By Jessica Lee —

Classroom lights go off, and a YouTube video from 2007 comes up on the big screen showing the viral classic “I Got A Crush . . . on Obama,” seen more than 120 million times since it was made by the satirical collective Barely Political.

Lauren Feldman speaks to her class about “Obama Girl.” Photo by Jessica Lee.

Lauren Feldman speaks to her class about “Obama Girl.” Photo by Jessica Lee.

As actress Amber Lee Ettinger poses and gyrates to photographs of then-candidate Barack Obama, new J/MS Assistant Professor Lauren Feldman asks students whether they think the music video might have affected the outcome of the 2008 election.

For her first course at J/MS, Feldman is teaching a lecture class of 35 about the relationship between news and entertainment and how the media has influenced public opinion and engagement with policy issues.

She is particularly interested in the less-traditional sources of political information—like political satire and opinionated cable news. Bring on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart!

Showing her class the provocative yet politically sensitive “Obama Girl” clip is very much in keeping with Feldman’s teaching style. “Be open to learning even outside of classrooms,” Feldman tells students.

Feldman comes to J/MS from the School of Communication at American University, where she was an assistant professor. She was an English major at Duke and pursued a job in publishing until she realized that publishing was not where she wanted to be.

“I worked in a textbook publishing company after I graduated, but I realized it wasn’t really a field for me,” she recalled. “I knew I didn’t want to pursue that career, especially when the publishing area is currently falling out of favor.”

It was only when she took a job in development at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, one of the nation’s top science museums, that she decided to carve out a career in communications and writing. According to Feldman, it was just the perfect blend of the two academic fields.

University of Pennsylvania was her next stop as a graduate student to earn her masters degree and then Ph.D. in Communication.

“Graduate school really prepares you for an academic teaching career,” she said. “The Ph.D. program really helped me develop into an academic researcher as well as being a professor.”

Taught at American

While teaching at American University and acting as senior thesis project adviser, Feldman had the chance to work closely with students and enjoyed the experience. She even found satisfaction in writing recommendations, a chore most professors find tedious.

“Any student who did high quality work or pushed themselves in the class I would be happy to write a recommendation for,” Feldman noted.

Now, as the newest addition to J/MS, Feldman has an array of compliments for the vast variety of choices that the department and the School of Communication and Information provide for students.

“I love the structure of the school,” she said. “It houses many different departments under one roof.”

She appreciates that Rutgers is giving her the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers and provide the kinds of equipment and databases she needs to continue her research.

This research focuses on how partisan news media and political satire programs influence the particular perception of climate change. She hopes the findings will lead to ways to use media more effectively and communication to engage the public on the important climate change issue.

By Tanvi Acharya —

J/MS students in the Sports Journalism class of new Professor Joe Lapointe are hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

Lapointe has been in the field for 40 years and has covered major events like the Olympics, the Super Bowl and the soccer World Cup.

Professor Joe Lapointe, left, interacts with J/MS student Julio Prestol during his sports journalism class. Lapointe often takes students to watch professional games. Photo by Tanvi Acharya

Professor Joe Lapointe, left, interacts with J/MS student Julio Prestol during his sports journalism class. Lapointe often takes students to watch professional games. Photo by Tanvi Acharya

But he just doesn’t tell war stories. When questioned about what he focuses on the most in his classroom, he replied, “The basics.”

Lapointe, a former sports reporter for the New York Times for 20 years and segment producer for “Countdown With Keith Olbermann’’ on the now shuttered Current TV, expects clear writing, accuracy, speed and most important, keeping up with the deadlines. Students are told from the start that the class requires a lot of hard work and is not an easy A.

He said that the worst thing a student can do in his class is to either miss it or miss a deadline. “The students get disappointed, but there are deadlines,” he said. “If you don’t submit it on time at your newspaper then you can’t do anything about it. You’d probably lose your job.”

Another rule that he enforces in the classroom to help the students once they starting working as sports journalists is to not wear any sports team merchandise.

“The students know how to be a fan but here they learn how to be a sports journalist,” he said.

Being professional, he emphasized, includes not cheering for your team while covering a game from the press box.

And during the semester the students get a chance to enter that professional atmosphere. He takes a few students at a time to watch a game of the Giants, the Jets, the Mets or the Devils, depending on everyone’s availability. The students also get to go to the locker rooms and talk to the athletes. And like professional sports reporters, they have to submit their story a few hours after the game.

