Like everything else in 2020, judging for the Alexia Grants competition was affected by the coronavirus pandemic and forced to go remote, with judges signing on from various locations.
Judges Joshua Rashaad McFadden and Laylah Amatullah Barrayn took a brief break from grueling election coverage to review entries—McFadden from his Minneapolis hotel room and Barrayn from her New York apartment. Judge Noelle Flores Théard joined from her Brooklyn apartment, her patient six-year-old daughter waiting in the background.
But the physical distance did not hamper the dynamism of the event, according to Mike Davis, director of The Alexia.
“Discussions were rich and lively and judges asked each other about their impressions and formed consensus by really hearing each other. Their choices are deeply relevant to our times,” Davis says.
The Alexia Grants program comprises both student and professional grants. Judging was held Nov. 6 for the student competition and Nov. 7 for the professional competition.
Judging sessions were also attended by Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis, co-founders of The Alexia, as well as members of The Alexia Photojournalism Advisory Council and Newhouse visual communications students. Graduate student Zoe Davis provided technical support and graduate student Jessica Stewart read proposals.
Judges named one winner in each category, plus second and third place honorees.
Photographer Cornell Watson of Durham, North Carolina, was the recipient of the $20,000 professional grant for “Behind the Mask.” Second and third place honorees were Amber Bracken of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Isadora Kosofsky of Los Angeles.
Leonidas Enetanya, a student at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, was the recipient of the student grant for “The Monét Archives.” Second place went to Zilan Imşik, a student at Istanbul University, and third place went to Michele Abercrombie, a graduate student in Newhouse’s multimedia, photography and design program.
“After talking to the recipients, I could see the richness and depth of the judge’s impressions of the entrants playing out in how the awardees talked about their work, their connection to the people they’re photographing and things they consider in the course of producing the work,” Davis says.
For insight into the judging process and selection of winners, view the judging session recordings.
“Gina brings to the position enthusiasm, drive and a passion for Newhouse’s vision to advance research and creative initiatives at the highest level,” Lodato says.
Luttrell, who is an assistant professor of public relations and interim director of the graduate PR program, joined the school in 2017. She is director of the W2O Emerging Insights Lab, with research interests focusing on artificial intelligence, data analytics, a multi-generational workforce and the intersection of social media with society.
Recognized as an innovative educator, Luttrell is a distinguished scholar and an experienced academic leader with a track record of supporting cross-departmental and interdisciplinary collaboration, leading complex research projects and advocating for faculty in multiple capacities. In addition to her successes in securing external funding for research initiatives, Luttrell has also contributed broadly within her area of scholarship, authoring more than a dozen books, publishing in academic and professional journals and presenting at domestic and international conferences.
“I look forward to working with the talented and highly accomplished communications scholars at Newhouse,” Luttrell says. “I recognize the importance of leveraging our vast resources and infrastructure to support ongoing research and creative programs, as well as to foster new initiatives and collaborations in the years ahead.”
Luttrell will assume the position effective Jan. 1.
The construction of Interstate 81 in the 1960s cut through the city of Syracuse, leaving a wound that still pains the community five decades later.
With newly-secured funding from the Journalism 360 initiative, a team of Newhouse School students and professors will explore Syracuse’s I-81 story using immersive media tools.
Headed by Dan Pacheco, Peter A. Horvitz Endowed Chair in Journalism Innovation, the team will use 360 photos, 3D models and photogrammetry—a process that converts photographs taken from multiple angles into three-dimensional views for virtual and augmented reality—to “help Syracuse residents visualize the past, present and future of the land occupied by the I-81 overpass,” Pacheco says.
Part of the Interstate Highway System built in the years following World War II, I-81 in Syracuse was constructed in three stages between 1959 and 1969. The final section, a 1.4-mile elevated viaduct, was constructed on top of Syracuse’s 15th ward, located just west of the Syracuse University campus. The predominately Black, impoverished neighborhood was decimated as a result; some 1,300 people were displaced, businesses were ruined and a once-thriving community was forced further into poverty.
(Dean Emeritus David Rubin recounted some of the history of I-81 in a column for Syracuse.com last year.)
As the highway reached the end of its usable life, the controversy was reborn as Syracuse residents, as well as city, county and state leaders, struggled to agree on how to replace the viaduct. Last summer, the New York State Department of Transportation submitted a proposal to the Federal Highway Administration which outlines options for tearing down the viaduct and replacing it with a community grid, or replacing the viaduct. The state prefers the community grid option.
