Rajul Punjabi, Vice Editor, Returns to CCNY

On March 22, Rajul Punjabi (kneeling in front), our former CCNY journalism instructor now Vice editor, hosted a press conference for Introduction to Journalism students. Tajae Hinds (last row, with braids) covered the event, and wrote this very good story about what she saw and heard that day:

A ‘Woke’ Journalist’s Take on Mental Health and Overcoming Writer’s Block

Rajul Punjabi, a writer for VICE’s health vertical Tonic, spoke at a student-led press conference at City College on Thursday. Punjabi shared her life experiences while managing to captivate an audience of young writers. The 33-year-old encouraged the journalism students to stay “as woke as possible,” expressed her views on what to do when you don’t want to write, and how to take care of your mind.

“Alright guys so I’m Rajul and I’m hyper caffeinated all the time,” Punjabi introduced herself after being prompted by journalism professor Linda Villarosa. The energetic journalist stood in front of the class answering question after question and relayed advice about being a successful a writer in media. “Pay attention to where the universe takes you.” Punjabi explained in reference to how she got her position at Tonic.

As a proponent for mental health and awareness, Punjabi writes countless articles on grief, depression and anxiety. In her most recent story, I Grieved a Stranger After He Killed Himself in Front of Me, Punjabi recalls the morning when a stranger jumped out the window of a building and landed 30 feet in front of her. “You witness trauma, what happens?” she asked the class. For Punjabi, therapy happened. After the incident, she sought professional help the same day and has continued weekly sessions. “It’s like the gym for your mind” said Punjabi.

When prompted about the stigma surrounding mental health, the young journalist recalled her days as a teacher helping students find confidential therapy. “Do whatever you need to do for your mental health,” she urged. “You are nothing without your happiness.”

After writing for much of her life, Punjabi had a lot of wisdom to share with the class of aspiring journalists. Specifically, on anxiety about writing and motivation. “A lot of writers tend to have anxiety and depression…what do you do to make yourself motivated to write?” one student asked. Punjabi recommends not writing when you don’t want to. “Wait an hour….do whatever makes you feel good and come back to it,” she said. “Writing while depressed is very difficult.”

As to why writers have a lot of anxiety and depression, Punjabi had her own theory. “Writers are digging into wounds and pulling out really painful things” she explained. “Non -writers are not encouraged or forced, essentially, to be introspective as much.” This introspection is a breeding ground for anxiety and depression according to the journalist. Despite the fact, Punjabi embraces this side of herself. “Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing!” Punjabi exclaimed.

Rajul Punjabi has done a little bit of everything: writing, teaching and even working at the GAP. She encouraged students to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams, even it means working in retail to support yourself in the meantime. “I loved my dream so much, I would do anything to have it,” expressed Punjabi. “There’s no shame in that.”

Winning Cover Letters — Tips and Tricks

A lot of students ask how to write a strong cover letter. Here are some pointers and an example:

  1. Focus on your strengths and what you have to offer, not what you want and how an internship/job will help you.
  2. Don’t go on and on; it’s not a biography:-) Try to stick to no more about three or four paragraphs.
  3. Make sure your writing is clear, strong and direct. And please — no grammar errors or typos. Ask someone to read it over if you aren’t sure.
  4. Be specific about the company or organization you’re applying to. Don’t send a generic letter. Taylor each one.
  5. Here’a a letter I think is strong:


February 28, 2018

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am applying for the video & original content intern position at VH1. I am a student at the City College of New York, majoring in  human rights and media studies.

I have a background in art, media — both social and multimedia — and creative marketing. In high school, I worked as an intern at Music Matters, a marketing agency that represent artists including My Morning Jacket, Santigold, and Wyclef John. There, I created lyric videos, designed concert posters, and communicated between clients and agency. Last summer, I interned at Starfish Media Group, Soledad O’Brien’s documentary production company, where I researched locations and funding for the PowHERful Foundation, investigated social issues of projects, and proposed film and television ideas for clients ranging from WebMD to HBO. Between classes at CCNY, I work part time as a stage technician for the orchestra shows in which I set up the full orchestra and have to respond to quick and changing situations while performances occur.

