J/MS Department loses beloved friend—

The Journalism and Media Studies Department mourns the loss of Marcia Weissman, 69, wife of longtime part-time lecturer Dan Weissman. The Yardley, PA, resident died in January. Mrs. Weissman used to shadow her husband’s classes at J/MS, where he teaches Writing for Print Media and Reporting in Real Time. Many students remember her for her valuable contributions to class discussions. She is survived by Dan, a 30-year veteran of the Star-Ledger, and three sons.

New Jersey Nets host Jaclyn Sabol is dealing with cancer.

By Keisha Villarson

It seemed that nothing could slow down the career of Jaclyn Sabol, J/MS 2004. She was the video host for the New Jersey Nets basketball team, star of her web show, “Jac of all Nets,” and emcee for NBA Nation’s Summer tour. View Post

By Christine Chien — 

Bi-lingual Akiko Okamoto is a television reporter in Japan. Photos supplied by Akiko Okamoto

There was an ominous rumble in downtown Tokyo around 2:40 p.m. on March 11 as Akiko Okamoto, J/MS 2007, sat writing a news story for her employer, the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). Suddenly, the office building started to shake violently. View Post

By Ewuradjoa Dawson-Amoah —

Jessica Gatdula (left) with singer Demi Lovato. Photo courtesy of US Weekly

It’s often a rocky road for newly minted J/MS graduates because of the stagnated economy, but three friends from the Daily Targum somehow maneuvered around the devastating recession and landed their dream jobs. View Post

By Lauren Livak — 

The Rutgers journalism program has spawned so many great sports journalists, and now the J/MS department is hoping to breed even more through its new sports-journalism concentration.

Professor Steve Miller, coordinator for Undergraduate Studies, is the creator of this new program. View Post

At photo left, Carlos, right, gives the “Black Power” salute during his medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics. Photo supplied by Google Images

By Kaitlin Donnelly —

Important men and women making the news and influencing culture often come to the Journalism and Media Studies Department to lecture and spend time with budding journalists practicing their interviewing and writing skills. View Post

By Cory Orlando

How great does it sound to work with some of the world’s largest brands and modern technology like Twitter, Facebook and the Internet? To Mark Rosal, J/MS 1996, of Visual Goodness, an advertising agency in New York, it’s his favorite part of the job.

“I have complete creative freedom using the most modern technologies that people love to spend time on: Facebook, iOS, and the Web,” said Rosal.

Rosal, who resides in South Plainfield with his wife, also a Rutgers alumna, their two children and a dog, is creative director at the agency.

“My responsibilities are primarily split into two: lead the creative department and lead individual projects,” he reported.

Rosal’s expertise is in visual design, experience design, and photography. His clients include companies such as American Express, Lexus, AT&T, Pepsi and Citibank.

Many of the designs he undertakes range from iPhone and iPad apps and Facebook apps to outdoor interactive projections.

“I’m able to lead such a wide range of projects because I combine my creative skills with my background in code and most important, communications,” said Rosal.

Being a good communicator is vital in design, he continued, and the J/MS program has helped him get where he is today.

As an undergraduate, he remembers being the first of his friends to use a laptop for presentations and a webcam to copy notes. It was these new uses of technology that let him think that there was more to the world than just a textbook.

After graduating, he found work as an art director for smaller companies, one of which was in East Brunswick. He has been at Visual Goodness for more than five years.

“I feel rather fortunate that the average turnover for my position is one to two years,” he said.

He is in a career that requires such detail and attention, yet sometimes he admits it’s hard to see the overall effects advertising has on consumers.

“It’s funny,” noted Rosal, “but historically it was advertising that was changing the way people live. Now it’s the way that people live that is changing advertising.”

With social networking sites leading the American consumer market, the more information that you reveal to a company about yourself, the more it is inclined to change the direction of how it sells to you.

“As people provide more information about themselves, and advertisers find more innovative ways to identify a person’s likes and dislikes, the interaction between advertiser and consumer should theoretically become more engaging and useful,” explained Rosal.

Lena Jay Rose signs copies of her new historical novel, “Escape to Falmouth,” in Jamaica.

By Britni Williams

When she was laid off several years ago, Lena Jay Rose, J/MS 2000, didn’t waste any time deciding to retool. She got a master’s degree in e-learning and became an entrepreneur.

Today she is chief marketing officer of Rose Media Group, headquartered in Jamaica, where Rose says she enjoys the beautiful sunrises and sunsets from her oceanfront apartment.

But that lovely apartment with its view of sea and sand is also the place where Rose writes historical novels that have started to attract attention in the book world.

Rose Media Group is cutting edge. It helps companies secure online marketing edge through websites and social media, according to Rose.

She is also co-author of How to Say It: Marketing with New Media, a Guide to Promoting Your Small Business Using Websites, E-zines, Blogs & Podcasts.

Rose wrote the book in 2008 with Allison Woo after the pair formed a business partnership putting on marketing workshops and doing media consulting in Charlotte, North Carolina and New York.

