New SoJ grads check in

Alums from some of the J-School’s recent classes are traveling, landing jobs, freelancing, enrolling in grad school and more. We’re proud of them, and we’d like to share some of their updates.

Do you have an update you’d like to report? Send us a line with where you’re at, along with which year you graduated. Email Jennifer Carlino at to get in the next edition of The Scoop.


Jasmine Blennau

Jasmine is beginning a graduate assistantship at St. John’s University in Queens. There she will be working in multimedia and sports production for the athletics department. Her job includes working with a crew to stream all games to ESPN, cutting highlight videos and producing content like athlete profiles for a weekly web show. As a graduate assistant she will also be taking classes to get a master’s degree at the Tobin Business School.


Erica Cirino

Since graduating with an MS Journalism from SBU in December 2015, Erica has been freelancing full-time as a science writer. She regularly contributes to Audubon, Scientific American and National Geographic Ocean Views. She also executes environmental writing and media tasks for Dr. Carl Safina of the Safina Center. She still lives on Long Island but does lots of road trips and traveling for her reporting.

Daine Taylor

After graduation, Daine spent the summer in Italy and the Netherlands to travel and visit family. In December Daine was hired at the Long Island Herald as a reporter covering the town of Bellmore, where he currently works.

Jaclyn Lattanza

After graduating with her bachelors in May 2015, Jaclyn continued pursuing an MBA in Marketing as part of Stony Brook’s MBA Fast Track program that she started in the summer of her undergraduate sophomore year. She will graduate in December 2016.

In August 2015, she was selected to participate in the News 12 Academy at News 12 The Bronx where she underwent a demanding three-week boot camp and learned how to operate as a one-man band reporter for the station. After successfully “graduating” from the Academy, she was offered a freelance position. She is now freelancing as a one man band general news reporter at both the News 12 The Bronx and News 12 Brooklyn stations where she reports, films, writes and edits her own stories that make air.

While she finishes up graduate school, she works as the Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator for the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band & Pep Band, a position she has held since her freshman year.

Mike Daniello

Mike was recently hired with Advanced Media and am an editorial producer for sites such as and

Agatha Michalak

Agatha has been living and working in Madrid, Spain as a lead Producer of the Digital Team at the Olympic Channel, a part of the International Olympic Committee. The Channel is launching worldwide on the last day of the Olympics during the closing ceremonies on standard cable in the United States.


Lindsey Campbell

Lindsey is now working as an Associate Editor for Travel + Leisure running all the social media channels as well as writing and producing video.

Lindsey Welling

In March Lindsey celebrated one year with the Herald-Mail Media/HMTV6. It’s a small newspaper and TV news project in Hagerstown, M.D. She came on board in March 2015 as a producer and in June of last year she applied for an open position as an Anchor/Reporter. She is now celebrating one year as the morning news anchor.

A message from the editor: Goodbye to The Scoop

I still remember that evening clearly. Jenn Carlino and I met  at Starbucks one night in East Northport two years ago. It was her idea. Maybe she could tell I was looking for something to inspire me. Maybe she just wanted to get some hot drinks. But I remember how honored I felt when she asked me if I would be interested in launching the school’s first ever alumni e-newsletter.

Of course, I said yes.

Rohma Abbas

And now it’s time to say goodbye.

The strides this school has made since I graduated in 2009 have left me truly impressed. Accreditation. Our Journalism Without Walls trips. The Alda Center, Faculty making big splashes.

And most importantly: you. I’ve been most impressed by you, my fellow alums. And you should be too. We’re in a lot of high places. The paths we’ve taken have never ceased to amaze me – journalism or not. Charting your successes has been a rewarding experience for me, and I thank you for that.

When I accepted this job, I was a New Yorker with some extra time on my hands. Now I live in Massachusetts. While I don’t have a child, I do edit a newspaper that demands a level of attention that might rival that of a newborn. The Scoop is still a baby in its own way, and it would be better served with a new editor, a new guardian who could give it the nurturing attention it needs.

I am proud to announce that the next editor for The Scoop is Emma Lowery, a graduate of the Class of 2015. She is currently working on her master’s in higher education at SBU. More from her to come.

It has been a truly humbling experience serving as your alumni newsletter editor. Our school is full of inspiring stories of professors and students working to make each other and themselves better. We need the next person to help chronicle that.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your alumni newsletter editor. I promise it won’t be the last you hear of me.


Rohma Abbas, ‘09

Journalism Without Walls covers changes in Cuba

When SoJ Professor Rick Ricioppo returned to Cuba for another Journalism Without Walls trip this year, he came back to a different country. Cranes were a common sight and construction was a 24/7 affair. Before, it was rare to find anyone who spoke English, but this time, tourism was booming and Americans were crawling all over the country.

The game-changer came last year, with the Obama administration’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, and with the opening of embassies in both countries. As travel regulations eased, it led to the spike in American tourism to Cuba, and Ricioppo’s class got to witness it in action, speaking with Cubans about how the changes in the country have impacted them.

For one, any construction having to do with hotels got green-lighted quickly to meet tourism demand – one of the biggest changes Ricioppo said he noticed in the country since visiting in 2012.

