Class of 2020 Commencement events to be held Sept. 17-19

Syracuse University will host a Commencement ceremony—delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and other celebratory events for the Class of 2020 during the weekend of Sept. 17–19.  

Commencement will be held Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Stadium. This University-wide ceremony, where Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud will formally confer degrees, is for all undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Following Commencement, all 2020 Newhouse graduates and their families are invited to join Dean Mark J. Lodato and the faculty and staff for a celebratory reception. The event will include a dean’s welcome, recognition of participating graduates and an opportunity to reconnect with faculty. A precise time and location will be announced soon; stay tuned for details.

For more information about Commencement activities for the Class of 2020, see the event listing.

Newhouse alumnus tells story of crucial victory for LGBTQ equality

Patrick Sammon ’97 co-directed “Cured,” a documentary chronicling the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s official list of mental disorders.

Patrick Sammon and Bennet Singer
Patrick Sammon (left) and Bennett Singer produced and directed “Cured.” (Photo by Erika Christie)

When Patrick Sammon ’97 first arrived at Newhouse, he thought he was going to be a sports broadcaster. Now almost 30 years later, Sammon is an award-winning independent filmmaker.

His most recent project, “Cured,” is set to open this season of PBS’s Independent Lens Oct. 11. The documentary, which Sammon co-created with fellow documentary filmmaker Bennett Singer, follows the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s official list of mental disorders. “Cured” has won the audience award from Frameline, the biggest LGBTQ film festival in the world, and Best Documentary of 2021 from the American Historical Society Association. We talked to Sammon about the importance of LBGTQ history, his career path and how sometimes the best way to begin a career in documentary filmmaking is to just try to make a documentary on your own.

How did this documentary come about?

A friend [asked me to] read his film script and [had a scene that took place at] the 1972 APA annual meeting when Doctor Anonymous, a psychiatrist, had to dress in disguise in order to talk to his fellow psychiatrists about what it was like to be a gay psychiatrist. I had been familiar with this story, but reading my friend’s script, it jumped off the pages at me as something that would make an incredible documentary. I was pleasantly surprised that another documentary about the same subject hadn’t been done before, because this moment is so central in the history of LGBT equality. As long as we were classified as mentally ill, then business and government [will] use that as an excuse to discriminate. So this had to be the first domino to fall on the path to equality. I recruited my friend Bennett Singer to join me, and we did our first interview in the spring of 2015. We finished the production right before the pandemic. We were still doing online editing during the early days of the pandemic, and we released it virtually in film festivals in August 2020. Now, we’re excited to bring it to a national television audience.

Cured poster with the text, "Meet the LGBTQ activists who refused to accept psychiatry's mental-illness label and changed history."

What did you hope to achieve?

We really wanted to have this film as a testament to the courageous individuals who stepped up and achieved this victory, and that was one of our challenges in telling this story. The outcome of this fight wasn’t inevitable. It’s often easy when looking back through history to say, “Well, it was always going to turn out that way,” but actually events turn out that way because of the actions of individuals who join a fight and try to create change. When these activists started fighting in the late 60s and early 70s, it was a David vs. Goliath situation. So that was also one of the things we wanted to convey in the film—this outcome wasn’t inevitable. From a filmmaking perspective, that was a challenge because everyone knew the outcome of this story when they started watching it, but you need to try and create drama along the way, and I hope that we did that.

What was your path from studying broadcast journalism at Newhouse to co-creating this award-winning documentary?

I’ve basically had three careers. I started as an intern at the CBS affiliate in Watertown [New York]. Then in ’99, I worked as a general assignment reporter in Tennessee at WJHL. I enjoyed being a reporter but knew I didn’t want to do it forever.

From that experience, I knew I was interested in documentary filmmaking, so after doing some networking, I moved to Washington, D.C. in January of ’03 with no job, everything I owned in my car and $3,000 in the bank. I ended up taking a detour and worked in LGBT activism at Log Cabin Republicans for five years, but I always wanted to get back to documentary filmmaking. When I left in 2009, my résumé was odd, so at that point, I knew the best way for me to get into documentary filmmaking was to just make a documentary.

