Program in Journalism Senior Colloquium

May 7, 2020

The Program in Journalism hosted its annual Senior Colloquium virtually this year. Each senior pursuing a certificate in journalism presented a piece of journalism they have produced based on their field reporting, or exploring challenges facing modern journalism.

The colloquium offered seniors experience in presenting and gaining valuable feedback on their work. The brief student presentations were followed by comments from faculty and distinguished journalists.


Brillian Bao (Politics)
While They Wait: The Cost of Seeking Asylum in Greece

Greece’s asylum process is long and arduous, and applicants wait 258 days on average for a decision. But while the wait for asylum can be frustrating, it is often just the first of many challenges ahead for migrants who choose to remain in Greece long-term. This project looks at some of these problems through the stories of applicants who are struggling to find employment and ways to pay their expenses as officials start implementing a 2017 policy limiting cash and housing assistance provided to refugees.

Watch Brillian’s presentation here.

Isabella Haegg (Economics)
A “timeout” on charter? Princeton’s debate

I spent the spring exploring the debate surrounding school choice in Princeton, particularly the aftermath of the charter school’s contentious expansion, for the first issue of a new Princeton online journal, interviewing parents, teachers, and administrators, as well as analyzing public financing data. When the editor wanted me to make changes that were not supported by the empirical facts and remove relevant and important details from the story, I pulled the article and looked for submission to other publications instead, making for an important lesson in journalistic integrity.

Watch Isabella’s presentation here.

Alden Hunt (Electrical Engineering)
Visitors From the Void

A couple of years ago, a little blip on a Hawaiian telescope image turned out to be a Big Deal. The blip was an interstellar asteroid – a visitor from beyond the solar system. Since that time, astronomers have intently studied data from the asteroid, named ‘Oumuamua, and have detected one more interstellar object, the comet Borisov. But studying the objects’ unusual compositions has led to more questions than answers. This article explores the mysteries of interstellar comets, the scientific field that has developed around them, and how understanding these objects can give us insight into the creation of our solar system.

Watch Alden’s presentation here.

E Jeremijenko-Conley (Anthropology)
Grief: The Bread and Butter of Pet Psychics

My article is a study of people who call themselves pet psychics or animal whisperers, their own accounts of their career histories, and their beliefs about human/animal relationships. In a world in which an increasingly separatist view between civilization and nature is held by much of the general public, I hope that this article might illuminate the ways in which lines between humans and other animals are socially constructed and constantly shifting. This article also complicates the notion that animals are merely a vehicle or proxy for human-to-human interaction.

Nathan Levit (Woodrow Wilson School)
Portrait of a Bygone Era: Josh Svaty’s Kansas Gubernatorial Run

For a Fall 2018 seminar on the art of profile-writing, I followed around a long-shot gubernatorial candidate, Josh Svaty. I witnessed him speaking at town halls, hosting fundraisers, participating in dreaded call time, sitting in mini-chairs at parent-teacher conferences, and herding his cattle from the summer to the winter pastures. I tried to contextualize Svaty within Kansas’s changing political infrastructure and within America’s changing political environment. When I turned this in originally, Svaty was still running for governor. I have updated and changed it after the election to attempt to reflect on what his loss means.

Watch Nathan’s presentation here.

Molly Milligan (Woodrow Wilson School)
Sports Illustrated is hanging on by a thread. Can a magazine be saved amid the 21st-century sports media landscape?

Sports Illustrated has long been one of the most well-recognized titles on the newsstand. But since the mid-2010s, the magazine has endured a period of managerial upheaval compounded by the struggling state of print journalism. In 2015, SI published 50 issues per year; but this year, that number had fallen to just 16. Meanwhile, many of the magazine’s most popular writers have been fired or have flocked to new outlets like The Athletic. The situation is further threatened by the coronavirus pandemic, which has halted live sports and thus sports writing. What can SI do to maintain its relevance, or is trying to save the magazine a fool’s errand?

Watch Molly’s presentation here.

