrollment, according to Miskoff, a former reporter for the Home News Tribune. Since mostly all the students were in middle school when the towers went down, the professors had them read several books to familiarize them with the tragedy, including The Ground Truth by John Farmer, counsel to the 9/11 Commission. Other textbooks dealt with improving
Photo by Ron Miskoff
Dan Zegart, who co-authored the book about United Flight 93’s Jeremy Glick with Glick’s wife Lyz, described to the college students some of the difficult problems that narrative journalists face when they try to reconstruct the life of someone from secondary sources.
narrative story telling. Miskoff added that the 20 enrollees — including the editor-in-chief of The Targum and an exchange student from The Sorbonne in Paris -represented the best majors in the department in 2011. Even so, they all needed coaching to improve interviewing, writing, and video skills. “We realize that journalists may need years of seasoning before they feel ready to interview victims of disaster or great trauma, but we helped our students learn compassionate interviewing skills now,” said Miskoff. Locating interviewees proved tough Finding receptive children and surviving parents to interview was perhaps the most challenging component of the course, according to professor Fuerst, a former newspaper reporter and now book author and director of a public relations firm. “Newspapers gave us leads from reporting they had done in 2001 and 2002, but a lot of the families had moved,” said Fuerst. “Or the surviving parent had remarried and couldn’t be traced. We tried to talk to the reporters who had done those stories 10 years ago, but because of the retrenching of the news business, most had retired or been subject to buy-outs.” Complicating the picture was that many of the families had really shunned media attention since the tragedy and did not want their children to have to dredge up sad memories. So Fuerst followed leads from friends and colleagues while enterprising students combed their high school directories and developed a Facebook page where they invited 9/11 children on Facebook to get in touch. After sending out numerous feelers, Schuster gained an introduction via her mother to the Readington Township (Hunterdon County) family of the late Timothy John (T.J.) Hargrave, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Schuster spent a Sunday interviewing the three Hargrave daughters, Corinne, Casey, and Amy, who told her that even though their father’s death was very public, grief was kept private and that their mother raised them in the “most normal” fashion. “The prospect of interviewing the Hargrave family was very emotional,” recalled Schuster. “I
knew that it would be a challenge for me because this family is so close to home, but I also knew it would be rewarding. 9/11 victim had been child soap star As she probed, Schuster learned that the girls’ father had been a child actor on the soap opera “Guiding Light’ – in fact, when he left the show actor Kevin Bacon took his place. Hargrave also had a big role in
director of Voices of September 11th, an advocacy group for 9/11 families, to assist with coaching. She said her organization has a membership of 11,000 and growing. Voices has an office in New Brunswick, and she and her staff talked to students at length in February. “We have interviewed literally hundreds of families,” said Fetchet, who lost her own son Brad, in 9/11. He was 24.
Photograph courtesy of Jason Towlen, The Home News Tribune
Former Gov. Tom Kean, who chaired the 9/11 Commission, spoke to the students early in the semester. He warned them that terrorists are still working on another attack against the United States. the film “The Prince of Central Park.” Throughout the interview, during which Mrs. Hargrave graciously served lunch to put Schuster at ease, the three daughters didn’t hold back their emotions, according to Schuster. They told her that memories of their father’s outsize personality and his love of life kept the family going in the decade after his death. One of the daughters, a senior in high school, told Schuster that when teachers start to discuss 9/11 they usually try to send her out of the classroom because they think she will break down. “She can take it, though,” noted Schuster. The images of planes crashing into the tower where her father worked no longer bother her, Schuster reported. Schuster, like all students in the class, took training first in sensitive interviewing techniques before venturing out on assignment. “We felt strongly that this should be incorporated into the course,” noted Miskoff. He and Fuerst asked Mary Fetchet, founding
Based on those interviews, she urged students to ask “openended questions and let their subjects talk.” She told students they have to be ready to stop if moments in an interview get too emotional, and that there are topics some children may not want to touch on at all. She recommended that student interviewers work with the surviving parents before sitting down to interview the children. In preparation for the inter views, the Rutgers journalism majors also had tutorials in making videos, learned about narrative journalism, and went through an intensive session with writer Dan Zegart of Lambertville, NJ, about how to ask questions when reporting to elicit quotable answers. Zegart is the author with Lyz Glick of Your Father’s Voice, a book about Jeremy Glick, one of the “Let’s Roll” passengers aboard United Flight 93 that was hijacked by Muslim terrorists on 9/11 and later crashed in a field in Shanksville, PA. Your Father’s Voice was one of the Continued on page 5
Alum-Knights, Summer 2011, Page 5
9/11 Project helps students to re-examine events Continued from page 4 five textbooks for the course. Another important component of the course were the speakers, who appeared almost weekly. In February former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, who headed the 9/11 Commission, captivated the class as he spoke for more than two hours about the millions of documents he and his staff pored over to unearth the failings that led to the attacks. Some of the lessons under scored in the commission report have not been heeded, Kean told the class. A critical one is that rival intelligence agencies must do a better job of sharing vital information — an issue before the attacks — and avoid underestimating al-Qaida, whose operations have been disrupted as a result of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kean said he believes that terrorists will stage another attack on U.S. soil, perhaps nuclear or even cyber. He emphasized that intelligence services should focus more on staying a step ahead of terrorists. “Osama bin Laden has written that he would like to do it with nuclear weapons,” Kean said. “Bin Laden said that he thought if there were two nuclear explosions in the United States, we would get out of the Arabian Peninsula and stop supporting Israel.” The one regret Kean had about the commission was that it was not allowed to directly interview detainees who were confirmed by intelligence agencies as terrorists. Noted Fuerst, “Speakers like Gov. Kean provided a powerful resource for students who may
Photograph by Nick Romenanko
Ron Miskoff and Liz Fuerst teach the 9/11 Project course and oversee the interviews.
Photos by Ron Miskoff
Students in the 9/11 Student-Journalism Project look over old newspapers given out by Frank Scandale, below, the North Jersey Media Group editor who not only spoke about the coverage of 9/11 by The Record of Hackensack, but also his earlier coverage for a newspaper in Denver of the Columbine massacre. have been only 10 or 11 when the World Trade Center attacks happened.” Pulitzer finalist shows photographs One of the most exciting lec tures from a visual perspective was that given by photojournalist Tom Franklin of The Record, who took the iconic 9/11 photograph of three firemen raising the flag at Ground Zero. The Pulitzer Prize finalist showed other horrific images he had taken that day. Another lecture that students sat spellbound through was given by economics reporter Michael Mckee of Bloomberg News. He happened to be attending a meeting the morning of 9/11 at the Marriott World Trade Center and was the first reporter to see the planes hit the Twin Towers. Yet another speaker, Frank Scandale, editor and vicepresident of The Record, re counted his newspaper’s ex haustive reporting of the Twin Towers collapse, the staff’s chilling photographic coverage of the events, and the journalistic
Photograph by Ron Miskoff
Mike McKee, a veteran Bloomberg News reporter, happened to be at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He described his feelings at seeing the many tragedies of the day as well as the difficulties of reporting under historically poor working conditions.
with are thrilled that the NJPF sponsored this project,” she stated. Newspapers reporting the 10th anniversary of 9/11, she stressed, can’t produce warmed over coverage. “This is a really new per
spective,” she said. “Young adults interviewing other young adults and children.” What would a 9/11 course be without a field trip to Ground Zero? On the last day of the semester, Miskoff and Fuerst took the class by bus to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center at 120 Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan, where they did a one-hour walking tour of the towers site using audio guides and spent an hour in the Visitor Center’s five galleries. “Our students were so touched just by being there,” said Miskoff. “The audio guides enabled them to get oriented and see the positions of the North and South Towers, the police and fire command centers, and the proximity to the Hudson River.” Schuster said the 9/11 course lived up to its billing as one of the J/MS Department’s most unusual offerings ever. “I really enjoyed this course,” said Schuster, a double major in journalism and cultural anthropology. “It has been a great and challenging course, unlike any I have ever seen offered at Rutgers. I feel like I got a hands-on experience as a real journalist — finding a subject, documenting it, and going through a complete interview process. “The books we read were also very interesting and helped me understand the effectiveness of narrative journalism. I am very grateful I was selected to take part in this project and can’t wait to see our stories in the newspapers this September.”