“This time there were tour buses everywhere,” he said in a recent interview with The Scoop. “This time, we saw cranes. They’re doing this mad dash to build up the infrastructure there to accommodate these people.”

The class reported on this boom and other stories, he said, including the shifting landscape of Cuban journalism, how access to the Internet through limited wi-fi spots is slowly moving Cuba into a more open society and a look the Havana art scene. Ricioppo said the class did a profile on the rise of “casa particularis” which means “private homes” – where the Cuban government allows individuals to turn their homes into a business to accommodate foreign visitors. This is particularly noteworthy because it signified to some hints of economic freedom within Cuba. Ricioppo said the class got to stay in a casa particular “which was really pretty cool.” Students also ventured out of the city and went down to the tobacco-growing areas, he said.

One unique aspect of this trip was their tour guide, Chris Cloonan, a former SoJ alum who actually went on the 2012 JWW Cuba trip. The 2012 trip was life-changing for Cloonan, who became the subject of a story by the class called “From Tourist to Tour Guide.” Ricioppio said Cloonan was so taken with Cuba that he got his master’s in Cuban studies and ended up working for a company that gives cultural tours in Cuba. The class ended up using his company for the tour, and Cloonan was their guide.

“The students absolutely loved it,” Ricioppo said. “He knew exactly what we needed.”

Ricioppo offered reflections on Cuba’s changes, saying that despite facing economic hardships, Cubans take pride in their country.

“If you talk to the average Cuban they absolutely understand there are limitations to their brand of socialism,” he said. “They understand that the economy is in very bad shape. They don’t have freedom of the press. It’s getting better. But they don’t have the same freedoms we enjoy,”

But he added, “They’re very, very proud.”

The professor said he hopes to return to Cuba again. “It’s a fascinating place.”

Check out the JWW Cuba 2016 stories here.

How I got my job after SoJ

Curious to know how some of your fellow alums went about getting their jobs? The Scoop put this question to some of our grads and here’s what they said. Got your own story to share? We want to hear about how you landed your job — email submissions to

Rachel O’Brien Shapiro, ‘08: Politics Reporter at the Staten Island Advance

I am a politics reporter for the Staten Island Advance, a daily newspaper in the “forgotten borough.”

I had been working as executive editor at a group of weekly newspapers in Suffolk County for about four years when I saw a job posting online and applied. I interviewed with five editors at once and shortly thereafter was offered the position. I have been here for almost two years and am preparing to attend both presidential nominating conventions later this month.

Adam Misch, 09: English High School Teacher in Queens

I’m currently a tenured high school teacher at Newtown High School in East Elmhurst, Queens. I’m entering my fifth year there this September. I’m the ninth grade team leader. In January, I completed my masters in special education from Touro College and then did 30 credits extra in English from Queens College. I’m the freshman grade team leader for English as well.

I started the school newspaper, The Pioneer Post, when I first got hired. We have been publishing two to three issues each year with amazing student-run content. I have the Stony Brook School of Journalism to thank for helping me get that idea off the ground.

I truly love teaching English and Journalism to a wide variety of special needs and less fortunate students. Before this, I worked for the Queens Courier as the main sports writer for a year. Then I worked as an in house content writer for a website called After not feeling fulfilled in my career, I decided to join Queens College’s program for Secondary Education. I’ve been having a great time and loving what I’m doing ever since.

Gene Morris, ‘09: Sports Reporter at Newsday

My last year in college and for the first year out of school I freelanced all over the place. I wrote stories for different Patch sites, the Times Beacon Record chain, Ultimate Athlete Magazine and the New York Hockey Journal. While freelancing, I wrote about everything from local elections to profiles on local business owners in addition to sports stories. After that I got something close to a  full-time job assigning, writing and editing high school sports stories for Ultimate Athlete Magazine before moving to my current position at Newsday.  I started working at Newsday in September 2012 as a high school sports reporter and I’m still there. I mainly cover high school sports on Long Island with the occasional professional sports coverage thrown in.

Philly Bubaris, ‘13: Associate Producer at CBS This Morning

I studied Broadcast Journalism at the Stony Brook School of Journalism and after college helped launch Al Jazeera America in Washington, D.C. After almost two years there, I realized that I wasn’t being challenged and was ready for a change. That change took about six months to make. I knew I wanted to work in politics with the election coming up fast. I started with a coffee with the CBS political director, arranged by a colleague at Al Jazeera who played with him in a softball league. Then, I took a tour of the bureau with a senior producer at CBS This Morning, who I met at a wedding of a mutual friend. Every two weeks, I would reach out to these two contacts, asking if there might be an opening. This all got the ball rolling for a couple of months later, when a position opened up – and it turns out, I was the perfect fit. A year later — a year with little sleep and lots of Trump — I am still loving my gig here as an Associate Producer at CBS This Morning. #newsisback

Lindenfeld named head of Alda Center

The SoJ Alan Alda Center for Communicating Sciences has a new leader at the helm to help grow its global reputation.

bc pics 1
Dr. Laura Lindenfeld

Dr. Laura Lindenfeld was appointed the director of the Alda Center in March, succeeding Director Emerita Liz Bass. Before joining SoJ, Lindenfeld, a Long Island native, was the director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, a nonpartisan, independent research unit of the University of Maine, which aims to inform public policy and societal decision-making.

