Dean’s Letter – March 2017

March 1, 2017

March 30, 2017

Warm greetings from North Gate Hall:

Keeping up with the flood of news about our students, teachers and alums is one of the true pleasures of this job. The latest happenings include a continuing cascade of honors for our journalists, a two-week Robert Frank photography show that brought hundreds to North Gate Hall, the creation of an advisory board that includes some of the country’s most esteemed journalists and thought-leaders, an alum’s Director’s Award at Sundance, and the nail-biting Oscar run of short films by a ‘16 graduate and one of her teachers, both of them finalists for documentary short Academy Awards.

It was remarkable to see Daphne Matziaraki’s work on the Greek refugee crisis and Dan Krauss’ film on end-of-life care honored before an audience of tens of millions of people. It was also remarkable that the film that won the Oscar category, a moving portrayal of rescue workers in Syria, had as its executive producer yet another J-School alum, Jason Spingarn-Koff, who was also the EP of Dan Krauss’ film.

And the term hasn’t peaked yet.

At the end of April the J-School’s Investigative Reporting Program under Prof. Lowell Bergman will host the annual Reva and David Logan Symposium, which draws 300 of the best in the business; and in May we’ll host the annual end-of-year Showcase of student work, which for the first time will be held in part at BAMPFA (Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), and commencement, this year keynoted by Univision anchor and correspondent Jorge Ramos.

The post-election tension between the new Administration and the news media has resonated in sometimes perplexing ways for the journalism academy. It reminds some of our friends in the donor community of the need to keep a free press strong. But if there’s truly a “Trump Bump” it seems to take the form of support for journalism, more so than for journalism education. Our challenge is to show how the two causes are inextricably linked.

The Administration’s sneering at the press also challenges us to resist settling into a defensive crouch and fostering a knee-jerk adversarialism that can undermine our duty to remain independent and fair-minded. It’s a temptation that we and our students need to defy, no matter how inclement the political weather seems to be.

On to the news: For the second year, the School received funding from Google to enable our students to attend media tech conferences, where they learn and network. This spring’s Google Digital Media Travel Fellows were Peter Bittner,Paayal Zaveri and Christian Gerard Stork (all ‘17.)

Sawsan Morrar (’18) has been named a 2017 White House Correspondents’ Association Scholar.

The next generation of nonfiction filmmakers and their instructor, standing, fourth from left, Dan Krauss.

Nailah Morgan (’17) has been honored as this year’s Marlon T. Riggs Fellow, named for the legendary co-founder of the School’s documentary program. Morgan was profiled on the School’s website by her classmate Sam-Omar Hall, and she is finishing her thesis film on Haitian immigrants who initially fled their homeland for Brazil after the 2010 earthquake and now live in Tijuana, Mexico.

Jason Hanasik and Graelyn Brashear’s (both ‘17) documentary short “Eyes on the Water” will debut at the San Francisco Green Film Festival. The filmmakers spoke publicly about their film at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on March 16. Hanasik also co-curated the well-reviewed exhibit, “Not Alone: Exploring Bonds Between and With Members of the Armed Forces,” in San Francisco.

Serginho Roosblad (‘18) won a prestigious Harper’s Magazine Scholar Award from the Overseas Press Club in New York. Roosblad was among 15 aspiring foreign correspondents selected by a panel of leading journalists from a pool of 175 applicants from 50 colleges and universities.

We’re also proud to report that Danielle Parenteau-Decker and Mahlia Posey (both ‘17) have been chosen for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute. The Times says, “It’s pretty rare for a university to land a couple of students in the class.”

Parenteau-Decker has also been awarded the Pete Wilson Scholarship from the RTDNA (Radio Television Digital News Association.)

The School’s National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Chapter’s vice president Pablo De La Hoya was selected as an NAHJ-NBC News Fellow. He will be spending his summer working at Weekend TODAY in New York.

Khaled Sayed (’18) was chosen for the 2017 Summer Fellowship Program of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and NBC in New York.