I have also been actively involved in social and community activism over the past few years. Through the ACLU I taught high schoolers about their rights as minors, and also talked to politicians about topics ranging from rights for women in the workplace to confidentiality bills. Through It’s On Us, a campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses, I organized events for awareness week, designed pamphlets and flyers to educate about consent, and held open dialogues about sexual assault among the student body. 

I have a passion for music and enjoy what VH-1 has to offer. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my application and resume with you in further detail, and look forward to hearing from you.




Jamal Smith, CCNY ’20


300 Second Avenue,

Brooklyn, NY 11217


CCNY Students Attend College Media Mega Workshop: Minneapolis, July 2017

Campus editor-in-chief Anthony Viola 


Every summer, the College Media Association hosts a workshop to train student journalists in the art and craft of reporting, writing, multimedia production, ad sales and marketing, management and leadership. Thanks to the generosity of CCNY’s Communication Alumni Group, three City College students — Anthony Viola, Curtis Ashley and Ebony Anderson-Brown — traveled to the University of Minnesota to attend this year’s four-day event.

In the three posts that follow, they each share their experiences on the ground in the Twin Cities.




Report from Minneapolis: Valuable Insight

By Curtis Ashley

At around three in the morning, I hauled my luggage down the steps on the exterior of my home, and made my way to the nearest bus stop. I was looking to get to JFK International Airport by five, so I could leisurely board my plane to Minneapolis at seven. All went as planned, as I met with my two colleagues, Anthony and Ebony. We boarded our plane, and in three hours, we were where we needed to be: Minneapolis, Minnesota. From there, we took an Uber to the University of Minnesota, got settled in, and rushed to find other college students on our workshop track. I found a few people with matching lanyards, indicating they were also there for the Reporting/Storytelling workshop. I said goodbye (for now) to my colleagues, and hello to a brand new experience, in a state I never went to before.

From the first few introductions, I knew I was not in Kansas (or New York) anymore. My regular instructors were Laura Widmer and Lisa Renze-Rhodes. Widmer is the associate director NSPA/ACP (National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press), and Renze-Rhodes is an Indianapolis-based writer with 17 years of professional journalism experience, 12 of those at The Indianapolis Star. Chris Evans, a reporter and fiction-writer, also contributed to most of our discussions. I was more than honored to be in a room with people so dedicated to the field of journalism. I learned more from them than I anticipated. When I pitched workshop story about how local news outlets have changed their coverage since the Trump administration took office, Renze-Rhodes challenged my thinking, and forced me to come up with alternative methods on the fly. She made me think outside the box, regarding who to interview, what questions to ask, and how to even go about writing my article. I ended up with a narrower focus, looking at how local news covered their city and state politicians in the wake of Trump’s arrival. This is something that I don’t get a lot of from myself; something I will surely change. Evans highlighted the usefulness of incorporating sensory storytelling into a piece. Using descriptive words and focusing on a particular detail can make a piece much more interesting to read, Evans explained. I found many of his suggestions valuable for features and op-eds, where my voice can break through a bit more than in a standard news article.

In addition to those three, a few other reporters dropped by and spoke to us about crime reporting, and A&E (arts and entertainment). Some of what they said reiterated things aforementioned by the original three. Others things stuck with me. I will never forget the presentation on how the Star Tribune broke the Philando Castile story. Two of the special guest presenters were from the Star Tribune, and worked on that story at the time. Listening to how that news organization broke down the information presented to them, the precautions they took, and the choices they made (and edited) was thrilling. Coming from a small newsroom, hearing of that level of communication nearly overwhelmed me.

