Monday, November 04, 2013

Documenting the Culture of New Orleans

Alejandro de los Rios ’07 in New Orleans
While I was New Orleans for the National College Media Convention at the end of last month, I was able to get together with one of our former sports editors and columnists, Alejandro de los Rios ’07. He’s been living in New Orleans for the past few years, freelancing stories and making a documentary on New Orleans brass bands. 
Check out his Thrillist pieces on the best burgers or the 10 best food trucks in New Orleans, or this Gambit piece on the New Orleans Hornets Pelicans. 
“Brass Roots,” the documentary he is hard at work completing, is an in-depth look at the art and culture of the New Orleans brass bands and their role in the life of the city. He describes the project in this 2011 interview with the website “Untapped Cities.”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ithacan Wins National Online Pacemaker Award

The Ithacan’s website was honored with the Online Pacemaker Award for 2013 at the Fall National College Media Convention in New Orleans on Oct. 26. The Pacemakers are the highest honors awarded by the Associated Collegiate Press and are generally regarded as “the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism.”

The competition entries were judged during the Spring 2013 semester (Kelsey O’Connor, editor in chief; Honest Charley Bodkin, webmaster).

The Ithacan has won the award six times in the past eight years.

The print edition of The Ithacan was a finalist in the Newspaper Pacemaker category and was presented with a newspaper Pacemaker Finalist Award at the convention as well.
Founded in 1921, the Associated Collegiate Press is the oldest and largest membership organization for college journalists in the country.

Ithacan news editor Noreyana Fernando, assistant design editor Marianna Dunbrook, editor in chief Megan Devlin and assistant Accent editor Evin Billington (shown left-to-right holding The Ithacan’s Pacemaker and Pacemaker Finalist  Awards in the photo above) represented the paper at the convention and spent three days attending back-to-back hour-long workshop session and networking with the more than 3,000 student journalists and advisers attending. And, of course, enjoying the culinary, musical and historical delights New Orleans has to offer.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reunion and Comm School 40th Draw Alumni

Jill Agostino ’86 talks to students.
The weekend of October 11–13 was not only Ithaca College Reunion, but the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the college’s School of Communications as well. There were special events throughout the weekend, not least of which were Ithacan alumni returning to campus to share their knowledge and experience with current students.
On Friday afternoon, Jill Agostino ’86, an editor at the New York Times Washington bureau, met with about 25 students in the Ithacan office to talk about her career and her work at the Times. She discussed the Times’ strategies and procedures in covering recent events like the Navy Yard shootings and the government shutdown, and offered career advice to those hoping to become professional journalists upon graduation. She also conducted an editing workshop for journalism students on Saturday morning.
Vanessa Schneider ’07 explains Google
 mapping tools  Friday workshop.
Jill's Friday session was followed by a workshop on “Storytelling with Google Maps” by Vanessa Schneider ’07. Vanessa, a former Ithacan editor in chief, is now Google’s Geo Media Program manager. She travels the country and world showing media organizations ways that tools like Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Fusion can help journalists tell stories more effectively. She gave her presentation to our students, who started implementing what they learned on the Ithacan website the very next day.
On Saturday morning Vanessa, along with Aaron Edwards ’12 and recently hired journalism professor Anthony Adornato, led a roundtable discussion on “Journalism Reinvented,” exploring the ways in which journalists have adapted technologically and cognitively to master the new media landscape. Professor Adornato, who has 12 years of broadcast experience, is a specialist in new media and social media. Aaron just started a new job as Associate Editor, Breaking News, at NBC News Digital in New York after a stint as a news producer at Digital First Media.
An EIC reunion. From left: Aaron
Edwards ’12, current editor in chief
senior Megan Devlin and Libby Sile ’11.
These weren’t the only Ithacan alumni to pass through that weekend. Former photo editor Connor Gleason ’08, now staff photographer at Curry College in Milton, Mass.; former Accent and news editor Jamie Saine ’08, now a marketing writer at uTest, a software testing company in Framingham, Mass.; and former editor in chief Libby Sile ’11 and now an editorial assistant at Esquire magazine in New York also came by and to check out our new office and talk to students. In addition, there was reportedly a sighting of former design editor Lena Yue ’10 on campus, although I can’t verify this first hand. Lena is currently a digital marketing specialist at the Chronicle for Higher Education.
It was a pleasure to see them all, as always. And it’s equally a pleasure to see the way our alumni, as members of the vast Ithacan family, continue to stay interested and involved with our program and our students.

