Google Partners with Baruch’s High School Journalism Program

The Google News Initiative is partnering with Baruch College on a program that promotes journalism education, school newspapers, and news literacy in underserved New York City high schools.

The program aims to help launch at least 25 school newspapers by the end of 2023, and will offer Google tools training for student journalists and their advisers.

“School newspapers are oftentimes the first exposure many teens have to journalism,” said Ashley Edwards, US Partnerships Manager in the Google News Lab. “We’re excited to be partnering with Baruch on this important initiative, which will give more students access to hands-on experience in news, as well as give educators an opportunity to instill media literacy skills.”

Baruch’s High School Journalism Program is run by  Professor Geanne Belton with support from other Baruch faculty and students and Press Pass NYC, a new nonprofit headed by Lara Rice Bergen. “CUNY in general and Baruch in particular have a very strong mission to help strengthen New York City, to be a resource for New York City, and in particular to create opportunities for young people in New York City,” Belton said. “This kind of outreach can really have a positive impact.”

The program started 19 years ago. Google previously supported research by Baruch on how many New York City public high schools had active student papers. The results of the research helped inform the program.

The program includes an annual conference, scheduled this year for March 21, where high school students across the city attend workshops run by professional journalists; a course for high school teachers called “Launching a High School Newspaper”; and a “Newsies” contest with awards for outstanding high school journalism. Baruch journalism students help run some of the workshops. Baruch student Tamal Ghosh is designing certificates for the program.

Students seated at tables for high school journalism conference
Students at 2018 Baruch High School Journalism Conference (Photo: Glenda Hydler)

The program has served as a high school-to-college pipeline, with some participating high school students later enrolling at Baruch and taking on leadership roles in campus publications like Baruch’s student-run newspaper, The Ticker.

“Without the high school journalism program, I likely would have never considered Baruch College, where I’m now studying journalism and am the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Ticker,” said Amanda Salazar. ‘22. “The program showed me that this is a college that takes journalism seriously and that can help me become a professional journalist.”

Baruch alumna and former Ticker editor-in-chief Nicole Clemons ‘16, who now works for ViacomCBS, also attended the conference as a high school student. “The conference gave me exposure to informative news writing workshops, taught me the importance of journalistic integrity, and introduced me to fellow public school student journalists and their work across the city,” she recalled. “The conference solidified the idea for me that journalism was something worth pursuing after graduating high school, and winning a few awards at the Newsies Awards Ceremony made me feel valued in my work and confident as a journalist.”

She said her participation also “opened my eyes to Baruch College as an option for higher education and allowed me to get a taste of what the Baruch Journalism Department had to offer.”

Participating schools have ranged from small charter schools to some of the city’s best-known schools like Midwood, Townsend Harris, and Hunter College High School. Going forward, Belton hopes to target schools that don’t already foster student journalism. Salazar and another Baruch student, Jessica Taft, are helping Belton collect data so they can target schools with the biggest needs. “Research shows that schools with fewer resources tend to lack student newspapers, as compared with the city’s top performing high schools, which almost all have newspapers,” Belton said.

Student journalism offers a wonderful way to “build community,” Belton said. “To send students out to report on their own schools and write about their own schools is empowering and engaging.”

Creating journalism programs for teenagers is also a great way to teach news literacy, an increasingly important skill. “Having a journalism program in a high school helps students learn how facts are gathered along with learning the difference between facts and opinion,” Belton said. The program also teaches students other fundamental aspects of the news business like how to find trustworthy sources and publishers’ rights and responsibilities.

And the program isn’t just for students who like to write. There are also opportunities for photographers and artists.

Belton is thrilled and grateful for the support from Google, which will allow her to expand and improve the program. “It’s really great that this program is getting this kind of recognition,” Belton added. “It just helps us to have more impact.”

Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day Features Baruch’s Safia Jama

The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series featured a poem by Safia Jama, who teaches at Baruch Weissman.

“It’s Not Really about Them, It’s about Us” was sent to 300,000 Poem-a-Day subscribers on January 21 and was showcased on the homepage, Facebook pageTwitter account, and other social media. Read the powerful poem in full here.

Jama has taught at Baruch since 2017. She’s an adjunct assistant professor in the English Department, where she teaches Writing I and II.  She also teaches in the SEEK program and has taught the upper division Craft of Poetry course.

“Poetry is basically my life, along with teaching,” she said. “I truly love Baruch and its wonderful students.”

Portrait of poet Safia Jama
Safia Jama

Jama has published poetry in Ploughshares, RHINO, Cagibi, Boston Review, Spoken Black Girl, and No Dear. Her poetry has also been featured on WNYC’s Morning Edition and CUNY TV’s Shades of US series.