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But looking around the room and seeing the face of twenty-some other college students calmed me. Just like me, the students who came from as far as Rhode Island and as close as the University of Minnesota itself, were taking all of this information in. They processed it, and related it to themselves and the newsroom they would soon return to. In between discussions, or after the day was over, I spoke with a bunch of people at the workshop, whether they were on my track or not. Many said their newsroom was small as well. This made me feel a lot better about where I was, and confident in the journey ahead of me. Even when I visited the office of the University of Minnesota newspaper, The Minnesota Daily, I was more inspired than overwhelmed. That office was half a floor or an entire building, with desks, chairs, computers, and supplies to accommodate every person at that paper. My office is one small room in the corner of a huge building.

That said, it’s not about the size of the newsroom. It’s about the people inside. Even though some of the people who come into The Campus office have little to no background in journalism, if at least one person can teach them, then they should be well off. Fortunately for us, three people went, and we each learned something tailored to our position on the magazine, and where we are in our careers. With each of us bringing back the knowledge we have, I am confident in the future of our publication. For myself, after the trip, I have never been more confident in my pursuit of journalism. These kinds of workshops and events are crucial in the life of an aspiring journalist. One can never know if it’s the deciding factor between this, or something else. I will always be thankful for the opportunity to go to Minnesota. And because I went, I will always want to be a journalist.

Report from Minneapolis: Tools for Success

By Anthony Viola

Last year, the staff of The Campus struggled with deadlines and content. While we managed accomplish what we needed to on time, we were limited to five people who were actually producing work. How do we make this year better than the last?

This unanswered question loomed over our heads before the summer began. As the incoming editor-in-chief of The Campus, this quickly became a task that I struggled with more than the rest of the staff. We’ve been to workshops before and have attended networking events in New York. While they provided me with ideas, none gave as much insight as the College Media Mega Workshop in Minneapolis on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Although it was only four days long, the editorial leadership workshop provided me with the tools I need to be a successful editor.

Professionals in the journalism field led the presentations, which included “Covering Suicide,” “Using Social Media,” and “Building an Elite Staff.” They enabled us to become better versions of ourselves through a variety of topics. We discussed unique ways of covering breaking news, like using Facebook Live and having field reporters generate stories as they come in. One group even used a police scanner to discover leads. Editors from The Washington Post and smaller newspapers in the Midwest gave us the opportunity to receive one-on-one criticism as well.

The workshop included around 50 other participants, from schools like the University of Vermont, Iowa State University, and Gonzaga University. Each presentation allowed us to interact with one another and receive peer criticism too. Based on all the feedback we received, The Campus plans to have 20-page issues as opposed to 16. We also set the goal of publishing at least one online article a week, and utilizing Facebook as much as possible. By using the resources we obtained in Minneapolis, our business manager is also working to develop online advertisements as well.

Everything about this trip was offered valuable experience. At a time when City College is facing a budget deficit among other troubles, student journalism is more important than ever before. With that in mind, we plan on having the most successful year we’ve ever had.

Report from Minneapolis: Gaining Experience from the Outside World

Ebony (left) with Curtis and Anthony en route to Minneapolis.

by Ebony Anderson-Brown

As a rising-senior at the City College of New York, I understand the importance of gaining as much experience as possible from the outside world. Whether it’s in another country or in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota, learning never ends.

I am grateful that I was able to travel to the University of Minnesota for the College Media Mega Workshop with Curtis and Anthony, my fellow Campus Magazine staff members, to learn and build connections. During my three days there, I gained experience and more.

I chose to focus on marketing because of my major in advertising and public relations as well as my current role as business and advertising manager for the Campus. In the morning workshops, I participated in team building exercises, and was lectured by some of the most prominent marketing advisers at top college publications such as Central Michigan University and Cal Poly’s Mustang Media Group. I left every workshop with a new plan, and discovered interesting marketing techniques that could potentially improve our publication’s relationship with the community on- and off-campus. I’ve started building a relationship with the American Advertising Federation at CCNY and Oso Harlem to explore marketing options that can help benefit the students and Harlem community that read the Campus.