From left: Aaron Edwards ’12, Professor Anthony Adornato and Vanessa Schneider ’07 lead a roundtable discussion on “Journalism Reinvented.”

Kelli Grant ’04 Marries Roger An

Kelli Grant ’06 and Roger An
There are few events more enjoyable than an Ithacan wedding, as Kelli Grant ’04 recently demonstrated when she married animation artist Roger An on Sept. 21 at The Bethwood in Totowa, N.J.
Kelli, who served as news editor and special projects manager during her tenure on The Ithacan, recently left SmartMoney/MarketWatch after eight years for a new position as a consumer reporter at CNBC.
The weather cooperated — showers had been predicted — for the outdoor ceremony in the Bethwood's garden. Liz (Crowley) Pontillo ’04 served as a bridesmaid. It was just short of three years ago that we were all together at Liz’s wedding to David Pontillo in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
There was plenty of dancing at the reception, which was only natural, since Kelli and Roger met in a swing dance group. They were certainly impressive on the dance floor.

The ceremony took place in the garden at The Bethwood. That’s Liz
(Crowley) Pontillo ’04 three to the left of Kelli.

Monday, October 07, 2013

It’s Award Season Once Again

The Ithacan has once again been named a national Newspaper Pacemaker Finalist by the Associated Collegiate Press. This is that organization’s top honor, commonly referred to as “the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism.” The award is for work produced during the 2012-13 academic year (Kelsey O'Connor, editor in chief).
The Ithacan is an Online Pacemaker Finalists as well. The winners of both awards will be announced at the fall National College Media Convention in New Orleans, October 24-27.
In addition, the paper has been named a Gold Medalist for 2013 in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s annual college newspaper critique. This recognition is for print and online work produced during the 2012-13 academic year (Kelsey O'Connor, editor in chief).

Each year the CSPA evaluates member papers on overall content, news, depth reporting, features, opinion/editorial, sports, arts/entertainment, editing/headline writing and design/graphics based on 150 specific criteria. This year the paper scored 976 points on the critique’s 1,000-point scale. The CSPA consistently ranks The Ithacan as a Gold Medalist, its highest category.
Among the judge's comments: “The Ithacan has continued to maintain the gold standard of journalism at Ithaca College. Congratulations on publishing an outstanding print and digital newspaper and your Gold Medalist and All Columbian honors. You entertain, inform, practice enterprise journalism and serve as a student forum, all in an exceptional manner.”
Finally, the paper was recognized at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., August 24–26 for being one of two finalists in the Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper category in SPJ’s annual Mark of Excellence Awards competition. The paper won first place last year.

Ithacan Brew Fest Strikes Again!

From left, Max Steinmetz ’08, Tricia Nadolny ’09, Erica Hendry ’09, Andy Swift ’09
 and Lydia Dimitridis ’08
The end of summer was once again officially commemorated by the return of Ithacan alumni to their alma mater for what’s informally become known as “Ithacan Brew Fest.” When the Ithaca Beer Company stopped sponsoring the city’s annual Labor Day beer festival a couple of years ago, a group of our alumni who had been coming back for it every year decided to just keep coming. 
Last year the gathering took place in Stewart Park, but this year, thanks to the initiative of Andrew Lovell ’08, they rented a place out toward Enfield — a beautiful multi-bedroom house complete with a well-equipped kitchen, in-ground swimming pool and an enormous yard. It provided a home-base for returning to favorite sites in the area, discovering new places and, of course, visiting the new Ithacan office. The weather was beautiful, we had a great time and the tradition shows no sign of dying out anytime soon.
Nic Barajas ’08 and Meghan Peters

