Category Archives: In the News

Elyse Mickalonis, SUNY Purchase Journalism Alum, Gets Job as Video Journalist at Your News Now

Elyse Mickalonis, photo courtesy of YNN

The thing I remember first about Elyse Mickalonis was the great story idea she pitched for her senior project while in my Journalism Junior Seminar. It was a look, through video, at drive-in movie theaters in upstate New York. Under the guidance of SUNY Journalism Prof. Mary Alice Williams, it turned into a memorable senior project.

Now, Mickalonis has taken her talents as a video journalist to the Binghamton newsroom of Your News Now, a network of local cable news channels owned by Time Warner Cable. She started her job there earlier this year. She’s added social media to her repertoire and Tweeting up a storm. But some things haven’t changed: according to her profile, she’s still into drive-ins. We’re proud of you, Elyse! Stay in touch.

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New York Times Reporter, Alan Schwarz, Visits Purchase to Discuss Groundbreaking Series Linking Football Concussions to Dementia

Alan Schwarz of the New York Times in the Purchase Humanities Theater

Alan Schwarz’s extraordinary series of more than 100 articles for The New York Times about the dangers of concussions in the N.F.L got him nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, prompted Congress to act, and revolutionized the thinking about sports-related head injuries.

On Wednesday, invited in by Journalism Professor Andrew Salomon, Schwarz gave a gripping talk to students gathered in the Humanities Theater describing in detail how he used his math background and comfort with statistics to prove a link between concussions and dementia.

A career baseball writer before he took on the N.F.L concussion story, Schwarz concluded the session by signing and selling his books.

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Phil Corso, Purchase Journalism Alum, Returns to Give Talk

Purchase Journalism Alum, Phil Corso, Returns to Talk to a Journalism 1 class

Recent Purchase Graduate, Phil Corso, returned to the hallowed halls of the Humanities building to visit Prof. Donna Cornachio’s Journalism One class Tuesday morning.

Here’s what Prof. Cornachio wrote about the visit: “Grass doesn’t grow under Phil’s feet. A Purchase journalism major, he graduated last May 21; by May 24 he was working the beat at The Daily Harrison, the chain of hyperlocal community papers under the Main Street Connect umbrella. Now he’s about to move on to Queens, to report for The Bayside Times and Little Neck Ledger, part of the Times Ledger company recently acquired by Rupert Murdoch. In his talk to students he spoke about what it’s like to cover an older community where residents are not so familiar with “The Facebook,” having to file five stories a day, and what he’s looking forward to next.”

Here’s what Phil said:

I cover Harrison—the town you are all sitting in right now. The way Main Street Connect and Patch works is they put a reporter on the ground who covers the whole town: high school, sports, government, whatever it is. It’s exciting because it’s new, but also frustrating: you have to find and report five stories a day. You’re online, you’re constantly updating throughout the day, you’re on Facebook and Twitter. Harrison is an aging old Italian community—I’ll post a question on Facebook and maybe I’ll get someone to “Like” it.

The craziest day I had reporting was when the town clerk of Harrison died. He was a young guy, in his 30s and a loved member of the community. It was very sad. I covered the funeral first: that was Story 1; I still had to do four more stories. Then I had to go to the library where they had a petting zoo that day. I had just said goodbye to this young guy and here I was at the goddamn library.

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Purchase Journalism Student Turns Internship into Social Media Job

Christopher Vaughan, a Purchase journalism student, got his foot in the door at The Journal News and they liked him so much they gave him a job. He now has the lofty title of Social Media Coordinator – a job he maintains part-time while still taking classes. He monitors their Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare pages as well as doing some video.

Here’s how Chris tells it:

I currently work part-time as a Social Media Coordinator for the Lower Hudson Valley paper, The Journal News. The publication covers local events in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties and over the last decade, has cultivated a significant online presence with their LoHud brand.

I began interning for the paper in the summer of 2010 where I was a general reporter, meaning I wrote everything from a profile piece on a 90-year-old librarian to a towering blaze in White Plains. I gained experience-interviewing dozens of locals and accumulated numerous clips.