I then embarked on making a documentary called “Codebreaker” about the life and legacy of Alan Turing, the gay British code breaker, and during that production, I met Bennett Singer, my co-director on “Cured.” It’s been quite a long journey, but ultimately I’ve always been interested in storytelling, and that’s really what’s propelled my career forward.

What advice would you give to Newhouse students just starting out in their careers?

You just have to put one foot in front of the other. If I knew, on the day I decided to try and make “Codebreaker,” that it would take so many years to create and distribute, I would have gotten discouraged. Similarly, with “Cured” it’s been such a journey. So just take one foot in front of the other and don’t get discouraged.

Elizabeth Kauma is a senior in the magazine program at the Newhouse School.

Luttrell co-authors article on creating a public relations curriculum that reflects industry transformations

Regina Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co-authored the article, “Public Relations Curriculum: A Systematic Examination of Curricular Offerings in Social Media, Digital Media, and Analytics in Accredited Programs” with Adrienne A. Wallace of Grand Valley State University; Christopher McCollough of Jacksonville State University; and Jiyoung Lee G’19 of the University of Alabama. The paper was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education from AEJMC.

Luttrell co-authors article on helping students develop media pitching skills

Regina Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co-authored the article, “Pitch Perfect: Secrets of Media Relations” with Adrienne A. Wallace of Grand Valley State University and Jamie Ward of Eastern Michigan University. The paper was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education from AEJMC.

Luttrell co-authors article on human-centered SEO

Regina Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co-authored the article, “A Human-Centered SEO Approach to Creating Higher Ranking Content for Public Relations using a Content Clustering Method” with Adrienne A. Wallace of Grand Valley State University. The paper was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education from AEJMC.

Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival to be held virtually Sept. 23 – 25

The 19th annual Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival, slated for Set. 23 – 25, will be held virtually this year. The event is sponsored by the Syracuse University Humanities Center and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and is part of the 2021-22 Syracuse Symposium: Conventions.

Members of the campus community with an syr.edu email address will be able to stream each film for 48 hours, and will also have access to live Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. A complete schedule is available at suhrff.syr.edu.

Newhouse School professor Tula Goenka and College of Arts and Sciences professor Roger Hallas are co-directors.

“We were forced to quickly learn how to host a first-rate virtual festival in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, and we were relieved that our campus community responded well,” says Goenka, founding director. “Earlier this summer, we began planning for an in-person event but due to continuing uncertainties of the Delta variant, we decided to be cautious and host it online once again. We are really looking forward to our 20th film festival being an in-person celebration next year!”

“Conventions” is a significant theme in this year’s festival program. The opening film, “No Ordinary Man,” is a highly inventive and illuminating portrait of jazz musician Billy Tipton, which radically challenges the genre conventions of the documentary biopic and interrogates the representation of transgender histories. A virtual Q&A with filmmakers Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt will be held Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

“We’re delighted to bring this innovative and thought-provoking film to open our festival,” says Hallas. “While transgender lives and histories are gaining greater public recognition, Chin-Yee and Joynt have used performance as enthralling and playful means to interrogate the very stakes of cultural representation.”

The festival continues with “Belly of the Beast,” an empowering portrait of the women who are fighting the U.S. industrial prison complex’s systematic and secretive practices of violence and reproductive injustice against Black and Brown female prisoners. A Q&A with filmmaker Erika Cohn will be held Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

Ajitpal Singh’s award-winning dramatic feature, “Fire in the Mountains,” closes the festival. A devoted mother toils to save money to build a road in a Himalayan village in order to take her disabled son for physiotherapy, but her husband believes that the traditional conventions of shamanic ritual will save them all. A Q&A with Singh will be Sept. 25, at 8 p.m. ET on Zoom.