Speakers include a wide array of people who had some intimate involvement in the 9/11 tragedy
portrayal of a community’s grief in the days, weeks, and months after the event. Scandale is one of a group of New Jersey print editors, reporters and web editors who have mentored the Rutgers and high school students during the writing of their profiles. These profiles will go up later this summer on a special J/ MS website, also in the public domain, from which newspaper editors will be able to download content. Jennifer Borg, vice president and general counsel of North Jersey Media Group and president of the NJPA, has been one of several newspaper executives and NJPA officials spearheading this project. She attended the organizing meeting and met most of the students enrolled as well as the high school participants. “I was most impressed with the caliber of the student journalists,” she noted. “Each of them expressed an understanding that the interviews with the children would be of a sensitive nature. And I was touched they were so interested in the subject matter of 9/11.” According to Borg, the progress of the course “has exceeded” her group’s expectations. “All NJPA members I have spoken
Once a week between January and April, the 20 students in the 9/11 Student-Journalism Project got to hear speakers associated with 9/11 in some way and ask probing questions. Former NJ Gov. Tom Kean, who headed the 9/11 Commission, had so much to talk about that he spoke to the class for more than two hours. He had promised only a 20-minute stay in the classroom. John Farmer, counsel to the 9/11 Commission and dean of Rutgers School of Law-Newark, was slated to speak but was injured in an automobile accident and had to postpone his appearance. Speaker: Gov. Tom Kean Chair, 9/11 Commission. He discussed the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission in 2003 and 2004 and whether any have been implemented. Speaker: Dan Zegart, author of Your Father’s Voice, which tells the story of Jeremy Glick, who was one of the “Let’s Roll” passengers from United Flight 93. Your Father’s Voice was one of five textbooks assigned in the course. Speaker: Mary Fetchet, director and founder, Voices of September 11th, one of the largest organizations representing 9/11 families. Speaker: Tom Franklin, The Record of Hackensack’s award-winning photographer, who spoke about his iconic photograph of 9/11 and other
photographs he took that day. Speaker: Mike McKee, Bloomberg News – He happened to be attending a meeting the morning of 9/11 at the Marriott World Trade Center and was the first reporter to see the planes hit the Twin Towers. McKee, scraped and bloodied, escaped with his life when the towers came down. Speaker: Frank Scandale, executive editor of The Record – He talked about dispatching reporters and photographers on 9/11 across the Hudson and running a frantic newsroom that day and the days afterward. Speaker: Anthony Gardner – He lost his brother on 9/11, and he spoke about how that loss turned into advocacy as he established a 9/11 education organization, September 11th Education Trust, which operates nationally. He showed a powerful video of images of the towers collapse and interviews with survivors. Speaker: Dr. Donna Gaffney – Therapist who works with 9/11 families and is with Columbia University’s International Trau ma Studies Program. Speakers: 9/11 family mem bers who run the Tribute WTC Visitor Center at 120 Liberty Street in downtown Manhattan. Students and professors came into Manhattan by bus, made an outdoor tour of WTC site using audio guides and then toured the Visitor Center’s five galleries.
Emmy winner got her start in J/MS program Page 6, Alum-Knights, Summer 2011
gative Unit for about five years, and I learned so much about telling a story,” she recalled. “Having a vision at the start of a piece and then seeing that vision all the way through to a finished product was an awesome experience for me,” she said. This job also gave her ability to travel, her first Folio Award from New York’s Fair Media Council and the outstanding achievement of winning an Emmy. The most memorable story of Posse’s career was Sept. 11, 2001. “I watched the buildings collapse from my desk, and I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing,” she recalled. Many Fox TV crews were sent out that day, and thankfully all survived. “It was the biggest story I have ever covered and also the saddest day in our nation’s history,” noted Posse. “Many of us slept at the station on air mattresses for about five days straight. We worked around the clock.” Another career highlight was being able to cover US Airways Flight 1549 that ditched in the Hudson River a year and a half ago – the “Miracle on the Hudson.” It is the most important story she has handled as My 9’s executive producer of special projects and investigations. “Our station won an Emmy for Best Newscast for our coverage of that incident,” she said. “The best part was that it was a happy ending.” While television careers can be
spontaneous and strenuous, Posse finds the greatest excitement when she is able to help others in need. “Many years ago, I was contacted by a woman who was having a terrible time cutting through red tape to bring her daughter into this country for heart surgery that would save her life,” she said. “I was able to help navigate her through all the hurdles.” Looking back on her success in the TV business, Posse recalls the J/MS program doing a wonderful job preparing her for the real world. “Professor Steve Miller was an instrumental part of getting me where I am today,” she said. “He gave me the flexibility I needed in order to work in television while still earning credits and completing my college education.” For aspiring journalists she “would advise students to learn as much as they can about all areas of a newsroom. The more knowledge students have, the better they will be at whatever position they feel best suits them.” Now happily married with two children, Posse hopes to continue working in television management. But no matter what her position may be, she said, “Television is exciting whether you are behind the scenes, in front of the cameras, or calling the shots. I feel blessed to get up every day and work in a field I find so rewarding.”
Mans,” said Saidel. “I could care less about races. Honestly I can’t stand racing. But we screened that hour and a half film, and I was on the edge of my seat to find Graphic supplied by HBO out what happens. Le Mans 24-hour automobile “What that taught me is that it race in France. doesn’t matter the subject you’re “Two producers cut an hour working in, it’s about the charand a half movie about Le acters you develop. If you can
make an audience care about characters, it doesn’t matter what the film is about — they’ll be into the characters. They’ll have to see what happens if they care about the characters.” Saidel plans to continue his work at NFL Films. “I’m happy where I am,” he went on. “I don’t want to stagnate, and there is still more I can learn, still more I can do.” Next season he expects to put together a highlights film for the Oakland Raiders, a team he’s worked with before. Another Top 10 show is also in the works.
By Jenna Bauer
Erica Posse, J/MS 1997, was working full-time in television broadcasting even before she started her senior year at Rutgers. Now executive producer of special projects and investigations at My 9 News, a Fox television station in Secaucus, Posse turned a J/MS internship at Telemundo Channel 47 in Teterboro into a job as night-time assignment editor as early as June 1996. Posse looks back on the challenge of working and completing school as a full-time student as daring, but somehow she was able to manage the two schedules. “Fifteen years later, it is still one of the best decisions I have ever made,” noted Posse. At Channel 9, where she’s directed special projects and investigations since 2006, Posse oversees other reporters and producers and selects what pieces the department will work on. Collaborative work with the Promotions Department is imperative as well. It is an exciting, fast-paced position. But of all the jobs she has had in TV, perhaps being assignment editor stands out as the most heart-pounding. At Telemundo and later as night assignment editor at Fox 5 News, she learned that the assignment desk is basically “the pulse of
Photo supplied by Erica Posse
Erica Posse winning her Emmy for investigative journalism with her Executive Producer Ray Parisi. the news room” and that good months she was offered a fullassignment editors always have time position. to be a step ahead. Her philosophy then was all “The desk is basically a chess about “getting your foot in the game,” noted Posse, “and you door and getting thrown into the have to figure out what your fire,” she acknowledged. With next move will be and always that to give her courage, Posse be a step ahead of your competithen went after an opening to tor.” field produce, where she interAfter Telemundo, she joined acted with the community and Fox 5 News in the late 1990s, chased breaking news. starting in a part-time posiA change of pace came some tion. “I had already graduated time later when Posse began to and thought, here is my foot in take on tasks in investigative the door,” she said. Within six work. “I worked in the Investi-
J/MS grad learns how ‘Hard Knocks’ lead to success Saidel joked when asked about his decision to major in journalThe gridiron bears gritty stories ism. “In high school I took a of elated emotional highs and journalism class, and I was good devastating lows. Even before at it.” the football season starts, tenAfter graduating, Saidel landed sion and drama seep through the a job at NJ 101.5, a radio station walls of the team locker room. It in Trenton. is the job of Jeremy Saidel, J/MS “What working at 101.5 did for 1999, to tell these stories. me is it taught me how to work,” Saidel, who resides in Cherry Saidel says. “For the morning Hill, is a segment producer at show I had to be at Trenton at 5 NFL Films. His production a.m. so I was getting up a quarcredit includes editing work on ter to four every morning. That’s the show “Hard Knocks,” which not so fun.” airs on HBO. He and his team The radio show was cancelled won a Sports Emmy last year for when 101.5 was sold. Saidel was one of the editions of the show, left without a job. Then in Au“Hard Knocks: Training Camp gust 2003, Saidel landed an inwith the Cincinnati Bengals.” ternship at NFL Films. The headThe show documents the quarters is in Mt. Laurel. Saidel struggles of an NFL team during says the discipline he learned for pre-season training camp. NFL the radio show helped him proFilms shoots about 100 hours duce high quality work during worth of footage for each hour his internship. of the show. Every After helping proweek Saidel goes duce more than 300 through the footage hours of content, and produces segSaidel was hired as a ments. Segments last freelancer, promoted anywhere from 30 to seasonal employseconds to four minee, then made a full utes. employee in January “We basically go 2005. through that footage “One thing that my the first couple of time at Films has days of the week,” Photo supplied by Jeremy Saidel done for me is make he explained. “We me a better decision Jeremy Saidel start cutting Thursmaker,” said Saidel. day afternoon, continue Friday, “What I have been working toSaturday, turn it in Sunday. And wards in my time there is makthen our coordinating producers ing a decision and sticking to turn our various segments into a it. If I make a call, whether it’s show.” right or wrong, if can defend my He also produces parts of “NFL actions or call, that’s okay.” Top 10,” a documentary program Saidel also credits NFL Films produced by NFL Films for airwith helping him become a beting on the NFL Network. The ter storyteller. program counts down 10 items “I work with some of the best directly related to the players, story tellers I’ve ever met,” says coaches, and events of the NaSaidel of his “Hard Knocks” cotional Football League. producers. He recalls watching “I’m not too great at math,” them once edit footage from the By Robert Adashev