I planned to do the same the following summer but LoHud editors had something else in mind for me.

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Attention Journalism Students: Want To Pass Your News Quizzes? Purchase Journalism Grad To The Rescue!

Tom (l) and Charlie Szold at College Daybreak HQ

Tom Szold (Class of 2007) and his younger brother, Charlie, could be on to something: a kind of cheat sheet for journalism students trying to get on top of the news of the day. Their invention is College Daybreak. Students can sign up for FREE and each morning a manageable list of the big stories of the day is emailed right to them. The slogan is “Everything You Need to Know. Nothing More.”

Tom, a Purchase journalism grad who now works for a public affairs company in DC, is promoting Daybreak in his spare time. Charlie, who is a journalism grad from American University, invented the idea. He’s the one who gets up at 5 in the morning and spends two and a half to three hours putting the Daybreak together before heading off to his job as an assistant online producer at USA Today.

“He’s a hell of a trouper,” says Tom of his kid brother.

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Purchase College Staffer Survives Costa Concordia Tragedy, Interviewed on CNN

Found it! The footage of the Purchase journalism program’s beloved video guru, Nancy (Lofaro)  Kane, telling CNN about her harrowing escape from the Costa Concordia as it capsized. “They’re full of it,” she thought, as the ship’s staff tried to reassure passengers that everything was under control. She and her husband made it into a lifeboat, but for a few seconds saw her life flash before her as the tiny boat was tossed around in the waves near the sinking ship.

Nancy was enjoying some well-earned rest and relaxation in Florence when we exchanged emails last week and was due back to New Rochelle this past weekend. Welcome back to dry land, Nancy.

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Purchase Journalism Student Gets Daily News Front Page Byline

Christie Rotondo (foreground) reporting an alpaca story this summer for the Gazette Newspapers of Cape May County, NJ

All reporters at the New York Daily News yearn to get their stories on “The Wood,” which is newsroom jargon for the front page. Purchase journalism student Christie Rotondo pulled it off while still just an intern there. Rotondo, a junior at Purchase, shared a Nov. 11 byline on a front page story about anti-semitic vandalism in Midwood, Brooklyn. Rotondo had been assigned to write obits that day but was sent to the scene where three cars had been torched. She worked the story all day and didn’t realize she’d made the front page until she got an email from Purchase Journalism Professor Ross Daly congratulating her. “I definitely learned a lot from working the scene,” says Rotondo, “and seeing my story on the cover was the ultimate payoff.”

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Purchase Journalism Alum Visits Campus To Give Talks

Kyle Kalotschke shown here with his idol: Bob Costas

Purchase journalism program alum, Kyle Kalotschke (class of ’10), returned to campus last week to share his experiences as Web Editor at Regional News Network (RNN-TV) – a postition he landed after applying to a job listing on LinkedIn. As is often the case for reporters in their early days, he’s working when the rest of us are sleeping. “It’s a brutal schedule, but you get used to it after a while,” he said. He’s in charge of social media and getting news video off the TV and onto the web. Kyle had some great war stories to tell the two journalism classes he talked to. Among them: a formative encounter he had with his hero, sportscaster Bob Costas, and how he once had to dress up as the Easter Bunny for live television when he was interning at The Early Show on CBS.

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Purchase Journalism Grad Lands Job as Associate Editor of Long Island Paper

Susan Varghese was always a pleasure to have in my classes. She worked hard, wrote well and was always wonderfully cheerful. She also distinguished herself by becoming Purchase’s first correspondent for HerCampus.com, a website about college life. It was clear she was going to land on her feet when she graduated last year. And sure enough, I heard great news from her earlier this month:
 I work at The South Shore Standard, a full color weekly in the south shore of Long Island. It covers The Five Towns: Inwood, Hewlett, Cedarhurst, Atlantic Beach, Lawrence (and Woodmere). I’m the Associate Editor, but I also do a lot of reporting. It’s a small editorial staff. I cover a variety of topics, but I report on anything from village meetings, crimes, and fashion to the occasional sports story. The stress is enormous, but I’ve learned an incredible amount…almost enough to forgive the six white hairs I’ve found! Journalism is definitely not a 9-5!

