Posts filed under ‘College of Communications’
One of the highlights of our May/June issue is a photo essay featuring the work of Will Yurman, a photojournalism instructor in the College of Communications. The inspiration for our feature was Will’s online project, “A Day A Photo,” which he started about a decade ago and continues by posting one photo, every single day. It’s a wonderful collection of captured moments—often funny, sometimes sad, but always authentic.
Before coming to Penn State a couple of years ago (note the photo above, a colorful moment viewed through the Allen Street gate), Will was a staff photographer with the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle. He’ll be back in upstate New York this weekend for the launch of a show based on his online project, which opens Sunday at ARTISANworks Gallery in Rochester. If you’re in the area, you should check it out.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
If I heard the question once, I heard it a zillion times. You’re going where?
It was as if everyone I talked to had gone deaf as I explained that I was headed out of the country for spring break on assignment for the magazine. I was tagging along on a trip that’s unique in the Alumni Association’s extensive offerings of travel opportunities: Cuba.
No one could quite believe it. I understood why. I’ve set a goal of traveling to all 50 states and seven continents (11 states, two continents to go), and I’ve got an extensive list of countries I want to visit. But it had never occurred to me to add Cuba to the list. It didn’t seem possible.
It’s really hard for an American to go to Cuba. The United States hasn’t had diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1961, two years after Fidel Castro took power, and it imposed an economic embargo on the country in 1962—more than 50 years ago. Plus, the U.S. government restricts travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, and the country is on the state sponsors of terrorism list. (Click here for a good primer on U.S.-Cuba relations from the Council on Foreign Relations.) If you go, you’re not a tourist on vacation—you are officially, by the terms of a license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, a traveler participating in a people-to-people educational exchange. Those licenses aren’t easy to get, but the Alumni Association did it.
And believe me, the terms of the license matter. Our week in Cuba was wonderful—a life-changing experience, in some ways—but it certainly wasn’t a traditional vacation.
The 28 of us on the tour, including faculty host John Nichols, professor emeritus of communications, were on the move at 8 a.m. every day. We visited a senior home, a maternity home, an elementary school, a dance school, a synagogue. We listened to lectures. (And, in John’s case, gave them.) We didn’t see any beaches (although we did pose for a group picture at the Bay of Pigs after exploring the nearby museum about the failed CIA-backed invasion by Cuban exiles). And we couldn’t shop for souvenirs: The U.S. government restricts how citizens can spend their money, so we could bring home only items classified as educational materials: newspapers and books, music, and art. (Not, as I explained to everyone from my brother to the pastor of my church, cigars. My pastor was joking. I think.)
Now that I’m back, I repeatedly hear another question: What was it like?
It’s a simple question, but even after two weeks of reflection, I don’t have a ready answer.
Cuba was beautiful—blue skies, brightly colored buildings, fantastic old cars, music I’m still hearing in my head. (And in my office. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to an album that was one of my favorites even before the trip, Ibrahim Ferrar’s Buenos Hermanos, and a new favorite I brought home, Guajiro Natural by the late Polo Montañez.) It was photogenic, as you can see from the slide show at the end of this post.
Cuba was sad—people living in houses that were literally crumbling, and doctors and university professors working in the tourist business because they couldn’t make enough money in their original professions.
Cuba was friendly—full of passers-by wanting to try out their English (often, incredibly good; always, far better than my meager Spanish). I’ve never felt safer in a big city than I did in Havana.
Cuba was confusing—a system of two currencies, one (practically worthless) for Cubans, the other for foreigners. And it’s just hard to grasp that except for a handful of private restaurants, everything is owned by the government. We kept asking, “Who owns this restaurant?” or “Who pays for your college education?” and the Cubans kept looking at us as if we were crazy and saying, “The state.”
Most surprising of all, Cuba was familiar. I lived in Miami for about a year, and parts of the country, particularly sections of Havana, looked like my old neighborhood. Havana Vieja, the old city, which has been revitalized, had packs of tourists (from other countries, of course), and streets lined with buses—just as in any other major city. Who knew?