For the 12th year in a row, a student from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism has earned one of the University’s most esteemed grants. This year’s Jim Marshall Fellow Kyle Merrit Ludowitz (‘17) was awarded the Dorothea Lange Fellowship, a prize created in 1981 by the great 20th Century photographer’s late husband, Paul S. Taylor, to encourage Berkeley graduate students to use photography in their scholarly work.

Rosa Furneaux (’18) has received the Hugh Fulton Byas Memorial Scholarship, awarded to British students studying journalism in the United States. Among other work, Furneaux took the evocative cover shot from the Oakland women’s march in January for the East Bay Express.

She also served as moderator in a February event with photojournalist Paula Bronstein discussing Bronstein’s remarkable body of work.

Isara Krieger (’17) produced a story for KQED Arts on an Oakland environmentalist and bike inventor who is encouraging people to make a lasting impact on climate change. Additional camera and sound by Manjula Varghese (’17) and alum Kelly Whalen (’01).

Kate Harloe (’17) conducted a penetrating interview with bestselling author George Saunders for The Rumpus, the online literary magazine.

Reporters Reis Thebault, Rosa Furneaux, Mariela Patrón, Khaled Sayed, Angélica María Casas and Marcos Martínez Chacón at the 2017 Nation Student Journalism Conference at The New School.

Craig Hickerson (’18) worked as an assistant camera operator on the follow-up to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Matt Beagle regularly produces text and audio reports for KQED News.

Katherine Rose (’17) wrote a profile of senior Sports Illustrated writer and J-School lecturer Chris Ballard. She also interviewed award-winning alum Pete Nicks (’99) about his recent Director’s Award from Sundance.

The J-School’s Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) chapter launched its “Off The Record” series in December with Queena Kim (‘00) (KQED), Dolly Li (AJ+), Julia Chan (Center for Investigative Reporting) and Jui Chakravorty (Reuters). The event was moderated by lecturer Yukari Kane.

The summer 2016 internship that Melissa Batchelor Warnke (’17) served at The Los Angeles Times has blossomed into a continuing relationship with the news organization, and Warnke has now written more than 40 pieces for the Times’ Opinion section.

Graelyn Brashear (‘17) profiled alum Jason Margolis (’00), correspondent for PRI’s (Public Radio International’s) audio documentary program “The World.”

Meet our National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) chapter, from left: Jackeline Luna(’18), Gabriel Tolliver (’17), Raquel Maria Dillon (’07), Robin Simmonds (’17), Angélica María Casas(’17), MarielaPatrón (’17), Pablo De La Hoya (’18), Akira Olivia Kumamoto (’17), and Juan Manuel Reyes Jr. (’17).

On the faculty front, Prof. Mark Danner has been covering the Trump presidency with a series of cover pieces in The New York Review of Books. His 2016 book Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War, is coming out in paperback this spring.

Professor Jon Else’s history of the famed 1987 documentary series, True South: Henry Hampton and ‘Eyes on the Prize,’ The Landmark Television Series that Reframed the Civil Rights Movement, was published by Viking to excellent reviews. The Ford Foundation offered a look back of their own at the making of the series. Prof. Else and lecturer Spencer Nakasako spoke about the book at the City Lights Booksellers in San Francisco. Their conversation can be viewed on C-SPAN.

In January, I moderated a conversation with Federal Reserve Chair (and Berkeley economics professor) Janet Yellen at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Watch it here .

Watch the trailer for the new HBO film based on lecturer Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” It premieres April 22.

Professor Ken Light and publisher Gerhard Steidl at the opening of “Robert Frank: Books and Films” in February.

Professor Bill Drummond was awarded the Leon Henkin Citation from the Academic Senate in February “for his exceptional and extraordinary service towards the academic development of students from groups who are underrepresented in the academy.” Drummond is currently writing a book pegged to his years leading students in collaborating with inmates to produce a prison newspaper .

Professor Michael Pollan, former lecturer Mark Bittman and others weigh in on the food movement’s future on the online site, Civil Eats: “To paraphrase an old proverb,” they write, “the best time to unite was before the election; the second best time is now.”

Emerita Prof. Cynthia Gorney wrote a powerful article in the February issue of National Geographic on widowhood worldwide.

