Newhouse alumna places third in Hearst sports writing competition

Newhouse alumna Allison Ingrum ’20 placed third in the 20-21 Hearst Sports Writing intercollegiate competition, which came with a cash prize of $1,500.

Allison Ingrum ’20

Ingrum’s winning article was written for The NewsHouse, the Newhouse School’s multimedia news site. “One part dedication. One part obsession. All parts satisfaction,” is about Bandier Program assistant professor Ulf Oesterle‘s quest to qualify for the Paralympics. Ingrum received the assignment from NewsHouse executive producer Jon Glass. Ingrum’s specialty is features and profiles, not sports, but Glass felt she’d do a good job with the assignment.

“When I was initially looking for a writer for this profile, Allison was the first person to come to mind,” says Glass. “She’s always invested in her stories and I knew she would be enthusiastic to tell Ulf’s story.”

Ingrum is now an operations support associate at PopSugar, and looks forward to doing more work like her winning article in the future.

“I definitely want to stay in the journalism industry,” says Ingrum. “I would love to be a writer and editor for features and profiles, kind of like this one, actually.”

Newspaper and online journalism senior Danny Emerman’s feature “Flashback” for The Daily Orange, examining the similarities between the Syracuse 8 half a century ago and the current day #NotAgainSU campus movement, placed 14th in the contest.

Class Notes

70s

Bob Costas ’74 joined CNN as a contributor.


80s

Shelly Fisher ’80 launched Girls Nite Live, a platform dedicated to helping women whose incomes were adversely affected by the pandemic.

Jim Weiss ’87 was announced as a board member for Indapta Therapeutics as they move into clinical trials for their new cancer treatment therapies. Weiss, CEO and founder of W2O Group, will provide marketing and commercial strategy support.


90s

Dan Surdam ’90 has been selected as the winner of the 2021 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) College Division Achievement Award. Surdam is the associate sports information director at SUNY Cortland. 

Sandra Cordova Micek ’91 was named to PBS’s Board of Directors.

Nicole Avery Nichols G’93 was named editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat, a nationwide journalism nonprofit dedicated to telling the story of American education.

Eric Grossman ’94 was selected by the New York Daily Gazette as one of the top orthopedic surgeons in New York City.

Sinan Sadar G’94 was named head of talent recruitment by Hearst Television.

Yolanda Bevill ’95 was named vice president for university communications at Colorado State University.

Sasha Johnson ’98 was named vice president of corporate safety at United Airlines.


00s

Jessica Rose Juliano was announced as a realtor associate for Christie’s International Real Estate Northern New Jersey.

Steven Feldman ’04 joined Latham & Watkins as a partner.

Eli Saslow ’04 won a George Polk Award for Journalism for his oral history series “Voices of the Pandemic,” published in The Washington Post.

Jason Benetti ’05 was named Illinois Sportscaster of the Year by National Sports Media Association.

Kimberley A. Martin ’06 was announced as co-host of the podcast “First Take, Her Take” for ESPN.

Carl Radke ’07 was an original cast member in Bravo’s “Summer House.”


10s

Drew Jordan G’10 was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Jes Zurell G’11 joined HL Turner Group of Concord as marketing director.

Megan Hess ’11 was promoted to senior editor of digital subscriptions at Bloomberg.

Erica Morrow ’11 G’12 returned to Syracuse University as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team.

Rob Marvin ’13 was promoted to program manager for web content strategy at Amazon Web Services.

Colleen Cummings ’14 was named as a New Voice Under 30 by Sports Business Journal.

Whembley Sewell ’15 has been promoted to editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s “Them.”

Rebecca Shafer ’15 was promoted to account manager, digital and social at Sunshine Sachs.

Angie (Eun Ji) Chung, G ’15 earned tenure at Auburn University’s School of Communication and Journalism, where she is an assistant professor.

Amanda Finney G’16 was named chief of staff of the White House press office by President Joe Biden.

Andrea Lopez ’16 was selected by ViacomCBS to perform in their 2021 Showcase.

Fatima Bangura ’17 joined NewsNation as a social media manager.

Chuck Wallington G’17, a graduate of the communications management program, was recognized for his research as one of the Institute for Public Relations’ Top 15 Public Relations Insights of 2020. Wallington’s research on “Barriers, Borders, and Boundaries: Exploring Why There are so Few African-American Males in the Public Relations Profession” was the topic of his master’s capstone project and was later published in the June 2020 issue of the Public Relations Journal.