Cory Francer ’10 and Andrew Lovell ’08

Another Great Visit with the D.C. Alumni

It's time to start catching up with some long-overdue blog posts. Summer has ended and we’re almost halfway into the fall semester, so I’d better get some of these things up before they disappear into the abyss of memory.
Summer was a busy one around the Park School, as construction of the new Ithacan office stretched from just after Commencement until (OK, until after, really) the beginning of classes. It’s up and running now, of course, but more on that later. The summer was also noteworthy in that the Ithacan staff made an active effort to update the website regularly. News editor Sabrina Knight was in town interning for the Ithaca Times, so she was able to do some local reporting for us as well. Incoming editor in chief Megan Devlin edited the stories from San Francisco, where she was spending the summer, and Kira Maddox and Vicky Wolak copy edited/proofread.

Roger Custer ’05, Ann (Walters) Custer ’04 and Megan Tetrick ’03

As always, a high point of the summer for me was my annual trip to Washington, D.C., to get together with our alumni there. In addition to our customary group dinner at the Old Ebbit Grill, I was able to spend some extra time with quite a few people this trip: Jazz in the Garden of the National Gallery with Erica 
Ann Uhls ’07, Alex Palombo ’11 and Max Steinmetz 09.
Alex Leary ’97, Lena Yue ’10 and Erica Hendry ’09.
Hendry and Max Steinmetz, later to be joined by Alex Leary for dinner at Zaytinya; visits to some exciting new D.C. breweries with Erica and Max the next day, followed by a great Ethiopian dinner at Dukem (thanks for dinner, guys!); a delicious Sunday brunch with Jill Agostino at Kafe Leopold in Georgetown (thanks for brunch, Jill!); dinner with Charlie and Caitlin (Connelly) Ellsworth in their new home (Caitlin is a terrific cook, incidentally); and lunch with Rob and Missy (Bloomrose) Bluey ’00 at Bistro Cacao near their Heritage Foundation workplace, along with Melissa (Thornley) Bloomrose ’02 (thanks for lunch, Rob!). Sadly, Melissa’s husband Michael Bloomrose ’02 couldn't make it — he was off on an aircraft carrier somewhere. It was a very good trip from both the companionship and culinary points of view. And like I always say, food always tastes better when it's free — thanks again, everyone!
Bonnie (Flock) Tabasko ’01 and
Mike Tabasko ’00.
Dinner at the Old Ebbitt brought in a full complement of alumni: Jill Agostino ’86, Rob Bluey ’00, Ann (Walters) Custer ’04, Roger Custer ’05, Charlie Ellsworth ’04, Caitlin (Connelly) Ellsworth ’05, Erica Hendry ’09, Alex Leary ’97, Alexandra Palombo ’11, Beth Quill ’06 and fiancé Seth Zuckerman, Kate Sheppard ’06, Max Steinmetz ’09, Bonnie (Flock) Tabasko ’01, Mike Tabasko ’00, Megan Tetrick ’03, Anna Uhls ’07, Nate Weixel ’08 and Lena Yue ’10.
And since it also happened to be my birthday, Alex Leary and I went down the street to The Hamilton after dinner to continue the celebration. But the less said about that, perhaps, the better.
Caitlin (Connelly) Ellsworth ’05
Beth Quill ’06 and her fiance
 Seth Zuckerman
It was great to see everyone, as always. I hadn't seen Megan Tetrick since Ellen (Stapleton) Hale’s wedding back in 2006. Megan is now in Washington working as a Foreign Service officer at the Russia Desk in the State Department. It also had been awhile since I'd seen Anna Uhls, who was in D.C. working as a summer associate at the WilmerHale law firm before returning for her final year of law school at the University of Colorado. And it was a pleasure to meet Bonnie (Flock) Tabasco’s husband, Mike, an HSHP alum of the college. It's always a pleasure to welcome a new member to the ever-growing Ithacan family.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Some High-Profile Magazine Work

Work by two Ithacan alumni has been prominently featured in the national press recently. 