Jockey agent ‘races’ to law school By Alyssa Roibal
“It was a Jerry McGuire moment,” said Drew Mollica, J/ MS 1981, about his career move from jockey agent to lawyer. After being accepted into law school in the’ 80s,’90s and again in 2005, Mollica finally stopped fighting it and started down the track to becoming a barrister. Now a new member of the New York and New Jersey Bars, at 52 Mollica could not be surer of his decision. “It took me two decades to make the commitment, but once I did, it was the easiest decision I ever made,” he said. “It was like falling in love all over again. Law had me at hello.” Mollica attended night classes at Hofstra University on Long Island, where he currently lives with his wife, Joy, RC 1981, and their two children. Now that he has hung out his shingle in Garden City, Long Island, at the Mollica Law Firm, he wants to combine his old career as a jockey agent with his new career and practice equine law. There are many legal battles
facing the racing industry today: ly Racing Form. “I did a lot of the shrinking number of tracks, sports writing and really wanted equine performance-enhancing to be Red Smith,” said Mollica. issues, licensing issues and even But he soon realized how Constitutional issues about the much more he could make in the taking of property and search racing industry. “It wasn’t ecoand seizure. nomically feasible at the Because of time to be a reporter,” said his years on Mollica. the track, MolHe became the younglica understands est licensed racing ofhorsemen have ficial in North America a multitude of and eventually became a problems. jockey agent because that “I understand Photo supplied by Drew Mollica is where the real money is Drew Mollica the issues peomade. ple have in the “I have been blessed to industry, and I think I can help have represented the best riders them,” said Mollica. in the world, including Hall of But so many other aspects of Fame riders Angel Cordero Jr., the law intrigue him, such as Jose Santos, Gary Stevens, Pat landlord tenant, breach of conDay,” noted Mollica. “I have tract, and divorce – uncontested, also represented Chris Antley, that is. “I want to do so many maybe the greatest rider to have things with my law degree it ever sat on a horse.” is hard to put into words,” said Today, as he works on law Mollica. “I want to advocate for briefs and appears in court, he those who have no voice.” credits J/MS and his teaching Mollica was introduced to racmentor, retired J/MS professor ing at a young age growing up Roger Cohen, with his success, in Lodi. After graduating from J/ saying the experience formed MS, Mollica put his journalism the foundation for his professkills to use writing for the Dai sional life.
Alum-Knights, Summer 2011, Page 7
Alumna triumphs over media career obstacles By Jack Murtha
There have been a lot of career and life ups and downs for Cindy Y. Rodriguez, J/ MS 2006. She got laid off from her job at American Express Publishing in 2009 and then fell off of a horse and found herself bedridden for four months. But she got out of bed and rebuilt her career. “My natural reaction was to feel bad for myself, but talking to my family and knowing they supported me made all the difference,” said Rodriguez, 27. “They didn’t see it as a setback — they saw it as an opportunity to reinvent myself.” Now Rodriguez works for the magazine, Philadelphia, as a fact-checker who gets to write, too. “They did tell me, from the beginning, I was overqualified,” Rodriguez said. “The position I wanted had already been taken.” Rodriguez moved to Philadelphia last September to live with her boyfriend. She thought it would be easier to find a job in Philadelphia than in New York City. “I wanted a job the minute I moved to Philly,” Rodriguez said. But the market held few openings. When the fact-checker position at Philadelphia, an award-winning regional
Photo supplied by Cindy Rodriguez
Backpacking through the UK, Cindy Y. Rodriguez stops in London. magazine, came up, she grabbed for it. “I research, but I also luckily get to write,” reported Rodriguez. In fact, when the editors learned of her experience in the media industry, she got to produce a sidebar for the first issue she worked on. “I think they were kind of testing me out in the first issue,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of my work is in the fitness issue that came out in February.” Rodriguez reported on marathons, gym prices and fitness instructors, she said. She
even had to take Zumba exercise classes to find the best instructor in Philadelphia! “Philadelphia paid me to go out and take the classes,” Rodriguez noted. “There were a lot of bad instructors. I had to take a lot of classes to prove who was the best one.” Rodriguez loves working for Philadelphia, and she hopes to advance, Rodriguez said. Her job allows her to work with many editors and take on several roles, she said. But Rodriguez’s dream is to become a
multimedia producer for the New York Times or PBS, she said. “Sometimes, I’m like ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I doing research on fitness instructors,’” Rodriguez said. “Because it gets me clips, and I’m learning.” Soon after she left J/MS, she forced herself to write and produce online content because the struggling economy pushed her to learn how to get the job done. “It had to educate myself in many different forms of media, such as HTML, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Final Cut, InDesign, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets),” Rodriguez said. “I did it so that I could turn myself into this ‘oneman-band’ that every journalist was now expected to be.” And now Rodriguez knows she may have to put these skills to use in another newsroom, she said. “If there isn’t room for me at Philly Mag, then I know I will be job hunting again,” Rodriguez said. Regardless if she stays with the magazine, Rodriguez stressed she will always love journalism. She said every day provides the opportunity to learn about the world and herself. “Even with the changes in the industry with blogs and Tweets, there will always be the skill of good story telling needed and the responsibility to tell the truth.”
Grad gives back by teaching hearing-impaired children By Liz Swern All her life Jen Samelson, J/ MS 2004, struggled with hardof-hearing issues but found great success learning journalism at Rutgers and moving on to an exciting career in sports and luxury brand public relations. But now she has turned that inspiration into action by taking a job teaching sixth grade at PS 347, the American Sign Language and English school in New York City. The elementary school is bilingual, with kids who are deaf — or not. Because she overcame so much, she tries to be a role model for her students. “I just want those kids to know there are people just like them,” emphasized Samelson, a resident of Hoboken. “They need to know that things can be different for them, that they can have a successful life.” Four years after she left J/MS, Samelson went to the Teachers
College of Columbia University, where she graduated with a master’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in deaf education. While student teaching at PS 347, Samelson used critical skills she learned in public relations to appeal to her young students. “I decided to write the children a storybook to help them understand why I wasn’t with them the entire school year, why the teacher was leaving,” she said. “That’s a skill I learned from my professors: how can you craft an angle to appeal to any audience.” After graduate school, Sam elson was hired full-time at PS 347, giving her the chance to see the children every day again. She enjoys being a good example for her students. The classrooms are small, with each class having two teachers—one speaks English, the other signs. “I want the kids to have
Volume 15, No. 2 • Summer 2011 Alum-Knights is published by The Department of Journalism and Media Studies at The School of Communication and Information Rutgers University, 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (848) 932-7500 ext. 8150 • email@example.com Publisher.......................................................... John Pavlik, Chair Editor.......................................................... Ron Miskoff, Faculty Editor...............................................................Liz Fuerst, Faculty Robert Adashev Pooja Anand Jenna Bauer Samantha Behrooj Roxanne Belloni Carina Cruz Tiffany Dodson Jasmine Kelley Jack Murtha Cassiopeia Neely
Editorial Staff Jennifer Ortiz Meagan Plichta Lindsay Richardson Leah Rodriguez Alyssa Roibal Maricar M. Santos Megan Schuster Joseph Schulhoff Liz Swern Patryk Znorkowski
Media Publishing and Design (04:567:345) Students, Spring 2011 Alum-Knights is printed at RFM Printing in Wall, NJ Copyright 2011 Department of J/MS
someone they can talk to,” she said, “someone who is welleducated and responsible.” Samelson more than fits that picture. While at J/ MS, Samelson’s big passion was fashion, and she chose her internships accordingly, including one at the prestigious Women’s Wear Daily. “I had a big interest in fashion, so I was interning at different magazines,” she recalled. “I tried to get a lot of experience. All of the experiences were passions of mine.” Samelson kept one passion in mind when she switched into public relations: skiing. “I love skiing,” she said. In fact, Samelson was on the Rutgers University Ski Team as well as the Deaf National ski team. She competed in the Deaflympics in Sundsvall, Sweden, in 2003. “We trained with all these deaf skiers around the world, and they all have their own sign languages.” Samelson said. “You come to appreciate all the differences, but really we’re so alike.” Samelson took a PR position at Mountain Creek Ski Resort in Vernon. She wrote press releases on local athletes who came to the mountain. “I wanted to try putting my skills into the industry,” she noted. “I also wanted to use the skills in writing I learned at
Photo supplied by Jen Samelson
At her Columbia grad school commencement, Jen Samelson (second from right) celebrates with her friends. Rutgers for PR.” Later she spent two years at Outhouse PR, a luxury-branding agency located in New York. “All of these different high-end brands would hire us, and we’d put together events for them and do all of their press,” she said. “We’d get them in magazines, and get them on TV.” At Outhouse PR, Samelson worked with luxury companies like Tiffany & Co.’s Iridesse pearl jewelry chain, and the watch retailer Tourneau. Now, as she teaches at PS 347, Samelson also runs her personal assistant company, freeyourdaypa.com. She runs errands and plans parties for
clients after school, on the weekends, and in the summer. “After school, I get their emails, and they tell me what they need me to pick up, or buy or look for, or what kind of furniture they need,” she said. “They’re so busy, they couldn’t do the shopping themselves.” Teaching keeps her satisfied, but Samelson dreams of moving on to other ventures. “If I could figure out a way to combine all this stuff, that would be amazing,” Samelson said. “But right now I’m focusing on my teaching and on the kids who really need a positive role model. All the other stuff is just icing on the cake.”