And Cuba was invigorating—already, I want to go back. I just need to learn some more Spanish.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’m still processing my notes and my thoughts. (Also: nearly 3,000 photos.) I’m writing a story for our July/August issue, and I’ve got a few more interviews to do. Our local guide told us on Day One that we were coming to Cuba to get answers, but that we would leave with more questions. Wow, was he right about that.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
I can’t imagine that by Monday evening, there’s not a Penn Stater on the planet who doesn’t know the news: THON set another fundraising record: $12.3 million dollars.
That’s more than $2 million more than last year’s amount, which shattered the previous record. This year’s total ($12,374,034.46, to be precise) raised the total amount that THON has raised for the Four Diamonds Fund to more than $100 million since 1973. No wonder Penn Staters, who have been saddened by so much of what’s happened over the past 14 months, were jubilant when the total was announced.
But we figured that you might not yet have caught up on the terrific THON coverage, starting with the cover of The Daily Collegian, which you can see here. If you want to get a feel for what it was like to be there, through words and pictures, you’re going to want to check out the following:
Click here to read the main story in the Collegian and for a chart with THON milestones over the years, and go to the Collegian’s home page for links to more stories and more photos. If you want a PDF of the paper, you can click here.
If you want to relive THON as it happened, click here for Onward State’s live blog. (Of course, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom and scroll up should you want to go through the whole 46 hours in chronological order.) There are links to videos, photos, and blog posts here, as well.
The College of Communications goes all-out on THON, too. (Someday I’m going to count the number of student journalists covering THON. But I digress.) You can click here to see how 15 student photojournalists, working in shifts, covered the whole 46 hours, and you’ll also find links to daily coverage, too.
And if all of this makes you want to relieve the highlights from 40 years of THON, check out this history piece, which appeared in the February issue of AlumnInsider, a monthly publication of the Alumni Association.
Let us know about your favorite THON coverage in the comments.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
It’s a new semester, so that means we’ve got a new intern. And, as usual, we’re giving her some space to introduce herself. Meet Kimberly Valarezo.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I packed about 80 percent of my closet, gave my dog a tight squeeze, and said goodbye to the town I had called home my entire life, Union City, N.J. As my dad drove me out of New Jersey and into the heart of Pennsylvania, the familiar tall buildings and crammed houses slowly started to disappear and in their place came farms, fields, and cows.
Unlike so many of my other friends, I had visited State College only twice before move-in day; one of those visits was FTCAP. I didn’t have any memories of attending Saturday football games in Beaver Stadium or getting a scoop, or three, of ice cream at the Creamery. To be honest, I’d never really heard of Penn State until my junior year of high school, yet there I was, ready to move into what would be my home for the next four years of my life.
I chose Penn State because of its wide selection of majors, perfect for someone who was undecided like I was. It wasn’t until the fall semester of my sophomore year that I found my perfect niche in print journalism. Writing became an outlet, and after I enrolled in the College of Communications, everything fell into place.
Before I knew it, I began applying to internships all over New York City. During spring break of my sophomore year, I received an email from the assistant fashion editor at Marie Claire magazine asking me to go in for an interview. Before I knew it, I was at my first day at Marie Claire. My summer there was amazing. I made great contacts and connections, I was sent on two photo shoots, and I was also sent on these two TV segments, the first for QVC and the second for NBC’s New York Live.
My connections at Marie Claire led me to my second internship during this past Christmas break at O, The Oprah Magazine. Although my time there was short, I still learned a great deal about magazines and made even more connections, some with Penn State alumni.
I think the first time I truly understood what it means to “bleed blue and white” was when I was ferociously defending my school against anyone who tried to make it seem like it was anything less than what it is. I was proud to be a Nittany Lion, and still am, but I now understand the love that so many people have for this school. I now see the countless reasons why so many people love to stay connected to Penn State long after their graduation.