Lindsey Sabado McClafferty G’18 joined PureLinq as a content marketing specialist.

Kelsey Davis ’19 G’20 was named one of 30 Under 30 by Forbes magazine.


20s

Laiqa Hitt ’20 and Jared Bunn ’20 won the Best Documentary Short Gold Award at the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles with their film on Caroline Sheldon, “Panacea.”

Jewél Jackson ’20 joined El Paso Matters as a higher education reporter.

Cole Johnson G’20 is morning producer/anchor for NBC News 11 and Fox 9 in Yuma, Arizona.


In Memoriam

Nina Kapur ’06 died July 19, 2020, after a traffic accident. Kapur was a reporter for CBS2 in New York.

Gregory Miller ’11 died June 7, 2020. Miller was an entertainment writer for the New York Post, and an editor of Jerk Magazine while at Newhouse.

Larry Barron ’87 died Dec. 23, 2020. Barron’s television producing credits included “The Amazing Race,” “Coupled” and “Paradise Hotel,” and he was a founder of the university radio station Z89.


Alumnus Kevin Martinez ’88 conquers Major League Baseball

Deep down, Kevin Martinez always knew he’d end up working in baseball.

“It was a sport that was always at the foundation of my family,” he says. 

His father played at the minor league level, and Martinez and his two older brothers played throughout high school. A game was always on TV at the Central Jersey family home, and they routinely made the trip into “the city” to see the Mets or the Yankees.

Martinez didn’t know anyone when he came to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. All he knew was that he wanted to work in sports as a broadcast journalist.

His time at Newhouse and various stints at WAER-FM, UUTV, CBS affiliate WTVH and WJPZ-FM gave him the fundamentals that he needed to jump into a career in journalism.

He worked in the sports department at WTVH in Syracuse. It was a coveted position for a young undergraduate, giving him the opportunity to learn the ropes of play-by-play and sports production. 

“My time there taught me to be a great writer, and it definitely taught me discipline,” he remembers with a chuckle. 

Martinez quickly built the confidence that is required to succeed in sports journalism. He cites his friendship with Mike Tirico ’88 as one of his largest influences, and says it encouraged him to come out of his shell.

“Back in the day, WAER was in the Newhouse School and I remember taking the elevator up there as a freshman and just being so nervous,” he recalls. “But, as with anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you get.” 

Early Career

Immediately after leaving Newhouse, Martinez moved to Columbus, Ohio, to work in radio at a small station, and then to New York City to work for an ABC affiliate.

Then, a mere two years after graduation, Martinez was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to work for a Major League Baseball team.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred congratulates Newhouse alumnus Kevin Martinez on 25 years of service.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred (right) congratulates Martinez on 25 years of service.

He embraced the career-pivot wholeheartedly, joining the Seattle Mariners’ marketing team in the early 90s. 

The opportunity to work for an MLB team was a “no brainer” even if it meant he had to move across the country.

“It was very scary,” he reminisces. “I didn’t know a soul here in Seattle.”

For Martinez, the cross-country leap of faith was worth it.

“At that time of our lives, we make a lot of decisions that make us uncomfortable,” he says.

It’s safe to say he’s never looked back, and is now serving as senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Mariners. 

Aside from a brief stint with the Boston Celtics, he’s worked for the Mariners for a large part of his career—nearly 25 years. He has guided the marketing department through the explosion of the digital age and the content opportunities that have been created.

At this point in his career, he spends most of his time interacting with the other department heads in the organization. 

“When I started, it was much more about hands-on projects,” Martinez says. “Now, I moreso give directions and support.”

He oversees commercial programming, ballpark giveaway promotions, special events, social media and the broadcasting team, and regularly works with the regional sports network. Basically, he gets the Mariners’ brand into the Seattle market any way he can.

In addition to all of his in-house responsibilities, Martinez has almost daily calls with the general manager and executive sports producer of Root Sports Northwest. 

Team Work

His oversight over several different areas requires him to lean on his team and direct reports regularly. In his words, he focuses on “what is on the horizon right now.”

Fellow Syracuse University alumnus Gregg Greene, vice president of marketing with the Mariners, has a tremendous amount of respect for his boss. 

