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The Power of a Blog Post: How SUNY Purchase Journalism Alum Meghan Lalonde Wrote About, Met Freed “West Memphis Three” Death Row Inmate

Meghan Lalonde (second from left) and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three (second from right). That's her professor on the far left and a classmate on the far right. (Photo courtesy of Meghan Lalonde.)

This is a really interesting story of how Meghan Lalonde (Class of 2010) wrote a blog post, one thing lead to another, and before she knew it she and a group of her New York Law School classmates were at the apartment of Damien Echols, the most famous of the West Memphis Three, having tea and cookies.

As you may know, the West Memphis Three were wrongfully convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. They served 18 years before their conviction was overturned and they were freed in August. Their case was the subject of a series of Paradise Lost documentaries and a Peter Jackson entry at the Sundance Film Festival.

Meghan, who is in the Law and Journalism program, wrote about the case in a carefully researched blog post The West Memphis Three: An A-Z List of Justice Gone Wrong for her class blog  Legal As She Is Spoke.

Echols, who spent years on death row, liked the post and agreed to meet Meghan and her class. You can tell from her email that it blew her mind!

“It was absolutely surreal. Damien personally thanked me for writing about the case and did the same with another girl who also wrote about it, and gave each of us a hug and a kiss. My professor was losing her mind…Damien was so nice that he brought my professor and I and a few other students over to his apartment afterwards for tea and cookies.”
Meghan’s piece is a painstaking look at the various details of what she says is a gross miscarriage of justice, including the interesting Alford Plea, which, as Meghan’s post notes, “allows a criminal defendant to plead guilty without admitting guilt and maintaining innocence while still acknowledging that prosecutors have enough ‘evidence’ for a conviction.”
 
 
Great story, Meghan!
 

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@RealLifeKaz, Purchase Alum Kazeem Famuyide, Goes From The Source to Hip Hop Wired

Kazeem Famuyide, Senior Editor, Hip Hop Wired

As the Online Editor of The Source, Kazeem Famuyide (Class of 2010) was indeed online – all the time. He has clocked up over 100,000 Tweets and notched up over 6,000 followers.. and counting.

His Twitter scene was abuzz recently with news that he’s leaving The Source to become Senior Editor of Hip Hop Wired.com. And this week he made it official, though he tells me he will continue writing for The Source, something he was doing even as a student in the Purchase journalism program.

When he was interviewed by Susan Varghese (Class of 2010) for Purchase HerCampus two years ago, he was already sounding like a journalist who was going to go far.

“Believe in your craft. Journalism isn’t going anywhere; it’s just going to shift. The good stuff is going to rise to the top anyway.”

ALL the way to the top, Kazeem!

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Self-described “Social Media Junkie” Jessie Biele Returns to Purchase for a Social Media Talk

I learned SO much from my former student Jessie Biele (Class of 2008) today when she came to talk to my Multimedia Tools class about her new social media responsibilities at Patch.com.

She’s a self-described “social media junkie” – and it’s working for her. After editing Mount Vernon, V.A. Patch for two years, she got a bump up and now oversees social media for three Patch sites. Woohoo! So she’s on her iPhone and laptop  constantly using Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to generate  reader interaction with the Patch sites. After all, the success of a social media editor is measured in Twitter followers, Facebook fans and reader comments.

We talked about using TweetDeck to time-release your Tweets, because even social media junkies must sleep from time to time. She swears by Linked In and old-fashioned business cards for job-hunting, and encouraged students to have a digital portfolio either on Tumblr or Weebly.

When she’s not working hard for Patch, Jessie’s also studying for her Master’s in Public Communication at American University. (She did confess that she still LOVES Purchase more, though. And was SOOOO happy to be back.)

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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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