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Students and faculty from ieiMedia’s Urbino Program were saddened to hear that PBS newscaster Gwen Ifill died on Monday. She was 61.
Ifill, who broke gender and racial barriers, succumbed to endometrial cancer. Among her many honors was the Urbino Press Award, an Italian prize that is annually awarded to an American reporter or columnist. Ifill visited Urbino in June 2015 to receive that year’s Urbino Press Award at the 500-year-old Ducal Palace. Urbino Program students attended the ceremony and later got to meet her when she spoke to them about the state of journalism and careers in the field.
“Gwen was a real role model for our students,” said Steve Anderson, Urbino Program director. “She addressed controversial issues in the field but left students with an enthusiastic and positive message about their potential future roles as journalists.”
Urbino Program 2015 student Michele Goad, from James Madison University, did a story on the Urbino Press Award called The Italian Pulitzer? “Although Gwen was there to receive a prestigious award, she never made us feel inferior to her,” said Goad, who majors in media arts and design. “This day was all about honoring her, and she found a way to make it more about us (the students). She sat with us in our classroom, told her story and gave advice about working in the media industry. While we should have been star struck, it felt more like talking to a friend. She’s someone I listened to and thought … ‘Wow, what I do really is important and needed in the world.'”
Urbino instructors were also impressed by Ifill’s demeanor and message. “She was so generous, gracious, and open with our students and was such an example of the kind of curious and probing mind good journalists have,” said Susan West, director of the magazine program. “When one student asked what she liked about journalism, she said, ‘I go home every night knowing something I didn’t know before.’”
Ifill had previously worked at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NBC News. In 1999, she became moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week in Review.” In 2013, she became co-anchor of the “NewsHour.” Ifill and co-anchor Judy Woodruff were the first women to jointly lead a national nightly news broadcast. Ifill also moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates as well as a 2016 Democratic primary debate.
Besides Ifill, past recipients of the Urbino Press Award include Maria Bartiromo, Wolf Blitzer, Sebastian Rotella, Helene Cooper, David Ignatius, Thomas Friedman, Martha Raddatz, Michael Weisskopf and Diane Rehm. The official announcement of the prize is made by the ambassador of Italy to the United States at the Embassy of Italy in Washington. Following the announcement in Washington, the prize is awarded during a ceremony held in the summer at the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino.
The award ceremony usually takes place while ieiMedia students are in Urbino. In recent years, our students have also had one-on-one time with Wolf Blitzer of CNN and Sebastian Rotella of The New York Times.
Students in the 2016 Urbino, Italy program worked on some great interactive elements this year, including a before and after photo slider, a set of Google Map placemarks to highlight art installations, an audio clip from an orchestra rehearsal, and some amazing video pieces.
Here are some of the elements students worked on:
Danica Feuz (James Madison University): An interactive slider showing Urbania, Italy immediately after the WWII bombing contrasted with today. See her story, When Terror Fell from a Friendly Sky, at: http://2016.inurbino.net/wwii-tragedy-in-urbania.
Gabriella Flamini (Rider University): An interactive map containing placemarks of art installations in the countryside around Urbino. See her story, Thought is Faster Than Action, at: http://2016.inurbino.net/sculptor-gianni-calcagini.
Bridgette Windell (Colorado State University): Embedded audio of an amateur orchestra. See her story, The Violin Maker of Pesaro, at: http://2016.inurbino.net/violin-maker.
Lea Peck (University of Illinois): Besides winning honors for the best overall multimedia package (text, photos, video), Lea Peck (along with Danica Feuz) created one of the best video stories of the summer about a farmer who went to extreme measures to protect his sheep from wolves. See the story, Fighting Not Dancing with Wolves, at: http://2016.inurbino.net/wolves-vs-sheep. You can watch her video directly below.
Matt Boselli (Colorado State University): Video story about those unique and beloved Ape (Ah-pay) vehicles you see all over Italy. See his story, Ahhhhhhhh-pay!, at: http://2016.inurbino.net/ape-vehicles or watch his video directly below.
