Excellence in Journalism 2018 • Sept. 27-29, 2018 • Baltimore

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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Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez is a veteran multimedia journalist based in Houston. Gonzalez has been reporting news for more than 20 years in both TV and radio, many of those years in Dallas/Fort Worth, and New Orleans. She interviewed civil rights activist Cesar Chavez early in her career; later covered the tragic kidnapping and murder of the child Amber Hagerman whose name is now known around the world through the Amber alert. In New Orleans, Sandra also reported on the recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina and the environmental disaster of the BP oil spill. Sandra is an active member of both SPJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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Bob Butler

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..

Student Staff

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Simone Amos

Simone Amos, a junior at Tuskegee University, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication. She is engaged in multiple extracurricular activities on campus including Tuskegee University Honors Programs, Pre-Alumni Council, and a tutor and co-social media manager for Next Step Up, which is a student led tutoring program. Also, Simone is the advice columnist writer for the university’s Campus Digest newspaper. While being active on campus is important to Simone, so are academics. She is an Eminent Scholar and a recipient of The National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation Journalism scholarship. Beyond the classroom, she has earned opportunities to enrich her skills interning with the WTOK-TV news station and WJXM radio station, both in Meridian, Mississippi. Upon her graduation from Tuskegee University, she plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master of Arts in broadcasting journalism and further advance herself in her career.

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Crystal Chen

Crystal Chen is a graduate student studying journalism at Michigan State University. While majoring accounting during her undergraduate years in China, she has been selected as one of six student journalists to cover the 2015 Shanghai International Film Festival, which was her first attempt to step into the field of journalism. Crystal has previously interned with Shanghai Morning Post and Grazia Magazine before coming to Michigan. In her first year at Michigan State, she has won the Bill Cote Endowed Scholarship. During her internship with Capital News Service in East Lansing, Michigan, she has covered various topics ranging from agriculture to education. This summer, she is interning with a local online publication which highlights diversity and entrepreneurship, and she enjoys talking with different people and believes every individual has stories to tell. In her spare time, Crystal enjoys spending time with her two lovely furry cats.

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Amanda Chin

Amanda Chin is a senior Journalism major at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She is extremely excited and honored to be a part of the 2018 EIJ News Team in Baltimore. Amanda has a passion for broadcast journalism and has interned at NBC News for Dateline NBC and The TODAY Show. She is also an active member of her college television and radio stations, where she produces, reports, and anchors several different news shows on campus. Amanda served as President for Ithaca College’s chapter of The Society of Professional Journalists for a year, and attended both the regional and national SPJ conferences for the 2017-2018 school year. She is looking forward to enhancing her journalism skills at the conference, where she hopes to network and form connections and relationships with professional and aspiring journalists.

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Kyle Cotton

Kyle Cotton is a journalism senior at the University of Texas at Arlington and has spent the last four years in college media in various roles. Growing up in San Antonio Cotton would rush to read the San Antonio Express-News’ sports page and dreamed of one day being a sport reporter. However, once he started his college media career at San Antonio College’s The Ranger, he fell in love with news and the effect his reporting had on his community. Since then, Cotton has challenged himself to get better at every turn, cultivating skills as not only a writer, but as a designer, photographer and leader. He is interning at the San Antonio Business Journal this summer through the Dow Jones News Fund and is looking forward to starting his professional career, after his last year at UTA’s student publication The Shorthorn.

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Zoe Deal

Zoe Deal is a third-year journalism and English literature major at Western Washington University, where she pursues various forms of storytelling. Deal has an extensive background in editorial reporting and photojournalism and enjoys blending her visual and written work to create truly engaging multimedia packages. Over the past year, Deal has taken on multiple roles at her university’s weekly newspaper, The Western Front, as a reporter, copy editor, news editor and features editor. She also enjoyed her time as a photographer for Klipsun Magazine. She was previously a photography intern at the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and will intern as an editorial assistant at Bellingham Alive! Magazine this winter. Originally from Minnesota, Deal has enjoyed exploring the coastal, mountainous region of Western Washington over the past two years. When she’s not focused on schoolwork, Deal is a freelance engagement and portrait photographer and enjoys kayaking, climbing and wasting time on InDesign.

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Adam Hushin

Adam Hushin is a journalism and communications double major at the University of Connecticut. He is part of the student team that publishes the UConn journalism department’s weekly newsletter, The RoundUp, where he also produced a podcast. His focuses are digital media and writing. Hushin works as a writer and reporter for the WHUS radio news department, and serves as secretary for the UConn Journalism Society. Last summer, he interned as a staff writer for the New Britain Herald. Hushin understands the important role that journalists take on in society, and is inspired by the challenges this field faces.