Livingston Legacy Award goes to J/MS professor emeritus Jerome Aumente, J/MS professor emeritus, in May received the Legacy Award from the Livingston College Alumni Association, which recognizes Livingston College faculty and staff who played a key role in the establishment and growth of the college and its mission. Aumente is the former chair of the Department of Journalism and Urban Communications at Livingston, which was formed in the 1970s after Rutgers College changed the focus of its journalism department to human communication. “Livingston College nourished our multimedia efforts,
and grants from the state humanities and arts councils let us experiment with portable video, photography, and audio to backstop solid writing and research,” said Aumente, who once worked as a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. “We built a citizen media center in a nearby impoverished community; developed environ mental documentation curric ulum; and aided municipalities in writing better cable television ordinances.” When the university created the School of Communication and Information in the 1980s, the Journalism Department
moved back over the river from Livingston, and professors such as Aumente came with it. Last spring Aumente organized a successful conference that focused on the pioneering nature of the Livingston journalism program and featured panels of journalists and educators who had graduated from the program. Aumente is the founding director of the Journalism Research Institute at Rutgers and still travels internationally to train journalists. While he was director, he ran programs to train journalists in Poland, Africa and Latin America.
Page 8, Alum-Knights, Summer 2011
Class of ’54 alumni recall memories at Rutgers Olson gave investing for his firm a try — and succeeded
Photo supplied by Al Freimark
Al Freimark was in Air Force flight school for three years.
Freimark spent years in marketing Continued from page 1 me,” Freimark said. In order to stay in college, as many others did in those times, Freimark joined Air Force ROTC. After graduation, he attended Air Force flight school for three years and became a pilot. But flying was not for him. “I considered a career in advertising because my communication skills were good,” he said. A sales position at Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, New York, came up in 1957, and he took it. Starting as a sales representative, he worked his way up the marketing ladder and eventually became a regional director. He said he witnessed the transition of silver halide imaging into digital. “When I came to Eastman Kodak, I didn’t even hear of digital imaging,” he stated. After 31 years with “I live Eastman Kodak and res- life.” idencies in Minnesota, Texas, and New York, he relocated to North Carolina as a senior vice president of marketing at a company, Qualex, doing a joint venture with Kodak. When he retired from Qualex, he decided to remain in North Carolina and moved from Durham to the Wilmington area. Freimark described the view from his home office. Looking over a dock, he can see his boat just beyond his backyard. It is a leisurely life for a retiree, but Freimark is hardly retired. Freimark was asked to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1996. He agreed. “I became restless with how the government was working,” he recalled. “I live quite conservatively in life, and my political ideologies are the same: conservative.” As a Republican in a historically Democratic but conservative state, Freimark believed he
had a lot to bring to the table. “I thought I would have made a good representative,” he said. He lost by a small margin. Two years later he was back in the same political arena and lost again – also by a small margin. That, Freimark, said, was where his political ambitions ended. However, he became involved in local environmental and civic affairs and assumed the presidency of Pender Watch, an environmental watchdog organization in Pender County. A keen observer of local and state political developments, Freimark sits on a government transportation advisory board. He frequently keeps in touch with Lloyd Griffiths (see story on this page). Both Freimark and Russell Olson (see other story on this page) both ended up working for Kodak, and their paths crossed, he said. After relocating
quite conservatively in —Al Freimark to the coast of North Carolina he learned that his old Rutgers football coach, Bob Ochs, lived only five minutes from him and he and Ochs remain great friends. Another Rutgers person is very close to Freimark — his wife Cecelia “Cy” Sondey. They met freshman year when she went to New Jersey College for Women, which eventually became Douglass College. They got married a year out of college in 1955. They have a son and daughter and several grandchildren. At his age, Freimark said it hurts to lose the friends he grew up with. But he also said, “Life
Continued from page 1 an alumnus who was once sports editor of The Daily Targum and president of Theta Chi fraternity. “During high school and one summer during college I worked on the editorial staff of The Ber gen Evening Record (now The Record) in Hackensack, NJ,” said Olson. Some of his fondest Rutgers memories involve his work – and play — with The Targum. Olson still has the photographs of a hotly contested football matchup between The Targum staff and the staff of Columbia University’s newspaper, The Daily Spectator. It was a proud win for the writing Scarlet Knights, 15-12. After graduating he spent the years 1954 to 1956 as a public information officer in the Air Force and then joined Eastman Kodak’s public relations staff. He was responsible for drafting the annual report and meeting with investment analysts. In 1969, Olson decided to move his family to Boston and pursue a graduate business degree. “I had been with Kodak for 15 years, and every time a new problem came up, my instinctive response was, ‘How have we always done it?’ ” said Olson, “which I recognized as the wrong question to ask. I decided to broaden my experience and attended the Harvard Business School for two years.”
Photo supplied by Russell Olson
Russell Olson Olson’s change from public relations to business is detailed in his book, The School of Hard Knocks. In it he writes, “I joined the treasurer’s staff in June of 1971. I had been offered a promotion in Kodak’s public relations department but, in order to break my stereotype, I asked what else might be available. I was told of a position on the treasurer’s staff, which really threw me, as I felt I knew nothing about stocks and bonds outside of an introductory course in investing. I decided to give it a try.” He rose to director of Pension Investments Worldwide and spent time in Washington, DC, in the early 1970s as a member of the Price Commission formed by the Nixon Administration. Institutional Investor magazine named him one of America’s
Lloyd and Mary Ann Griffiths
nine best pension officers. After working for the company for more than 40 years, Olson retired in 2000. But he didn’t turn in his credentials. He started an independent institutional investment consultancy in Rochester, where he lives. The business is a kind of extension of his investment activities at Kodak. He now works for endowment funds and foundations as well as pension funds such as DuPont’s. “Some of my consulting has been pro bono work with endowment funds in Rochester,” noted Olson. “Outside of Rochester, I have had mostly one-off assignments, except for two years when I was consulting with the Abu Dhabi Investment Council,” said Olson. Aside from investment consulting, Olson also volunteers quite a bit for various non-profit organizations. He has managed small endowment funds for his church and an organization called Children Awaiting Parents, which tries to find adoptive parents for hard-to-adopt children. Olson has been married for 53 years. He and his wife have three children and five grandchildren. He travels a lot – he recently toured Brazilian forests in his advisory role for the Global Timberland Investment Fund. And he plays tennis two to four times a week. “I’m 78,” Olson noted, “and I have no interest in retiring.”