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Purchase Dancer and Journalist Gets Published

Our journalism students at Purchase are amazing, talented people. But not too many of them can stand on one foot and point the other one to the sky. Christina Blankenship is one of the few who can because as well as blazing a trail through the journalism program, she is a dancer at Purchase’s Conservatory of Dance. This summer, she described her experiences to DanceU101.com

“I’m a little strung out sometimes, but Purchase is the perfect place for intensive studies. I just have to be really disciplined about my work. The campus is pretty isolated so there isn’t much to distract my focus. But New York City is only 30 minutes away, which provides a nice balance of work and play.”

(Photo by Mark Bertelson, courtesy of Christina Blankenship)  

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Purchase Journalism Student Interviews Carmelo Anthony

Liz Mohin, a Purchase Senior, says she was nervous and had the sun in her eyes, but portions of her interview with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony shown on this You Tube clip were used on Channel 7 news.

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My Former Student Gets Published in The New York Times

It’s been six years since Matt Caputo was sitting in my Features Writing class at Purchase, but I remember very clearly that he was the only person in the classroom that year who knew who Jimmy Breslin was when I mentioned the famed New York columnist in class. Matt knew New York and really knew New York journalism. I was impressed. I had a feeling then that he was going to make it in journalism. Now he’s proven me right. Over the past few months he’s been published twice in the New York Times. The first story ran last December and is about EBUGs or emergency backup goalies in hockey. The second one ran in February and is about in-line hockey. He’s pictured here on the left interviewing retired basketball player, Walt Frazier. I’m so proud!

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Field Trip to New York 1

My features class braved torrential rain and blustering winds for our field trip to NY1. A good number arrived with their coats and backpacks soaked through and water dripping off their noses. It was worth it, nevertheless. We got an extended tour through NY1, which is based above groovy Chelsea Market in Manhattan and housed in a former cookie factory where the first Oreo was allegedly made. My old J-School pal, Philip Klint, who has risen to become an anchor at NY1 Noticias, the spanish-language branch of NY1, talked to us right from his anchor’s chair and allowed us to watch him tape some of his teasers. The students also talked to the weather reporter, posed for photographs on a couple of sets and got to meet the internship co-ordinator. It was a fantastic trip, capped off by a collective cup of coffee and bowls of fries in a Chelsea Market restaurant afterwards.

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Great Photographs by a Purchase College Journalism Student

Stephen Hazlett, a student in the Purchase journalism program, recently had his photogrpahs published on a blog called Uptown Collective. The photographs are gritty and bold. He seems to be able to get right up into his subject to shoot. Here’s how he describes his approach in the interview on the blog:

“Someone once asked me if the people I choose to photograph are in some ways a reflection of myself. I thought about it for a while, and I think there’s a lot of truth to it. Whether it’s someone I wanted to be or who I am today, I can see the connection. I’m a bit of a loner, when I go out and take pictures I wander around the city for hours. I’m only 24 but through the troubles in my life, I can see the connection in the tired faces of the aged and the homeless, wandering through the city just like me.”



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McDonald’s Happy Meals Don’t Decompose, Apparently

 This Happy Meal lies at the intersection of art and journalism. Sally Davies, a New York City artist, wanted to see how a Happy Meal would hold up over time, according to an article in the UK’s Daily Mail. So she photographed its decomposition. Only it didn’t decompose. It sort of petrified.

‘The fries shrivelled slightly as did the burger patty, but the overall appearance of the food did not change as the weeks turned to months.

‘And now, at six months old, the food is plastic to the touch and has an acrylic sheen to it,” she said.

I admire her urge to investigate and document. Next assignment: pop tarts. Are those things even food?

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