Even though I don’t have long-standing ties to this school, my love for it continues to grow each day that I am here. I don’t know what will happen a year, five years, or 10 years from now, but I know that one day in the future, I will be opening my very own issue of The Penn Stater magazine as an alumna, and I’ll be proud to know that I had the responsibility and privilege to contribute to one of many traditions here in Happy Valley.
Kimberly Valarezo, intern
The biggest takeaway from a panel discussion Wednesday night titled “The Future of the NCAA and its Membership,” I thought, came at the end. And it didn’t come from either of the biggest names on the panel: Gene Corrigan or Cedric Dempsey, both former NCAA presidents.
It was R. Scott Kretchmar, Penn State’s former NCAA faculty representative and current professor of kinesiology, who said, “I think one of the difficulties that faculty and others who love Penn State are having at this time is, the issue of knowing that we need to move forward—we can’t keep tilling the soil; we have to get on with it—but the circumstances under which we’re now suffering were so unusual that it’s very difficult to do that.
“And so there may be a period of time where we have to ask questions: Were we treated fairly? Was there any kind of justice here? But eventually, we’re going to move on. Penn State’s strong. We’re going to have a good future.”
Those were the questions on everyone’s mind Wednesday night, and Kretchmar accurately described the mood of the crowd, a mix of students and townspeople.
Look at the title of the event, which was (more…)
We asked our intern, Erika Spicer, to attend Joe Posnanski’s talk Friday at the HUB. We’ve read and written so much over the past 10 months about Paterno and his legacy, and we were interested in Erika’s perspective—both as an undergraduate, and in particular as a journalism major. Here’s what she came away with.
As I sat in my plastic chair in Alumni Hall waiting for Paterno author Joe Posnanski to speak, I mulled over the fact I probably wasn’t going to learn anything new.
I am so tired of listening to people rehash the events surrounding Joe Paterno, I thought to myself, feeling a twinge of guilt as I sat among some Paterno supporters. With the release of Paterno in the midst of a new era for Penn State football, I knew where a lot of this discussion was headed Friday afternoon.
As I predicted, questions like, “How do you think Joe Paterno would feel about the NCAA sanctions?” popped up when moderator Malcolm Moran, director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, which sponsored the talk, gave audience members the opportunity to ask Posnanski questions. Not that I could blame them –– after all, Posnanski not only spent (more…)
At least two dozen Penn Staters—including a school-record 19 athletes—are in the UK for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which officially kick off with Friday’s opening ceremony. This link from GoPSUSports.com rounds up the competing athletes with Penn State ties, some of whom you can find out more about via the links below:
* Here’s a recent Q&A with Christa Harmotto ’09 (pictured), one of two former Nittany Lions (along with Megan Hodge ’10) on the U.S. women’s volleyball team’s 12-player roster. Alisha Glass ’10 and Nicole Fawcett ’09 are with the team as alternates. Matt Anderson is one of the stars of the U.S. men’s team.
* Penn Staters will represent a number of countries in track and field events. Here’s a feature interviewing the parents of Bridget Franek ’10, who will run the steeplechase for the U.S.; a short video feature on Dominique Blake ’08, a member of the Jamaican 4×400 relay team, with some cool footage of her training; there’s also Shana Cox ’07, who will represent the host nation in the 4×400, and Kirsten Nieuwendam, a Penn State sophomore, will run the 200 meters for her native Suriname. Ryan Whiting, an assistant coach with the track team, will compete for the U.S. in the shot put.
If you’ve been following the Sandusky scandal, I’m sure you’ve noticed the tenacious reporting of Sara Ganim ’08, whose March story first alerted the public that Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71 MEd H&HD was being investigated by a grand jury, and who was at the forefront of the coverage when the scandal became national news in November. She was honored Monday afternoon with journalism’s highest prize, the Pulitzer.
The citation, for local reporting, reads like this: “Awarded to Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, Harrisburg, Penn., for courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.”
“This is definitely a win for the whole newsroom,” Ganim says in this video, which is upside-down. “For everybody standing here. And more important, I think it’s important for everyone in every newsroom just like ours for every newsroom across the country. because better than any award., the most rewarding thing in this whole process is people telling me this story and our coverage has changed their minds about local reporting.”