Alumni Gregg Greene and Kevin Martinez work together in the Seattle Mariners marketing department.
Greene (left) and Martinez maintain a close working relationship as part of the Seattle Mariners’ marketing team.

“I’m as close to Kevin as I am to my wife,” he says with a laugh. 

Greene and Martinez work together for long hours daily inside T-Mobile Park, with both men citing the dedication that a career in baseball operations entails.

Greene attributes Martinez’s passion for baseball as his motivation for success. Recently, the Mariners marketing department created a 35-minute documentary on American League Rookie of the Year winner Kyle Lewis entirely in-house. 

“Kevin got up in front of the entire organization and listed everyone involved, almost like credits at the end of a movie,” Greene says. “He went out of his way to thank every single last person involved and show appreciation for them.” 

Though Martinez may have felt lonely when he first arrived in Seattle decades ago, he doesn’t have that problem anymore.

“I started at the Mariners when I was about 23 years old, and there was a guy that started playing on the field pretty much around the same time,” Martinez says.

That guy was Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. 

He’ll vacation with Griffey occasionally, and lists Edgar Martinez, Dan Wilson, Jay Buhner and Felix Hernandez as some of his closest friends.

“I’m friends with all of these players now, but those real friendships really developed once they retired, moved away from the game,” Martinez says. 

Alumnus Kevin Martinez and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager on the set of a commercial shoot.
Martinez and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager on the set of a commercial shoot.

His career has given him friendships with some of baseball’s brightest stars. Yet, his relationships from St. Thomas Aquinas (formerly Bishop George Ahr) High School in Edison, New Jersey, have lasted a lifetime. In his limited free time, he serves as the commissioner of his high school fantasy football league, a position he’s been passionate about for 32 years.

“In the league’s early years, Kevin would calculate the scores by hand from USA Today and mail out newsletters to the league members every week,” longtime league member Rich Wenskoski ’91 remembers.

Wenskoski, a fellow Newhouse and Bishop Ahr alumnus, recalls being shown around the Syracuse University campus by Martinez on the first night of his freshman year. It was the fall of 1987 and Martinez was a senior, a DJ at a popular bar on campus called Braggs, and a brother in a fraternity.

“I saw him many more times that year, and he was always eager to be a mentor and give a freshman some advice,” Wenskoski recalls. “He’s the kind of friend everybody wants to have.”

Seattle is his home now. Yet, he remains forever Orange.

Martinez credits the Syracuse University alumni network as a large factor in his success. He says that he runs into fellow alumni nearly every day in the communications business, and that the connection immediately brings conversations to a deeper level.

Through it all, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I have been incredibly blessed and I love every minute of it”

Ashley Wenskoski is a sophomore broadcast and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School.

Buffalo Studios CEO Matt Fleckenstein ’00: ‘Start making things right now’

Matt Fleckenstein '00
Matt Fleckenstein

When Matt Fleckenstein ’00 wanted to produce a live-action series outside of Los Angeles, he realized there was potential in his hometown of Buffalo, where he knew there were large buildings and factories that could be converted into sound stages. That’s when the idea for Buffalo Studios, a full-spectrum film and animation studio, was born.

Right now, Buffalo Studios is in Phase 1 of development, with six sound stages and office space currently being developed on a vacant 27-acre lot that once housed a steel mill. The studios will be state-of-the-art facilities with support for all aspects of production, including VR, VFX and virtual production. Groundbreaking is slated for late spring, with a tentative completion date of late 2022.

Fleckenstein’s professional credits include writing and producing for multiple Kids’ and Family  shows, including “iCarly,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and the show he created for Nickelodeon, “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.” Recently, we asked him about his journey from Los Angeles back to Western New York.

Have you always wanted to work in television and film?
My whole life, I’ve only ever wanted to do two things… to write and to own a business. Where I am now, my career is the intersection of those two things. Inevitably, if you’re successful enough in your writing and lucky to be able to climb to a certain level of success, you become a producer as well. There are certain writers who don’t really enjoy that, but I do. I like working on budgets, helping new writers to develop scripts and finding locations and coming up with creative solutions to make a production come together. So yes, it was always percolating there somewhere.

How has the pandemic impacted some of your projects?