Photo supplied by Lloyd P.Griffths
1954 alumnus flew the skies for Eastern Airlines By Megan Schuster
According to Lloyd P. Griffiths, J/MS 1954, he came to Rutgers to study journalism, learn about the advertising business, and make it his career. Then how did he end up becoming a director and chief pilot for the Northern Region of Eastern Airlines with six crew bases and more than 1,700 pilots working for him? “Flying was such a lure for me,” said Griffiths, who is now retired and lives in Ponce Inlet, Florida. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t look back on his Rutgers journalism training with great fondness. “My father was in the advertising business,” recalled Griffiths, who came to Rutgers on a scholarship to play 150-pound football. Naturally, the young Griffiths majored in advertising. “Advertising was in my blood,” he said. “There were deals to be
made and sales to be handled,” he said. “There was real action in advertising.” Throughout his journalism years he worked for a local newspaper selling advertising. But he was also in Air Force ROTC and owed the government a three-year commitment after graduation. “Once I flew I liked it enormously,” said Griffiths. He and his family lived in Centerport, Long Island, as he rose through the pilot ranks. “I taught incoming pilots by example,” Griffiths said. One of his most satisfying accomplishments was negotiating for Eastern management and getting employees to contribute 3.5 percent wage givebacks at a time when Eastern was having financial difficulties. In 1988, he retired from Eastern after 30 years and had a second career as an executive vice president of T.O. Richardson
Corp. Inc., an investment firm in Farmington, CT. He has been married for 56 years to Mary Ann Griffiths – they met at Rutgers when she was attending New Jersey College for Women, later known as Douglass College. They have two children, who now have children of their own. Now leading a relaxing life, the couple spends time traveling and visiting their summer house in northern Pennsylvania. “I had a wonderful life, have seen the world and have done many wonderful things,” Griffiths said. “In my episodes as a pilot, I experienced beauty and grandeur.” His journalism roots are never far away. He writes for a retired pilots magazine. His last article was about military charter flights on their way to Greenland. “Writing is simple,” he said. “It stuck with me all these years.”
Alum-Knights, Summer 2011, Page 9
2001 grad finds fascination in military column Continued from page 1 and women volunteer to keep us safe.” The column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, which represents more than 200 talented writers and cartoonists. Sileo grew the column from a blog he started in 2009. In the column he tells moving stories of military lives lost and lives that go on. Recently posts have been about two friends from the Naval Academy, one who died in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. Now they’ve been buried side by side at Arlington. Or one about the mother from Birmingham, AL, who lost her son in Afghanistan and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to memorialize a climb he and his brother once made there. Sileo, who lives in Atlanta, savors every minute of writing his column. “The paychecks are smaller, but it is the first time I feel fully able to use my skills as a journalist,” Sileo stated. “Most important, receiving an e-mail or phone call from the family member of a fallen hero, thanking me for writing about their son, daughter, husband or wife, means more to me than any paycheck I ever cashed.” Sileo comes from a long line of Rutgers graduates and U.S. soldiers. His paternal grandfather, a Rutgers graduate, served during World War II in Europe. His maternal grandfather also served in WWII, but on the Pacific warfront. “Growing up hearing their stories, coupled with the noncombat Desert Storm reserve call-up for my father, also a Rutgers graduate, always gave me a strong interest in our military,” Sileo recalled. As an undergrad Sileo admits
that he was unsure about a career. At J/MS he landed his first internship at NBC 4 in Washington for “The George Michael Sports Machine.” Sileo credits this internship with getting him excited about journalism and television. “I will always be grateful to George Michael, longtime anchor and sports legend in the D.C. area, for giving me such an incredible opportunity,” said Sileo. “ I owe a lot of my success to him.” This internship also opened up the doors for his two other internships at NBC Sports’ Olympic unit in New York. Yet it wasn’t until after Sileo graduated that his interest in military writing really began to take root. He was looking for a job in northern Virginia when the Sept. 11 attacks changed everything. “After 9/11,” he recalled, “I was in awe of how our volunteer soldiers stepped up to protect America in its time of crisis.” He moved to Columbus, GA, to start his television career at a small TV station close to Fort Benning, a major Army post. There he learned about the news business from the ground up and saw Fort Benning transition into a wartime setting as the conflict in Afghanistan erupted. After leaving Columbus, Sileo produced the 5:30 p.m. evening newscast at WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, SC. “The newscast was focused on national and international news,” Sileo said. “That gave me the opportunity to write extensively about Afghanistan and eventually Iraq, as that conflict began in 2003.” Sileo moved on to CNN, where he was a copy editor for
CNN.com Live, at the time a revolutionary 24/7 broadband news network and one of the first of its kind. For four and a half years, Sileo sharpened his journalistic skills, editing scripts, graphics and videos, as well as doing his own writing for packages for the network. In 2009 he decided to launch a military blog, and the idea took off right away. Soon after he received a journalism fellowship from the Phillips Foundation in Washington, DC, to develop his military writing. “After there was some good feedback about my blog and because of the Phillips Foundation Fellowship, which focused on the same topic, I decided to send some sample work to Creators Syndicate,” Sileo reported. “I was surprised and humbled by its willingness to showcase my writing on a national platform.” In March, Sileo joined the United Service Organization (USO) as the organization’s first director of story development. “I am extremely grateful and excited to join what I believe is the nation’s finest military charity,” Sileo said. He hopes to
Tom Sileo’s blog is filled with photos and stories of military matters. Access it at www.unknownsoldiersblog.com. travel with USO to Afghanistan and Iraq in the near future.
Sileo is married and has a newborn daughter.
Rutgers Journalism Resources Institute (JRI) for years has been a bridge between the campus and the media, in New Jersey, nationally, and internationally. Now that the newsroom and media landscape have shifted dramatically, the School of Communication and Information has changed the name of JRI to Journalism Research Institute to echo a change in our strategic vision and a new emphasis on media research.
J/MS Department Chair John Pavlik announced the name change. “As digital technology and media economics have shifted, we are looking at ways that a research-based institute can provide intelligence to better serve the industry and our students in the 21st century,” Pavlik noted. He said changing to a more research-based institution will mean new opportunities to pursue grants and other funding.
“These opportunities will support the institute and our students in innovative research-based and professional initiatives.” He said there will be more prestige for the institute and for Rutgers. “If having research in the title increases our prestige, that is an important added benefit,” said Pavlik, “but we are most interested in increasing our impact and serving the industry, academia and our students most effectively.”
from around to country to participate. “Most of the articles I wrote for the campus papers were about artsy topics like music and movies.” Needleman said, “I didn’t develop a taste for business news or news in general until after I started working professionally.” Needleman’s first paid pub lication was a result of professor Barbara Reed’s magazine writing class. “It forced me to pitch articles to real editors,” she said. The published article was about one of Needleman’s favorite hobbies: crossword puzzles. “The piece was about the history of crossword puzzles, and it ran in Senior, a magazine for senior citizens,” she recalled. “My parents framed a copy of the check, and I keep it on my desk at home.” Needleman’s first jobs were for the Princeton Packet and the Home News Tribune. Working in reporting, editing and page layout exposed Needleman to the “nuts and bolts of how newspapers function,” she said. “I learned about deadlines, newsworthiness, visual imagery, ethical issues, readers’ values, advertising and more.” Needleman joined Dow Jones in 2001 after responding to an online employment ad. “I got it the old-fashioned way,”
“About a year ago, I switched beats and started writing for the small-business section,” she said. The transition from career to small-business writing was a natural one for Needleman. “Both involve a mix of serviceoriented feature writing and news,” she said. Needleman was promoted to assistant editor of the Journal’s small-business section in late 2010. In the rapidly evolving world of journalism, it comes as no surprise that Needleman has come across some small entrepreneurs who were once journalists. “Most started busi nesses in related areas like copywriting and PR,” Sarah Needleman is a frequent Needleman said. user of Twitter on the job. Needleman is disheartened by the shrinking world of Needleman said. “I made sure to journalism, but she takes include my best business-writing “some comfort in knowing that samples in my application.” journalists can clearly apply She began working as an their skills to other career fields associate editor for several with great success.” online editions of The Wall Street Needleman is pleased with Journal out of the company’s both her beat at The Wall Street temporary South Brunswick Journal and with her career. office. “It was just after Sept. “Entrepreneurs are a diverse, 11,” she noted, “and all of the creative and hard-working group, paper’s New York reporters were so that keeps things interesting,” working out of this office.” she said. “I don’t plan on ever In 2008, Needleman transferred changing careers, at least not by to the New York office, where choice. I see myself in this field she focused on writing about and at the Wall Street Journal for careers. the rest of my life.”
