Student Spotlight: Senior Cody Decker Ends Run as Voice of Rowan Sports

By Stephen Huff

Over the last four years, senior journalism major Cody Decker has spent hundreds of honing his skills as a sports broadcaster.

Decker has called hockey games for four years and football for three years. He is the president of the Rowan Television Network, where he anchored shows like All Access. And he has specialized in broadcast journalism and will graduate with an undergraduate certificate in sports media.

Decker said he thrives on the pace of calling a live sporting event, but also broadcasting in general.

“I love mostly talking about sports,” said Decker. “But just broadcast news in general, I just feel it’s a fun field. Every day is very different in the news business.”

Eventually, Decker hopes to land a job with a sports network such as ESPN, Fox Sports or Comcast Sportsnet.

“The dream is to hit those major markets in New York or maybe Los Angeles and who knows, maybe covering Olympics,” Decker said. “If I get to travel and call some sports that I love or maybe just some sports that I’d have to learn about, I’d take every opportunity that I can get.”

Alumni Q&A with Renée Ernst, Producer of Social Publishing at CNN

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Photo courtesy of CNN

Renée Ernst is a Producer of Social Publishing at CNN. Ernst graduated from Rowan University in 2008 with her B.A. in Journalism. Previously, she managed social media at the Huffington Post and The Record. Follow her on Twitter at @renee_ernst

Can you describe your role at CNN and what you do?

I am part of a large dynamic team that focuses on pulling key moments from CNN on TV, finding viral content that is being shared on every social media platform, running the accounts of the show pages (like AC360) and publishing the content to CNN’s main social media accounts. We also plan social strategy and look for new platforms to use. I help oversee what gets published to the main CNN social accounts.

I understand you took a break from journalism for a few years. What did you do? And what made you want to come back?

I begrudgingly left the media in the first place. Journalism has been running through my veins since I was in high school, so the decision to leave was not made lightly. I was young. I learned a hard life lesson at the first newspaper where I worked full-time as a breaking news reporter. The resulting takeaway was not to give up, especially when someone senior to you says you can’t hack it. During my two-year hiatus, I worked on my master’s degree and worked for the government, but I found myself missing journalism more and more every day. When the opportunity to return presented itself, I did not hesitate to come back.

Can you talk about the process of building the social media presence at The Record?

It was daunting at first. When you work at a company whose priority (at the time) was print then digital, it can be quite a mountain to climb. The Record was just starting to acknowledge how important the web site was when I took over the paltry social accounts that existed. So, I was not even on the radar of those running the newspaper at the time. I had an incredible boss, who believed in me and supported my campaign to make social media matter in the newsroom. I got reporters involved, and then we had the biggest story of the year: Governor Christie’s staff orchestrating traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge.

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Student Spotlight: Lauren Kubiak Discovers Passion for Journalism at Rowan

By Stephen Huff

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetWhen she first transferred from community college to Rowan University, Lauren Kubiak saw herself as a fiction writer. But after a few journalism courses, she discovered a new passion.

“I was initially a Writing Arts major when I transferred to Rowan, but quickly changed to Journalism because of my interest in the different career options,” said Kubiak. “I’ve really just fallen in love with the field.”

Kubiak, a 23-year-old senior from Mantua, NJ, quickly translated what she was learning in the journalism classroom into freelancing and internships. Kubiak currently freelances for The Retrospect and writes a commuter column for The Whit. She interned for the Delaware River Port Authority and Del Val Media and recently landed an internship at Philadelphia Magazine.

“I love the city so much so it’s been really fun for me to go in and meet all of these people with great ideas that want to see the interns succeed,” said Kubiak.

At Philadelphia Magazine, Kubiak has contributed to the publication by reporting at Philadelphia University and requesting records from the courthouse.

“I feel like it’s definitely broken me out of my shell because there’s a lot of fact checking, talking on the phone with a lot of different people, and pitching my own story ideas to editors,” she said.

Kubiak admits it’s a challenge to balance all of activities, but says that doing what she loves makes it worthwhile.

“I wasn’t sure about balancing my time between freelancing, having an internship, classes and writing for the school paper, but I made it work because I knew it would only help in the future,” she said.

Rowan alumnus Trymaine Lee named MSNBC correspondent

Congratulations to Rowan alumnus Trymaine Lee (2003), who was recently named as a correspondent at MSNBC. Lee has worked at The New York Times, Huffington Post, and most recently as a national reporter for MSNBC.

Lee was one of several members of The Times-Picayune newspaper to win the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News reporting in 2006 for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

To find out more about Lee, read a Rowan University profile and follow him on Twitter @trymainelee

Alumni Q & A with Ashley Kalena, Manager of YouTube Strategy for National Geographic

Ashley Kalena works as a Manager of YouTube Strategy for National Geographic. She graduated from Rowan University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. In 2008, she earned her Master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

She will participate in a Student Alumni Association event called Sips ‘N’ Tips on Wednesday, November 8 at 6 pm in the Student Center Pit at Rowan University.