Lecturer, investigative reporter and open government advocate Tom Peele was awarded the First Amendment Coalition’s 2016 Free Speech & Open Government Award. Peele was also on a team of Bay Area News Group reporters who won the 2016 Scripps Howard Breaking News Award for coverage of the deadly Oakland warehouse fire.

Lecturer, journalist and historian Adam Hochschild’s most recent book, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 has been optioned as a film. It is also a runner-up for the Mark Lynton History Award of the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project and is a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history. In this profile by Leah Rosenbaum (‘18), Hochschild discussed social activism, travel and why he’ll never write a biography of any of the Founding Fathers.

In May, Professor Ken Light and alum Jason Jaacks (’14) will be part of an Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) exhibition titled “Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing.”

Assistant Dean for Academics Jeremy Rue (’07) was accepted to the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in December. He participated in a weeklong leadership training, which took place in Las Vegas. It was funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Esteemed Teaching Professor Bob Calo is retiring this summer after 16 years at the School. While Bob is irreplaceable, we are in the midst of recruiting a professor-in-residence of visual journalism to take on his teaching and leadership responsibilities for the visual journalism program. Finalists will be visiting the School in April to give a presentation and meet with students, faculty, staff and interested alumni.

On the eve of President Trump’s inauguration, media experts and educators met at UC Berkeley for a panel discussion of a phenomenon that has drawn widespread attention since November’s election: fake news. Watch it here .

Over the years, the School has hosted remarkable events and lectures featuring some of the most provocative thinkers of our time. Past speakers have included Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, New York Times editorial chief Dean Baquet, filmmaker Errol Morris, Ira Glass of “This American Life,” comedian Lewis Black, broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley, literary critic Susan Sontag, David Fanning of PBS “Frontline,” Univision’s Isaac Lee, media mogul Arianna Huffington, David Remnick of The New Yorker, producer and actor Robert Redford, and dozens of others. And every year, the audience for those events is confined to the fortunate few who squeeze into the library. We’re eager to change that through the launch of our new podcast “On Mic,” produced by J-School students.

We’d greatly appreciate your subscribing to it and reviewing it on iTunes , and encouraging others to do so. The student producers are doing superb work on this. If you wish to support this program with a tax-deductible donation, please do so here .

A memorial service for Emeritus Professor Bernard Taper–a renowned writer and beloved teacher, and one of the World War II “Monument Men” who restored artworks looted by the Nazis to their rightful owners–was held March 25 at the School. “He was an exceedingly kind, generous and accomplished professor and journalist,” said Tom Goldstein, dean of the journalism school from 1988 to 1996.

As I mentioned earlier, Daphne Matziaraki (‘16) and Dan Krauss (‘04) were each up for Oscars in the documentary short category. Matziaraki’s stunning thesis film “4.1 Miles”–on the flow of desperate refugees from Turkey to the Greek islands–was honored with a Student Academy Award. That win automatically placed her in the running for an Oscar in a documentary category, potentially competing against veteran filmmakers, including her own instructor, a reality that in fact played out when Krauss became a finalist as well.

Matziaraki’s film received critical production funding from Minette Nelson and David Eckles of The Filmmaker Fund, which makes direct grants to students through the Fine Cut Fund at the School. Invest in student productions here.

Krauss’s “ Extremis,” which explored the harrowing decisions that doctors, families and patients face in urgent end-of-life cases, also made the finalists list. With extraordinary access to the intensive care unit of Highland Hospital in Oakland, the film offers a uniquely intimate look at the intersection of science, faith and humanity. Interviewed recently by California Magazine about his work, Krauss said: “I always say to my students, no simple stories. We don’t do simple stories.”

Alums Dan Krauss, Daphne Matziaraki and Jason Spingarn-Koff, now director of Original Documentary Programming for Netflix and executive producer of award-winning “White Helmets,” at the Oscars! #GoBears

Two alums recently won George Polk Awards, conferred by Long Island University for “investigative work that is original, resourceful, and thought-provoking.” Ali Winston (’10) won for Local Reporting, for his East Bay Express series on the Oakland Police Department’s sex-crime scandal. Robert Lewis (’08) of WNYC Radio won his Polk for disclosing questionable outside business interests of New York City police commanders. The two reporters are “compulsive, dedicated and never take no for an answer,” said IRP director Lowell Bergman of his protégés.