Festival co-sponsors include the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; School of Education; Department of English; Department of History; Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics; Department of Political Science; Department of Religion; Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition; Latino-Latin American Studies Program; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies Program; Renée Crown University Honors Program; Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC); Hendricks Chapel; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Resource Center; Lender Center for Social Justice; South Asia Center; Department of African American Studies; Department of Art & Music Histories; South Asian Student Association (SASA); and Students Advocating Safe Sex and Empowerment (SASSE)

All films are either closed-captioned or subtitled in English. Audio description in English is also available for each film. Virtual question-and-answer sessions will include Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). If you require additional accommodations, contact Robyn Kobasa at rskobasa@syr.edu or 315-443-1909 by Sept. 20.

For more information and a full schedule, visit suhrff.syr.edu. Follow on Twitter at #SUHRFF.

Schneider co-authors paper about crisis response and social media

Erika Schneider, visiting assistant teaching professor of public relations, authored/co-authored the paper, “The Amplified Crisis: Assessing Negative Social Amplification and Source of a Crisis Response” with Courtney D. Boman and Heather Akin. The paper was published in the journal Communication Reports.

Abstract

Extending the situational crisis communication theory, this research evaluates how the consequences of a crisis extend to social media and how using internal and external sources influence crisis response processing. A structural equation model assessed the conceptual link between organizational reputation and the negative amplification of a message on social media using data derived from an online experiment. Findings contextualize crisis communication to suggest source and social amplification could lead to a vanguard of future SCCT research that guides researchers and professionals in optimizing a crisis response.

Brigethia Guins-Jamison G’17

Brigethia is an assistant account executive at Hill + Knowlton Strategies in the consumer markets sector providing day-to-day support to media relations, executive communications, influencer marketing and diversity and inclusion for a set of clients, including Procter & Gamble, Russell Reynolds Associates, and Aflac.

“Newhouse prepared me a lot for the workforce. The hands-on experiences that I received during my master’s program really equipped me for the real world.”

Brigethia Guins-Jamison G’17

Prior to joining H+K, Brigethia worked as a public relations coordinator for Urbanity Communications and interned with Edelman’s paid media team in their Chicago office. While completing her master’s degree, she worked as a marketing associate for Aspen Heights Partners handling content creation, brand awareness and social media campaigns.

Brigethia received her master’s degree in public relations in 2017 from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2016 from Medaille College.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

When I started at Hill + Knowlton I was a digital fellow. After about eight months I was hired on as an assistant account executive. Prior to joining H+ K, I was a part time account coordinator for a small boutique public reactions firm Urbanity Communications.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse prepared me a lot for the workforce. The hands-on experiences that I received during my master’s program really equipped me for the real world. Our benchmark trips were amazing because we got a chance to meet public relations professionals and learn a lot from them. We also got a chance to visit different agencies to see what it would possibly be like working there.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

When you first start out you really have to work your way up specifically in the agency life. Also, being so young with a graduate degree also made it tough for me to find a role after college. Life after college is definitely challenging but know that you aren’t alone in the process and that there are resources for you.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

My most exciting moment in the career was working with my client Procter and Gamble on their Queen Collective program developed in partnership with Queen Latifah, and Tribeca Studios, aiming to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera by opening doors to the next generation of multicultural women directors through mentorship, production support, and distribution opportunities. I also was a part of P&G’s launch of their Widen The Screen initiative which aims to address the systemic bias and inequality in advertising and media. These moments were exciting because the work was meaningful and really gave underserved individuals a voice which I am so happy to be a part of.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

The advice I would give to incoming students is to work hard and appreciate the moment you are in now because you will miss it. My favorite professors were Anthony D’Angelo, Hua Jiang and Dennis Kinsey.

Pike authors paper on using subjective research methodology to evaluate public diplomacy programs

Steven Pike, assistant professor of public relations, authored the paper, “Using Q methodology to augment evaluation of public diplomacy programs.” The paper explores the potential for Q methodology, which allows for the measurement of subjectivity, to improve techniques for evaluating public diplomacy programs, and was published in the journal Place Branding and Public Diplomacy.