I’ve been developing more animated projects because animation has always had a bit of a remote working element to it. There was a few-week hiccup [when the pandemic struck last March], but then animated shows shifted to fully remote and just kept on going. So, animation has adjusted well to the current climate. And that’s what the buyers have been focused on. At the same time, live-action is still pretty stalled.
I’ve been waiting  months on a green light for a show I have at Apple. I should be maybe 10 episodes into producing it, instead I’m waiting for production to come back in full. [The pandemic has] also brought new challenges to getting Buffalo Studios together, but we’ve adapted and adjusted and we’re still on a great track to break ground in the spring.

What is one valuable lesson you learned at Newhouse that helped you get to where you are?

Professor [Evan] Smith said to us, “You better know how to make a cup of coffee.” Of course, when I moved to LA, my first job was making coffee and picking up lunches, and it wasn’t a shock because I was prepared for that. I was very glad that I had that grounded perspective in my education.

What advice would you give current students who want to work in the industry?

Start making things right now. Don’t wait. If you’re a writer, great. Find a director, find someone who wants to do costumes, find theater students who want to be actors. The best thing you can do is practice and make things. That’s number one. Number two is, unless you have some great job waiting for you in New York or Los Angeles, either stay in Syracuse and continue to make stuff once you graduate or go back home where you have a support system and a place you can live for free and just work on your craft. To me, that’s invaluable. If I could go back, I probably [would have] stayed in Syracuse longer. It was affordable, I had friends and could have continued to make things. spend a couple of years making things. Maybe by the time you graduate or a year or two afterwards, you make that independent project that goes online and it blows up, and you don’t have to uproot your whole life.

What is your vision of the future for film production outside of Hollywood?

To me, the most exciting change over the past 10-15 years is the democratization of content creation. Anyone from anywhere in the world can build a YouTube channel and make a living, without dealing with the gatekeepers. I think it’s amazing, and there are so many stories and talented people around the world who now have a voice for their work.

Taylor Huang is a sophomore magazine major at the Newhouse School.

What we’ve learned from working remotely

Working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges, but it has also given opportunities to learn, grow and adapt. Here, some Newhouse NYC students and Newhouse alumni share what they have learned during this time.

Mike Janela ’07, gameday host at the New York Mets

“COVID has required us all to learn entirely new skill sets that, as professionals, we only used to need for the rarest occasions. Learning where the best lighting is in my cramped apartment for a Zoom call, or how to set up the most professional-looking background for an audition or hosting event. How to project energy on camera vs. in person. It’s been tough and nothing I’d been prepared for, but if you can succeed through this, you can succeed through anything.”

Janela wearing a mask at Citi Field.
Photo: @mikejanela/Twitter

Katie Benson, graphic design senior and digital design intern with NBCUniversal

“One thing I learned very quickly is that communication is key. While working remotely, you don’t have the luxury of walking over to your co-intern or co-worker’s desk and asking for help. Starting from day one of my internship, I made sure to contact my supervisor at least twice a day; once at the beginning to see what’s on the agenda for the day, and once at the end to send over any working documents from the day. This constant communication allows for less information to fall through the cracks and also allows you to show initiative and responsibility to your supervisor, which could lead to better and larger projects.”

Bryan Dumas 07, digital content creator and video specialist for IBM

“It was important to establish a routine that works for me. I still wake up at a decent time, I still prioritize my assignments, but I’ve also found working from home to be more effective. I have more time for myself. The time I save not commuting and taking lunch breaks has allowed me to take on other things that are making me better, like personal trainers and masterclass courses. Working from home also provides me with a much quieter environment than the commotion the office environment can bring at times. It allows me to focus more, which also plays into utilizing my time better.”

“The biggest positive to working remotely is I am assigned more projects and creative responsibilities than I would be if I were in the office. Small tasks like getting coffee and organizing files don’t exist in the Zoom days. Working remotely is also nice because I can take my work outside to a park, a coffee shop (socially distant, of course), or just about anywhere with Wi-Fi.”

Aerial photo taken at the Adirondack Mountains. Over the past decade, as drones have become a modern development in our life, Bryan has added drone photography to his storytelling hustle.
Photo: @b_dumas/Instagram

Maggie (Jiaman) Peng, advertising senior and strategy intern at MOJO Supermarket

“My team has been doing daily check-ins at 9:30 a.m. It’s been helpful especially as an intern to feel like part of the agency and not let the days blur together while working from home. I think being remote really requires us to have more empathy and respect for each other.”

