The Media Is the Message at MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY

Story compiled by
Mary Ann Cooper

The Montclair State University Summer Journalism Workshop for High School Students is a new program by the School of Communication and Media (SCM) and provides an all-expense-paid journalism and college preparation program for high school students.
PHOTO LICENSED BY INGRAM IMAGE hispanic outlook magazine

Montclair State University (MSU) has been making great strides to further develop their School of Communication and Media to reflect the exploding media industrial complex that it has become. Its Center for Cooperative Media is just one example of the way this university is embracing a high tech future. Another example is the hands-on community outreach done by the School of Communication and Media to inspire and encourage young budding journalists from minority neighborhoods to pursue careers in communications. 
Earlier this year, Stefanie Murray was named director of the Center for Cooperative Media at MSU. She now is in charge of the Center that brings together over 150 news outlets throughout New Jersey in what is the nation’s only formally organized statewide network of media entities. The Center is based within Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media.
An award-winning journalist and editor, Murray was the recipient of an Associated Press News Writing Award in 2008 (public service) and in 2010 (breaking news) during her time as a reporter in Michigan. Most recently, Murray was the vice president/news and executive editor of The Tennessean and TN Media.
Murray, who has a Master of Science degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcasting and journalism from Central Michigan University, is a welcome addition to MSU. “She brings to the Center for Cooperative Media significant experience in the areas of local news reporting, information gathering, digital transformation, organizational development and business strategy,” said Merrill Brown, director of the School of Communication and Media. “Over the course of the past three years, the Center has played a key leadership role in growing the New Jersey news and information ecosystems. We’re confident that Stefanie will now lead the Center in new and exciting directions as we continue to focus on how we and our partners can best serve the people of New Jersey, and we further explore how this innovative model might be successfully applied to other media markets.”
In addition to its various ongoing training, research and innovation initiatives, the Center for Cooperative Media is focused on statewide collaborative enterprise journalism projects. It recently partnered with various New Jersey news outlets to create “Dirty Little Secrets,” a reporting project highlighting the lingering impacts of New Jersey’s toxic legacy. The Center is currently developing “In the Shadow of Liberty,” a collaborative project dedicated to in-depth reporting on issues surrounding immigration.
A great example of journalism projects from MSU’s School of Communication and Media occurred this past summer when the school held its first Journalism Boot Camp to give New Jersey minority middle and high school students a chance to become a journalist for three days. The students were not only able to get some real-life experiences to practice their interviewing schools, they also got a taste of college life as residents of the MSU dormitories while completing the program.  
The Montclair State University Summer Journalism Workshop for High School Students is a new program by the School of Communication and Media (SCM) and provides an all-expense-paid journalism and college preparation program for high school students. Students have the chance to engage in various forms of communication media and learn reporting skills across multiple platforms. This program targets high-performing North Jersey high school journalists and is designed to prepare students for college and potential fields of study within journalism and communications.
Students receive hands-on training and exposure to technology, cameras and other storytelling tools of the trade as they actively participate in filmmaking, broadcasting and multi-platform journalism. They learn from SCM faculty and invited working professionals about scripting, casting, photographing and editing, and ultimately presenting their projects. By encouraging high-performing students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in journalism, this program fosters deeper relationships and expanded civic engagement with neighboring towns, including Newark, Paterson, the Oranges and Montclair.
One of the camp’s highlights was the chance for students to write about a historical first: the Professional Baseball team the New Jersey Jackals versus the Cuban National Baseball Team at Yogi Berra Stadium. This marks the first time a Cuban professional team has played on American soil since the Havana Sugar Kings in 1960. The Cuban National Team, which has won three Olympic gold medals and 25 World Baseball Championships, is the same team that played the Tampa Bay Rays in an exhibition last March following President Obama’s historic trip to Havana. The team’s visit to MSU was one of only three stops it made in the United States.
Reporting on the Cuban National Team’s visit fits into a growing concentration that MSU’s School of Communication and Media has been developing over the past few years. The school will be opening a new, state-of-the-art building, outfitted with 4K Sony technology in January of 2017. •

 

