Friday, July 3, 2009

About the Newhouse School's J-Camp

Welcome to the Web site for the Newhouse School's J-Camp, hosted by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

This is the first year for the program that gathered 10 local high school students to teach them the basics of writing, reporting, and multimedia journalism. Each student produced photos and videos for this J-Camp Web site. Each reported and wrote a profile of a classmate and of people in various professions. Each learned to create digital sketches. The students then posted all of these elements on to this Web site.

All in all, it was a busy week for the students and the directors of the program, Professors Charlotte Grimes, Robert Lloyd, and Sherri Taylor, as well as their teaching assistants Cassia Brooks and Wasim Ahmad and professor Sung Park.

Browse around the site and enjoy the work of the first 10 graduates of this program at Syracuse University.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"It's Showtime!"

A Day With Rick Wright from Newhouse School J-Camp on Vimeo.

By Rylah Orr

Rick Wright talks for a living.

He talks on the radio. He talks while showing off Syracuse University. He even teaches talking on the radio.

Wright is a professor in the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at SU. Among the things he teaches are radio broadcasting, broadcast management and commercial writing. He is also the senior public affairs officer for the New York Naval Militia.

His deep booming voice echoes down the school’s hallways and on the public airwaves.

On the radio, he is “Dr. Rick Wright,” as he describes himself. Wright’s signature phrase is the saying, “It’s show time!” He says it to begin his radio broadcasts, “Old School Sunday” on WPHR-FM, Power 106.9. He’s worked at several radio stations during his career. He worked for Syracuse’s WOLF, an AM rock station and left to work for rival station, WNDR.

“And then I became Rick Wright on WNDR radio,” Wright said.

At Syracuse, he is an unofficial athletic recruiter and goodwill ambassador. Wright’s commanding voice often leads visiting football players from Missouri and New Jersey around the halls of Newhouse to meet colleagues and students. He shows them the radio studio, the TV broadcasting studio and the dean’s office.

But Wright didn’t always have a public voice. He grew up in South Carolina during segregation.

“Many of the African-American schools were never equal in regards to many of the white schools. They had more money and resources,” Wright said. “We were the last of the legal segregation in the South when the Jim Crow laws were in place.”

Jim Crow laws reinforced segregation in the South and denied African Americans their basic civil rights.

He marched in protests to gain civil rights. Wright attended Elizabeth City State University, a historically black college in Elizabeth City, N. C. He was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, which organized some protests of unfair business practices that kept out African Americans. Wright hoped to “break down those barriers.”

Demonstrations were not without consequences.

“I got arrested and all the other stuff that goes along with it,” he said.

The president of Elizabeth State University, Walter N. Ridley, was one of Wright’s early mentors. He had an interest in the radio field. He introduced Wright to the radio program at the university.

“He basically opened some real rights for me,” Wright said.

Now Wright teaches his own radio classes at SU. And when he’s not teaching, he’s often shepherding athletic recruits around the halls of SU.

“Each recruiting visit is different, depending on the player, depending on how I feel, regards to trying to establish a level of empathy with the young man or lady who are trying to make a very important decision to decide upon a collage that they’re going to attend,” Wright explained.

He always tells them, “It’s your time. Life goes on.”


Bright Lights, Big Creations

Bright lights, big creations from Newhouse School J-Camp on Vimeo.

By Arielle Kaigler-Hall

Andrew Benepe is in love with a cow.

But this cow is no ordinary cow. “Milky White” is the life-size puppet Benepe handmade painstakingly from foam and wire.

Benepe is a sculptor, fabricator and special effects expert for television, theater and film. He creates his cows and monsters in his home near Syracuse University. He built Milky White from scrap material for the Broadway revival of “Into the Woods.”

Milky White stole the show.

Benepe has built other things besides cows.

Benepe originated various designs for theater productions including Disney On Ice’s “Little Mermaid”, the Broadway production of “The Lion King” and Broadway’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” He has worked for the films “Kate & Leopold” and “Everyone Wins.”