Describe your job. What do you do on a daily basis?
I manage YouTube for National Geographic.  Pretty much what that means is that I write and implement the strategy for all three U.S. based channels and then act upon that strategy.  I also run the content development for YouTube, which means at any given time I am working with producers, editors, production companies, and talent to make video content that’s right for the platform.

Can you share some of your work that particularly proud of?
This is going to be very hard to narrow down!  Earlier this year, I executive produced a live aftershow in LA discussing the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots, with live feeds from three locations.  It was hosted by Soledad O’Brien, had 11 guests who all offered different points of view on the conversation:

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Neil deGrasse Tyson multiple times on video projects.  I’ve produced at least 35 videos with him.  I’ve even been in a few with him!  Including this one, where I played the game Heads Up with him.

In June of this year, I hosted and co-hosted two lives from Napa Valley for Get Outdoors Day.  I was also the Executive Producer on these shows as well.  It was a really cool experience.  I put volcanic ash on my face for all to see!

What is one thing you love about your current job?
I am very creative and very organized.  My job calls for both these traits so I’m constantly being pushed to challenge myself in new ways.

What is one of the biggest challenges of your current job?
One of the biggest challenges I face is not being able to control resources or budget – this comes from above me.  So, I always have to get creative with how to spend the money I do have and make use of the people around me in the best possible way, because they are great resources too.

Briefly explain how you arrived at this point in your career — from Rowan University to the present?
During my last year at Rowan, the broadcast specialization was added, and I quickly realized this was the area I wanted to pursue.  I took as many classes as I could that year to prepare myself.  Since Rowan didn’t offer a graduate program at the time for broadcast journalism, I applied elsewhere and got accepted to Syracuse University.  I received my M.S. from the Newhouse School.  From there, I got offered a job in Washington DC, at Travel Channel, where I worked for two years.  I then took a position at National Geographic, where I’ve been for over seven years, in various roles.

What advice do you have for aspiring journalists studying at Rowan University?
There is not set path for journalists.  Storytelling can exist in many forms and on many platforms. You have to be able to adapt with technology and trends, while still staying true to yourself, your integrity and your journalistic intuition – those skills will apply to whatever role you find yourself in.

Student Spotlight: Mavish Khan – From Biology to Broadcasting

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Mavish Kahn outside of the White House for her On-Camera Field Reporting course.

By Lauren Kubiak

Mavish Khan spent her first few years at Rowan University exploring different career paths. She started as a biology major, but quickly realized it wasn’t for her. Next, she followed the influence of her father and switched to accounting.

But it was through extracurricular activities like The Whit, Rowan Television Network, and Rowan Radio, that Khan found her real passion: journalism.

Khan, a 21-year-old senior from Cherry Hill, will graduate in May with a major in journalism, a minor in political science, and a specialization in international studies. Khan said that the journalism courses have taught her to work across different media platforms, but also challenged her to take risks.

“This is a changing field and if anything, we should experiment with telling stories using technology we have never used,” she said.

She has also built an impressive resume of internships in production at SNJ Today, in communications at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, and as a junior reporter for Fox 29. After graduating, Khan hopes to work for an online media company, behind the scenes on a TV set, or any job that will allow her to travel.

“In the end I want to be telling stories that really make people think and bring awareness to things going on in the world,” said Khan.

Alumni Q & A: Nery Rodriguez, Multimedia Journalist at Jersey Sports Zone

Nery Rodriguez is currently a multimedia journalist for Jersey Sports Zone. He graduated from Rowan in 2017 with a B.A. in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @RUneryrodriguez

NeryWhat’s something you love about your job?
I go somewhere different each day. The fact that I don’t punch in or sit in an office, and I get to work from home is a plus to my job. But I really enjoy that every day I will be interviewing someone new, seeing different scenery and I get to interact with players and coaches from different communities. The other part of my job that I love is I get to see high school talents that are committed to big time college programs. It’s great to watch them grow in terms of their athletic careers and people as they start a whole new chapter of their life.

What skill(s) have you learned at your job that you believe will help you or has helped you in the field you are in?
I’ve learned how to be a better video journalist — camera positioning, where to stand, head room, etc. But some of the most useful information is common sense and learning to not get overwhelmed such as if something doesn’t go your way. If you miss a shot or you don’t have a great standup, you have to keep going. Aim to do a great job every time, but if it’s not your day don’t be discouraged and hang your head.

What is your biggest challenge at your job?
The biggest challenge I have at my job is trying to educate people on our site and what we do. Jersey Sports Zone is a company that started out just filming high school sports in Monmouth and Ocean County as “Shore Sports Zone.” This year the company went state wide, and I was hired as one of their first employees.

How has Rowan’s journalism curriculum prepared you for this job?
I love Rowan. I owe my talent and everything I have received from this job to my many professors. The curriculum prepared me for real life scenarios and helps me at my job every day. You can’t teach experience, but everyone at Rowan makes sure you have a good understanding of what to do when those key situations arise.

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