Author: UConn Journalism

Filmmaker Martine Granby joins Journalism faculty and Africana Studies Institute

Martine Granby is a filmmaker who will hold a joint appointment in Journalism and Africana Studies at UConn.

Documentary filmmaker Martine N. Granby has joined the Department of Journalism as an assistant professor. She holds a joint appointment in the Africana Studies Institute, and is an affiliate of UConn’s Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.

She has worked as a documentarian, producer, editor, video journalist, and educator for The New York Times, Kartemquin Films, The New School, City Bureau, BRIC TV, UnionDocs, and Global Girl Media, an organization empowering young women with the tools for visual journalism to tell their own stories.

Granby’s films weave between documentary, experimental non-fiction, hybrid, and essay forms. Her creative research focuses on interrogations of and material experimentation with family and collective moving image archives, ethical considerations of found footage usage, discourses around mental health in BIPOC communities, and the narrative residues of pop culture in personal memories/viewership.

“I’m beyond thrilled to meet and work with the students and faculty in both the Journalism department and my joint-appointed home in the Africana Studies Institute,” Granby said. She will relocate from Brooklyn, N.Y. and be in residence on campus in Storrs this fall, doing occasional guest teaching. She will begin teaching her own courses in spring 2022.

Her teaching focuses on technical film training and observational critique pulling from diverse film, video, journalistic, and media arts samplings that include but go beyond the traditional canon.

She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology and film studies from Mount Holyoke College and earned a master of arts from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

“Some of the best advice I received while in graduate school was not to compare yourself to your peers,” Granby said. “We are all learning together, and everyone brings something different to the table. Honor your own eye and point of view in this field.” In 2015, Granby and a group of her fellow black female documentary filmmakers formed the coalition Brown Girls Doc Mafia.

Her current project is a short film that is part of a three-film series on access to and barriers against mental health care in Black communities. Her earlier work includes a feature film, “The Mask that Grins and Lies,” a personal essay portrait of intergenerational silence around women’s mental health in her family.

This fall she will premiere a documentary short co-directed with Shirin Barghi for Brooklyn-based BRIC TV. It covers the history of New York City’s oldest women’s motorcycle club: “its place in queer history, the lives of its members, and the sisterhood of a chosen family,” she said.

Her teaching goals include teaching about the shifting landscape of film production, to encourage students to ask questions about how they interact with their subjects and audience, and helping students look at media in new ways.

“Students must approach my class as members of a collaborative, democratic, and generative environment,” she said. “We create a collective space in which students shape, share, and strengthen their journalistic and filmic voices.”

Granby added, “Budding documentarians and video journalists must learn how to articulate the choices behind their work, and learn to examine how the media they create is received, ingested, and impacts the surrounding polity is an essential part of the documentary practice.”

Caroline LeCour ’22 (CLAS) is reporting from NBC CT

Caroline LeCour ’22
Caroline LeCour’s journalism experience at UConn, and her persistence, helped her land a remote internship at NBC CT this summer.

Name: Caroline LeCour ’22 (CLAS)

Hometown: Old Lyme, Connecticut 

Major: Journalism and communication 

Internship: NBC Connecticut’s Digital Team 

How did you find this internship? 

I knew this past spring that I wanted an internship, so I applied everywhere I could as early as mid-February. I am looking to get into on-air reporting, so I applied to a lot of local news stations around Connecticut and in neighboring states. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of internships for broadcasting stations were either cancelled or postponed to the fall. Around mid-April, when I thought all hope was lost due to all the cancellations, the head of NBC Connecticut’s Digital Department, Brad Luck, reached out to me to see if I was interested in interning remotely for his team. I interviewed for the position and shortly after found out I was accepted!

Read more at UConn Today »

Trajectory: Juliana Mazza ’13, live from Boston

Juliana Mazza in the WHDH 7 studio
Juliana Mazza ’13 is a UConn Journalism alumna who now reports and anchors the news at WHDH 7 in Boston.

Being a TV news reporter is hard. It’s not just the insane hours, rising at 2 a.m. to work the morning shift, or missing important weddings and birthdays, or never having the same days off as your partner, or being told by hurtful trolls on social media that you need to lose weight or change your hairstyle — right after you just got back from covering a blizzard where you were pelted in the face by snowflakes the size of chicken pot pies. But the most difficult part, says Juliana Mazza ’13 (CLAS), reporter and morning anchor at WHDH 7 in Boston, is being human.

“It’s really hard, meeting people at the lowest moment in their life, where they’re facing unspeakable tragedy, somebody who is on their knees in tears, and it’s your job to talk to them.”

Sometimes you hold the mike, and sometimes you hold the person.