Mike Kruz, afternoon host at Easy 93.1/Miami (WFEZ) and Magic 94.9/Tampa (WWRM) 

“The biggest thing is spending a little extra on yourself to make sure your streaming capabilities, sound, cameras, technology and internet is more than adequate. Especially early on, you could tell even national news anchors and talk show hosts weren’t prepared and the quality of their broadcasts were substandard and honestly, hard to watch at times. If that’s what our ‘new normal’ is going to look like, we need to put our best foot forward whether that means investing in yourself or getting whatever company you’re working for to chip in a little extra money to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Mike Kruz in studio wearing a Syracuse Orange hat.
Photo: Easy 93.1 – WFEZ/Facebook

7. Danica Daniel ’04, former senior editor at Billboard

“I’ve learned that innovation is often born in times of chaos and nothing will be more chaotic in my lifetime than a pandemic. The old rules and ways of doing things are out the window and while facing uncertainty can be extremely stressful, I’ve learned to embrace this new normal as quintessentially freeing. Now more than ever is a great time to foster your creativity when it comes to your work life and personal life. Don’t just think outside the box, break that box apart.”

8. Marcus Gronauer, broadcast and digital journalism senior and sports programming intern for Mad Dog Sports Radio at SiriusXM+Pandora

“I’ve learned how to communicate effectively in a virtual environment. At the beginning of each day, I send an email to the executive producer of ‘Schein on Sports’ filled with my ideas for potential audio promos or video promos that I plan to work on. I do this not only to ensure that my supervisor knows what I’m working on but also to get feedback—positive or negative—on my ideas.”

Adam Schein
Adam Schein ’99 of “Schein on Sports.” Gronauer interns for Schein.
Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

9. Ben Oleksinski, newspaper and online journalism senior and intern for Peter Greenberg Worldwide

“Interning for Peter Greenberg was a right place/right time situation. This was my first time reporting and writing about travel news, right as airlines faced unprecedented challenges from the pandemic. Working virtually is kind of a double-edged sword— it’s much more efficient, which means there’s way more to do. Across the board, everyone there is great, and it’s been a learning experience that I’m grateful for.”

Damon Amendolara ’01, host of “The D.A. Show” on CBS Sports Radio

“Working from the home studio has been eye-opening. The advances in technology have allowed us to do so many things that just a few years ago would’ve been impossible. Stronger Wi-Fi, video conferencing, more powerful laptops and phones, and new audio editing equipment have all led to a new world where my five-person team can do a coherent show every morning from five different places. There’s always going to be a value of that in-person energy. As a team, we feed off one another on-air. But I think both the on-air crew and the bosses have been surprised at how close we can replicate that without being in the studio.”

Damon Amendolara ’01 delivers sports commentary on his daily sports talk show, “The D.A. Show.”
Photo: cbssportsradio.com

Carter Griffin, public relations senior and PR/events intern with Transform Group

“Working at home comes with its challenges, but some best practices I have learned, either by trial and error or even from our Newhouse NYC speakers, is how important it is to be professional in all communication to people in the company at all times—Slack, Zoom, email. Also I have learned how it is important to still treat the day as a work day, meaning wake up early, do work from bed, try to dress up—just getting out of pajamas.”

Cheryl Brody Franklin 04, director of Newhouse NYC

“What I’ve learned is that strong programming doesn’t need to be ‘in person.’ I have sat in on some of the most engaging classes with conversations that made me feel like I was sitting (less than 6 feet!) next to someone. And some of the initiatives we started are programs I plan on keeping even when we are fully residential. I’m truly overwhelmed by the number of people who want to be guest speakers, mentors and panelists. Everyone (especially Newhouse alumni) want to help, and so while this has certainly been stressful, it’s pushed me to refine and rethink the program, and for that I’m grateful.”

Cole Weinstein is a senior in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.


Also of Interest

Newhouse NYC

Newhouse NYC is a one-semester program that provides students with a unique opportunity to intern for a prestigious media company while taking specialized coursework in New York City.

From New York City to Buffalo

Four alumni who participated in the Newhouse NYC program trace their broadcast journalism careers back to experiences made in Manhattan.

Each year, WKBW-TV in Buffalo hires four new journalists as part of the Journalism Career Program (JCP), which is a partnership between the E.W. Scripps Company and the Newhouse School. Each journalist receives a yearlong, full-time job, plus living expenses. At the completion of the program, journalists can sign another contract with WKBW-TV if positions are available, or choose to move on to another company. It’s a unique program that helps recent graduates jumpstart their broadcast careers.