JRI: Same initials, but now with a wider focus
Needleman’s point is to help small-business owners By Meagan Plichta
Wall Street Journal smallbusiness section assistant editor Sarah E. Needleman, J/MS 1997, is not merely a journalist – she’s a storyteller. “It’s about the words you choose and how you go about expressing them,” said Needleman, who is 35. Even though the Jersey City resident says she has never “been good at speaking off the cuff, especially when under pressure,” Needleman finds that stress has little effect on her writing. “When I can sit down with pen and paper or computer and keyboard, I am usually able to express myself clearly and in a way that’s captivating for the reader, even on a tight deadline,” she said. She currently writes two columns, The Accidental Entrepreneur and Small-Bus iness Boss. “The Accidental Entrepreneur is about starting a business on a shoestring budget, and SmallBusiness Boss is about managing employees while running a small business,” Needleman explained. She also contributes to two other WSJ columns: Enterprise, a general small-business column, and Money Hunt, which covers funding for small businesses. Due to her numerous respon
Photo supplied by Sarah Needleman
sibilities, Needleman knows she has to stay organized. “I’ve amassed a pretty en compassing source file over the years,” she said. “And I’ve formed strong relationships with the folks in it, so that helps a great deal.” When Needleman graduated from J/MS, her goal was to become a features writer for the arts section of a newspaper. As an undergraduate, Needleman wrote for both The Medium and for The Rutgers Review, fo cusing on feature and opinion writing. She also took time to explore the local music scene, organizing shows for local artists and inviting other performers
Page 10, Alum-Knights, Summer 2011
Unconventional cookbook dishes out celebrity chef stories By Leah Rodriguez
Restaurant critic Teresa Politano, also a J/MS professor, used to come home from restaurants with fascinating stories about chefs she thought people should know about: the chef who wanted to be a rock star and once played on stage with rocker Todd Rundgren, or the chef who was kissed by Fidel Castro, came to the United States and just cooked at the White House. Rivergate Books of Rutgers University Press just published Celebrity Chefs of New Jersey about them. “It’s a look into the hardest job in the world,” said Politano, who accompanies her chef profiles with recipes and anecdotes. “Deciding who was truly a celebrity chef, who was really that top tier in New Jersey, was the hardest part of the book,” said Politano, who was with the Asbury Park Press and the Home News Tribune and currently contributes restaurant reviews for The Star Ledger and Inside New Jersey magazine. After doing a lot of reporting, which included asking other chefs, Politano finally designated who she felt deserved the title. “There are other chefs in the state who are great chefs, so this isn’t supposed to be the end all and be all of great chefs,” Politano said. Politano couldn’t decide on a favorite restaurant included
in the book, but finds chef David Drake’s story the most compelling. Drake blew up his hand in a firework explosion at 14 years old. Politano, the first from the media to ask Drake about his hand, found out that he kept his hand bandaged for three years after the accident because he didn’t want to admit it was gone. “It was the first place he felt normal because everyone in a restaurant in the middle of the night is a misfit, and he felt like he belonged,” Politano said of Drake’s dishwashing start at 17. “He had no culinary back– ground whatsoever. His mother was the kind of person who’d boil meat to death and serve Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks.” Drake moved on to become a chef, partly for his love of the restaurant life but also a way for him to prove he could still use his one hand. Drake does very intricate things with food, explained Politano, like stuffing snails with quail, then sewing them back together. Politano chose to focus on New Jersey’s restaurant scene, not only because she lives there but because she realized many chefs could compete with those in New York City. “Wow, we have come to this level,” Politano said. “They’re [chefs] misfits,” Politano said, “Absolute misfits, that’s what I learned. They don’t fit into a 9 to 5 pinstripe world. Some are meticulous and organized, some are wild, and artistic, some are crazy and screaming, some of them are
What a foodie eats for dinner
Restaurant reviewer and J/MS professor Teresa Politano has always been a foodie “in one weird way or another,” she confesses. Politano grew up around a great-grandmother who baked amazing bread, had a garden and canned her own vegetables. “I always wished I could have Campbell’s Soup and Jell-O like all the other kids, but now I realize I was really lucky to have that legacy,” she said. “I always knew what good food was like,” said Politano, who writes about chefs but has never aspired to be a chef herself. While reviewing restaurants calls for partridge and fois gras for lunch, Mexican for dinner and lamb with mushrooms and soup at a trendy restaurant like Rats in Hamilton Township, she eats really simple food at home. Yogurt and granola are her favorites. Petite Politano ran the New York Marathon in 2009 and doesn’t worry about nutrition when eating out. “I just need to make sure I don’t pack on pounds because I’m going out to eat,” she stated. Politano eats hardly any processed food. Pointing to a bag of M&Ms clutched by her young son, she said, “This tastes flat like cardboard. I’m better off eating butter, cheese and chocolate at a restaurant.”
The cover of Teresa Politano’s new book. very patient, but the one thing you’re only as good as your last that’s common is they’re very meal,” Politano said. passionate.” Teaching Writing for Print Since writing the book Politano Media since 1999, Politano left said, “I have a lot more respect full-time newspaper work to for chefs,” considering the raise her family and started doing profit margin is especially thin freelance restaurant reviews. since the recession. According “I’m a writer first, a journalist to Politano, chefs not only with a love of food,” she said. have to be great cooks but Politano would love to teach a tremendously business savvy food writing course at Rutgers. because restaurants fail more She believes many food stories than any other business. Some still need to be written: the U.S. restaurants featured in the book obesity story, for example. closed down. “The food story if done properly “Sixteen hours a day, and should be an A-1 story because
we all eat, and it should matter to all of us,” Politano said. “But we don’t treat it that way, we don’t treat it as an investigative story, we don’t talk about the FDA and how food gets to our table and some of the bad practices that may be going on in the food industry. We don’t write it as a business story, the economic development, etc. We don’t write it as a trend story even for health benefits. We just write it as Thanksgiving: here’s how to make a turkey,” Politano said.
News in Bridgewater. She received a harsh reprimand from her editor, she recalled, for breaking the first rule followed by journalists. He instructed her “that one never writes a news story in first person.” Said Fisher, “It’s the same lesson I find I have to give to my own students over and over.”
Wasn’t There about Tania Head, a former president of a group for survivors of the World Trade Center 9/11 attacks, whom journalists discovered to be an imposter. “It’s an unbelievable story,” Fisher said. Simon and Schuster just bought it. Soon on Kindles everywhere.
Robin Gaby Fisher’s new book reveals 60-year-old secret
By Patryk Znorkowski
n the 1950s, teenagers Michael O’McCarthy and Robert Straley were labeled incorrigible and ordered to attend the Florida School for Boys in Marianna. The groomed campus, however, disguised a hellish existence. Guards and administrators were the young students’ jailers and tormentors. The boys allegedly bore witness to assault, rape, and possibly even murder. Now a J/MS part-time pro fessor, Robin Gaby Fisher, has written a book about the abuses at the School for Boys. The Boys of the Dark: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South was published last fall by St. Martin’s Press. Fisher worked with O’McCarthy and Straley and other former students to break a silence of almost 60 years. “It was a lot of reporting, but I think we turned out a good story, and hopefully, everyone will read it so that such atrocities don’t happen again,” said Fisher, who just started at J/MS after a career reporting for the Star-Ledger. It was at the Ledger where she covered the story of Seton Hall University undergraduates Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llano, who on the morning of Jan. 19, 2000, were severely burned after arsonists set fire to a couch in a student lounge. In September 2000, the Star-Ledger newsroom recorded approximately 3,000 phone calls in response to her inspiring seven-part series. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001. The series reached the attention of an editor from Little Brown and Company. The editor approached Fisher about writing a book. “I asked Shawn and
She teaches News Reporting and Writing and lectures also at Rutgers-Newark. “What I love about teaching is being able to encourage students that they can dream big and accomplish what they want to do,” she said. Fisher is currently working on a book called The Woman Who
Davis delves into family history of mental illness By Maricar Santos
Photo supplied by Robin Gaby Fisher
Robin Gaby Fisher
Alvaro about it, and they wanted to do it, so we did,” she said. Out of all her accomplishments, Fisher is most proud of that book, After the Fire. “It was a gift of a lifetime,” she said. After the book’s publication in 2008, it reached the New York Times best seller list within the first week. Her interest in journalism began with a curiosity about people. “I’m not sure why I’m so curious,” she said. “I have always wanted to know everything about everyone. I’ve wanted to be journalist for as long as I remember.” While growing up in Denville, Fisher recalls rewriting stories from the Daily News and the New York Times for her own enjoyment. Fisher began her career as news clerk after starting in the advertising field. Working in a newsroom and typing community calendar items, Fisher gained valuable experience about story telling. “It really paid off for me.” Fisher wrote her first news story in 1982 for The Courier-
Long aware of strains of mental illness in his family, J/ MS professor Tom Davis, an alumnus from 1989, found himself visiting gravesites, libraries, and repositories of cemetery records for his new book, A Legacy of Madness: Recovering My Family from Generations of Mental Illness. “I discovered that several generations, going back to the Civil War, dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder that led some to their self destruction,” Davis reported. The book will be published by Hazelden Press Sept. 1. Davis’s memoir is inspired by his experience with his late mother. “I’ve dealt with my mother being housed in psychiatric hospitals over the last years of her life, going back to the 1990s,” he said. “I wanted to chronicle the care she received and what we did to help her recovery.” At Columbia Graduate School of Journalism a few years ago, Davis, a father of three from Point Pleasant, started writing about the extent of mental illness in his family. What started as an idea for his graduate school thesis eventually became the essence of his first book. With the help of his family and
Davis. “There are rewrites upon rewrites that are asked for— before you even get a publisher to agree,” he said. “It’s extremely hard to even find an agent, and I struggled for a long time.” With his busy schedule, it was Photo supplied by Tom Davis hard to find the J/MS professor Tom Davis (right) shares a time to write and moment with NBC anchor Brian Williams. stay focused. A Columbia journalism professor former editor of Sam Friedman, Davis was able The Daily Targum while he was to trace the history of mental at J/MS, Davis teaches News illness in his family, starting with Reporting and Writing and his mother and going backward. Media Ethics at his alma mater. Davis said his family provided In the middle of writing the him with many leads that led to book, he left The Record and some interesting revelations in went to work as the Jersey the book. Shore regional editor of Patch, Writing about mental health the hyperlocal news site where was familiar territory to Davis, he is responsible for launching who wrote for The Record of various Patch editions. Hackensack for 10 years covNow the book is finally in ering transportation, the Stateproduction, and he can look house, and the city of Hackenback, perhaps without emotion, sack before becoming a mental at his experience caring for his health columnist. mother, which prompted the Davis earned a Rosalynn memoir in the first place. Carter Mental Health Journalism He has no regrets. “It was a Fellowship in 2004 and 2005. difficult ride, but one that taught The process of writing a book me a lot about what is needed to is very intense compared to the care for and love someone who reporting he usually does, noted is troubled,” Davis said.