Read more from UConn Magazine »

UConn Is Again a National Leader in Fulbright Scholars

UConn Fulbright faculty scholars
The Fulbright Program is the government’s flagship international educational exchange program. UConn faculty scholars include: top Row (L-R): Amanda Denes, Damir Dzhafarov, and Michael Lynes. Bottom Row (L-R): Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, Marie Shanahan, and Steven Wilf.

The University of Connecticut has been recognized among the top producers of Fulbright U.S. Scholars from research institutions for the third time in the past five years.

The University has seven Fulbright Scholars on its faculty who were given the opportunity to teach and perform research around the world in the 2020-21 academic year, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The national leaders were featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education on February 15. UConn is tied for ninth nationally on that list.

Associate professor of journalism Marie Shanahan is among the UConn faculty offered Fulbright projects abroad. She will conduct research at Leyte Normal University in the Philippines to determine how news organizations are combating – or contributing to – the online spread of inaccurate or deliberately deceptive information under the guise of news.

Read more on UConn Today »

Q&A: Trump, the Capitol, and Social Media

Capitol Riot 1/6/2021
Social media played a significant role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol, and its influence in shaping American politics is unlikely to wane, says UConn’s Marie Shanahan.

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, following a speech by President Donald Trump at a rally dedicated to the false claim that he won the presidential election in November, a large crowd of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving five dead – including a Capitol police officer – and causing damage throughout the building that serves as the seat of representative government in the United States.

Although the images from the Capitol were shocking, the event itself was partly the product of an atmosphere of paranoia and anger that had been building for years, primarily on social media. Two days after the Capitol was stormed, Trump and many of his supporters were banned from a number of prominent social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. This in turn led to accusations that a handful of powerful private companies effectively control public discourse in the United States.

Associate Professor of Journalism Marie Shanahan ’94, who won awards as a reporter and editor at the Hartford Courant before joining the UConn faculty, is an authority on the rapidly shifting online media landscape. Her 2018 book, “Journalism, Online Comments, and the Future of Public Discourse,” grapples with many of the questions being asked in the aftermath of the storming of the Capitol. She recently spoke with UConn Today about the role social media plays in shaping American political life – in ways both good and bad. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

While obscure social media platforms like Parler, Gab, and Telegram have gotten a lot of attention recently as gathering places for the kinds of far-right activists who were instrumental in what happened at the Capitol, most of the planning for that event seems to have taken place in the open, on sites like Facebook and Twitter. To what extent was this event a product of social media?

Social media can tap really quickly into the power of the crowd. That’s what it’s good at. You can’t blame it for causing an insurrection, but social media certainly can play a role in accelerating one. Thanks to the Internet, we all now have the ability to interact constantly. People don’t have to be concerned about geographical distances or time differences, because now you can directly communicate all the time with people all over the world, and they can communicate with you. So you have this active, participatory culture online, but it doesn’t necessarily stay online. An idea for a protest, a political rally, or even what we saw on Jan. 6, can move out of the online space and into real life.

But the mainstream media is also responsible in some ways. People are gathering in these obscure corners of the Internet to plot armed marches, but I recently read a New York Times story that detailed those plans in the first three paragraphs. Maybe these people are on the fringe, but as soon as it gets picked up by the mainstream media, it becomes part of the larger discourse. I’m not sure journalists think enough about their ability to amplify.

Read more on UConn Today »

UConn Graduate Lauren Stowell Tells Inspiring Stories Through Eyes Of ESPN

Laurel Stowell holding an Emmy award
The first time Lauren Stowell ’06 walked into a television production truck, she knew this was how she wanted to make a living.

The first time Lauren Stowell ’06 (CLAS) walked into a television production truck, she knew this was how she wanted to make a living.

“It was organized chaos, and you could cut the tension with a knife,” says Stowell, who was working as a runner for ESPN that day for a UConn basketball game when she was a student. That meant she was doing every little odd job the ESPN crew needed during their time in Storrs.

“I remember looking at the producer and the director in front of the board calling camera shots. There were graphics people yelling. It was the most chaotic, but beautiful, orchestra of madness I ever experienced. When I went home, I told my dad, I am not sure what I just experienced, but I want to be doing that.”

Stowell knew about sports at an early age, as her father, Bob Stowell ’71 (CLAS), was a UConn football student-athlete and then a long-time photographer at Husky events.

Lauren Stowell, who graduated with a degree in journalism with a concentration in pathobiology, is now a features producer at ESPN and a five-time Sports Emmy Award winner.

Read more at UConn Today »

‘Learn by Doing’: Journalism, ARE Departments Team Up for New Dual Degree

harvesting beans
UConn’s departments of journalism and agricultural and resource economics have together created a new dual-degree program aimed at helping journalists specialize in agriculture, economics, and related policy areas.

