Excellence in Journalism 2019 • Sept. 5-7, 2019 • San Antonio

About/Meet the Staff

Each year, the Society of Professional Journalists sponsors internships for more than a dozen bright, motivated and hard-working student journalists to staff The EIJ News, a news site that covers the Excellence in Journalism conference. Student writers, editors, and photographers are invited to apply for these select positions.

Professional Staff

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Bob Butler Twitter

Bob Butler is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, television and print. He is currently a reporter at KCBS Radio in San Francisco. He spent 18-months as the diversity director for CBS Corporation. Bob was a key member of the Chauncey Bailey Project, which investigated the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. He created and executes the Television Newsroom Management Diversity Census. He is a former President of the National Association of Black Journalists and sits on the board of SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents thousands of broadcasters around the country. Bob holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Community Arts from San Francisco State University.

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Raymond Ruiz Twitter

Raymond Ruiz is the founder of EGMN (El Gato Media Network), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides career development services for media students and young professionals. For the past nine years, he has worked with young minorities to overcome the cultural and educational obstacles that hinder their entry into media and communications. When not training young media pros, he is doing communications consulting for nonprofits and small businesses.

Student Staff

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Julian Berger Twitter

Julian is a sophomore majoring in Media and Journalism with a minor in Latino/a Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His career in journalism started in 2015 when he created his own news website, Noticias de la Nueva Generación. His creation of the website allowed him to connect with journalists such as Sarah Batista of WBTV, Ken Lemon of WSOC-TV, and Gio Benitez of ABC News. While at UNC, Julian is involved with Carolina Ahora and Carolina Now, two news shows which cover current events on campus. In the spring 2019 semester, he won the MVP award for his efforts in both shows. After graduating from college, Julian would like to become a TV news reporter or anchor, covering news involving the Latinx community.

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Evelin De La Rosa Twitter

Evelin De La Rosa, a multimedia producer and junior at the University of Houston, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism. She participated in the importance of animal adoption and animal abuse, and the ways social media is impacting journalism. At the moment, she is a web and social media producer at The Venture and reported on Mexican American Studies and Real Women Have Curves, the first Latina play at the Pasadena Little Theater. Earlier this year, Evelin also took part in an internship at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo as a studio intern shooting and directing livestock auctions. Apart from that, she loves being involved within the community, making sure people’s stories get heard. She is expected to graduate in May of 2020 in hopes of becoming a bilingual TV news reporter. Her ultimate goal is to become a TV producer.

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Ashley Fredde Twitter

Ashley Fredde is a broadcast journalism major with a minor in law at the University of Arizona. She’s currently entering her senior year and is expected to graduate May 2020. She has interned at ABC4 Utah, KOLD 13, Arizona Public Media, and the Arizona Daily Star.

Ashley has been involved in student media throughout her college career, with several positions at the student broadcast station UATV. She’s worked at UATV as a reporter, news director, and the executive producer while also anchoring for the weekly show. Last summer she was a fellow for Cultural Vistas Journalism in the Era of Disinformation program. Ashley is also the captain of the UA Debate Series, a public forum dedicated to promoting discourse among the community, featuring speakers and moderators regarding controversial subjects or subjects of public concern. The series also features a team of students who compete in a national circuit of debate.

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Viridiana Fernandez Twitter

Viridiana Fernandez is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Houston. She interned with KPRC Channel 2, and AC Media Broadcasting in Houston. She is currently a multimedia reporter for The Venture Online. This year she also returned to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as a studio intern for her second season. She received a SPJ Mark of Excellence Award for being a finalist in an Online / Digital Feature Videography story. She is scheduled to graduate in May 2020 and wants to become a bilingual reporter.

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Jazmin Goodwin Twitter

Jazmin Goodwin is a magna cum laude graduate of Howard University, where she earned her B.A. in journalism with a minor in graphic design. She formerly served as editor-in-chief of The Hilltop, Howard University’s student-run newspaper co-founded by Zora Neale Hurston. Born in Germany and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Jazmin has a knack for storytelling and navigating the terrains of women, tech and entrepreneurship. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY as the first-ever Ida B. Wells Society Scholar — where she is focusing on business and economics reporting with a specialty in video.

She is currently a video intern for CNN Business and has previously interned with Axios, Washington City Paper, The Real Deal and SheKnows Media. Two of her proudest accomplishments include being one of 18 journalists honored as a 2016 White House Correspondents’ Association Scholar and testifying before Congress on the importance of funding educational programs that ensure low-income students are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Jazmin is passionate about innovation, building community and problem solving. She hopes to be able to translate these passions towards solving issues facing the media and journalism landscape and creating a platform for women and communities of color.