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Orla McCaffrey

Orla McCaffrey is a student at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and recent graduate of Binghamton University. Over the summer, she interned on the markets desk at the Wall Street Journal, and she’s still pinching herself. Her first experience in journalism was as a sports reporter and later editor for her college newspaper, Pipe Dream. While she no longer covers sports, the appreciation for statistics and data she developed in the press box has fostered her interest in data journalism. Orla is a two-time Dow Jones News Fund intern, and served as an interactive editing intern at the Omaha World-Herald in the summer of 2017. One of the most memorable stories she’s covered dealt with the effects of outdated FEMA flood maps in her college community. Outside the newsroom, you can find her rooting for mediocre baseball teams, refusing to try new foods or listening to country music.

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Zoe Poindexter

Zoe Poindexter is a media and culture junkie. She received her Bachelor’s in broadcasting from West Liberty University in West Virginia in 2016. Now, she is working towards her Master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. While there she’s had the opportunity to write entertainment pieces for Celebitr news, co-host and produce a podcast called When I Was a Kid, create digital content for a blog about D.C. statues and sculptures, and intern with the March on Washington Film Festival. She enjoys giving a platform to individuals whose stories have often been overlooked, but have unique experiences to share. Her favorite topics include arts and culture, entertainment, social justice, and true crime. Learn more about her on her personal website and follow her on Twitter @ZoeTellsItAll.

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Dirce Toca

Dirce Toca is a senior at DePaul University in Chicago. She is double majoring in Journalism and Public Relations & Advertising. She is a campus reporter with DePaul’s student-run weekly newspaper, The DePaulia. Her goal after graduation is to move to New York and obtain her Masters Degree from The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a native Spanish speaker and fluent in written and spoken English. Toca wants to take her career to great lengths by reporting on critical issues and stories ignored and overlooked by mainstream media. Investigative journalism, immigration and criminal justice include her areas of interest.

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Kaitlin Washburn

Kaitlin Washburn is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism studying investigative journalism and Spanish. Her time so far in the journalism world has focused on investigative and political accountability reporting. Last summer, she was the watchdog intern for The Oregonian, a daily newspaper in Portland, Ore. Before that, she was a state government reporter for the Columbia Missourian, a daily newspaper for Columbia, Missouri run by the J-School. Her coverage mainly focused on Gov. Eric Greitens and his sex and ethics scandals. Last summer, she interned for The Morning Call, a daily newspaper in northeastern Pennsylvania. For two years, she’s worked as a researcher for Investigative Reporters and Editors, a non-profit organization created to better the quality of investigative reporting and provide a forum for reporters to exchange tips on reporting and writing. She’s also worked three of IRE’s conferences and has been a panelist at NICAR 17 and IRE 17.

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Alexandra Weaver

Alexandra Weaver is a senior at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. She is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science. She is currently an intern with the School of Arts and Sciences at Brockport, where she creates and updates content for its website. She was Lifestyles Editor at Brockport’s campus newspaper, The Stylus , and has written a variety of stories for print, web and broadcast throughout her college career. One audio piece that she collaborated on was even featured on WXXI, Rochester’s public radio station. Weaver has been practicing photography since she was 12. By age 20, her photos made their first public appearances alongside many of her stories in The Stylus. She is interested in covering a variety of subjects including, but not limited to art, hard news and science.

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Belynda Wesley

A city girl from the busy streets of Miami, Belynda J. Wesley is a graduating senior at Florida A&M University studying Broadcast Journalism in Tallahassee, FL. Wesley transferred to FAMU in Spring of 2016 after achieving her Associate’s degree from Broward College; she has since matriculated through the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication with much success. Wesley currently serves as the Live-shot Reporter for the award-winning school newscast FAMU-TV20. When not in J-School, she works as an intern at WCTV-CBS news-station in Tallahassee and mentors young girls from the surrounding high schools who want to attend FAMU SJGC in the future. Belynda has previously interned with WSVN Channel 7 News in Miami, was apart of the 2018 NABJ student projects in Detroit where she worked closely with WDIV Local 4 Detroit and is a freelance writer for The Miami Times newspaper. Wesley is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. Her goal is to graduate with an MMJ position. She also enjoys traveling, sunflowers and a good audible.

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