Her debut chapbook, Notes on Resilience, was selected for Akashic Books’ acclaimed New-Generation African Poets box set series. When the chapbook was published in September 2020, at the height of the pandemic, she says she “wasn’t in a mind frame to self-promote, having just lost my uncle three weeks prior. Launch day was bittersweet to say the least.”

book cover Notes on Resilience
Safia Jama’s chapbook Notes on Resilience

But having a new poem included in the Poem-a-Day series gives her a “second chance to cheer a little, and to celebrate how poetry can connect us.” She says the poem’s title, “It’s Not Really about Them, It’s about Us,” reveals her “hope for real, human connection. I was really grappling with how to be myself and accept myself exactly as I am, however messy life may feel on any given day.”

Jama was born to a Somali father and an Irish American mother in Queens. She studied English at Harvard, taught at Townsend Harris High School in Queens, and earned an MFA in poetry from Rutgers University, where she held a teaching fellowship.

She’s also a graduate fellow of Cave Canem, which describes itself as an organization founded to remedy “the underrepresentation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape” and “committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.” Jama taught a workshop for New York-based poets of color through Cave Canem last fall.

“It felt good to share what I have learned to help others navigate the choppy waters,” she said.

To keep up with Jama’s readings and workshops, follow @safiaPOET on Twitter.

Harman Spring 2021 Writer: Welcome, Ersi Sotiropoulos

The Spring 2022 Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence is Ersi Sotiropoulos, the first Harman writer to work in modern Greek. She has published more than a dozen works of fiction and poetry and has won numerous awards, including Greece’s National Book Award (twice), the Greek Book Critics’ Award, and the Athens Academy Prize.

Portrait of Ersi Sotiropoulos
Spring 2021 Harman Writer in Residence Ersi Sotiropoulos
Her novel What’s Left of the Night won the 2017 Prix Méditerranée Étranger in France and its English translation won the 2019 National Translation Award. The book follows Constantine Cafavy, one of Greek’s most esteemed poets, as he comes to terms with his sexuality and defines his voice as an artist in an era of political upheaval and social unrest. Cafavy’s creative evolution will serve as the foundation for Sotiropoulos’s class at Baruch.

The Harman program brings distinguished writers to Baruch College every semester, including poets, playwrights, novelists, journalists, and essayists.

The program will celebrate its 25th year in 2023. Past participants have included National Book Award finalist Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, bestselling novelist Amitav Ghosh, New Yorker cartoonist Ben Katchor, MacArthur fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic, the renowned playwrights Edward Albee and Tony Kushner,  Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jhumpa Lahiri, MacArthur fellow John Edgar Wideman, and many other celebrated writers.

Endowed by alumnus Dr. Sidney Harman (’39), the Harman residency reflects his belief that “good writing is revelatory. It is not merely a transference of fully formed material from brain to paper. Writing is an act of magical creation; writing is discovery.”

The Harman program relies on an intense workshop design, where visiting writers teach small classes and hold individual conferences. Students are encouraged to hone their personal styles and to find their own creative voices.

In addition, the Harman program sponsors student creative writing competitions, literary internships, individual guest readings, and a week-long residency.

Mishkin Gallery Gets $50K Warhol Foundation Grant for ‘Counter-Narrative’ to Hudson River School

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is giving a $50,000 grant to the Mishkin Gallery to support research for an exhibition called Sea and River Edges: Visual Representations and Submerged Perspectives on Water in the Américas. The show will consider the work of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church alongside work by contemporary feminist, Indigenous, and Afro-diasporic artists. The new perspectives will revise “colonial depictions of pristine landscapes” while reflecting on climate change, loss of biodiversity, industrialization, and the erasure of Indigenous peoples.


The exhibition was proposed by its co-curators Alaina Claire Feldman, director of the Mishkin Gallery, and Macarena Gómez-Barris, professor at Pratt Institute and founding director of the Global South Center.
Portrait of Mishkin Gallery director Alaina Claire Feldman
Mishkin Gallery director Alaina Claire Feldman
Planned for late 2023 or early 2024, Sea and River Edges will offer a “counter-narrative to the legacy of the Hudson River School’s often sublime and colonial views of water systems and geographical divides throughout New York, Ecuador, Colombia and Jamaica,” the curators said in their proposal. Church is renowned for his landscape paintings of the Hudson Valley, but he also created images–including detailed nature studies–from his travels to the Caribbean and South America. His painting “El Rio de Luz (The River of Light),” was inspired by those trips.
Painting of river with trees and light
El Rio de Luz (The River of Light) by Frederic Edwin Church
The grant will support research and travel by the curators, work by contributing artists, and field trips by Baruch students to Church’s Hudson Valley estate Olana. Feldman envisions the project as an interdisciplinary effort bringing together a variety of Weissman programs, including art, history, Latin American and Caribbean studies, environmental science, and climate change research.