While this is a traditional approach to teaching a sports journalism class, Lapointe decided to do something additional and designed the class to be a hybrid. It means that the students meet in class just once a week. The other times they are either covering games from the stadium or having critical student-teacher discourse online.

The class “meets” on Facebook and discusses the game that all are watching online. At the end, Lapointe assigns everybody to report about the game from a specific angle and write something akin to an opinionated column in two to three hours.

It is not a necessity for a student to be interested in sports to take his class, he said. The student should want to write.

To write a good story, he said, “You have to be calm and report what is happening around you. Just look around and keep writing.”

Lapointe stresses the importance of unrelenting hard work when it comes to writing a good story. He said that the students fail to realize that it is very rare to get a good story in the first draft.

He himself makes around seven drafts and claims a good story is 90 percent perspiration with 10 percent of inspiration.

“You need to polish it again and again to make it sing,” he said.

By Jake West —

Montague Kern is so affable and reserved that her retirement as a J/MS professor managed to slip by somewhat unceremoniously this year. Behind her humility, though, she hides ample experience in global media, gender relations and documentary film, which will surely cement a proud and impressive legacy.

Montague Kern has retired after 23 years of teaching at J/MS. Photo by Jake West.

Montague Kern has retired after 23 years of teaching at J/MS. Photo by Jake West.

After 23 years of teaching, Kern now holds the title of professor emeritus, which allows her the opportunity to work on her new book about the growing social and political role of documentary film in the digital age. More important to Kern, however, is that the position also allows her to work hands-on with her close-knit group of Ph.D. students as they craft their own documentary films.

This work will entail, as it has for the last two decades, frequent trips from her home in Washington, DC, to the Banks. She joked that she knows the New Jersey Turnpike intimately and affectionately claims that her book will feature “Exit 9” in the subtitle.

When asked about her most rewarding experience, Kern replied simply, “I taught at Rutgers for 23 years because of the students.” She further added, “I loved the ‘aha’ moments that occur in the classroom, and I loved working with students for most of my years on the research and term papers that were required in my classroom.

This is the poster that advertised the program by Montague Kern.

This is the poster that advertised the program by Montague Kern.

“Students left understanding how to conduct research as well as test the value of ideas which arose in the classroom.”

In recent years she has tailored her focus to document areas of politics and social significance, namely how the global agendas of social movements and policy makers are publicized via documentary media. While her work entails crafting a documentary of her own, she seems equally interested in helping her students to develop their film proposals.

Undoubtedly, Kern’s pride is a product of her experience as an educator and from the success shared by her students. She recalled, “I enjoyed engaging with them in the classroom and working with them on papers from the first day I came to Rutgers. Students frequently ended up in my office in DeWitt (a building housing SC&I offices) to bat around ideas relating to their papers.”

Among Kern’s most well known students from her pre-Rutgers days is the award- winning documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Skylight Pictures, Pamela Yates. In October, Yates keynoted the “Mediating Advocacy: A Symposium on Women, Global Documentary Media, and Agenda Setting” at Rutgers. Kern took the lead in programming the symposium.

The two-day event highlighted a festival and multi-part panel discussion that focused on the proliferation of documenting technologies and the human condition, as understood by prominent media makers, analysts and organizers from around the world.

Yates talked about her dynamic new film “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator,” which tells the extraordinary story of how a film about former Guatemala dictator Efraín Rios Montt’s brutal war against the country’s Mayan people in the 1980s became a granito — a tiny grain of sand — that helped tip the scales of justice.

Co-sponsors were the School of Communication and Information, the Center for Latino Arts and Culture, and the Institute for Women’s Leadership, among other campus organizations.

The festival concluded with a reception at the Rutgers Club for a long overdue and much needed appreciation of Kern on her retirement.

Livingston Alumni Association honored J/MS Professor Emeritus Roger Cohen this fall when it gave him the Livingston Legacy award for his role in “strengthening the college’s mission.”

Roger Cohen accepting the Livingston Legacy award for his role in “strengthening the college’s mission.” Photo by Elizabeth Fuerst

Roger Cohen accepting the Livingston Legacy award for his role in “strengthening the college’s mission.” Photo by Elizabeth Fuerst

Cohen, Rutgers College ’65, was a radio journalist when he joined the Rutgers Radio and Television Center in 1970 and began teaching in Livingston’s Department of Journalism and Urban Communication as a volunteer. He went fulltime in 1980, teaching radio production, broadcast newswriting and TV production, both beginning and advanced.

When Rutgers was implementing a campus-wide cable TV system, he designed a course that not only examined how TV executives develop and schedule content but produce programming for the channel, now RU-tv.