Sean Fennessey ’03 has published “Remembering Harry,” a piece commemorating the career of wayward musical genius Harry Nilsson, in Grantland, and “The Man Who Will Save Your Musical Soul,” a profile of vinyl record champion Dick Vivian by Byard Duncan ’09, has appeared in GQ. Interesting stories by two of the best writers to have passed through The Ithacan's doors. Check them out.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Write When You Find Work

Lisa Boyars Gehrke
Lisa Boyars Gehrke ’01 has left Conde Nast to become executive director of group marketing at Heart Men’s Group. Among her responsibilities will be supervision of the “Car and Driver,” “Popular Mechanics” and “Road and Track” marketing teams. She begins work today. 

Kelli B. Grant
Former news editor and special projects manager Kelli B. Grant ’04 has left her job as senior consumer reporter at after eight years to take a position on the enterprise team at

Jeff Morganteen

Former sports editor Jeff Morganteen ’07 is working as a reporter and multimedia producer at the The New York World as a post-graduate research fellow in Columbia University’s graduate journalism program. He’ll be covering criminal justice and producing multimedia coverage of the New York City mayoral race.

Lydia Dimitriadis
Former chief proofreader Lydia Dimitriadis ’08 has taken a new position as publications coordinator at Jacobs Levy Equity Management in Florham Park, N.J., beginning July 22. She will be the project manager and overseer of projects compiled by the firm’s principals and writers, including books and investment articles and journals.

Former photo editor Evan Falk ’09 is working as an associate producer at FOX Business Network. He had been freelancing and working in photography at his own Evan Falk Photography studio.

Former design editor Michelle Barrie ’10 is working at Jack Nadel International, a promotional product marketing/branding agency in Los Angeles. The firm has clients like Guess, Hot Topic, Dooney and Bourke, and MTV. 

Former Sports Editor Kevin McCall ’12 is Athletic Media Relations Assistant at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

Kevin McCall

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vanessa Schneider Comes to Town

Former Editor in Chief Vanessa Schneider ’07, now Geo Media Program Manager at Google, came to town for classmate and former Accent section colleague Liz Taddonio's wedding at the Farmers Market this weekend, and we got together for brunch with Kara Cusolito ’08 at the Carriage House Cafe in Collegetown. We talked about bringing Vanessa back in the fall to talk to our students about the work Google is doing with mapping and other tools useful for journalists.

Kara Cusolito and Vanessa Schneider

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some Iconic Ithacan Memorabilia Found While Packing Up Park 269

The "Of the Week Award" Crown

Carly Chamberlin’s Field Hockey Stick

The Ithacan Frog (Sorry, this was before
my time. Roger Eslinger, who gave it to me when
he retired from the Campus Center, said they
used to sell them in the Bookstore. Anyone
know the story?

And whatever happened to the Hello Kitty phone?

The Ithacan Is Moving!

The Ithacan’s May 2 issue, the last of the Spring 2013 semester, was also the last one that will be produced in Park 269. It's the end of one era and the beginning of another as The Ithacan prepares to move from its long-established home to a new state-of-the-art newsroom space. 

 In recognition of the paper’s accomplishments and its overall role in journalism education in the Park School, Dean Diane Gayeski is moving The Ithacan to Park 220 (you know, the room with all those windows) and the room next door (219). We're tearing down the wall between them to create an open, digital-first environment.

And it’s going to be more than just The Ithacan office: Designed by Syracuse architects King and King, the new space will provide opportunities for converged media coverage with “Newswatch” and other Park student media. There will be a camera and space dedicated for TV stand-ups, a sound booth and other features designed to encourage collaboration between The Ithacan, ICTV and the two radio stations. 

Out with the old: Park 269
Alumni from more than two decades will never forget those long Wednesday nights in Park 269. Some will remember it for the excitement, the camaraderie, thrill of getting the paper done. Others will remember an airless, windowless room with florescent lights, oppressive heat and too many chairs. It was both, of course, and so much more.

And in with the new: construction as of Monday

On to the Next Phase

As another academic year ends, our new alumni are finding their way in the world.

