Here are some of the journalists who have come to campus to talk to my students.
Rik Stevens, Albany News Editor for the Associated Press, kindly agreed to make the drive down from Albany to talk to my Journalism 1 class and Prof. Breen’s Journalism 2 class. He explained how the AP works, talked about his job and told some great war stories from his years in the profession. He was refreshingly realistic about his chosen profession: low pay, long hours, thrilling work life. And students responded to his relaxed and open nature with some insightful questions about the realities of working in the days of citizen journalism and social media. Before leaving for his trip north, he made one final goodwill gesture and handed me a box of AP Stylebooks.
Garrett Marino is one of the social media pros in the Admissions office at Purchase. Among his other responsibilities as Assistant Director of Admissions, Garrett uses Facebook to promote the college and to generate online buzz about the campus. He came to my Multimedia Tools class to talk about how students can go beyond the social uses of Facebook and harness it as a promotional tool for their journalism. He shared some marketing wisdom: post in the morning and early evening; don’t over post or people will bail (2 to 5 times a day tops); post on Monday mornings and in the run-up to the weekend; people like it less when you shorten the URLs in your posts; keep it short (80 characters or less) and above all, remember: Content is King! (That “I heart Admissions” is his Facebook profile pic. Cute!)
Jessie Biele (class of ’08) dragged a large pink suitcase up from Virginia so she could return to Purchase and talk to my Multimedia Tools class about her life as a multimedia reporter at Mt. Vernon Patch, Va. We learned that her office is a Starbucks in Mt. Vernon, in other words, she’s mobile. Patch give her an iPhone, which she uses for her reporting. She shoots videos with a Flip cam and edits them in iMovie. Her talents generating reader interaction with her site through Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, Pinterest, earned her a promotion recently. She’s now in charge of social media for three Patch sites.
Kyle Kalotschke (class of ’10) returned to Purchase to visit Prof. Breen’s Fall 2011 Journalism 2 class, so I snagged him to come and talk to my Fall 2011 Journalism 1 class also. He’s Web Editor at Regional News Network now and enjoying his job, despite having to work the overnight shift. Kyle graduated less than a year ago, but he’s already got some great war stories that had the students chuckling, including a tale of the time he had to dress as the Easter Bunny for live television while working as an intern at CBS’ The Early Show.
Matt Caputo came in to talk to my Spring 2011 Journalism 1 class about life as a freelancer in New York. Matt, who was a student of mine about five years ago, recently had two feature pieces published in sports pages of The New York Times, but he’s freelanced and worked in many facets of the New York journalism scene, including the New York Daily News, VIBE, and New York Press. He’s a great storyteller and a realist who gave the students an unjaundiced view of life as a writer.
Kate Zernike packed the house when she came to talk in Fall 2010 about her new book, “Boiling Mad:Inside Tea Party America,” and also to discuss her experiences as a New York Times political reporter. Students were sitting in the aisle and leaning against the walls as she shared her political insights just one week before the Nov. 2010 elections. Zernike has covered the Tea Party since its inception and clearly knew her stuff. A lot of the questions concerned politics. But students also took the opportunity to ask her what it was like to be a reporter at the Times – and write a book at the same time.
Stephen Miraglia dreamed of covering the Yankees as a young boy, and although he only graduated from the Purchase journalism program a year ago, he is already full of war stories interviewing Yankees players for his gig at WCBS880 Yankees Radio Network. Steve visited my Journalism 1 class in Spring 2010 and had the class laughing over his tales of life covering the Yanks. He also shared tips for making the most of opportunities when they come your way. He used one of my field trips to ESPN as an opportunity to make a connection and get an internship there. A great student, well on his way to being a great sports journalist.
Anna Helhoski hasn’t graduated from Purchase yet, but she’s already amassed a number of clips at the Legislative Gazette in Albany from a six-month internship she did there. She has also already had a few pieces aired on public radio and another internship lined up at a public radio station. She came to share her experience of getting and doing internships with my Journalism 1 class in Fall 2009. I often find that the freshmen and sophomore students have as much to learn from upperclassmen in the journalism program as they do from the more established professional journalists who come to visit. Students had very practical questions for Helhoski, such as, what to wear to an internship interview (something smart) and did she have to find her own stories or were they assigned to her (a mixture of both).
Bill Vourvoulias spent a good two hours talking to students in my Fall 2009 Features class about the ins and outs of freelancing. Vourvoulias has had an extensive career in magazine journalism, starting in the New Yorker’s famous fact-checking department. He has worked at Newsweek, Tracks and Talk and was executive editor of both Radar and Interview. His work has appeared in a number of publications including Rolling Stone, Salon, Playboy and Newsday. Vourvoulias was generous with his insights and refreshingly honest about the thrills and challenges of the freelance life.
Karen Zraick, a former student of mine, came to talk to my Features class in Fall 2009. Zraick has gone on to great things since taking Journalism 1 and Features writing with me. She is a regular stringer for The New York Times and has had bylines on a variety of stories, including a profile of an accused terrorist, which ran on the front page. She has also won a Webby for the multimedia Master’s project she did for Columbia Journalism School. Zraick recalled the stories she wrote while at Purchase and answered questions from students about getting internships and about her decision to go to grad school.
Steve Wulf, The Editor in Chief of ESPN Books and a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, came to visit my Junior Seminar in Spring 2009. Wulf joined The Magazine as one of its founding editors in 1997. From 1994 to 1997 he was a senior writer of Time magazine, where he won the Overseas Press Club Award for his cover story on the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. From 1997 to 1994, he worked for Sports Illustrated as a reporter, writer and editor. He has also written for Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, Life and The Economist. He was a mellow presence in the classroom, sharing some great tips on writing and stories of covering athletes over the years.
Chris Raymond, the deputy editor of Details magazine, came to visit my Features class in the Fall 08 semester. He discussed issues in journalism and talked about his career: he was a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and the founding editor of ESPN Books. A 1987 graduate of Penn State, he started his career at Esquire where he edited Mike Lupica’s Sporting Life column. In 1998, he helped launch ESPN The Magazine, later serving as college sports editor, then as a deputy editor. In 2001, he joined GQ as a senior editor. He has assigned and edited five stories that were included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Sports Writing series and edited It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium by John Ed Bradley, which was named “best sports book” of 2007 by Sports Illustrated. He was an inspiring guest. Said one student: “He’s so young.”
Josh Pramis, a graduate of the Purchase journalism program and former student of mine, stopped by in the Fall 08 semester to talk to my Journalism One class. Josh now writes for the website of Travel & Leisure, a job he apparently loves and is doing well at. He gave the class advice about job-hunting and explained how he got his job at T&L. Interestingly, Josh said the website used to play second fiddle to the magazine, but that’s changing rapidly.