The Newhouse project is one of 12 projects to receive a total of $100,000 in funding through the Journalism 360 Challenge. The challenge, a joint initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Online News Association, seeks to help develop and expand best practices in immersive journalism. The winning projects were selected from more than 100 applications that addressed the question: How might we experiment with immersive storytelling to advance the field of journalism?
The Newhouse team will receive $6,410 to test, refine and build their project, titled “The Racial Divide: How I-81 Ripped Apart Syracuse’s Community Fabric.” This amount is supplemented by the school’s previous immersive media technology investments, including 8K video cameras and professional photogrammetry software. Pacheco, as Horvitz Chair, plans to match the gift amount with additional equipment.
“This project will provide an extraordinary opportunity to train the next generation of journalists at the Newhouse School in not only the tools, methods and technical steps, but also the significant impacts that experiential storytelling can offer,” Pacheco says. “Tying historical context to place is a powerful way to build understanding and empathy. That can change the way people see each other, and affect their decisions in the present. We hope this story, which will let people see what the I-81 decision did to communities of color, serves as a poignant reminder that the roots of inequality and racism are all around us, even in our daily commutes.”
The I-81 project will be part of a larger, year-long reporting project examining the history and current issues of inequity in Syracuse, at the University and across Central New York. The reporting project is being produced by Newhouse students and faculty in conjunction with The NewsHouse, the school’s student-run multimedia news site, and The Stand, Syracuse’s South Side community newspaper.
In addition to Pacheco, team members include students Sonny Cirasuolo, a dual advertising and policy studies senior; Amanda Paule, a magazine, news and digital journalism (MND) junior; and Molly Gibbs, a dual photography and international relations freshman, who will serve as visual producers; and MND faculty members Jon Glass, professor of practice; Greg Munno, assistant professor; Seth Gitner, associate professor; and Amber Bartosh, assistant professor in the School of Architecture. Additional students will help with reporting and producing.
Roy Gutterman, associate professor of magazine, news and digital journalism and Tully Center director, was interviewed by AZFamily.com for the article, “Gov. Ducey to face the media for the first time in weeks this afternoon.”
Regina, Luttrell, assistant professor of public relations, co authored the chapter “LushUK Goes ‘All In’ on Influencers” in the edited volume Research Perspectives on Social Media Influencers and Brand Communication.
Legendary music publishing executive and Life Trustee Martin Bandier ’62 has made a substantial gift to establish the most prestigious scholarship program available to students aspiring to careers in the music industry.
The gift, the latest in support of Forever Orange: The Campaign for Syracuse University’s $1.5 billion goal, will support the creation of The Martin Bandier Scholarship. The scholarship will provide critical financial support for students from underrepresented populations who are enrolled in the Bandier Program in Recording and Entertainment Industries in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Bandier founded the program in 2006.
“Martin Bandier’s generosity will ensure students have access to the preeminent music industry program in the nation,” says Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato. “His commitment to removing barriers to higher education is exactly what we need in this challenging time.”
The Martin Bandier Scholarship will make it possible for diverse students with financial need to pursue careers in music business through a Newhouse education. The Bandier Program combines the study of the business of music, media, marketing and entrepreneurship with hands-on experiences that prepare students for successful careers in the music industry. It is consistently ranked by Billboard magazine as one of the top programs of its kind in the country.
Bandier’s gift will provide a half-tuition scholarship to an outstanding first-year student; the program will support five scholars over the first five years. At the same time, Bandier has established an endowed fund that will support the Bandier Scholarship program in perpetuity. The scholarship will be awarded to one student annually and follow that student over the course of his or her four years in the program. The Bandier Scholarship will be among the largest single scholarship grant offered by Syracuse University.
“The Bandier Program has long been committed to building a diverse and inclusive environment,” says Bill Werde, director of the program. “This generous gift will be an enormous boost to our recruiting and retention efforts and will continue to ensure that the absolute best and brightest minds have an opportunity to study in the program and ultimately enter the music business.”
Over the years, graduates of the Bandier Program have successfully pursued business and entrepreneurial careers and built a strong alumni network to support the aspirations of current and future students.
Bandier has remained involved with the program since its founding and takes a personal interest in the success of the students. Every year, he meets one-on-one with each member of the graduating class to discuss career goals and find ways to help them as they seek their first positions in the business.