Of course, I also immersed myself in the life and culture of Minneapolis, a city I had never been to. I visited the Mall of America, the largest mall in the United States, with over 200 retail stores and an indoor amusement park. This world never ceases to amaze me.

Aside from sightseeing, I met some talented and interesting people from Oregon State. Even though we all had our differences in majors and cultural backgrounds, we connected over those same things, and our ambition to make our school publications the best they could be.

Coming back to New York, all I could think about was how to start implementing these new ideas. With all the information I learned from the workshops and my newfound friends, I have already begun creating on-board training decks and contacting local businesses that may want to work with the Campus. My enthusiasm continues as we draw near to the beginning of the Fall semester, and I just want to be able to leave a legacy behind when I graduate in May. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to visit Minneapolis and learn what I did, preparing me to train the next wave of ambitious students. I’d recommend all students have a chance to travel for something like this, because you get so much out of it.

Truth Matters: Study w/Professors Who Know Journalism

Please take a look at the CCNY Journalism Faculty, Fall 2017


Jerry Demarco launched CLIFFVIEW PILOT in mid-2009 after 28 years in newspapers, creating a local independent site that covered breaking news as it happened throughout Bergen County, N.J. After six years, he moved to Daily Voice, where he’s the urgent/breaking news editor.

DeMarco has covered local, county and state police, as well as the FBI, ATF and other federal agencies while on assignment in the U.S. District courts for New Jersey & New York. He also covered a city hall and a statehouse, school districts, planning boards and social service agencies.

DeMarco has won national recognition for his investigative work, including Clarion, Heywood Broun and Deadline Club awards. He’s changed public policy and managed several major projects — including those that helped put a corrupt public official in federal prison, made large buildings safer in the event of fire and forced a sitting state attorney general from office.

He’s also written about music for more than 35 years

DeMarco regularly lectures at a graduate course in media relations at Fairleigh Dickinson University and previously was an adjunct professor at Lehman College in the Bronx.


Richard Esposito is an award winning American journalist and author who has more than 30 years of experience as a television, digital and newspaper reporter, editor and news executive, most recently as the senior executive producer of the NBC News Investigative Unit.

With a specific expertise in national security and criminal justice journalism, his more recent accomplishments include the eight month long Edward Snowden investigative effort which culminated in 2014 with an hour-long TV interview with Snowden by NBC News, a first for US TV.

Immediately prior to joining NBC he had been senior investigative reporter for ABC News, where during his 11 ½ years his achievements included leading the George Polk award winning investigation into the CIA’s global network of secret prisons and the “enhanced Interrogation” techniques.

A five time Emmy award winner, in 2015 Esposito his NBC team were awarded top honors by the Society of Professional journalists for their investigation into US Navy helicopters with an unusually high accident rate that led to the deaths of a number of pilots. His other honors include a shared 2012 Peabody for his leadership in ABC’s “Superstorm Sandy” coverage, the 2012 Murrow Award for his work in reporting the death of Osama bin Laden, and a 2014 Murrow for NBC’s Boston Marathon coverage. He also shares in a Pulitzer Prize for his role in New York Newsday’s coverage of a fatal subway crash in 1992.

Esposito began as a copy boy at the New York Daily News and has run metropolitan news operations at two of the largest newspapers in America — New York Newsday, where he rose to city editor, and the New York Daily News, where he was metropolitan editor and editor of the Sunday edition.

Esposito is the co-author of the books “Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation’s Most Exclusive Police Unit,” and “Dead on Delivery: Inside the

Drug Wars.”


Angela Harden (with student producers) is the General Manager/Program Director of WHCR 90.3 FM and teaches Radio Journalism and Supervised Radio Station Study.