Urbino Program Alum Autumn Morowitz (2013) has just landed a plum position: Production Assistant for NBC Sports, covering the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Says Autumn:”I’m falling more in love with the job each and every day.”
If you’ve met Autumn, it’s easy to understand how she wound up at NBC, her first “real” job since graduating in May from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Autumn majored in Media Arts and Design at JMU with an emphasis in Corporate Communication and a minor in Human Resources and Development—a practical curriculum that would have given her many options in the job market. But she also loves sports, and through a summer internship at Hersam Acorn Newspapers in Connecticut; more than two years at MadiZone, JMU’s online sports outlet; and an internship at a Harrisonburg TV station, she found she had a knack for sports news and a passion for broadcast.
In Urbino, Italy, she showed a determination, focus, and resourcefulness that quickly overcame the cultural, language, and logistical barriers that can often stymie students in the program. Armed only with the information that the best peaches in the region reputedly come from an area near the town of Montelabbate, she made her way to the town by local bus without the help of a translator and talked to anyone who would listen until she found a family of fifth-generation peach farmers. Then she returned, again and again, to flesh out their story and bring it to life.
Her multimedia story package about the Marchionni family won a 2013 Raffie Award for best text and was nominated for two other categories. The Urbino faculty knew that Autumn was destined for great things. Now, though her contract prevents her from discussing the specifics of her new job, we thought she might have some advice for others who would like to follow a similar path.
IeiMedia: What do you think are the most important skills or experience for media students to acquire?
Autumn Morowitz: The most important skill for media students to acquire is storytelling. Whether you are a cameraperson, director, producer, editor or broadcaster, your main goal is to tell a story. The audience needs to be engaged, needs to feel something, needs to care about what is being said all through your actions and your decisions. If there is no story, there is no reason for anyone to watch. Take those English courses seriously. Take journalism courses when you can even if that’s not your major because sharpening those skills will matter all throughout your life.
IM: Have any of the skills you worked on or acquired in Urbino come in handy?
AM: The skills I was able to work on in Urbino would come in handy for any position. You work hard in Urbino and pour your heart and time into the pieces you create so that you are very proud of your final product. Being in a different country provides obstacles that you have to overcome and in turn makes you a stronger worker. It is such a great experience!
IM: Anything else you want to share with aspiring ieiMedia students?
AM: Challenge yourself and take that obstacle head on. Even though a task may seem daunting, you’re going to come out on the other side as a better worker. Every little challenge is a step, and every little step gets you closer to your goal. You don’t just wake up one morning at the top of the ladder, you have to take each little step to get there so make those steps count and enjoy them at the same time.
See what other ieiMedia alums are up to.
Each year, the Urbino Project’s faculty acknowledges the best student work of the summer with the Raffie Awards. Named in honor of Urbino’s most famous former citizen (the Renaissance artist Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino or simply Raphael), the Raffies are awarded during a ceremony at the end of the program. The 2015 Raffie winners are:
- Best Text Story: Manuel Orbegozo for “The Other Urbino”
- Best Photo Story: Sarah Eames for “From Farm to City Hall”
- Best Video Story: Caroline Davis & Michele Goad for “Craftsmanship and Woodworking in Urbino”
- Best Multimedia Student: Michele Goad for “The Italian Pulitzer?” and “Craftsmanship and Woodworking in Urbino”
- Best Text Story: Tessa Yannone for “Not Olive Oil…But Olive Liquor”
- Best Photo Story: (tie) Deanna Brigandi for “Man’s Best Friend, in Training” and Devon Jefferson for “Urbino’s Fashion Night Out”
- Best Story Package: Rachel Mendelson for “Carved in Stone”
- Best Magazine Cover Photography: Kendall Gilman for “Porta Santa Lucia Arch”
PROMOTIONAL VIDEO PROJECT
Urbino instructor Bob Marshall was the reporter for a groundbreaking piece of journalism that won the “Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism” by The Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) organization.
The award was for “Losing Ground,” an interactive journalism project showing how much of coastal Louisiana has disappeared over the last 80 years. The story was reported by Bob Marshall of The Lens, along with application developers Al Shaw and Brian Jacobs of ProPublica. The piece utilized historical maps, aerial photos, and satellite images to show the devastation of the Louisiana coast over time.