Molly Apfelroth (Year in Review design editor, 2013) has accepted an internship at the Cohn and Wolfe Global Communications and Public Relations Agency in New York.

Kari Beal
Kari Beal (Multimedia editor, Fall 2012) has been hired as an online and video associate producer at the Los Angeles Times.

December 2012 grad Lara Bonner (chief proofreader, 2010–11; managing editor, spring–fall 2012) has been hired as an editorial/layout assistant at IBISWorld in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Kacey Deamer with Professor
Mead Loop
Kacey Deamer (online news editor 2012–13) is entering the master’s program with a focus on climate change journalism at the University of Southern California, where she received an Annenberg Fellowship.

Shea O’Meara (Accent editor, 2011–12; Opinion editor 2012–13) has been accepted in the New York City Teaching Fellowship program and will be teaching in a New York City high school while pursuing a master's degree. She hopes to eventually earn a Ph.D. in peace and conflict resolution or public policy.

Another Class Joins the Alumni Ranks

Nicole Ogrysko and family
Commencement 2013 saw the members of the largest class in Ithaca College history take that first step from the world of education into the beginnings of their careers.
Commencement speaker David Boreanaz ’91 urged them to work hard in pursuit of their dreams.
“You have to earn it,” he said. “Earn it. No one is going to give you anything in this life. Earn it.”
Graduation is always a bittersweet moment for the students who have been deeply involved at The Ithacan. Eager as they are to move on to the next stage of their lives, working with each other week in and week out for four years, they form bonds not easily replaced. It’s no wonder so many of them maintain those connections throughout their lives.
Michelle Boulé
Danielle D’Avanzo
One thing I tell each year’s incoming editorial board is how important it is to recognize and take advantage of the opportunity before them: It may be a very long time, if ever, before they will have so much control over a publication as important to its community as The Ithacan is to Ithaca College. There is no substitute for that kind of experience. Now the time has come to take the lessons they learned here and, quite literally, make the world a better place.

Graham Hebel
Ithacan students who stayed involved with the paper through their senior year include Molly Apfelroth, Nathan Bickell, Michelle Boulé, Andrew Casper, Alexa d’Angelo, Danielle D’Avanzo, Kacey Deamer, Jared Dionne, Gerald Doherty, Alexandra Evans, Kelsey Fowler, Graham Hebel, Qina Liu, Taylor Long, Kelsey O’Connor, Shea O’Meara, Nicole Ogrysko, Rachel Orlow and Shawn Steiner. They leave well-prepared for the challenges ahead of them.
Kerry Tkacik and her
mother Mary

Sunday, April 28, 2013


This month marked my 500th issue as adviser of The Ithacan. Five hundred Wednesday nights of sheer ... well, never mind. The editors bought me a cake, and we celebrated by spending yet another Wednesday night producing an issue of the best college weekly in the country. I let assistant photo editor Durst Breneiser take my picture (anyone who knows me knows how happy I was about that), and here it is. I can't imagine any more satisfying career.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

SPJ Names Ithacan Best in the Northeast

The Society of Professional Journalists has once again named The Ithacan the Best Nondaily Student Newspaper in the Northeast Region. The paper received the first place Mark of Excellence Award this afternoon at the SPJ Region 1 conference at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

The paper now goes on to compete against the winners in the other 11 SPJ regions for the national Mark of Excellence Award. The winner will be announced at the SPJ national convention this fall. The SPJ is the largest professional organization of reporters and editors in the country.

SPJ named The Ithacan the Best Nondaily Student Newspaper in the country in 2012.

Friday, April 12, 2013

More Recognition for The Ithacan’s Website

The Ithacan has once again been named a finalist for the Online Pacemaker Award by the Associated Collegiate Press.

The winners of the award — widely regarded as “the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism”  — will be announced at this fall's National College Media Convention in New Orleans on October 26. The Ithacan's website won the Online Pacemaker in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and was a finalist in 2009.

The Associated College Press is the oldest and largest membership organization of college journalists in the country.