It was a fitting role, considering the Alda Center’s mission is to help scientists and health professionals better inform the public, media and others about their work and research through communications training. Actor, Writer and Science Advocate Alan Alda helped found the center in 2009 and is a Visiting Professor at SoJ.

Lindenfeld said she was always interested in bringing communications and the policy world together, and at the Alda Center she feels her work has a significant impact.

“We train people to connect with other human beings,” Lindenfeld said. “It’s so easy in science and medicine to get trapped in your own jargon and culture and discipline and forget that people on the other end are not part of your culture.”

Lindenfeld first became acquainted with the Alda method about three years ago in her time at Maine. She said she went to a training and “was blown away.”

“I thought it was phenomenal,” she said. “I was so impressed with the training I really was curious to see if there was some process to see if we could affiliate with the Ada Center.”

The center boasts affiliates overseas; Lindenfeld said recent work includes a partnership with the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at University of Dundee in Scotland, officially launched by Queen Elizabeth II on July 6. Alda spoke excitedly about the partnership in a video message.

“The queen of England watched this video,” Lindenfeld said. “So when i say it’s exciting, to think we connected Alan Alda with the queen of England, never in my lifetime did I think I would say those words. You can’t make this stuff up.”

The center has trained more than 7,000 scientists and medical professionals, according to Lindenfeld. She said its lectures have reached more than 24,000 people.

The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Sciences offers workshops and classes to help train student scientists to better communicate the significance of their work. The center offers conferences, lectures and coaching opportunities, as well as credit-bearing courses offered through the School of Journalism. More than 600 graduate students on campus have enrolled in courses so far and last year the center began offering its first undergraduate course called “Talking Science.”

The center is also known for The Flame Challenge, where scientists are challenged to explain science to an 11-year-old. This year’s challenge asked scientists to explain sound. The winning written and video entries can be found here.

Lindenfeld said j-school alumni should be excited about the center’s future.

“I would jump for joy that my campus and this school gave birth to this idea,” she said. “I would be so proud to know that this center is reaching out across the globe to help science matter more.”

Dean Howard Schneider said, “ We’re very happy Laura is here. We think the Alda Center is a key part of our future.”

For more on Lindenfeld, read here.

Journalism Without Walls visits Korea

By Rohma Abbas

For Professor Charles  Haddad, leading a group of nine SoJ students on a three-week trip to South Korea should be a piece of cake. That is, at least compared to going to China.

“This will probably be the easiest trip I’ve ever done in terms of logistics,” Haddad said in a recent phone interview with The Scoop before embarking on the latest Journalism Without Walls journey on June 27. The class is due back to the U.S. on July 15.

Professor Charles Haddad

Haddad said he had hoped to go to China again this year, but the political climate now is “too hot.” The last time the class went it was hard, but with the country’s current leadership, “now it would be impossible.”

By comparison, planning a JWW trip to South Korea has been much easier. But while it might feel like a vacation, Haddad expects the students to get to work documenting the country in words and images.

The stories, he hopes, will capture snapshots of who Koreans really are from the big city to the countryside. He said he wants to “paint an authentic picture” of what Korean life is like “behind the headlines, behind the tourism brochures.”

That will include documenting popular South Korean entertainment. “They rule when it comes to music and soap opera and news,” he said. “They are the giants. So everybody watches their entertainment.”

Another hot topic is the beauty industry. The height of beauty in East Asia is “how white you are,” Haddad said, and to that end, people from all over Asia travel to South Korea for plastic surgery procedures. “There’s a huge sort of what they call medical tourism,” he said.

The class will be expected to publish stories on the road instead of returning to the newsroom for production.

“I want them to have an authentic experience,” he said. “So we will report, write and publish on the road. So we do everything in realtime. It’s a big thing with me.”

The students will be based at Dongguk University in downtown Seoul, and the program will take them on a tour of Korea, including meeting media executives, politicians, artists, cultural figures, North Korean refugees and everyday people.

For Haddad, the best part of the trip is the cultural swap that occurs between students and locals. He said students learn how to be tolerant and open-minded of other perspectives.

“To me, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “The journalism, it’s just the excuse.”

The Dollar Bill Challenge: Giving back to SoJ

Remember the Dollar Bill Challenge from graduation?

The Dollar Bill Challenge is about giving beyond yourself. It’s about relationships. It is about thinking about when you were an undergraduate student. It’s is about giving back to the next class of SBU students.

If you are from the Class of 2008, if you graduated less than two months ago or if you’re somewhere in between, I hope you stay connected to the J-School. Whether you a working in journalism, marketing, public relations, a business owner or in graduate school, we are proud of you.

If you are able to give, here is the link: and choose the School of Journalism in the drop down for “what would you like to support.”

Please keep in touch—tell us what you’re doing.


Jenn Carlino