The annual IRE Awards recognize outstanding investigative work and help identify the techniques and resources used to complete each story. “Not only did ‘Losing Ground’ apply innovative techniques coupled with extensive shoe leather reporting, it furthered The Lens’s ability to be a watchdog for its community,” the judges wrote.
Marshall, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was an environmental reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) for more than 30 years. In 2013, he moved over to “The Lens,” a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom in New Orleans where he produces in-depth stories on wetlands restoration, flood protection, and coastal erosion.
Marshall taught reporting in Cagli, Italy in 2008 and in Urbino, Italy in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. He will return to Urbino in 2015.
Two talented young photographers are the first recipients of ieiMedia’s James Foley Memorial Scholarship in International Photojournalism, established in honor of the photojournalist who was tragically executed last August while covering the war in Syria.Manuel J. Orbegozo, a senior at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, received a $5,000 scholarship to attend the Urbino program. In 2012, Orbegozo worked as a photographer and writer at “Siete,” a weekly magazine based in Lima, Peru. There, he founded Azotea, a citizen journalism site that covered the capital’s political and cultural life. He is currently editor-in-chief of El Leñador, focused on the Latino community in Humboldt County. In his scholarship application, Orbegozo wrote, “As a college journalist, I realized that my degree could be achieved in a classroom, while my overall skills could only be refined through an experience abroad.”
Emily Teague, a freshman at California State University in Chico, received a $2,000 grant to attend the Jerusalem program. While still in high school, Teague was hired as a photojournalist for Chico State’s award-winning newspaper, The Orion. She was named “Best Photographer” on The Orion’s staff, and won fifth place in a national photojournalism competition at the Associated Collegiate Press. In September 2014 she photographed at the front lines of the “Flood Wall Street” direct action and at environmental protests in New York, Pittsburgh, and throughout California. She’s spending this semester traveling and photographing in Europe.
“We were impressed with the high level of work in many of the submissions,” says Dennis Chamberlin, photography instructor in the Urbino Program and a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. Chamberlin and photo instructors Susan Biddle and Robert Reeder reviewed the applicants. “It was difficult for the jury to choose only one winner because there were several portfolios that were quite strong.”
In Urbino, Orbegozo will study with Chamberlin and Susan Biddle, former Washington Post staff photographer and White House photographer. In Jerusalem, Teague will work with Linda Gradstein, formerly of National Public Radio; Ilene Prusher of The Jerusalem Post; and Cathy Shafran, who has worked in the Jerusalem bureaus of ABC, CNN, Associated Press Television News, Britain’s ITN, and Canada’s CTV.
“This has been a successful inaugural program for this scholarship,” says ieiMedia president and founder Andrew Ciofalo. “We will continue to offer it next year as part of our commitment to emphasizing the importance of photojournalism in our program. The excellence of our applicants this year resulted in our establishing the Foley Grant in the amount of $2,000 for distinguished runners up. We plan to continue this grant as well.”
For summer 2015, ieiMedia welcomes four Research Fellows who will investigate the techniques and effectiveness of experiential learning, boot-camp teaching, short-term programs, and intercultural reporting in our programs in Urbino, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey; Valencia, Spain; and Nice, France.
The 2015 ieiMedia Research Fellows are:
In Urbino: Frank Garland, Journalism Communications Program director at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania
In Istanbul: Jack Zibluk, Professor of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
In Valencia: Kanina Holmes, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
In Nice: Sonya DiPalma, Assistant Professor of Mass Communications, University of North Carolina, Asheville
Research Fellows receive a $3,000 grant toward the $4,995 cost of our programs and will have regular informal access to the program faculty for pedagogical and theoretical exchanges. In addition, they will participate in one or more of the program’s practice modules and become a resource to faculty and students where appropriate. IeiMedia launched the Research Fellows program in 2014, when Barry Janes, professor of communication at Rider University, joined the team of the Urbino Program, where he participated in the video module and advised students in their projects.