Benepe constructed “Pumbaa,” a warthog from Broadway’s “The Lion King.” Pumbaa was designed from scratch with Benepe’s hands.

“Pumbaa from Lion King is one we really had time to work out the bugs,” Benepe said. “ That one definitely has enough difficulty but enough fun to it.”

Not all of Benepe’s work was as amusing as Pumbaa.

“Two years ago we built a three-story bunny rabbit,” Benepe said. “We had to set up it up in the hurricane.”

Benepe began his dream of designing monsters at an early age.

“Around 9, I started building puppets and stuff,” he said. Many were based on “the Muppets, monsters and anything I could copy,” Benepe said.

Benepe’s mother introduced him to art.

“My mom was an artist, so I was surrounded by art arsty-farty stuff all the time,” Benepe said.

As a teenager, Benepe spent one summer at a camp meant for older students. At the age of 13 he was working at a semi-professional level.

“In one summer I learned cast-stepping, wrought-iron work, wood carving and marionette work, all in about two months,” Benepe said. “That was probably the biggest ramp-up as far as my own technique.”

Benepe received hands-on skills by piecing materials together. Soon after graduating high school, Benepe attended a technology school that specialized in theater.

Benepe applies many inspirations into his work.

“Inspiration can come from anywhere,” Benepe said. “We’ll get reference materials, pictures of sculptors of the mood, books, pictures, museums.”

Research takes up to a week to produce a representation of a monster model, Benepe said. He starts with a miniature structure of the design. For Disney On Ice’s “ The Little Mermaid”, Benepe sculpted a 12-inch clay version of the villain, Ursula, before building the life-sized costume.

His job is draining at times, Benepe says.

“Exhaustion comes towards the end. There is a certain amount of stress,” Benepe said. “I have this looming sense of total disaster at all times. But other than that there is comradeship.”

Benepe’s upcoming projects will be featured in the films “Sherlock Holmes” and “Salt,” starring Angelina Jolie.

Despite working long hours, Benepe’s job is beneficial to his creative passion. “If anyone is thinking of this as a career choice,” he said. “I would totally endorse it.”


One Dedicated SU Tour Guide

One dedicated tour guide from Newhouse School J-Camp on Vimeo.

By Jamal Reed

As a tour guide at Syracuse University, Auyon Ghosh answers all types of questions.

Some are simple, just asking about the SU campus. Others, in his opinion, are just borderline weird.

“There was a student who was a junior or senior in high school and I was giving a tour and he came up to me. I had just given this talk about Greek life and he was, like, ‘So, do you have to be Greek to be part of Greek life?’” Ghosh says.

“And I looked at him and I said, ‘Clearly, you don’t. It’s just a name.’ ”

Ghosh explained that fraternities are named for Greek letters.

Ghosh has been a tour guide since last summer. A senior next year, Ghosh will graduate in 2010 majoring in physics and economics in the college of Arts and Sciences.

“Turns out, it was a really great summer job and I continued doing it throughout the year,” he said. “I love this university. Learning all about it is something I really enjoyed.”

Being a tour guide has opened up a lot of doors for Ghosh. He’s met people from all 50 states and several different countries across the world.

In the beginning, Ghosh found it challenging to get used to all the questions parents now ask.

“A lot of times somebody is going to expect you be an expert on everything,” he said.

Ghosh was on a journey to success from the start. Getting the job to pay his way through school has helped him a lot, but also put him a few steps ahead of many students.

Ghosh’s parents are from India. But he is a first-generation American and was raised in the Syracuse area. He had visited several different colleges, but he chose the university – SU – in his hometown.

Ghosh is a pre-med student at SU. He is planning to go to SUNY-Upstate Medical Center next year when he graduates. Looking forward to the future is the best thing for him, Ghosh says.

Being at Syracuse University has helped him become a better person, he said. He views life differently now that he has learned about the world at SU. He now hopes to help change what’s wrong about his community.