I spoke with four broadcast and digital journalism alumni who participated in the Newhouse NYC and JCP programs, and who can trace their career paths from New York City to Buffalo.

Jeff Slawson

Jeff Slawson ’17
Multimedia journalist at WKBW-TV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

During the Newhouse NYC program, I loved interning at “MSNBC Live with Kate Snow.” I learned I wanted to become a reporter, and it opened my eyes to what I could do with the news. I wound up interning with WPIX that summer, so I can definitely say the Newhouse NYC program was one of the best experiences of my college career. After graduation, I applied to almost two dozen job positions before accepting a spot in the JCP program in 2017. Luckily, after the JCP program ended, they offered me a contract with WKBW-TV, where I have spent the last four years as a film reporter and part-time TV anchor, mostly covering city planning and development.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

As an intern, ask as many questions as you can, but never say you know the answer, even if you do. The way somebody explains an answer may give you a different outcome than you expect, so always be listening and inquisitive. When applying for jobs, you cannot let the rejections get to you. You have to learn from the experience and have confidence that you will find the right job.

Nikki DiMentri

Note: DeMentri recently moved to Indianapolis where she works as a multimedia journalist/reporter for WKBW’s sister station, WRTV

Nikki DeMentri ’18
Multimedia journalist/reporter at WRTV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

I met Newhouse NYC director Cheryl Brody Franklin [at an event at the Fisher Center], and I knew immediately I wanted to do the Newhouse NYC program before I even set foot on the main campus. I eventually did the program in the fall of my senior year and interned at NBC News in the Specials Unit. One of my favorite internship experiences was helping with the pre-shoots for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller Center tree lighting because I always watched them growing up. After graduating from Syracuse, I spoke with [alumnus] Jeff Slawson, who raved about his experience in the JCP Program. As a result, I joined the JCP program in 2018, where I currently work as a nightside reporter and occasionally fill in as a morning live reporter.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

Research the position and company’s market, reputation, and scope before your interview. By having that background knowledge, you can share how your strengths align with that company. You never want to apply for a job and have them call you for an interview, only for you not to know what they do.

Taylor Epps

Taylor Epps ’19
Multimedia journalist at WKBW-TV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

Newhouse NYC was my favorite college semester and helped me transition from college student to working professional. Although I never thought I would do morning news, I interned as an anchor for “CBS This Morning: Saturday,” where I worked on several live segments. I always felt bad for those who had to wake up at 2 a.m., but several months ago, I started a morning news job here in Buffalo, where I am waking up at 3 a.m. Thankfully, my internship prepared and taught me the beauty of morning news. I applied to the JCP program in 2019 after hearing fellow NYC alumna Nikki DeMentri’s experiences from Cheryl Brody Franklin. I accepted their offer and was brought on as a multimedia journalist, and I cover various ‘feel-good’ stories within the Buffalo community.

Note: Taylor interned at WNEP-TV the summer after completing the Newhouse NYC program.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

Always pick people’s brains and try to learn something from them. Try to learn about their path, how they got to their current position, and always keep in touch with them. You will end up applying to so many different jobs, those connections can help you along the way.

Jeddy Johnson

Jessica “Jeddy” Johnson ’19
Digital Multimedia journalist at WKBW-TV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

I did the Newhouse NYC program the fall of my junior year, and I interned at the “Today” show, where we had rotating shifts. Some days I would conduct research, which is a critical—and often overlooked—skill in journalism. On other days, I was down at the plaza at 6 a.m., talking to as many people as possible and practicing my hospitality and relationship-building skills. Once I graduated from Syracuse, I joined the JCP program’s 2019 class along with Taylor Epps. I currently work as a digital multimedia journalist at WKBW and write feature stories.  

Note: After finishing the Newhouse NYC program, Jeddy interned at Bloomberg and News Channel 9 WYSR.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

Treat the job search process like picking a college: cast a wide net and see what opportunities lie ahead. But don’t seek companies just because of their reputation. Look for companies and jobs that appeal to you and will enhance your professional skills. I know the job market is shrinking with the pandemic right now, and many industries are evolving, but everything is a blessing in disguise.