Alum-Knights, Summer 2011, Page 11
Patch.com is expanding as J/MS grads benefit Continued from page 1 Davis describes his transition to Patch as a “coming-home experience” since he was born in Point Pleasant. Davis’s roots have helped him understand the history of the region and identify ways to cover it. “I bring the experience of a local person as well as that of an experienced professional,” said Davis, who also works from home. As regional editor, Davis has sought out credible journalists and top news producers and writers. According to Davis, Patch has brought on a staff that is accustomed to the demanding and changing 24/7 media landscape. Site users have been finding out about Patch by word of mouth and by Google searches, he went on. What draws people to Patch? Davis believes it is the focus on the singular community. Every day Davis uses important lessons from his J/MS years and passes them along to the Patch editors he supervises. He learned that, in reporting, it is critical to be “self-disciplined, understand the importance of peeling back layers beneath the surface, and never take no for an answer.” Another of the young alumni he supervises is Catherine Galioto, J/MS 2007, the local editor for the Toms River Patch. When dealing with time-sensitive stories, Galioto pointed out there are advantages of working in a digital platform. For instance you can post an initial breaking news story and then as the story unfolds “you can go back to the story and link to updates.” Galioto also said that the access to laptops and smart-phones all help in reporting breaking news at Patch. When she was at J/MS, Galioto wrote for The Daily Targum and credits that publication for teaching her “hard work ethic, news values, and reporting and writing skills.” Coming from a print background at publications owned by the Jersey Shore’s Star News Group and The Press of Atlantic City, Galioto dove into the digital media model at Patch headfirst.
Photo supplied by Tracy Montgomery
Photo supplied by Graelyn Brashear
Screen capture from Patch.com
Graelyn Brashear’s bio appears on one of the Patch.com pages for the site that covers Barnegat-Ocean Acres. Galioto likes the challenges of ,handling a wide variety of topics in her hometown and said that her transition to the digital realm “went seamlessly.” Representing Barnegat Bay Patch is Graelyn Brashear, J/MS 2007. Brashear and her fiancé live in the Barnegat Bay-Ocean Acres area, where she began working for Patch as editor back in December. “A woman-of-allwork” is the way she describes the demanding role covering a vast array of subject matter for her community. Brashear’s days often start before 6 a.m. and might not end until midnight. One of the benefits about working from home, she noted, is freedom. “We get to make our own hours, so if we want to take a break and go for a walk in the middle of the day, we can.” Surprisingly, she feels that web publishing alleviates pressure that she felt while working in a newsroom environment at the Asbury Park Press, where
IRAQI JOURNALISTS ON THE BANKS
Photo by Ron Miskoff
A group of seven Iraqi journalists and journalism educators visited Rutgers in January and were hosted by the Journalism Research Institute. The project, sponsored by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, was designed to open a dialogue between American and Iraqi journalists. Conferring with the Iraqis and pictured above are Jennifer Borg of the North Jersey Media Group, center with neck scarf, and John O’Brien, with glasses next to her, both representing the New Jersey Press Association; and John Pavlik, second from right, director of JRI and chair of the J/MS Department.
she was a staff writer in the Neptune bureau. She thinks that the media model at Patch gives an opportunity to follow up, go further, and widen and deepen coverage. While there is always pressure to be the first to publish the news, with digital there is the luxury to go back in five minutes and update. It’s the best of both worlds,” she stated. It’s funny, but she expected to miss print more. “There’s nothing like being surrounded by a bunch of overcaffeinated career newshounds spewing journalistic wisdom,” she said with a laugh. However, the transition to Patch was easy, she said. “Patch offers news in an inviting and friendly way,” she said. “And Patch gets it when it comes to what people want from local news.” Residents have at their fingertips so many interactive features built into the site that they can pull up “a virtual chair” and see what’s happening in their hometown. In the age of social media these features are important, Brashear went on, so readers can feel a real connection to the news they are consuming. Brashear herself has had to make deep connections within her community to understand and deliver what is most important to Patch. “Focusing on just one town means people trust you’ll be there to tackle the news that matters to them,” she said. Her studies at J/MS prepared her well for her new career move by teaching the “throw-them-inthe-pool-to-teach-them-how-toswim method of education,” she stated. And Patch, she agreed, is definitely the pool. Caitlin Mahon, J/MS 2010, is finding new challenges in her job as editor for the New Providence Patch. “I heard about editorial opportunities with Patch last June through a friend who was working as a freelance copy editor,” she said. “After several interviews over the course of two months, I received my job offer.” Mahon said Patch is re-defining timely news.
“We engage our local communities in so many ways, and I think Patch is a great example of where our field is going.” Davy James, J/MS 2006 an editor of the South Brunswick Patch, stressed the uniqueness of Patch. “Patch also allows for much greater interaction that involves the community and invites them to post announcements, pictures and video,” he said “The news component is only part of the site, as our community directory and several other features make these sites a destination for people to learn about what’s going on in their home town.” The people who work at Patch are a part of a new breed of journalist which is selfmotivated, self-reliant, and constantly on watch. “Working at Patch requires dedication, discipline and above all, time management,” explained James. “You have to effectively manage your time in order to cover events and meetings, manage the site, manage freelancers and watch for breaking news,” he said. James is the right newsman to run the Patch site in South Brunswick. He started his journalism career working for the Packet Publications and spent three years covering South Brunswick, Monroe and
Photo supplied by Catherine Galioto
Catherine Galioto the Specials Unit, researching politics and election news and handling breaking into daytime programming for news like the Columbine shootings. In 2002 she received a master’s degree in magazine journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and went on to teach journalism at Ramapo College and the College of Mt. St. Vincent in the Bronx. For Montgomery, the skills of a Patch reporter are as basic as they can get for any journalist. “We are people who care about telling the stories that matter and doing it well,” Montgomery said. New Patch websites are sprouting all over New Jersey and across the country, with J/ MS graduates competing for positions as site editors. These editors are shaping the future of journalism as we know it.
’97 J/MS grad returns to teach environmental journalism Continued from page 2
Photo supplied by Elaine Piniat
Cranbury. Tracy Montgomery (married name is Schoenberg), J/MS 1996, was freelancing for North Jersey Media Group Publications such as (201) magazine when she became editor of New Milford Patch. She lives in Oradell, an adjacent community, and was familiar with the political and community landscape of New Milford. In the late 1990s, she won an Emmy when she was with WNBC-TV for her work as associate producer on a fire safety series with Al Roker. Later she worked for NBC in
in journalism.” After graduating and completing a fellowship in Washington, D.C., Cohen worked for two and a half years at an assortment of New York companies, including Bloomberg News and Bridge Financial News, where she covered federal agencies working with Wall Street. She later attended graduate school at Georgetown University and studied technology policy. Cohen then took a job in Washington, D.C. covering en ergy policy in Congress. She also worked as a reporter for Dow Jones and Co.’s Market Watch. According to Cohen, energy and environmental issues are prominent in all types of media and have some sort of impact on our lives, which makes them impossible to avoid. “And now, you have what’s going on in Libya,” she commented. “It’s an oil issue,” Cohen stated. “We get a portion of our oil from Libya — it’s in everything.”
