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

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

Seth Mandel

By Greg Stambach — 

At Commentary magazine, a monthly periodical known for its focus on political, cultural, and social issues as well as Judaism, Assistant Editor Seth Mandel, J/MS 2004, gets to write thought-provoking articles that fall under those broad umbrellas.

At the moment, the heaviest focus of his articles is on American politics, including the 2012 U.S. presidential race, as well as international affairs and security. Politics are unquestionably his strength and primary go-to topic of choice.

“It’s a pretty broad category but one that enables me to cast a wide enough intellectual net to make sure I and our readers have a full picture of the world around us,” he said.

His frequent blog posts revolve around national matters: recently he has written several entries on Mitt Romney being the reluctant choice of Republicans and the controversial link between President Obama and former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, whose company, MF Global, is in financial meltdown over risky European debt.

Mandel has received investigative reporting awards and recognition for his coverage of conflicts in the Middle East in addition to Iran’s nuclear program and the Second Lebanon War.

He said that he puts his J/MS skills to use on a daily basis. Only a month after graduating, Mandel began working as a newspaper reporter for the East Brunswick Sentinel and held that job for two years. After gaining wide recognition in 2006 for publishing an article about Israel’s then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who had gone into (and still remains in) a coma following two subsequent strokes, Mandel was offered reporting jobs at four newspapers, The Jewish State, The Jewish Journal, The Speaker, and Jewish Life of Hudson County.

He rose to become managing editor of each.

“I stayed at that job for four years, until the papers closed,” he stated. His ambitions opened up new windows of opportunity as he went about his work.

After moving to Washington, D.C., last year, Mandel worked as a freelance writer and was named one of 16 National Security Fellows chosen at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan organization that combats terrorism and militant Islam.

Additionally, he was also a journalism fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center, formerly the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a conservative “national security think tank,” as he calls it.

This past July, Mandel joined the staff of Commentary as the assistant editor and currently resides in New York with his wife and co-worker Bethany, a 2008 Rutgers graduate who supervises the magazine’s social media presence.

“My work involves writing both for the magazine and for the website, editing, assigning stories, working with writers, and planning layout for the print edition,” he said.

Looking back, Mandel is glad that he listened to what his professors had to offer in real-world, practical tips.

He said, “I did not pursue an advanced degree after graduating. The advice I was given was to get real-world experience first and then consider going back to school. It was good advice. The first thing I was asked by any prospective employer was: ‘What have you had published?’”

Mandel said certain classes and professors still come to mind. “Dr. Reed certainly stands out,” he recalled. “Her class was tough but fair, and Dr. Reed expected a lot from us—a sign of her confidence in our abilities.”

Mandel called the journalism program at Rutgers “impressive” and said, “Rutgers prepares its students for any and every possible journalism career path.”

Mandel’s advice to future generations of journalists is, “Learning to budget your time is invaluable, as is getting over your nerves about asking strangers pointed questions.”

With an ever-expanding knowledge of political and cultural issues in his mental dossier, Mandel is becoming one of the major American journalists of our time.

 

Sarah Dunn

Photo of Sarah Dunn. Photo supplied by her.

By Johanna Ordonez

With the flying public jittery about terrorism concerns and air accidents, doing public relations for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is serious business.

Sarah Dunn, J/MS 2010, communications and public affairs specialist for NATCA, doesn’t bother with A-listers, launch parties, or goodie bags. She speaks with the media daily about flight safety and writes about legislative issues before Congress.

She likes that, in public relations, she is in control of what is said and written about her organization.

“I like knowing that I control the messages about our association as much as is humanly possible, and I say that because I don’t believe that an organization can ever be in total control of what is said or written about it, especially in the aviation industry,” said Dunn.

Some of her biggest pleasures are to write about air traffic controllers who have gone way beyond their duties in saving lives.

For example, an air traffic controller in Denver saved the life of a pilot and his wife by instructing the pilot’s wife to an emergency landing route after the pilot became incapacitated from lack of oxygen during the plane’s ascent.

A controller in Rome, Georgia, saved the life of a pilot by providing a safe path to the runway despite the plane’s malfunctioning navigation equipment, low ceilings and fog, low fuel, and two missed approaches.

But when things go wrong, Dunn is at NATCA’s Washington, DC, headquarters at all times and is ready to explain it to the media.

“We are very well prepared for an emergency situation,” she emphasized. “The group of people that needs to be involved in a response to the situation immediately gets in touch about whatever the situation is and discusses whether we will put out a statement or press release.”

Born in New York State

Dunn  was born and raised in Eaton, New York. Her parents are recently retired English teachers, but she discovered her talent for writing all on her own. At Rutgers she wrote for The Daily Targum when she could but spent most of her time playing field hockey.

“I don’t regret one moment of that time because it was what I liked to do,” said Dunn.