Cohen, who retired in 2004 and lives in Monroe Township, served as J/MS Department chair for seven years. For almost two decades he ran the student internship program and started the department newsletter, Alum-Knights. 

Along with Cohen, Jessie Hanna, a Livingston graduate from 2007, was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award. He founded the Sean Hanna Foundation in memory of his brother Sean, a J/MS major from Piscataway and an active member of WRSU, who died from pediatric cancer in 2007. He was 20.

One of the organizers of the event, which took place at the Rutgers Club, was Eric Schwarz, J/MS ’92. A quality analyst for due diligence and risk and compliance at Dow Jones & Co., he serves as the association’s vice president.

Erin Medley

Photo by Flisadam Pointer
Erin Medley, a pioneer in the field of online journalism, stands in front of the Morristown office of NJ.com.

By Flisadam Pointer —

As readers browse NJ.com for the day’s top news stories affecting the state, they should be aware that a J/MS graduate from 2004 is one of the driving forces behind the popular website.

Erin Medley is now the Director of Engagement for the online news source, NJ.com.

As the Director of Engagement, Medley is responsible for increasing user engagement, distributing NJ.com content more widely through site programming, and promoting the brand across social media, third-party alliances and newsletters.

From her office in Morristown, she oversees a team of producers that includes the social media producer, community producer, sports producers and homepage/site producers as well as freelance bloggers.

Her position at NJ.com allows her to feel the pulse of New Jersey while serving as kind of an unofficial ambassador for the state, a job she takes seriously. “New Jersey is an amazing place, and it’s important to showcase all — the good and the bad — we have to offer,” said Medley.

Many would consider Medley a pioneer in the field of online journalism, having worked in the decade following graduation at Shape.com as a content development manager where she produced and edited short-form videos.

She also spent time at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment as a senior manager for programming and editorial content, where she developed content for web properties like audio, video and multimedia, and at VH-1/Viacom as a senior producer of music and events. There she led creation, production and posting of content for music pages on VH1.com. This included the popular TV music series “VH1 Storytellers” and “Unplugged,” live acoustic performances by the top recording artists of their hit songs.

When asked about her most recent transition from entertainment to hard-hitting news, Medley said, “I wanted more substance. I loved doing entertainment news but I just wanted more.”

Wanting more is what has driven Medley since her first days as a journalism major. During her undergraduate career Medley created the widely popular film review television segment “Pass the Popcorn” on the university’s student station RU-tv. She also started Rutgers’ chapter of KTA, the journalism honor society and served as its first president.

Although the many courses J/MS offers in social media and online news post-dated Medley’s academic career, Medley channeled the knowledge she acquired through courses such as News Reporting and Writing.

In exchange for the skills she learned at J/MS, she never stops giving back. Medley is always available to students for career advice and last May gave the keynote speech at the KTA induction.

As her 10th class reunion approaches Medley jokingly admitted, “I feel old.” In that decade, though, she has achieved success in a variety of media — from TV to radio, magazines to online journalism — and that is very rare.

Medley throws herself into her work, but manages to devote time to one of her favorite hobbies, recreational volleyball.

“Initially my social life did take a hit,” she said. But she emphasized, “It’s your responsibility to create that happy medium between professional and personal.”

She credits her success to “going out and getting hands-on experience” as well as “always saying yes — within reason,” which is her advice to students entering the workplace.

By Vinnie Mancuso —

Mark Beal, J/MS 1989, is no stranger to pushing himself to the limit. After five marathons and numerous triathlons he knows what it takes to reach the finish line and reach it successfully.

Yet according to Beal, his endurance training extends far off the race course. For the managing partner of the public relations and brand counseling firm Taylor Strategy in Manhattan, the fast-paced worlds of public relations and grueling marathons are one and the same. So is getting up in the morning at his home in Toms River, teaching public relations at Rutgers’ Department of Communication, and zooming into the busy streets of New York City to go to work.

Mark Beal, J/MS 1989, a managing partner of a PR firm and Rutgers professor, still finds time to relax on his boat. Photo provided by Mark Beal.

Mark Beal, J/MS 1989, a managing partner of a PR firm and Rutgers professor, still finds time to relax on his boat. Photo provided by Mark Beal.

“To me, and I know it’s been said before, but I always say to people ‘Success is a marathon,’” Beal said. “That applies to business, my teaching, anything,” Beal said. “It is not about quick results. It is not about quick satisfaction. It is about building towards something and always building towards something.”