Abstract

The evaluation of public diplomacy programs presents complicated challenges. Discernment of impact is complicated by statistical and practical issues: the nature of individualized personal experiences; the large number of factors that can influence an individual’s response to any experience; the long time horizon required for impact to develop; the influence of politics on defining desired outcomes; and a longrunning debate within the discipline over the proper objectives of exchange programs (mutual understanding for its own sake or the pursuit of foreign policy agendas). Researcher asked current and former participants in the Hubert H. Humphrey Exchange Program at Syracuse University for opinions on the outcomes, benefits, and attributes they expect of exchange programs, and used Q methodology, a scientific method for the study of subjectivity, to discern and describe differing perspectives. Results obtained revealed distinct differences in the opinion patterns of different groups of participants, including identifying participants who valued more agenda- and policy-driven objectives. Demographic information obtained was insufficient to identify the drivers of those groups and additional research, including expansion of the respondent pool and analysis of individual participants, is needed to refine the precise drivers.

Newhouse’s student-run digital media outlet features hands-on experience and award-winning work

The NewsHouse won 75 awards for student journalism in the last academic year. But students say it’s the opportunities, not the accolades, that make them want to work there.

When senior magazine major Amanda Paule went to a meeting for The NewsHouse’s Borderlines project she didn’t know what to expect. As a first-year student with no high school newspaper or journalism classes, she didn’t think that her pitch on Quebec nationalism would get accepted, let alone that she would be working with a graduate student on the story.

Amanda Paule
Amanda Paule

Paule is one of several Newhouse students who have won awards for work with The NewsHouse. She says she wishes she knew in high school that opportunities like this existed.

“It is a program that has changed my whole career trajectory. It’s exactly what I was looking for in terms of what I wanted to [do] in college,” Paule says. 

The NewsHouse is student-run digital media outlet housed at the Newhouse School. Students produce, edit and publish content for the outlet with guidance from Newhouse professors. Stories and projects hosted at thenewshouse.com have won numerous awards for everything from home page website design to TV sports coverage. While The NewsHouse primarily covers Syracuse University, annual projects also go deeper into selected topics. 

Borderlines, which explored the tensions around the U.S.-Canada border, was one of those projects. Thirty-six of the over 50 students who worked on the project traveled to the Canadian border in 2018 and returned with a breadth of stories told from both American and Canadian perspectives.

Amanda Paule interviewing a man at a grow house with camera people walking along.
Amanda Paule (middle) interviews Jacob Toth of Cornell University for a High Stakes story. Photo by Zachary Krahmer.

The 2019 project, High Stakes, covered the possible effects of marijuana legalization in New York state. Last year’s project, Deconstructing the Divide, explored inequality in the city of Syracuse and the activism addressing it. 

Magazine, news, and digital (MND) journalism professor of practice Jon Glass is the executive producer of The NewsHouse. He says that while he chooses the project topic, it’s the students who take the initiative to pursue stories. 

“That’s how I’ve always tried to structure The NewsHouse: provide the opportunities and see who can rise to the occasion,” Glass says. 

For Paule, it is those opportunities that makes The NewsHouse so unique. 

“They said, ‘Pitch anything that you want to pitch.’ That’s an opportunity you don’t always get, especially as starting journalists, because usually it’s, ‘You have to report on this project because that’s what we have for the day,'” Paule says. “With The Newshouse, all the opportunities are yours. Just pick.”

Paule has worked on every major NewsHouse project since she joined the organization during her first year at Newhouse. She says the ability to do long-form investigative work, like her AEJMC Award-winning article on Syracuse’s 15th ward, work in multiple mediums and work in teams has been incredibly valuable. However, it is the support from professors like Glass that keeps Paule coming back.

“I improved my journalism [by] leaps and bounds just [from] having all of that support,” Paule says. “It helped to crystallize that I’d be interested in pursuing a career working on these longer investigative projects.”

Cole Strong
Cole Strong. Photo by Bruce Strong.

For those not interested in the larger projects, The NewsHouse offers other opportunities, including expanding on class work; photography senior Cole Strong  was able to turn a class assignment into an award-winning story for The NewsHouse.