“When I’m done getting my career started,” said Ghosh, “I would love to come back to Syracuse University to give my special care and attention to those who need it.”


Wasim Ahmad: Storyteller in Pictures

Wasim Ahmad: Storyteller in pictures from Newhouse School J-Camp on Vimeo.

By Tonielle Moore

Wasim Ahmad likes telling stories through his pictures.

“You can tell a whole story by showing the look in someone’s eyes,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad, a 27-year-old graduate student at Syracuse University, is majoring in journalism and photography at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is a teaching assistant for video, graphics and photography. This summer he is a teaching assistant for J-Camp, a new program for 10 city high school students.

Ahmad is a native of Long Island and attended Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick. That’s where his English teacher introduced him to writing for the school newspaper. In college he continued his interest by working on the student newspaper at Binghamton University.

He graduated from Binghamton University, where he majored in English in the Harpur School of Arts and Sciences. After two years on his college paper, he interned and was eventually hired at Binghamton’s Press & Sun-Bulletin as a copy editor and Web editor.

One of the most interesting stories he covered, he said, was about an IBM plant that was causing pollution. A chemical, Trichloroethylene, was being dumped into the ground. Businesses were closing because nobody wanted to be near the chemical.

“It was important telling the story because it brought a problem to light that people needed to hear,” Ahmad said.

After graduating from college, Ahmad took a copy-editing job in St. Cloud, Minn., for a year and then returned to Binghamton. His photography career started there.

He started shooting videos when he was handed a camera and told to start shooting for the Web. He was pressed into service because the paper was short staffed.

Shooting video changed his career. He kept shooting to become a better shooter, Ahmad said.

One of the first videos he made was covering the flooding of the Southern Tier of New York. After covering that story he gained a passion for photography and online journalism.

“Videos and still photos can convey power, feelings and emotions,” Ahmad said.

After working in Binghamton, he moved to the Naples Daily News in Florida where he became the Web editor.

He decided to go back to school for a master’s degree, he said, because he felt that he was “practicing photography without a license” and wanted to perfect his skills.

After a year at Newhouse, he is now expanding his photography skills to include shooting a music video for a band, The Grand Concourse, from the Bronx. It shows the band performing on a rooftop and in Rockefeller State Park in Westchester County, with special effects to show a difference between dreamland and reality.

He now hopes to teach college journalism, Ahmad said, so he can teach his students to find the joy in telling people stories too.

Ahmad offers this advice for anyone with a passion for journalism or photography: “Keep writing and you will become a better writer,” he said. “And keep shooting and you will become a better shooter.”


Part-time Writer, Full-time Mother

Part-time writer, full-time mother from Newhouse School J-Camp on Vimeo.

By Riley Stroman

Tasneem Grace Tewogbola left her career to raise her kids in what she sees is the right way. She is a part-time writer and a full-time mother.

She is a former reporter. She is a dedicated runner. And she is the devoted mother of three daughters.

“I am proud that I am in the process of trying to balance all of these different selves,” she said.

As a reporter, she worked for the Tennessean, a newspaper in Nashville, Tenn. There she met her husband and they had their first child, Yemurai, in 2003.

She loved being a reporter, she said, but didn’t want to follow crime and violence. She hated hearing sirens and hoped she wouldn’t be called to the scenes of death and destruction.

“For me, the joy of writing came in good, creative, compelling writing, not in covering who got shot,” Tewogbola said.

After having her first child, Tewogbola moved back to Syracuse where she got a job reporting for The Post-Standard.

She knew she wasn’t going to be an award-winning journalist with a nanny at home, she said. She wouldn’t let her job get in the way of her family.

“I did at some point realize that I wasn’t going to be the kind of reporter that would happily work 10- to 12-hour days,” Tewogbola said.

She finds fun activities to do with her kids, including taking them to swimming lessons and on daily trips to the library.