In the PR business, one could say that Beal has crossed the finish line and is standing in the winner’s circle. At Taylor Strategy, Beal is one of several owners of a 110-person agency that has represented such high-end clients as Allstate, Guinness and Taco Bell. It is his job to formulate and execute large-scale advertising campaigns for these companies as well as build relationships with new clients to solidify Taylor’s future.

“I am active day in and day out leading our clients and campaigns and all that,” he noted.

He began with the company 20 years ago.

Like any marathon, changes come when you least expect them, and one must adapt. For Taylor this change came in the mid-1990s, just a few short years after Beal had joined the agency. The PR game was evolving with the times, and agencies had to change along with it. Beal and his colleagues saw this as an opportunity to be more than just a public relations agency.

“Yes we are a PR agency, but at the end of the day we are marketers,” Beal said. “We’re doing everything. The way things evolved this is what an agency like ours needs to be today.”

Beal was crucial in Taylor’s evolution, which hit an apex during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Kleenex came to Taylor for a campaign idea that tied in with the company’s popular “Let It Out” commercials that saw everyday people opening up about their personal feelings.

“That was around the time that we looked around and said PR just isn’t what it used to be, which is just pitching media — it is a lot more,” Beal noted.

For Kleenex, Taylor produced and shot “Let It Out” the movie. It premiered in Beijing and 25 cities across America.

“That was one of our first unique pieces of content,” he said.

Beal’s training helped create everything Taylor started at J/MS. Like a frenetic tri-athlete, Beal spent a summer interning in New York at both Mike Cohen Communications and WNBC radio. He also freelanced at the Asbury Park Press, thinking at the time he wanted to be a writer or a broadcaster.

He found he loved public relations the most.

“The reason I loved it so much was, while I was doing the writing or broadcasting I was reporting the news,” Beal said. “In PR I was actually creating news. That was the big difference.”

Recently Beal has returned to his starting line, teaching Principles of PR. For him, his homecoming to New Brunswick is less about teaching facts than it is offering a glimpse into his actual experiences

By Jordan Daniel —

“Jersey roots, global reach” is more than the slogan of Rutgers when it comes to alumna Samantha Breuer, J/MS 2011. She’s made her home in London as an art gallery assistant at the prestigious Marlborough Fine Art and heads Rutgers University Alumni Association’s club across the pond.

As a gallery assistant she moves art from seller to buyer, writes press releases, organizes events and sells art.

Samatha Breuer works as a gallery assistant in London. Photo provided by Samantha Breuer

Samatha Breuer works as a gallery assistant in London. Photo provided by Samantha Breuer

She quips, “I do everything behind the scenes.”

Breuer works in the contemporary division of the gallery, which houses pieces created only as far back as 1960. Marlborough Contemporary, the latest addition to the Marlborough group of galleries, opened in October 2012 with a commitment to working with cutting-edge art of the 21st century,

Breuer said she fell into gallery work while searching for a J/MS internship in magazine layout, her original interest. When that didn’t pan out, she began looking for any internships at all and found one at Marlborough Fine Art in New York.

Breuer worked there both her junior and senior years. She was a double major in J/MS and Visual Arts with an Art History minor, all while balancing extra curricular activities such as Hillel, the university tour guides Scarlet Ambassadors, and being a member of the Delta Gamma sorority.

When graduation rolled around and Breuer had no job lined up, she was left wondering “what to do now” and decided to make the simple choice: “I moved to London and got my master’s.”

While writing her thesis at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Breuer decided to intern again for Marlborough in London. She was planning to return to the states when the internship ended, but her supervisor surprised her.

“He told me, ‘Stay, I’ll sponsor you.’” Then with a laugh she mentions HBO’s hit show “Girls.”

“He said, ‘So I was watching ‘Girls’ last night, and I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I want to invest in you.’”

The gallery’s “investment” has been extremely satisfying for Breuer, who loves her fast-paced job and feels comfortable with British living.

But thoughts of home led her to join the Rutgers Club of London, one of the alumni association’s dozens of regional clubs. Breuer’s upbeat attitude soon led to her naming as club president for the UK. As president she organizes get-togethers and football (real American football) viewings, among other events, which she attempts to get the 85 Rutgers alumni in the UK to attend.

“We usually have between five and 10 people show up,” she reported, “not a bad turnout.”

Her dedication to and appreciation for Rutgers are evident in everything from her Rutgers wear during the FaceTime interview to how highly she speaks of J/MS classes like Editing and Design with Professor Susan Keith and the public relations class she took with Professor Liz Fuerst.