After Strong completed a documentary for his Video and Photography class, associate professor Seth Gitner urged Strong to pitch it to The NewsHouse. Glass ended up publishing Strong’s documentary and submitting it to the Broadcast Educators Association Festival of Media Arts and the White House News Photographers Association Eyes of History student contest, and the work won won awards in both cases. 

Strong is thankful to The NewsHouse and Glass for submitting his documentary because it gave him the confidence and credibility to pursue video work.

“It just made me go, ‘Okay, I can do this,'” Strong says. “I’ve actually talked with a couple of people in some companies that I really like and some of the people have been like, ‘This video you made won these awards? Wow, that’s really cool.'”

Glass says whether the work comes from classes or projects, the quality reflects the way the Newhouse school teaches students. 

“There are hundreds or thousands of stories written every year in classes and not all of them will necessarily get published, but it’s great that we were able to identify them, and students show interest and are motivated to work on them even more,” Glass says. “There seems like an endless number of opportunities, and the students who not only take advantage of them but work hard, get rewarded with recognition.”

A zoom meeting screenshot of five students and professor Dan Pacheco.
Professor Dan Pacheco (middle bottom) meets with Paule and four other Newhouse students to work on the Visualizing 81 project.

However, Paule and Strong didn’t work with the NewsHouse for the chance for recognition and awards. They did it because they valued the learning and storytelling opportunities.

“The NewsHouse was a place that took us in as journalists with little or no journalism experience, allowed us to pitch stories, met us where we were and then taught us how to get to where we wanted to go,” Paule says.

Elizabeth Joan Kauma is a junior in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School. 

Professor wins Facebook Reality Labs research grant to study impacts of augmented and virtual reality

Makana Chock, David J. Levidow Professor of Communications at the Newhouse School, has been awarded a $75,000 research grant from Facebook Reality Labs to explore the impacts of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) on bystander privacy.

Makana Chock
Makana Chock

Chock will work with Se Jung Kim, a doctoral student in Newhouse’s mass communications program. They will focus on two countries with disparate cultural norms—the U.S. and South Korea—to examine the impact of cultural differences on privacy concerns and ultimately inform the design of AR/VR technology.

“This is another example of how many of the leading communications companies in the world are turning to the Newhouse School to better understand some of the challenges we are facing as a society,” says Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato.

Chock developed her proposal, “AR/VR recording: Cultural differences in perceptions of bystander privacy,” in response to Facebook’s request for proposals on responsible innovation in AR/VR: “Consider Everyone.”  

Chock says the “ubiquitous and covert nature” of AR/VR recording poses the threat of serious privacy violations as bystanders are captured without permission. At the same time, different societies often have different concepts of bystander privacy, and those differences are reflected in the way image recording is regulated.

In the individualist culture of the U.S., recording bystanders in a public space is largely accepted and often protected under the First Amendment. In the collectivist culture of South Korea, where a higher premium is placed on privacy, express permission is required to record individuals. Yet even there, younger adults regularly post images and recordings on social media that may contain bystanders.

Additionally, Chock says bystander privacy issues are especially important when it comes to vulnerable populations like immigrants.

“Over the last few years, immigrants in both the U.S. and South Korea have faced restrictions and increased scrutiny from the government agencies, as well as discrimination and bullying from some members of their communities,” she says. “These factors may heighten concerns about privacy and the potential misuse of immigrants’ personal information or images. It is therefore important to increase awareness among AR/VR users of bystanders’ concerns and the potential for inadvertent harm.”

The three-part study will begin with an online survey conducted in both countries to assess potential differences in bystanders’ privacy perceptions and concerns and identify additional concerns of targeted immigrant groups. The team will then conduct a series of in-depth interviews with a subset of survey participants to provide additional qualitative data about cultural differences in bystander privacy concerns. Finally, they will facilitate a series of focus groups comprised of U.S. and South Korean users in a multi-user social VR environment in order to determine if the cultural differences seen in “real world” public spaces also apply in social VR spaces.

Chock is set to be the founding research director of the Newhouse School’s new XR lab and is co-leader of the Virtual and Immersive Interactions research cluster at Syracuse University.