She is a resident of Harlem and a summa cum laude graduate of the City College of New York with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After graduation, Ms. Harden worked for five years in print journalism for Unfold magazine, Honey magazine and the web-based magazine, Urban Box Office.

Ms. Harden been an adjunct in the Media Communication Arts department since 2000. Her teaching style utilizes WHCR as a learning laboratory which gives students hands-on radio experience. In her Radio Journalism class students are required to produce a live show─ Uptown Focus and many have gone on to produce their own radio shows.


Art Jones has worked with film, digital video, television and interactive media in the roles of director, director of photography, and editor. He has produced and directed pieces for organizations including MTV , Deep Dish Television, and the Women’s Health Project of New York City Department of Health.

He has served as Director of Photography on various documentaries and projects for clients including The New York Times, Red Bull BC One Tokyo, and the American Civil Liberties Union




Tim Murphy has been a full-time journalist for almost 20 years, first as a features editor and staff writer for Poz (national HIV/AIDS magazine), then as a longtime contributor to New York magazine, the New York TimesThe NationOut, The Advocate, Details, Condé Nast Traveler and several other places. He writes mostly about HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ issues but has also covered arts, culture, style, lifestyle and travel (in Lebanon, Turkey, India, South Africa and throughout the U.S. and Europe). He has won one GLAAD Media Award for Magazine Reporting for one of his stories and been nominated for another, a July 2014 New York magazine cover story on the HIV-prevention regimen PrEP and its effect on gay male culture. He is also the author of the novel Christodora. He lives in Brooklyn and at any Pret à Manger that he can find when he’s hungry or needs coffee.



Barbara Nevins Taylor has won 22 Emmy Awards and more than 50 additional journalism awards and honors reporting for TV stations in New York, Atlanta, Kentucky and Alabama.

Barbara graduated from The City College (1970) and loves sharing what she learned as a journalist with students. Her students at Brooklyn College won the national student Emmy Award in 2014, and for 5 years won regional and finalists awards in the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards.

While Barbara covered major breaking news events, including the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and subsequent terror attempts in New York, her work as an investigative reporter gave her the most satisfaction.

Barbara’s pursued stories that made a difference in the lives of individuals and the community. Her reports earned praise, generated government action and helped send wrongdoers to prison. Long before the most recent financial crisis, Barbara exposed flaws in the mortgage lending and banking system that led poor people into financial ruin.

On ConsumerMojo.com, which she founded in 2012, Barbara uses the latest digital storytelling techniques to serve a growing audience that needs reliable information about complicated issues.

Barbara contributed to The New York Times Op-Ed page, writing about criminal justice, foster care and young people in New York City. Her writing has also focused on concerns of parents and women and has appeared in national magazines. Her book Beautiful Skin of Color, with doctors Jeanine Downie and Fran Cook-Bolden, published by ReganBooks, evolved from her television reports.

CCNY Alumni awarded her the prestigious Townsend Harris medal for career achievement and she is also in the Communications Alumni Group’s Hall of Fame. She wants her students to get there too.


Linda Villarosa runs the journalism program at CCNY, advises students and acts as faculty advisor to The Campus. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine; her cover story about HIV/AIDS in the South ran in June. A former editor and contributing reporter for the New York Times, she also served as the executive editor of Essence Magazine. Professor Villarosa has also written or co-written a number of books, as well as a novel. She contributes to several national publications, in print and online. You can read more about her career on her personal website.

A graduate of the University of Colorado, B.A., Journalism, Professor Villarosa spent a year at the Harvard School of Public Health on a Health Communications Fellowship. In 2013, she graduated from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, with a concentration in multimedia and entrepreneurial journalism and urban reporting. While in graduate school, she developed Harlem Focus, an award-winning website that gives students hands-on training in multimedia journalism.

(Professor Villarosa took a working sabbatical this semester. Barbara Nevins Taylor holds the fort for her. Any questions ask Professor Nevins Taylor.)