Bandier is chairman and CEO of Bandier Ventures. Prior to this, he was the chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Widely considered one of the most influential music publishers in history, Bandier built every publishing company he ran—including The Entertainment Company, SBK, EMI and Sony/ATV—into a powerhouse. Throughout his career, Bandier fought tirelessly on behalf of songwriters to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their work both by streaming companies and other music services. With his thought leadership the industry made great progress, including when the President signed the Music Modernization Act into law in 2018. Bandier has received numerous awards including the BMI Icon Award in 2019, the Lifetime Service Award from the National Publishers’ Association in 2017 and two honors from the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1990 and 2019).
A new course being offered next semester will allow Newhouse students to build digital journalism skills and create content for real digital brands.
The course, Reporting and Storytelling for Digital Brands (JNL 400), will be taught by alumnus Marquise Francis ’13, national reporter/producer for Yahoo News. Students in the course will explore the evolving landscape of digital journalism by delving into storytelling for a variety of mediums, discovering how to report on and amplify lesser-known stories and learning to ensure representation in their work. At the end of the course, a select number of top student pieces will be considered for publication by Yahoo.
“This partnership allows our students to gain real-world experience, and also exposes new audiences to the wonderful content our students produce on a daily basis,” says Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato. “And targeting a Gen Z audience gives our students the chance to reach their peers directly through the same digital platforms and brands they use every day.”
The course will be based in New York City and offered in an in person format for students in the Newhouse NYC program, while students who are on campus or elsewhere can take the course in a remote format.
Students will create content using editorial writing, video, audio and augmented reality tools, and may also pitch and execute Gen Z content for Verizon Media brands including Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Entertainment/Lifestyle. The course will also feature guests speakers from other outlets, such as Kamaron Leach of Bloomberg Entertainment or ABC White House correspondent Rachel Scott.
“Newhouse exposes you to the nuts and bolts of journalism and prepares students for a successful career as a dynamic truthteller,” says Francis. “This course will build upon that skillset, combining students’ knowledge of audio, video and editorial storytelling, and challenging them to create sound news, sports and entertainment content for a Gen Z audience in a transformative way.”
Francis, who graduated from the Newhouse School with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism, has been with Yahoo News since 2017. He previously held positions with MSNBC, A&E Networks and the History Channel.
“Marquise is one of Yahoo News’ top journalists, and getting to learn how to tell impactful stories from him is an amazing opportunity,” says Alex Wallace, head of media and content at Verizon Media.
The course is open to Newhouse juniors and seniors. Registration begins Dec. 8; for more information, visit newhouse.syr.edu/students/undergraduate-advising/registration.
A Virtual Speed Networking event sponsored by Newhouse NYC provided the program’s 17 students with an opportunity to connect with 16 Syracuse University alumni for a series of six-minute meetings.
The evening served as a culminating event for the Newhouse NYC program, which was offered in a remote format for the fall semester due to COVID-19.
“I’m looking forward to the confidence boost the students get coming out of this event,” said Newhouse NYC program adviser Marisa Bardach Ramel ’04 prior to the event. She said she often sees students transform from being intimidated to “mastering connection-making.”
Cheryl Brody Franklin ’04, director of Newhouse NYC, invited alumni participants from a wide range of fields, including Andrew Siciliano ’96, sports broadcaster at NFL Network and DIRECTV’s Red Zone; Dwight Caines ’88, co-president of marketing at Universal Pictures; Deidra Maddock ’96, vice president at The Walt Disney Company; and Madina Touré G‘13, reporter at Politico. After brief introductions, the alumni opened up their virtual meeting rooms and students started their one-on-one meetings.
At the end of the 90-minute session, the participating students and alumni expressed enthusiasm for the experience.
“This was a blast!” Julie Kosin ’14, senior culture editor at Elle.com, posted in the chat. “Blown away by the talent of these students, though not surprised.”
Christopher Cicchiello, a junior magazine, news and digital journalism major, called it an “amazing experience that granted me the opportunity to bolster [my network] with an array of alumni so willing to help guide and mentor us.”
After the event, students said the conversations were genuine, insightful and sometimes even a little goofy. Natalie Dascoulias, a senior broadcast and digital journalism major, said she was surprised when her conversation with Eric Gurian ’04, president of Tina Fey’s production company Little Stranger, turned into a discussion about the culture in Cyprus after she told him she applied for a scholarship that would take her there.
“The main thing is finding common ground,” said Eric Vilas-Boas ’12, entertainment editor at Observer Media. “You want to find something to connect you to the person you are talking to. Make it organic, fun and enjoyable.”
Jaime Sasso ’09, producer for NBC Olympics, noted that when she was invited to the event, she thought two hours was going to be a long time, but once she completed several six-minute conversations with students, she wished she’d had longer to connect.
