Alumni welcome student journalists during visits to New York-based news networks

December 05, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students from Penn State’s Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) chapter watched historic live TV news coverage from network control rooms and met with alumni who hold key positions at television networks and other media outlets during a trip to New York City earlier this week.

Seven broadcast journalism students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications participated in SPJ’s fall trip. It began with a meet-and-greet dinner in Manhattan that allowed alumni to meet the students and answer their questions about careers, as well as provide advice and feedback.

Alumni guests included: Hannah Biondi, marketing manager for DAZN; Dakota DeBellis, creative executive, Blue Spruce Productions; Catie Driza, social producer, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”; and Willie Jungels, an associate account executive at Dish Network.

The next day, the students visited CBS News, where they toured the set of “CBS This Morning” as well as the network’s digital studios and newsroom. They also watched a breaking news special report about the body of the late former President George H.W. Bush’s being transported from Texas to Washington.

Later, the SPJ group visited ABC News. They watched “ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir” from inside the control room as anchor Muir reported from Washington, D.C., where Bush was lying in state.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Penn State alumni who gave our students unique access to the CBS and ABC News studios and production facilities during a busy breaking news day,” said Steve Kraycik, the Bellisario College’s director of student television and SPJ faculty adviser, who led the trip. “For our students to see the best professionals in the business in action during historic news coverage is incredibly valuable. And we really appreciate the alumni who took the time to meet the students and offer them career advice.”

Among the alumni the students met were: Tim Gaughan, vice president of affiliate services and Newspath CBS News, who organized and hosted the Penn State visit at CBS; Rachid Haoues, a senior producer for CBS Interactive; Adam Balkin, a senior producer for CBS News; Whitney Bright, a producer for CBS News; Janelle Burrell, a reporter/substitute anchor for WCBS-TV; and Allie Marzella, a digital associate producer for ABC News, who coordinated the ABC visit.

“The on-site networking, educating and mentoring is a great experience for the students and alumni,” said Mike Poorman, director of alumni relations for the Bellisario College, who helped lead the trip with Kraycik. “Connections like these are a key part of what makes Penn State special.”

Penn State’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter aims to provide journalism students with unique opportunities and connect them with professionals in the industry. Previous SPJ events have included attending regional conferences in Boston, Connecticut, New York and Philadelphia, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the White House briefing room and media areas. SPJ is the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States. It was established in 1909. 

Last Updated December 17, 2018