UConn’s Department of Journalism and Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) have worked together to develop a dual-degree program that allows students to simultaneously complete with a bachelor of arts in journalism and a bachelor of science in ARE. The  dual degree was created in response to requests from journalism students interested in pursuing ARE as an additional area of study. The new program allows students to gain experience in applying journalistic perspective to economics, the environment, and related policy.

Emma Bojinova, a lecturer in ARE, and Maureen Croteau, professor and head of the Department of Journalism, worked together to formalize a plan of study for the program that allows completion of  both degrees in four years while leaving room for electives and the fulfillment of all general education requirements. 

Read more on UConn Today »

For Scott Wallace, Remote Learning Means Getting Off the Beaten Path

Scott Wallace interviewing an officer from the Sandinista Popular Army in Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua, 1984. (Photo by Bill Gentile)

Most kids who spent childhoods thumbing through the pages of the canary-yellow-framed National Geographics on their coffee tables, marveling at titular photos of exotic people and places, only imagined a day when they’d travel the world and see their own names attached to such stories and photos. Scott Wallace made it happen. Actively into his fifth decade of reporting, writing, and shooting stills and video for not just National Geographic but Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, Harpers, and the like, the journalism professor illustrates his trade secrets and advice to students with real-life narratives that sound straight out of a big-screen blockbuster — one in which the pursuit of truth and justice is filled with as much trauma as triumph.

Telling us how he uses these exploits to illustrate the tenets he most wants to impart to his students, Wallace checks himself. “I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about my own career, but I think I do have a rich trove of experiences to draw on.”

It’s an understatement. Wallace has traveled on assignment to the remotest of remote places on Earth and had a career most storytellers and adventurers only dream of. His recantations arrive humbly, however, with thoughtful pauses, counter questions, and intellectual insights that serve to remind he’s usually on the other side of the interview.

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A student-run newsletter aims to inform Connecticut voters, especially first-timers, what to expect at the polls and on the ballot on Election Day

The logo for ‘Crash Course’ an election 2020 newsletter for first time voters in Connecticut produced by UConn Journalism students under the direction of Associate Prof. Marie Shanahan.

As the 2020 U.S. Presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic collide, voters face new challenges, including how to cast their vote and where to find reliable information.

This semester, UConn journalism students launched Crash Course: Election 2020, a digital newsletter created to provide non-partisan information for voters about their choices come Election Day.

They aim to cut through the noise to help young and first-time voters learn what’s at stake on their ballot, and why it matters.

“We put an emphasis on neutral and truthful perspectives, so there’s not a political outcome we’re going for,” says Allison O’Donnell ’20 (CLAS), a journalism major with a political science minor who is one of the writers. “We want people to make well-informed decisions and give them the knowledge they need to make an informed vote.”

The digital newsletter focuses on a new topic each week, mixing national and local headlines, including student debt, the Supreme Court, environmental issues, political debates, and more. The newsletter is part of Associate Professor of Journalism Marie Shanahan’s publication practice course on election coverage, and includes O’Donnell, Ashley Anglisano ’20 (CLAS), Fiona Brady ’21 (CLAS), Ben Crnic ’21 (CLAS), and Mike Mavredakis ’22 (CLAS) as writers, with Shanahan as the editor.

Read more on UConn Today »

Student-Produced Film Tells Story Of Undocumented Immigrant Community

A scene from the making of the UConn Journalism documentary “Locked Out: American Dream in Jeopardy.”
A scene from the making of the UConn Journalism documentary “Locked Out: American Dream in Jeopardy.”

A team of UConn students across various majors has completed a documentary film entitled “Locked Out: American Dream in Jeopardy.” The documentary tells the story of the undocumented immigrant community in Connecticut and the activists who are helping them adjust to life and navigate the legal system to find a path to citizenship.

“It was a real joy to work with these students on this project and it was a real learning experience for them,” says Steven Smith, a professor of visual journalism who guided the students along with Scott Wallace, another professor in the Department of Journalism. “They had to trust us because this was a tough story to work on. When you are working on a documentary, it is different because the script is being written as you are doing the interviews. That takes a lot of trust the first time you go through that process. Scott and I both wanted to inspire them about long-term projects and the difference that these stories can make.”

The film features interviews with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, New Haven-based immigration attorney Glenn Formica, and Sister Mary Jude Lazarus, a Roman Catholic nun who serves the Hispanic community in Willimantic. Adding to the power of film are the words of an undocumented immigrant identified as “Margarita” out of her concern not to be known and Eric Cruz-Lopez, a DACA community organizer in New Haven.

Read more at UConn Today »