Natalie Nagorski (East Asian Studies)
Theatrical Show Produced By Spiritual Group Aims to Show Horrors of the Chinese Communist Party – An Investigation of the Shen Yun Dance Company and Falun Gong

At the end of my freshman year, I attended a performance of the Shen Yun Dance Company in Burlington, Vermont for my final project in an international reporting seminar. I was familiar with Shen Yun largely because of their extensive advertising campaign, but I was curious about what the performance entailed. Much to my surprise, the piece explored many contemporary political themes that seemed to fall outside of the brand that Shen Yun showcases in its advertising. The more I read, the more I learned about the ties between the dance troupe and the Falun Gong movement.

Watch Natalie’s presentation here.

Emily Spalding (Comparative Literature)
In Richmond, Virginia, Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors Of War Tackles a Controversial History Head-On

When Kehinde Wiley, an artist known for distinct portraits of African Americans, including the presidential portrait of President Barack Obama, visited Richmond, Virginia, he was particularly struck by the colossal statues honoring Confederate veterans that line the famous Monument Avenue. Years later, Wiley returned with his response: Rumors Of War, a towering bronze statue inspired by Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart’s monument. Wiley’s work, which stands facing Monument Avenue, bears resemblance to its counterparts on the avenue, with one major exception: his subject sports Nike high-tops, a hoodie, and dreadlocks. This project strives to contextualize the significance of Wiley’s work within Richmond’s historical and artistic spheres, as well as on a national level.

Watch Emily’s presentation here.

Danielle Stephenson (French and Italian)
When in Rome

Italian food culture was once viewed as homogeneous. Today, Italy’s growing diversity has added to the country’s culinary vibrancy. Ethiopian, Somalian, and Eritrean restaurants adorn the streets of Rome, owned by first- and second-generation immigrants from regions where Italy had once established colonial rule. The rising popularity of East African cuisine could set the stage for postcolonial reckoning. Or, Italy’s history of colonialism could continue to go unrecognized. As Italy’s gastronomic diversity begins to flourish, what is the impact of the country’s changing food culture on national and personal identities? What changes, and what stays the same?

Watch Danielle’s presentation here.

Ethan Sterenfeld (Politics)
Greg’s Second Recession

Greg Pilotti had to drop out of college and move home to Coatesville, Pennsylvania, after the 2008 recession. Since then, he has graduated from trade school and started a successful small business, defying the odds for manufacturing in blue-collar Pennsylvania towns. But how will he manage through this new downturn?

Watch Ethan’s presentation here.

Isaac Wolfe (Near Eastern Studies)
Character of Crisis: Perspectives on the Refugee Crisis in Lesbos, Greece

Based on six weeks of reporting in Greece, this piece chronicles the stories of six people – all inhabitants of the island of Lesbos – intimately involved in the 2015-2016 European migrant crisis. From a hotel manager to a grave digger, from two Egyptian migrants to a protester – the diverse perspectives of the characters call attention to the complex, human issues that have emerged in the wake of the crisis, and to the truths that remain evident in today’s migrant debates.


Joe Stephens
Director, Program in Journalism
Ferris Professor of Journalism in Residence

Watch Professor Stephens’s closing remarks here.

Edward Wong
Diplomatic and international correspondent, The New York Times
Former visiting Ferris Professor of Journalism

Carol Giacomo
Editorial board member, The New York Times
Current visiting Ferris Professor of Journalism

Michael Calderone
Senior editor, Vanity Fair’s Hive
Former visiting Ferris Professor of Journalism

Errin Haines
Editor-at-large, The 19th
Former visiting Ferris Professor of Journalism

Jon Gertner
Contributing writer, The New York Times Magazine
Current visiting McGraw Professor of Writing

Suzy Hansen
Contributing writer, The New York Times Magazine
Current visiting Ferris Professor of Journalism

Deborah Amos
International correspondent, National Public Radio
Ferris Professor of Journalism in Residence

John McPhee
Staff writer, The New Yorker
Ferris Professor of Journalism in Residence

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