Tewogbola was born in Washington, D.C., and moved to Syracuse with her family. Here she found her passion for writing. She attended local schools, and during her senior year in high school she realized she wanted to pursue a career in journalism.

After high school she graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and began her reporting career.

She also worked with the Southside Community Coalition to help the neighborhood return to some of its original grandeur and show that it is actually a nice place to live.

Another of her passions is connected to her culture. She is interested in African dancing and was able to cover a dance story in Guinea, West Africa.

Though she’s taking a break from reporting to raise her family, she strongly argues that print journalism has a future. She acknowledges the growth of Internet news. But she insists many people will always like the feel of paper and the ritual of starting off the day reading the newspaper.

She expresses faith in the profession she still pursues part-time.

“I feel like it’s a growing pain, what the economy is doing, what advertisers are doing. I think newspapers will evolve, and survive,” said Tewogbola, “and it will be just another part of a story to tell.”


Park's Passions: Photojournalism, Video & Teaching

Learning about Professor Sung Park from Newhouse School J-Camp on Vimeo.

By Vivian Gunn

Growing up, Sung Park just wanted to take art photos. But when he came to Syracuse University, he changed his major to photojournalism.

Park decided to become a photojournalist because he found more chances to meet people in the community. He was shy when he was younger, and he believed photojournalism would help him overcome his fear.

“I thought it would help me break out of my shell of shyness,” he said.

Park is working on a project called “bok-sa-jin.” This project shows the Korean tradition of a final portrait to remember those who’ve died.

Park considers Austin, Texas, his home but for the past few years, he has lived in Syracuse working on his master’s degree Syracuse University and he has a contract to teach at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

“Newhouse offers a lot of really fine education in photojournalism, up-to-date media and debt,” he said.

When Park was 5, he took his first photo. Park was trying to use a camera but lost his balance and in the middle of stumbling, he took a photo of grass. In 4th or 5th grade, Park bought his first camera at a garage sale for $1.50 and used his allowance to buy film. This is when Park fell in love with photography. He started taking pictures of his friends and family. He also began using his creativity in his photographs.

“I had an early childhood fascination with the process of photography,” he said

His pictures are just a story or an idea, Park said, and the message varies so he doesn’t have a specific message for his photos.

While attending Syracuse University, Park discovered the importance of photography and photojournalism.

“When I got to Syracuse University, I really learned what photography can do for me and society and learned how to overcome that shyness and it led to a career in journalism,” he said.

Park worked for USA Today in Virginia covering Capitol Hill and later for 14 years in Austin as a photojournalist for the American Statesman.

In Austin, he recalled, “I got to know the community one person at a time.”

He describes photography as a way to connect with peopl“It’s a real important part of the society and its relevant to neighbors and people around the world,” he said.

Park has also had the chance to work with famous people. He has worked with Willie Nelson, Selena, Lyle Lovette, Dick Clark, Lady Bird Johnson and the Johnson family. He also photographed five presidents: Carter, Ford, Clinton and both Bushes.

Park’ s favorite photographer is Sabastio Salagato.

“All his photos are all around the whole world, black and white and powerful,” he said.

Five years ago, Park expanded to multimedia and video. He was applying for a job that demanded he shoot video. Now, video has opened more opportunities for him, he said.

Park teaches graduate and undergraduate students, teaches at J- Camp and gets paid for shooting video. He never studied video, he taught himself and he learned from his peers in Austin, Texas.

He describes his earlier work as preparing him for a career in teaching. “My number one priority is to teach here at Newhouse,” he said.

For future students who want to study photojournalism, Park advises to keep an open mind on what they want to study at Syracuse University. They should be a students of the world, understand what’s happening in the world and stay up on current events.

“Every photo is history, when documented, it’s already happened,” he said

Sung Park encourages students who wants to major in photojournalism, photography or video to attend Syracuse University. It has worked for him, he said.

“It’s been an incredible career,” he said.