Ganim, who’s 24 years old and one of the youngest Pulitzer winners, is one of a very small group of Penn Staters who have been so honored:
Norman C. Miller ’56 of the Wall Street Journal won the 1964 prize for local, general, or spot news reporting for a “comprehensive account of a multi-million dollar vegetable oil swindle in New Jersey.”
Rod Nordland ’72 was part of a team from The Philadelphia Inquirer that won the 1983 prize for local, general, or spot news for coverage of the Three Mile Island accident.
Janet Day ’82 was part of a team at The Denver Post that won the 2000 prize for breaking news for coverage of the Columbine shootings.
Novelist Richard Russo, who taught at Penn State Altoona, won the 2002 prize in fiction for Empire Falls, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke taught at Penn State from 1936–1943. Additionally, archivist Paul Dzyak ’92 tells us, Donald Bartlett, half of a dynamic investigative duo with James Steele, briefly attended Penn State. Bartlett and Steele won the 1989 Pulitzer for national reporting for an investigation into the 1986 Tax Reform Act. And Mark E. Neely Jr., McCabe-Greer Professor of American Civil War History, won the 1992 prize for history for The Fate of Liberty.
Thanks to Dzyak and Vicki Fong ’81, manager of public relations for the College of the Liberal Arts, for helping to compile this list. If you know of anyone we missed, please let us know in the comments or at our Facebook page.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Father Matthew Laffey of the Penn State Catholic Center set the tone—and provided a broad outline of Joe Paterno’s life—in his opening prayer. “Thank you for this man. … How fortunate this corner of your kingdom has been.”
The details came slowly over the next two hours Thursday afternoon, as speakers at A Memorial for Joe painted pictures of the man who helped to build—and became largely synonymous with—Penn State.
We met the competitive Joe. “The bigger the game, the quieter he was in practice,” said Todd Blackledge, quarterback of the 1982 national championship team. “But the gleam in his eyes told the story.”
The literary Joe, who never called Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, anything other than “Dean,” who donated millions of dollars to the library, and who clearly passed that love of literature on to his son. Here’s who Jay Paterno quoted in his closing eulogy: Sophocles, William Blatty, U2, John Adams, John Ruskin, Tennessee Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., and Arthur Ashe.
The funny Joe, so quick with a one-liner, who told Jimmy Cefalo’s mother on a recruiting visit, “Your pasta is better than Mrs. Cappelletti’s.” (more…)
From our intern, Emily Kaplan:
Over the weekend, a friend of mine tweeted: Boy, what I would do to sit in on a journalism ethics class at Penn State this week.
I am fortunate to be enrolled in that course this semester—COMM 409: News Media Ethics, a section taught by Malcolm Moran, a veteran journalist and head of Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.
My friend was right—Tuesday’s lesson was never more relevant. When I walked in, I had pretty good feeling we wouldn’t be discussing the assigned reading on the syllabus. Not after a weekend where dubious reporting and social media gone wild resulted in an announcement that the most recognizable face of this university had died—when in fact, he was still alive.
“There’s nothing more important to be right about than if an important figure is alive or not,” Moran said. “Nothing.”
So who better to be a guest lecturer than Mark Viera ’09? He’s the New York Times reporter who dispelled reports that Joe Paterno had passed away Saturday night by simply asking a family spokesman whether the rumors were true.
The class had a meta feel. Moran asked Viera what lessons from the course he has applied to his reporting—and what lessons couldn’t be taught in the classroom. Moran also pointed out the seat that Viera occupied just a few semesters ago. The girl sitting there now has some big shoes to fill. Viera, 24, has been one of the Times’ lead journalists in Penn State coverage over the past two months because of his familiarity with the school and dogged reporting.
But Tuesday, he stood in front of about 50 of us. Everyone seemed attentive as he spoke. I don’t know whether it was respect for Moran, respect for Viera or simply respect for the subject matter, but I didn’t see one person texting under their desk or day dreaming blankly at the wall. (more…)