“We realized that there was a great need to demystify the entire process,” said Rose, who is the divorced mother of two sons, Andre and Marc.

In 2010, the two went on to form Rose Media Group and Minna Press, a firm “publishing high quality books on or about the Caribbean,” reported Rose, who moved to her native Jamaica around that time.

At Minna Press, she is both publisher and one of its authors. Her historical novel, Escape to Falmouth, has received excellent reviews (find it on Amazon or escapetofalmouth.com). It is about a feisty Cherokee beauty and a strong-willed, male runaway slave who flee to freedom with the backdrop of the Trail of Tears in 1838. They eventually find shelter in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia with the Seminoles, ending up in a twist of fate in Jamaica.

Rose is hard at work on the sequel. Her typical work day involves “checking in with all of my virtual teams in Mumbai, the United States, and Jamaica, making sure that the web development, social media management and book layouts are handled.”

Rose’s success can be attributed to the passion she has for her craft and her skills learned through J/MS. When she was first at Rutgers, she recalled, she felt annoyed that J/MS placed a lot of emphasis on editing and grammar.

“I was quite shocked when I did not score so well in this area,” she stated. “It brought me down to earth and made me re-evaluate how I get to the point and the heart of the story and hold readers’ attention.”

She said her writing is constantly evolving. “I don’t feel that I have hit the pinnacle of my career,” she said. “I’m a work in progress.”

Jennifer Baljko talks to a local man about his tribe’s rituals and customs at the Goroka Cultural Festival and Sing Sing in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Lluis Lopez Bayona

By Karen Andrianoasy —

We all know the book Eat, Pray, Love about a young woman who used travel to help redefine her life. Where author Elizabeth Gilbert found happiness in Bali, a J/MS graduate from 1993, Jennifer Baljko, found her nirvana in Spain after searching throughout the Mediterranean. And now she is writing about it.

Having an opportunity to redefine one’s life is a chance not many people get. From working at The Home News during and after college, she is now living in Barcelona, freelance writing for companies, writing collaborative books on travel, operating a website that produces multimedia narratives, and immersing herself in non-profit ventures that help children and women.

With a vigorous sense of adventure, leap-of-faith tra­vel­ing can be more than just a hobby; it can be an answer to life. As incredibly liberating as it sounds, a profound notion like that never comes easily.

“Travel was the gift I gave myself in my early 30s when I felt like my whole life was turned upside down,” Baljko explained. “At the time, I was going through a divorce and was taking stock of my life. I wasn’t happy with the safe, secure life I had built up to that point.

“In one of my darkest hours at the end of 2002, I chose to listen to a voice I didn’t recognize at the time but have since come to understand was my own inner wisdom speaking to me. It told me to save money for six months, quit my job, put all my stuff in storage, and go roam around the Mediterranean.”

And roam she did in mid-2003, admiring Greek ruins and Italian architecture, connecting with her Croatian roots, and falling in love with and in Barcelona, which would eventually pull her back permanently in 2006.

Travel has long been in Baljko’s DNA. After working for The Home News, she worked as a trade publication business writer in New York. Around the time she was 25, she took a road trip to San Francisco, where she eventually moved and began covering the high-tech industry.

‘To this day, San Francisco is still the place I consider home,” said Baljko.

As she traveled Southern Europe in 2003, she realized that she didn’t want a job with limited vacation time. “Travel got in my blood, and 10 days no longer seemed to be a reasonable amount of time for me to explore, discover and experience a place,” she recalled. “That choice changed everything for me – my career, how I defined and valued money and success, my personal view of the world, and even the voice I chose to write with.”

That does not mean that Baljko left journalism behind when she moved to Barcelona. She started to write and edit companies’ marketing and public relations materials, websites and internal publications as well as writing for a technology trade publication.

One of her most fascinating projects now is her collaborative work – via Skype and email — with Townsend 11, a group of 11 writers of various backgrounds based in San Francisco. The group (townsend11.com) has a series of ebooks out, available through Amazon, Nook, and Apple. In one of the ebooks, No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel, Baljko writes about traveling with her father to Croatia.

A story she wrote about the disaster of bleaching her jeans leopard-style when she was about 12 years old appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens, published last summer.

Other projects include ObjectivaMedia, a web devel­oper that produces multimedia narratives, and Worldreader, a non-profit organization helping children in developing countries receive electronic books via e-readers.

Baljko admits life is good now, but the future is unclear.

“Life is leading me somewhere, or more accurately, I’m taking myself somewhere else,” she said.

Lady Gaga at iHeartRadio Music Festival. Photo from iHeartRadio.com

By Elizabeth Plaugic — 

Erin Medley, J/MS 2004, works a 9 to 5 (ahem, an 8:30 to 5) as senior manager of programming and editorial content at Clear Channel Communications, the media giant responsible for more than 850 radio stations in the United States alone. View Post