Alex Safaya is a junior dual major studying public relations at the Newhouse School and marketing at Whitman. This semester, he is participating in the Newhouse NYC program and interning remotely with the Krupp Group.

Virtual Speed Networking event allows students and alumni to connect

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.   

Andrew Siciliano ‘96 (left), sports broadcaster at NFL Network and DIRECTV’s Red Zone, and Carter Griffin, senior broadcast and digital journalism major.

“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.

Katie Benson, senior graphic design major, and Alexis De Paulis ‘18, digital designer at Bandier.

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. 

Newhouse NYC’s Virtual Speed Networking event featured 17 students and 16 alumni.

“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.

Temple Northup G’08

Temple Northup graduated from Newhouse in 2008 with a master’s in media studies. He currently works as the director of the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.

“From theory to research, the courses at Newhouse set me on the right path to become an effective researcher, which is what led me to getting tenure at my first university.”

Temple Northup, G’08

How did you obtain your current position?

I just started this position in July 2020 after being at the University of Houston the previous nine years. At the University of Houston, I was director of the Valenti School of Communication, a position I held for the last five years I was there. Before that, I was at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which is where I got my Ph.D. after graduating from Syracuse with my M.A.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

These days, average days are a bit different as I spend so much time on Zoom. But, ignoring that component of it, I would say it’s hard to describe an “average” day as they are almost never identical. As the administrative head of the school, my first and most important task is to make sure everything is running as planned—all our classes are happening, faculty are supported in their needs and our students are getting the help they need to graduate on time. Beyond those tasks, which take up a lot of time, I also work hard reaching out to alumni of the school in order to build stronger relationships with them, and to find new sources of revenue for our program. I also like to spend time thinking strategically about what we as a media school need to be doing to position ourselves as a leader in the field and what changes we need to make in order to keep our students prepared for the workforce.

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

Newhouse absolutely prepared me for my role—and frankly continues to help me in this position. It did this in a few ways.

First, being a graduate of the Newhouse M.A. in media studies, I got really well trained in some of the most important and core aspects of the communication discipline—from theory to research, the courses at Newhouse set me on the right path to become an effective researcher, which is what led me to getting tenure at my first university.

Second, getting to be a student at Newhouse meant I got to see some of the best faculty in action. As a future faculty member, and then administrator, I know what great teaching looks like, and I know what it looks like to be a great mentor to students. Those lessons I have carried with me in all aspects of my career.

Finally, being part of Newhouse meant I got to see some of the most innovative programs in the country—and that is something I continue to do. As the leader of a different school, I keep an eye on what Newhouse is doing because I know it will always be leading the field. I have such respect for all aspects of the Newhouse School, if I can lead our program to be anywhere near as strong, then I am doing great things!

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

When I applied to Newhouse, I honestly did not anticipate what it would truly be like or where my career would go. In that sense, it absolutely opened my eyes to becoming not just a teacher, which is what I had thought about doing after I graduated, but also an engaged researcher. The enthusiasm of the faculty and their research agendas was contagious, and although I entered the program thinking about teaching one day, I left wanting to do much more—I wanted to conduct research.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

The main thing that drew to Newhouse was its reputation. There are only a handful of programs in the US that everyone knows from its name, and Newhouse was one of those. That is unique—and the benefits pay off after you leave as I am constantly meeting people who went to Newhouse, and the network it provided me has been very beneficial during my career.

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

Some of my research has gotten a lot of attention within the media—with one of them getting so much coverage, I actually ended up flying to New York City to appear on Fox & Friends (a place, for many reasons, I never thought I would be). That was quite an experience and certainly one of the more exciting things that have happened! I’ve also gotten to interview many high-profile media personalities including Anderson Cooper, which was really fun.

Northup Temple with Anderson Cooper
Temple Northup with Anderson Cooper. Photo courtesy of Temple Northup.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

I think it’s super important to connect with faculty early and get to know them. They are your best resources whatever your career goals, and so the better they know you, the more they will help you after graduation.

Former Newhouse students find work at National Geographic

For three years after leaving Newhouse to pursue a career in photography, former multimedia, photography and design student Vi Nguyen worked as a freelancer in New York City. Now, she’s landed what most photographers would consider a dream job: photo coordinator at National Geographic.

“The last few years have been kind of crazy,” says Nguyen. “This is the first time where it’s been somewhat stable, where I know when my next paycheck is going to be.”