Calling lessons from those classes “invaluable,” she encouraged today’s majors to really appreciate their classes because college, she noted, is an “absolute asset.”

By Gisselle Gaitan

Catherine Hetzel • Photo provided by Catherine Hetzel

Catherine Hetzel • Photo provided by Catherine Hetzel

When journalism graduates think of the magazine industry, the only thing that may come to mind is the editorial side. The unknown side, or rather one of the lesser talked about sides in the industry, is sales and relationship marketing.

However, it is a critical part of magazine commerce and, like so many parts of the publications business today, is increasingly dependent on big data.

Catherine Hetzel, J/MS 2008, works for Meredith Corporation, publishers of Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness Magazine, EveryDay with Rachael Ray, AllRecipes.com and many others, in Database Marketing Services. Collecting data, analyzing, and integrating it into the Meredith database and leveraging it to third-party advertisers who want to reach a certain demographic are just the base of what Hetzel does.

The Jersey City resident has been in the job for a little over a year and admitted she did not think she would fall into a job that included the words “data,” as part of its title, especially because she worked for the magazines of Rodale Inc. previously and did public relations and content producing for the swimsuit company Tyr.

“I thought the word ‘Data’ sounded scary and also kind of boring,” Hetzel said.

But it’s anything but that, she emphasized.

When it comes down to it, Hetzel noted, data are just as important as the editorial aspect because data assist in “creating better content for the consumer.”

Creating better content for the magazines’ readers, primarily women, allows her and her colleagues to see how exactly women’s trends change on a daily basis and how the media world is shifting, Hetzel explained.

The media present new offerings daily and that may specifically guide consumer interest, she continued, but that is not to say that everything is computed into numbers on a screen once it’s all gathered. Hetzel uses that knowledge in a broader way to guide Meredith business leaders on what data strategy means in everything from consumer marketing to online content, engagement, and digital initiatives.

“I am not by any means a “Data Scientist,” she stressed. What she is able to do is take some of her skills such as “public speaking, marketing strategy, and sales to bridge the gap between the very complex world of data to the actionable world of editorial, advertising, and marketing.”

The skills she has developed originated at J/MS, where Hetzel said she was able to “learn about as many opportunities and professions as possible.”

NAMLE logo

A handful of J/MS majors accompanied Professor Robert Kubey to the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) meetings in Torrance, California this summer, where the theme was technology in the classroom.

From funds Kubey has for media literacy activities, he arranged for each student to receive a $1,000 scholarship to purchase airfare and pay for lodging.

“I wanted students to have an awesome experience and create something for other universities to potentially model for the field,” he said.

The money for the trip came from the late Norman Felton, the man who created the TV show from the 1960s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

NAMLE has conferences every two years, according to Kubey, who is one of the founding members.

“Rutgers had a very significant presence at the conference,” said attendee Steven Pappas, J/MS 2013.

“Most other schools present had fewer attendees. We met a lot of peers and professionals in the field from various locations throughout the country.”

Pappas called the conference a “very rich educational and professional experience.”

J/MS major Adam Rainear, who is also studying meteorology, said he was primarily interested in attending the conference because of the sessions on climate change. “While a free trip to LA is nice (even with a red-eye flight home), studying the media’s effects on public perceptions in climate change is something I want to focus on if I decide to attend graduate school.”

At the conference Rainear said he learned of a graduate opportunity he had not known about.

Another J/MS major, Juliette Pashalian, said, “Attending NAMLE was an unforgettable experience for many reasons — not only the educational aspect but the professional aspect.”

Her favorite session involved the “Scigirls,” a new PBS show.

Kubey said he is looking for donor support to take students to the NAMLE conference in 2015 in Philadelphia.

Robert Montemayor. Photo provided by Robert Montemayor

By Kimberly Yang—

The Journalism and Media Studies Department is home to a “qualitative and quantitative scholarly platform,” archiving what is one of the most comprehensive collections of information about the Latino culture in the United States — from demographics and politics to scholarly research and arts and culture — compiled from journalists and think tanks across the nation. View Post

Shooting hoops at the RAC, Rick Warner used to cover basketball for the AP. Now he shares his skills at J/MS. Photo by Vanessa Pinto

By Vanessa Pinto—

While most people consider the Rutgers Journalism and Media Studies Department as the jumpstart to their career, Rick Warner takes a reverse approach. Instead, he has chosen to work at J/MS following his career as an award-winning journalist. View Post