Advertising senior Jiaman (Maggie) Peng agreed, writing in the Zoom chat: “I never knew six-minute calls could be so productive.”
“We got such a positive response to this event from both students and alumni, so it makes me even more motivated to plan innovative and creative virtual events this spring,” says Franklin, who notes that even though Newhouse NYC may return to a residential format for the spring semester, social distancing will prohibit that many people to gather in one room. “An event like this would have to be virtual, and as we showed with this event, virtual is just as valuable as in-person.”
Gina Trejo is a senior with dual majors in television, radio and film and English. This semester, as part of the Newhouse NYC semester, she is interning at Gigantic Pictures. She will graduate next month.
The Newhouse School today announced the winners in the 2020 Alexia Grant competition. Now in its 30th year, the grant program supports student and professional visual journalists, helping them produce projects that inspire change by addressing socially significant topics.
Photographer Cornell Watson of Durham, North Carolina, is the recipient of the $20,000 professional grant for his project, “Behind the Mask.”
The project “visually explores the stories of Black people and the various ways we wear the mask,” Watson says. “My hope is that it inspires Black people to be their true authentic selves in white spaces, and that it inspires white people to look within themselves to see how they contribute to a society that forces Black people to wear the mask.”
Watson says receiving the grant is a win for both himself and his community. “What Alexia stands for—its mission and purpose of bringing social injustices to the forefront—could not be more aligned with what I intend to do with my work. I have an important story to share and winning the Alexia helps give me the freedom and resources to visually share that story with the world.”
Watson plans to use grant funding to continue collecting stories of the experience of being Black in America.
Second place recognition went to Amber Bracken of Edmonton, Canada, for “Generations,” an examination of how the harm from Canada’s Indian Residential Schools has manifested in successive generations.
Third place went to Isadora Kosofsky for “Permanent and Known,” which documents the impact of COVID-19 on senior citizens and adults with disabilities inside and outside facilities in the American West.
Leonidas Enetanya, a student at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, is the recipient of the student grant for his project proposal, “The Monét Archives.” Enetanya will create a series of intimate portraits capturing candid moments in the lives of queer and transgender people of color who participate in ballroom culture. The main subjects will be members of The House of Monét, where Enetanya lives and which he describes as a place he feels “embraced, appreciated and understood” after having spent six years in foster care. With the portraits, he hopes to draw a contrast between subjects’ lives behind the scenes and their personas at the balls.
“Society needs to see our humanity. Too many people are blind to it. Someone has to show them. Who better than me?” Enetanya says. “Through my camera and writing, my subjects will be able to see themselves and be seen in a way they couldn’t otherwise… with this project, I can raise awareness of our perennial plight, promote empathy and fight transphobia during this revolutionary chapter in Black/LGBTQ history.”
As the student grant recipient, Enetanya will receive a fellowship for tuition and fees to enroll in three courses during a semester at the Newhouse School, as well as a $1,000 stipend and paid position as the research assistant to Mike Davis, director of The Alexia.
“This is the first competition I’ve won, and perhaps the first time in my life I’ve made a sincere effort towards a goal and achieved it,” Enetanya says. “It’s surprising. It’s like becoming aware of a power I didn’t know I had, that was in my hands all this time.”
Second place went to Zilan Imşik, a student at Istanbul University, for “Where is Home?” The project is a visual quest to find the home she had never known and rediscover her identity as a Kurd and member of the world’s largest stateless nation.
Third place went to Newhouse student Michele Abercrombie for “we live(d) in our heads,” a project about child abuse and having navigated childhood with an abusive parent.
“This year’s panel of judges brought a great depth and range of experience and knowledge to the process of determining who receives the grants,” Davis says. “Among the judges’ considerations were the photographers’ degree of connection to the stories they are telling, whether they thought the visual storytellers were capable of achieving what was being proposed, whether the work shown touched the issues addressed in the proposals, how much the grant would benefit the entrant and the combined strength of the proposal and work presented.”
About The Alexia
The Alexia began as the Alexia Foundation, created with the mission to promote the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice, and to support photographers as agents for change. It was established in 1991 by Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis in memory of their daughter, who was a photography student at Newhouse when she was killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988. Since its founding, the Alexia Grant program has awarded more than $1.7 million to 166 photographers.
The Alexia Foundation became part of the Newhouse School and was renamed The Alexia earlier this year.
The program relies heavily on donor support to continue empowering visual artists to tell stories that drive change and change lives.