Nguyen is thankful for the opportunity to work at the internationally acclaimed magazine.

“It’s a really good place for me to learn what it is I want to do in the realm of photography,” she says.

While at Newhouse, Nguyen worked closely with Mike Davis, Newhouse’s Alexia Tsairis Endowed Chair in Documentary Photography, who also used to work at National Geographic. After leaving Syracuse, she kept in contact with him.

“Mike has always been really involved with the photo community, inside and outside of Newhouse,” says Nguyen. “[He’s good at helping you] get your foot in the door at these organizations.”

It was Davis who alerted Nguyen about the position at National Geographic, which she assumed at the end of the summer.

Davis says his former colleagues regularly ask him for recommendations when positions become available because they trust his judgement. This has resulted in six of Davis’ former Newhouse students, including Nguyen, finding positions at National Geographic.

“The richest aspect of working there is the scope and depth of the types of stories that you get to engage with,” says Davis. “It’s also amazing how broad the types of images you have to create are compared to most journalistic settings.”

Another one of Davis’ former students, Andrea Wise G’15, is a contract photo editor at National Geographic and says the publication’s dedication to supporting documentary photography is unique.

“Too often, photographers are asked to do more with less, so it is a dream to have the time and resources to properly support photographers so they can produce their best work,” says Wise. “I have worked in this field, first as a photojournalist, then as a photo editor, for nearly a decade and I have never worked in such a visually-driven newsroom before.”

The reason Newhouse students end up at places like National Geographic is because of the range of skills they’re taught, says Davis.

“I teach equal doses of how to produce images and how to develop projects, edit projects. So, every student leaves here with equal skill sets, as opposed to most programs [where] you learn how to make pictures or you learn how to be an editor,” says Davis. “I think they’re intertwined.”

Visual communications department chair Bruce Strong says the fact that many former students are working at places like National Geographic says a lot about Newhouse as a school

“Our students’ photographic work consistently wins many awards and has been published by National Geographic before,” says Strong. “This clearly demonstrates that our department’s strategy is working.”

Adrianne Morales is a senior in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Above: Vi Nguyen and some images she took for National Geographic.

Facilitated by their program director, new media management alumni find success

Two alumni of the Newhouse School’s new media management (NMM) program received national honors at the Mutual Fund Industry Awards ceremony in July.

Sebastian Benkert G’13 was named Marketer of the Year and Tom Staudt G’13 was named a “Rising Star.” The awards program recognizes business leaders, creative minds and top performers in the U.S. asset management industry.

Benkert is chief marketing officer and Staudt is chief operating officer of ARK Invest, which they joined just after its inception.

Staudt came to Newhouse with a plan to someday run a television station. After completing the NMM program, he earned an M.B.A. from Cornell University and was offered a job at SONY Television. But at the request of Stephen Masiclat, director of NMM, Staudt interviewed with ARK Invest and subsequently joined the company.

“[He] ended up joining a firm that [had a high] chance of failing,” Masiclat says. “Instead, he became an integral member of the team that built one of the best investment firms in the business, and I am certain that Tom’s efforts are a significant component of that success.”

Staudt says Masiclat has played a key role in his life.

“I will never be able to adequately thank Steve for all that he has given and contributed to my life. His ability to challenge while teaching, guide while mentoring and provide a sounding board of sage advice has had a profound impact on me academically and professionally,” he says. “But perhaps most important is that I am honored to personally call him a friend.”

Benkert, a native of Germany, was the first Fulbright Scholar to join the NMM program. Masiclat calls him “the most talented communication designer to ever come to NMM.” His name was at the top of the list when CEO Catherine Wood approached Masiclat as she was starting ARK Invest, seeking recommendations for alumni who could help build awareness of the firm. Though his Fulbright Scholarship meant Benkert had to leave the country within a year of joining ARK, Wood hired him anyway, and he continued consulting for ARK in Germany until he could return to the U.S. in 2018.

NMM alumna Lisa Dodd G’15, also works at ARK Invest as head of PR and communications. She met Benkert, Staudt and Wood during the NMM Spring Seminar in New York City. She also interviewed with the company at Masiclat’s urging, joining the team in July 2015.

“Given her talent, her grit and the quality of the team at ARK, I expect her to be an award recipient in the future,” Masiclat says.

Top: The ARK Invest team. Staudt is at right, Benkert is fourth from right and Dodd is front row, third from left.