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Matthew Martinez Twitter

I’m Matthew Martinez, the assistant projects editor for the Marquette Wire. I’ve been working on our investigative desk since my sophomore year and have experience covering news, politics and doing deep-dive projects series. I have past bylines at the Marquette Wire and Milwaukee Magazine.

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Kali Nelson Twitter

Kali Nelson is a senior at the University of Idaho studying journalism and environmental communications. Kali has written for her student newspaper, the Argonaut and is the current station manager of KUOI FM. At the 2018 Idaho Press club awards she placed first in Student TV/Radio general news report. She is a member of the UI chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists.

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Saniya Rao Twitter

Saniya Rao is a graduate student of Journalism at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies where she serves as the Secretary of the Georgetown SPJ Chapter. She has previously interned for The Economic Times in Bengaluru, India which inspired her to take up the role of a Breaking news writer for Republic World, one of India’s leading news organizations. Currently, she works as the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for Diversity and Inclusion at Georgetown School of Medicine.

Having moved to the District only a year ago, Saniya takes pride in highlighting her multicultural roots and passion for different cuisines. Recently, while freelancing for The Hill, Saniya wrote a story on Creative Coalition’s gala which brought together different Hollywood stars and lawmakers to celebrate bipartisan support for the arts. As a reporter, her interests include international policy, social justice, and enterprise reporting. In her free time, Saniya can be found cooking Indian food, exploring different places in the District or grabbing a coffee with reporters whom she admires.

Through the Excellence in Journalism conference, Saniya is looking forward to enhancing her journalism skills and creating relationships with reporters from diverse backgrounds.

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Skye Ray Twitter

Skye Ray is a senior Journalism major at Loyola University New Orleans. She is an active contributor to her school’s award-winning newspaper, “The Maroon”, where she writes, produces, reports, and anchors on both local and campus news. Outside of Loyola, she works as an Assignment Assistant at WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. In addition, Skye previously interned at WDSU, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans and WMAR-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baltimore as a teen reporter. She also reported for NOLA.com where she covered live Mardi Gras parades.

In 2018, Skye founded Loyola University New Orleans’ chapter for the National Association of Black Journalists where she currently serves as president. She is an active member of the Radio Television Digital News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Outside the newsroom, you can find her traveling, cooking, and visiting art museums. Skye is interested in reporting on various subjects including, but not limited to social justice, music, and food.

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Shelby Toth Twitter

Shelby Toth is a senior entering her last semester at The College at Brockport in New York. She is majoring in Journalism and Broadcasting, with minors in Theatre and Women and Gender Studies. Toth has worked at her college newspaper, The Stylus, for the last two years, rising from copy editor, to news editor and, most recently, executive editor of the paper. During her time there, the paper placed ninth overall in the Four-year Newspaper Weekly category at the Associated Collegiate Press 2019 Best of the Midwest College Journalism Convention.

Toth is also a member of Brockport’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, serving as president, as well as being involved in the Honors program. She is currently an intern at a Rochester-based publication, 585 magazine. Toth hopes in the future to help more people feel seen, heard and understood.

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Mysti Willmon Twitter

Mysti Willmon is a senior at Western Washington University. She is an English creative writing major, a journalism news/editorial major, and an anthropology minor. Mysti was a reporter for the school newspaper, The Western Front, and was the copy editor last fall. Mysti is a member of the National Honor Society and also serves as the executive vice president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars chapter on campus. She is originally from Port Townsend, Washington, a small town of 9,000.

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Tianna Witmer Twitter

My name is Tianna Witmer and I am a journalism and Spanish double major at the University of Kansas. I was directly admitted to the journalism program at KU my freshman year, and immediately joined our school newspaper, the University Daily Kansan. With the Kansan, I was able to learn how to write in a journalistic style, as well as grow my writing and reporting skills.

At the end of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to write a feature story on the recently found remains of a World War II veteran. This article then went on to win the Region Seven Mark of Excellence Award for large school feature writing. As my first major feature story, it was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever had. This upcoming semester, I am looking forward to starting an internship with KSNT News in Topeka, Kansas, and taking more reporting and Spanish classes.

In my free time, I am an avid rock climber, hiker and pizza eater. I currently run the social media page for the rock climbing club at my school, KURC, and help teach a freshman physical geography course. I have grown to love hearing, writing and sharing stories, and in the future, I hope that I can find a way to combine both my passion for the outdoors and reporting in a way that allows stories to be shared.