Page 12, Alum-Knights, Summer 2011
By Pooja Anand Have you ever wondered what happened to your former class mates? Take a look at what J/MS alumni are doing today. 1962 Barry Kramer Retired journalist Barry Kramer has established the largest single scholarship endowment ever given to the J/MS Department. The Barry S. Kramer Endowed Scholarship Fund, in the amount of $200,000, will be used to support top undergraduate majors, with preference given to those interested in science journalism. Kramer, who resides in Manhattan, is a former Wall Street Journal writer and science reporter who is particularly interested in preserving the integrity of journalistic objectivity and balance in the digital age. Kramer has been an avid supporter of Rutgers journalism for more than 25 years and in 2007 started an annual scholarship in science journalism. The new endowed scholarship fund is an investment that will generate interest to support student scholarships for many years to come. Kramer is also an avid Henry Rutgers historian and has written extensively on the topic. 1977 Arline Zatz A freelance writer and photographer, Zatz has written several books and articles about outdoor travel, adventure and day trips in New Jersey, for which she has received awards. More information is available on her website, www.FunTravels.com. Zatz is editor of New Jersey Sierra Club’s newsletter for the Senior/Fifty Plus Section and is a contributor to Travel World Magazine. 1992 Eleanor Barrett We are sorry to report the death in January of Eleanor Barrett of Tewksbury Township, a former reporter for the Star-Ledger. Barrett grew up in Neptune and after graduation got a reporting job with Forbes Newspapers in Somerville. She moved into the daily world when she was hired at the Courier-News, then in Bridgewater, and after a year moved to the Star-Ledger, where she worked in the Somerset County news bureau until 2003. Among her notable stories was a 2002 series that tracked the journey of a Norway spruce from Bloomsbury in Hunterdon County to Rockefeller Center, where it was that year’s Christmas tree. When she left the Star-Ledger,
Barrett became senior associate editor for the insurance news publications of A.M. Best. In 2007 she joined Deloitte LLP in New York as a senior manager for the Insurance Industry Group. At her death she was lead editor of several of the group’s award-winning publications. She is survived by a daughter, Kristy, and her mother, Cathy Barrett. 1994 Jeff Greene Greene is proud to say, “I actually ‘used’ my degree!” after college. He started his career working for The Home News Tribune and Asbury Park Press, which were great foundations for his current professional life — leader of digital strategy for HealthEd, a Clark company that works with healthcare clients to educate patients about their conditions and treatments. He writes for the company blog when possible to keep up his writing skills. A few years ago, Greene also began speaking at conferences on various topics concerning digital marketing and strategy. “It’s given me a chance to share my knowledge and travel the country. My favorite spots so far have been Seattle, Washington; Austin, Texas and Big Sky, Montana.” Greene lives in Neptune Township and has two daughters. He tries to visit The Banks for a football and basketball game each year. He encourages former classmates to reconnect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter! 1999 Scott Knowlton Knowlton’s career at the Comcast network (CN8) started right after graduation – the night the network ran its first newscast. From being a teleprompter at the outset to interviewing entertainers like Denzel Washington and Will Ferrell, Knowlton took on various roles over his years at CN8. Now he runs his own production company. “So much happened in the decade I was at the station, which went from a sub-million viewership to reaching 15 million homes over 11 states,” he reported.
Photo supplied by Scott Knowlton
Scott Knowlton, right, shown with Comcast’s Art Fennell, receives an award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
J/MS alumni, we want to hear your story! Name_______________________________ Class Year_______ Address _________________ City ______ State ____Zip________ Email ____________________________ Phone______________ Place of employment________________ Title?______________ What have you and other J/MS alumni been up to recently? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Please fill out and mail or email to: Marsha Bergman - SC&I - Rutgers University 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1071 firstname.lastname@example.org
He was a news producer during Sept. 11, the Iraq war and two presidential elections, and then became a launching show producer of “Your Morning on CN8” – for which he won an Emmy in 2005. After moving to the station’s evening news magazine show, “Art Fennell Reports,” Knowlton discovered an interest in documentaries. He produced and wrote a documentary on Cuba, “A Walk in Cuba: Behind the Mysterious Curtain,” which won a Salute to Excellence Award for Best Documentary of 2008 by the National Association of Black Journalists. The following year he produced another documentary, “Who Killed Malcolm X?,” which the won same award. “Back-to-back wins are apparently rare, and I was honored by the achievement,” said Knowlton. Knowlton started his own production company, Silent K Studios, in 2008. Since its inception, SKS has produced numerous web series, commercial spots, and ad campaigns. Some highlights include a comedic web series called “Ryan & Collin” and most recently a parody music video titled “Ford, GM or Chevy.” 2002 Katie Dippold Dippold is currently a writer on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” The show was recently renewed for its fourth season, and she returned in June as a co-producer.
Photo supplied by Katie Dippold
Katie Dippold is a writer and co-producer for NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”
After graduation Dippold moved to New York City, where she wrote and performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. From there she was hired to write for MADtv and moved to Los Angeles in 2006. She joined “Parks and Recreation” in 2009. 2004 Lori Varga Riley Lori Varga married Sean Riley, UCNB 2007, on Nov. 6, 2010. The wedding and reception were at a country club in Manalapan,
NJ. The couple now lives in Somerset. Riley works in communications for the Rutgers University Alumni Association in New Brunswick, and her husband works in member services at Motion Federal Credit Union in North Brunswick. 2006 Sandy Levitan Levitan, now better known by her industry name, Sandy Simona, has relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her life-long dream of working in the arts. She is a candidate for Master of Fine Arts: Acting and Performance at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Levitan is also on the faculty at CalArts, teaching world music-inspired movement at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Photo supplied by Sandy Levitan
Most recently, Levitan participated in a CalArts collaboration with the Russian Academy of the Arts in Moscow, also known as GITIS. Being fluent in Russian, Levitan worked as official translator for the project as well performing the piece. This summer Levitan has been accepted to a workshop with Obra, the resident theatre company at the Au Brana Cultural Centre, located in Toulouse, France. There she will begin creating her one-woman show, “Belman,” which will bring to life historic, poetic, musical, and movement-based stories of women in her family who grew up in the Soviet Union and their voyage to America. Her website and blog are www. SandySimona.com and www. SandySimona.blogspot.com. 2008 Rob Stahley Stahley is human resources coordinator at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in Manhattan. He has held the post for about a year. 2010 Alexandra Guadagno She is the new editor of Human Resources IQ, an online forum for sharing ideas in the field of human resources, best practices, editorial content, and opinion from industry leaders. Guadagno, who worked in retail management and was a freelance journalist, also produces videos and podcasts. She would like to make HRIQ the premier “sounding board” for issues that affect
the field of human resources. Brenda Lin Lin dove into a media career with Dow Jones last summer. “Honestly, I feel I was prepared for some aspects, but there are other aspects you can’t learn in a classroom,” she reported. She works in the technology product development side, most closely with Factiva — an information and research tool. Simply put, it’s like a digital library with content from Dow Jones as well as other providers. “I never imagined myself to be on the technology side,” Lin said, “but I’m not surprised because everything’s going digital. That’s the truth of the industry.” Being new to the workforce, Lin appreciates her degree. “The industry is tough, but journalism is very versatile.” A part of her job that Lin appreciates, especially for her age, is getting the background on how new media products are developed “from an idea, to product design, to product development/ technology, and then to marketing, PR and sales.” She plans to pursue a higher degree and, since she experiences the digital media shift daily, would like to complete a few technology certificates along the way. Katelyn Lurvey Lurvey, 22, has been working at Grey, a global advertising agency, in New York City since her graduation. She works in the account side at the ad agency and has primarily been focusing on the Aquafresh brand. “It’s exciting to be part of such a creative and young agency – responsible for some of the most famous advertising campaigns out there,” said Lurvey. “From the ‘Choosy Moms Choose Jiff’ to the ‘E*Trade baby’ and DIRECTV’s Russian Oligarch with the mini giraffe – Grey has a reputation for creative excellence.” Lurvey adores working in Manhattan. “It’s been a great experience living and working in the most exciting and diverse city in the world,” she reported. “Especially right out of college – I think you appreciate it more than any other time in your life.” Next up for Lurvey is most likely becoming account executive on one of the beauty brands Grey represents – CoverGirl or Pantene. 2011 Kelly Holechek For her intern work at Real Simple Magazine, Holechek was selected as a “Star Intern.” She was recognized at Time Inc.’s Henry Luce Awards ceremony in April.
J/MS longtime friend and co-founder of NJ-SPJ dead at 83 Wilson Barto, a former city editor of both The Times of Trenton and The Trentonian, died in November at the age of 83. He lived in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. He was a great friend of the Rutgers journalism program and hired many alumni, who became seasoned journalists under his mentoring.
“Wilson had the deepest love of journalism of anyone I knew, and his good humor, kindness and mentoring of young reporters were rare Photo by Ron phenomenal Miskoff and Wilson gifts,” noted Jerome Barto Aumente, J/MS professor emeritus. Au-
mente said Barto also supported the work of the Journalism Research Institute. Barto was one of two founders of the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Although ill, he was able to attend the organization’s 50th anniversary dinner last fall and was honored for his contributions.