Award-winning alum Jessie Deeter (’01), of “Who Killed the Electric Car” fame, has produced “A Revolution in Four Seasons” on the struggle for democracy in Tunisia, and discussed the documentary at length in an interview with the Pacific Standard.

The International Documentary Association named award-winning filmmaker Carrie Lozano (’05) director of their newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund.

Sam Green ‘s (’93) new virtual reality documentary, “This Is What the Future Looked Like”–described as “a rumination on the work of architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller”– premiered at the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Mo.

Melina Tupa (’16) won Best Student Documentary at the Fargo Film Festival for her thesis film “The Search.”

Debora Souza Silva (’14) was named filmmaker-in-residence at Reveal’s new Glassbreaker Films.

Two alumnae, Anna Bloom (’10), and Casey Capachi (’13), were among eight Facebook employees to host a panel discussion with students in February about the role of content strategy in tech jobs, and how it relates to journalism.

A remarkable joint project by ’16 graduates Noelia González, Brett Murphy and Jieqian Zhang, about how five undocumented men – connected by turns of fate and profound acts of charity – tried to work around the kidney transplant system to save one another, was aired by Univision.

Prof. Jon Else (center) and award-winning documentary film alums Pete Nicks and Carrie Lozano at the Sundance Film Festival.

Steven Leckart (’07) is writing a feature documentary on the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., for Oscar-winning producer Paul Haggis. It is due to hit the festival circuit this year. He is also writing a feature documentary on boxing legend Muhammad Ali for HBO Documentary Films.

Alba Mora Roca (’10), executive producer for AJ+ Español, was selected for the Online News Association’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator 2017.

John McNellis (’73) of the Urban Land Institute has published a new book, “Making It in Real Estate,” available now.

The Los Angeles Times interviewed alum Alexis Bloom (‘01), director of “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” on her work with the legendary Hollywood mother-daughter stars before their untimely deaths. “We didn’t set out to make a love story, but we ended up making a love story,” she said.

Alums figured prominently among the recipients of the Alfred I. duPont Awards, perhaps the most prestigious honors in broadcast news. Below, clockwise from upper right, Whitney Rodgers (’12) of NBC News, David Corvo (’72) of NBC News, and Roberto Daza (’12) of Fusion were among the winners.

ELLE magazine profiled prolific alum Rebecca Solnit (‘84), our ‘16 commencement speaker and a regular columnist for Harper’s Magazine.

Jimmy Tobias ’ (‘16) opinion piece, “Public Lands in Private Hands?”, was published in The New York Times.

Documentary photographer Terray Sylvesters (’15) extraordinary photographs on the ongoing Standing Rock pipeline protests for Reuters are a must-see.

Nadine Sebai (’16) was awarded the Jacque I. Minnotte Health Reporting Fellowship from the RTDNA (the Radio Television Digital News Association.)

The San Francisco Chronicle profiled filmmaker/educator/cancer survivor Sachi Cunningham (’05) in a front page story.

Courtney Quirin (’15) was awarded a year-long residency at San Francisco Film Society FilmHouse for her first feature documentary.

Finally, as our country and our profession work through a period that remains unsettling, I want to offer our thanks to those of you who have stepped up to support our kind of journalism–high-impact work, conducted in the public interest, at a public university. Forgive me for reminding you that all told, we need to raise at least $3 million per year to keep up with current needs.

I doubt there has ever been a moment where the public’s need for the work our students are prepared to do was as great—and when journalism’s own needs were as acute as they are right now. The news you read tomorrow will be produced by the people being trained today. So I gently, but with urgency, ask those of you who don’t yet support us to stop and consider the indispensability of journalism education.

With best regards,

Edward Wasserman, Dean


About this communiqué : News from the Desk of Edward Wasserman is a quarterly email newsletter sent to alumni, donors, students, faculty, media partners and others in the J-School’s broad community. Should you wish to follow ongoing developments, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter @ucbsoj.

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