“Our four awards this year mark a high point for this program,” says ieiMedia president and founder Andrew Ciofalo. “Our objective is to approve one for each or our seven programs. We will continue this because there is a need for exposing faculty to the value and methods of experiential teaching, especially in foreign settings where it is most effective.”
To apply: Write to Prof. Andrew Ciofalo, 4195 Tamiami Trail South #102, Venice FL 34293-5112. Explain your interest in this opportunity and how it might have an impact on your teaching or administrative role. If there is a particular research question you plan to address, please let us know. Include with the letter your vita, a letter of recommendation from your unit head, and a sample of or link to your writing, other work or research. We expect a written reflection at the end that you may also share with your department.
“Louisiana’s Moon Shot,” the second in a two-part series on Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing coastline, was posted today. The story was reported and written by Urbino instructor Bob Marshall, with data reporting and maps by Al Shaw of ProPublica and Brian Jacobs of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews. You can read the piece and view the interactive maps at: http://projects.propublica.org/larestoration
Marshall covers environmental issues for The Lens, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom in New Orleans. Before working at The Lens, he was a feature writer and columnist whose work at The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) earned two Pulitzer Prizes.
His most recent project called “Losing Ground” is an innovative piece of multimedia journalism written by Marshall with data reporting, maps and design created in cooperation with Al Shaw of ProPublica and Brian Jacobs of Knight-Mozilla Open News. The project appears at http://projects.propublica.org/louisiana. It is gaining significant national exposure. Marshall was recently interviewed on “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC.
You can read the Salon article at: http://www.salon.com/2014/11/28/is_louisianas_coastline_beyond_saving_partner
More information about the Urbino project can be found here: http://ieimedia.com/urbino.
After five summers of teaching abroad with ieiMedia, I’ve seen students take different approaches to the study-abroad experience. Some mostly stick with their compatriots; others dive into the local community, seeking out cultural challenges.
Many of our students have described their experiences overseas as life-changing, but each year a few adventurous students get a little more out of it than others. Here are a few things I’ve learned from them:
1) Be curious. Studying – and, even more, reporting — abroad gives you the opportunity to peak behind the curtain of people’s lives. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Inquire about customs, foods, fashions and traditions that seem foreign to you. Most of the time locals are happy to share their culture with you.
2) Get to know your interpreters. Many of the ieiMedia interpreters are local students who are eager to practice their English and translation skills with visiting journalists. They can also offer a special window into their culture. One summer in Jerusalem, an interpreter invited me and a student to her family’s Old Jerusalem home to share the iftar break fast, the meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Over the course of that dinner of chicken and yellow, spice-infused rice, it became clear that though the family lived in a predominantly Jewish city, the American student and I were the first Jewish people to ever visit their home. The interpreter’s mother and I didn’t speak each other’s language but, communicating through the young interpreter, we were able to forge a profound bond.
3) Become a regular. One of the biggest differences between touring and living in a community is that you get a chance to get to know regular people – not just hotel clerks and tour guides but shopkeepers and baristas. In each place I’ve taught, I’ve tried to develop a relationship with local people. In Perpignan, it was with the woman who ran the produce store near my apartment. As my French improved we would have simple chats about her cat and what fruits were best that day. In Jerusalem, I developed a fondness for the fresh halva sold at Halva Kingdom in the Machane Yehuda Market, where the proprietor and I would debate which was the best flavor of the sesame candy – pistachio, cashew, chocolate or coffee.
4) Network like crazy. In most ieiMedia programs, students have an opportunity to meet with local and international media professionals. But each summer a few students go beyond the routine smile and handshake and parlay those meetings into professional opportunities. One summer in Urbino, San Francisco State University photography student Giovanna Borgna published photographs with the local newspaper, il Resto del Carlino. In 2013, Amara McLaughlin of Mt. Royal University published a story and photos in The Jerusalem Post. Maya Shwayder, another Jerusalem student, so impressed the Post editors that she became the newspaper’s correspondent in New York and at the United Nations after she returned home. You can read her work on the newspaper’s website.
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by Gillette Vaira, University of Montana, The Perpignan Project 2010