She also found something that kept her busy and focused: half marathons and sprint triathlons, which she still does in the company of her sister.

When Dunn entered college she had her eyes on majoring in marine biology, but when class conflicted with her sports she had to find another direction, and that was J/MS.

She loved the writing, she said, and listened carefully to what her professors taught her.

“It is always hard to figure out if what a professor is saying is something you will actually need,” noted Dunn. “It seems that everything that you need to know to become a great journalist you learn on your way.”

Dunn found her inspiration in a few of her professors, including professor Liz Fuerst for public relations and professor Robert Kubey for his Media in Politics course.

“I found professor Fuerst straightforward but helpful since she knew what she was talking about,” said Dunn. “Everything I learned in professor Kubey’s class I am now using when I deal with the media directly.”

At J/MS she had two different internships that helped her prepare for jobs in public relations, and she particularly thanked professor Steve Miller for helping her find these internships.

When she graduated, she was not sure her hard work would pay off. She took a position at a government-affairs firm in the Washington area but felt no room for growth. As soon as she heard about the NATCA job from her boyfriend, she immediately sent in her resume and was hired.

Dunn said she loves what she does. What advice does she have for current J/MS students?

“It’s very simple, go to class.”

Adrian Jose Feliciano ’08 at the Syfy headquarters. Photo By Jamaal Brown.

 

 

By Jamaal Brown

If you are a media person and a devotee of science fiction, you might relish the job that Adrian Jose Feliciano, J/MS 2008, has: assistant to the president of   NBCUniversal’s Syfy network.

That’s the national network that has shows like “Ghost Hunters International,” “Paranormal Witness,” and the cultish “Face Off.”

Feliciano also has supervisory duties for the Universal 24-hour horror and suspense network Chiller TV. Along with zombies, vampires, and the undead, Chiller TV also airs reruns of “Fear Factor,” the granddaddy of gross-out reality shows featuring contestants who face their greatest fears, such as climbing into a coffin filled with writhing worms.

You won’t find worms in the sleek NBCUniversal offices in Manhattan, but every day Feliciano faces the fear of coming up with compelling programming to delight special interest audiences and keep them returning. His duties range from administrative work all the way up to planning major events for the Syfy network.

“I act as a filter or a funnel to the president of Syfy,” he said. “So I have to know the content of everything that goes on so I can put it into context for him.”

Feliciano is also involved with the development of television series. Whenever scripts and treatments for new series hit his desk, he makes time to read them.

“I’m the most stressed I’ve ever been at my current position,” said Feliciano. “But it’s my favorite position I’ve ever held because it keeps things interesting, and I’m learning more than ever before.

“I want to know why the scripts were accepted or rejected so I can better understand how decisions are made. I just recently read through eight scripts of pilot episodes in one weekend.”

Feliciano says that the TV reporting class at Rutgers helped prepare him for the work that he’s doing because it helped him gain an understanding for sound, lighting and video. He says that hands-on experience is important in the industry.

“You need to know how to edit and the logistics of putting packages together,” he said.  “If you work on the cable or corporate side, it helps you understand producers and the process. When people talk their industry jargon, you know what they’re talking about.”

Feliciano always had a deep passion for journalism but planned to go to law school. While at J/MS he was a popular DJ for the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, working for two companies and his own, doing emcee chores at weddings, bar mitzvahs and birthdays.

But as part of a J/MS internship with the ACLU, he made a documentary on the issue of giving ex-felons the right to vote, and later did an internship in Spain for the UN High Command on Refugees, for which he did a short-form documentary about North African refugees in Spanish territory.

Through making the documentaries and seeing their impact, he discovered his true passion for film. He abandoned the idea of being a lawyer and began searching for a career in the film field.

Through a friend he knew from the Rutgers Glee Club, Feliciano found his first job just one month after graduating. “Even though we weren’t in contact all the time, I knew his reputation and he knew mine,” recalled Feliciano. “When we touched base, he was exiting his position at NBCUniversal TV Distribution, and he put in my resume. I’m very grateful to him.”

His first position was in syndication, and his main duty was to find programming from cable and syndicate it to local stations. He had a long run in syndication but wanted to get into development.

“Syndication is all game shows and talkers,” said Feliciano. “So I knew I had to get into cable. That’s when I was approached by Syfy. They wanted someone with experience, so here I am.”

Feliciano’s long-term goal is to be a development executive and nurture his own projects from start to finish. To help him get to that point, Feliciano is in graduate school for business. He hopes that a graduate school education will take him to the next level in his career.

“I have no idea how I balance 60-hour work weeks and nine credit grad school semesters,” said Feliciano, who resides in Manhattan.

Feliciano has papers to do, exams to study for and books to read. On the business front, he has events that have to be planned and scripts that need to be read. When asked how he does it all, his reply was, “I plan for the future and live by the day. I have faith that good will come from all of the hard work.”