TAKING COLLEGE SELECTION to the Next Level

I think life is a never-ending learning process. I think you should wake up today humbled and realize every day you can learn something new to make your life better.
— James Cotto
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For years Hispanic students have been hearing the same advice from their teachers and mentors: get a college education. They are led to believe that it doesn’t matter where you go or how you get there, just go! But it’s not that simple. As more and more Hispanics go to college, there are some voices suggesting that Hispanics go to the best possible college that will accept them, not just any college. One of those voices belongs to James Cotto, Senior Vice President - Wealth Advisor for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
“I do believe that it’s time to take that advice to the next level,” said Cotto in an exclusive interview with HO. “And by doing that I really do believe that we really should be telling our Hispanic children that they really do need to aspire and basically go to the best school that will accept them.”
While that might sound like counterintuitive advice for parents and guidance counselors who have been struggling to make sure that those in their care get accept into college and complete their degrees while navigating the very expensive financial challenges that comes with a commitment to higher education, Cotto believes that getting into the best school possible actually improves the chances for degree completion and career success. “The data is just very, very compelling. If they apply to the most selective school, there’s just a much higher likelihood that they are going to graduate from a four-year school. Graduate rates jump significantly from the most selective schools.”
Cotto believes there has never been a better time to improve the odds for Latino students. “In terms of demographics, we are the fastest growing demographic, and we are the workforce of America and the hottest commodity globally. What the world is going to look for in the not so distant future is highly educated talented individuals that can help support the elderly population. I think it would be foolish not to take advantage of that, but the only way we can take advantage of that is through education.” 
Cotto says Hispanics need to pay attention to the percentages when making a choice about which college to attend. “Sixty-eight percent of Latinos will graduate if they go to the most selective schools. All that means is going to a school that has an acceptance rate of 49 percent or less, which probably amounts to about 500 schools out of the 5,000 that are out there. So if you go to a school where there is a 50 percent or above acceptance rate, the chance that you will complete your studies drops from 68 percent to 47 percent, a big drop. In other words, go to a school that is in the top 10 percent of the schools in the country for four-year schools; there is roughly a two-thirds chance you’ll successfully graduate. If you go to two-year school and hope to transfer to a bigger school, it’s 23 percent. So the lesson is that if you want your child to graduate from a four-year school, send them to a four-year school. And you want to up his chances, send him to the best one you can. I spend a lot of time in education working on getting literacy program in schools, and I am always interested in perfecting the narrative.”
Being of Puerto Rican descent, Cotto personally relates to what goes into the choice Hispanic parents make when choosing higher education options with their children. “My parents said you should go to college. They did not go to college. One left school in ninth grade, and the other left school in tenth or eleventh grade. They knew their life was hard, and it could quite possibly have been easier if they had had a college education.” 
As a young Hispanic man, he had no idea that his choice of college is more than just choosing a course of study and a geographic location. “I could have gone to a more prestigious school,” he explained, “but they didn’t know that made a difference. I could have gone to a school that had better alumni. That’s a thing that I don’t think a lot of Latinos understand. It’s not just the education; it’s the small classes; it’s the more one-on-one you have with the professors; it’s the potential for having many like-minded individuals that share your goals and dreams and have your drive. Then, of course, there’s the alumni base. They’re now becoming part of a club that is very prestigious with an alumni base that’s very loyal that creates opportunities for them for their career in the future.”

publisher picks 2016

He has seen how being a part of “the club” has enhanced the lives and careers of Hispanics. “I belong to many organizations, and I see many Latinos around the country who have transcended beyond themselves, their ancestry and their environment to become exactly what they always dreamed of being. I think that’s absolutely amazing.” 
Translating those kinds of connections into corporate success is essential but sometimes tricky. “I think within the corporate landscape it’s a challenge,” Cotto said, “because they’re not accessing the diversity groups and the Latino groups. And I think without doing that and without learning how to network and collaborate internally within the organization in which you’re working or maybe pioneering a group in the organization you’re working, it becomes very challenging because you do need sponsors. You need to be able to show up, do the work and be professional and be excellent at what you do, but you also need to self-promote yourself. But it’s also great to have a network of people that you can rely on that are also saying very favorable things about who you are. Creating a network of sponsors to help you further whatever your goals are within the organization.”
One of the reasons Cotto has found a home at Morgan Stanley is their diversity policy. “I think we have a tremendously robust diversity organization in all facets – African-American, Latino, Asian – within Morgan Stanley – incredibly robust. They do promote it, but you know God helps them who help themselves. You need to really roll up your sleeves and be committed to it. What I find within many diversity groups is that people will discuss the issues and challenges and problem, but you have to take the necessary steps and own it. I don’t think as Latinos you can sit there and say, ‘well, we’re not being invited to the show, we’re not being invited to the party, we’re not being invited to the event.’ On the contrary, I’m being invited to all of those, here.  I really need to take the next step and get involved. The door is open for those who want to do it. It’s really about effort. Putting in the effort and time.” 
Are there other companies following Morgan Stanley’s example? Cotto said, “I can’t speak for every corporate structure, but I do see in some of the Fortune 500 companies that diversity is a very big issue with them. Many companies are now trying to diversify the VP level, the senior VP level and the managing director level. I think within the group Latinos need to be working together. It doesn’t mean that I’m just promoting somebody. It means if I identify an opportunity, and I know of a quality individual that also happens to be Latino, I will support them and identify the opportunity and suggest they go after it.”
Once part of the corporate structure Hispanics should do whatever is necessary to assimilate without compromising their cultural identity. “I think you need to dress appropriately, communicate appropriately, understand not only correct English, but proper business speak,” Cotto explained. “You should know what the basic code of conduct laid out by your company is and how to do that. And if you’re struggling with that, you have to make the effort to get mentored, find someone who is at the senior level, and if he or she happens to be Latino, reach out to them. People do it to me all the time. What I think is that a lot of the Latinos should understand as they enter the workforce is that the Hispanic consumer is going to be a big driver of the American economy.  Companies are looking to take advantage of the exploding impact the Hispanic consumer has.  When you’re a young person becoming part of the corporate world, you need to join the right groups, you need to seek out a mentor and you need to be able to stay true to who you are both culturally and ethically. I do think, however, you have to assimilate in the sense that it’s just an appropriate code of conduct.”
There’s much to learn about navigating the corporate environment and even for a seasoned pro like Cotto there’s always more to absorb and ways to grow. “I think life is a never-ending learning process. I think you should wake up today humbled and realize every day you can learn something new to make your life better.” 
It’s a philosophy that Cotto shares with his children. “I make it very simple with my children. I say ‘Monday morning get up, suit up, show up and never give up.’ If you explain to them what the result will be and you put in the effort up front, I think as a community the American Latino will see more people in executive positions and more business owners both male and female.  You know what? It’s going to benefit America. We’re going to be largest voter group in the case of spending dollars. It’s in America’s interests to have more Hispanics better educated in better positions, so they have more disposable income to keep the economy growing.” •