Tag Archive | "school of communication"

Professor Gets Galápagos Scoop, Imparts Lesson

Tags:

Professor Gets Galápagos Scoop, Imparts Lesson


By Maya Bell
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 26, 2016) — Shortly after arriving in the Galápagos Islands to lead his summer study-abroad course, School of Communication Professor Joseph B. Treaster dropped by the office of the Galápagos National Park and Galápagos Marine Reserve, hoping to catch the interim director at his desk.

Instead, the former New York Times reporter and foreign correspondent caught a whiff of a breaking news story and, with old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, nailed it down: Africa Berdonces, an energetic young woman who rides a beat-up bicycle and often wears flip-flops, was about to take charge of managing the Galápagos Islands, one of the world’s environmental treasures.

Photographer Thomas Rodriguez and writer Joseph P. Treaster checked out their story posted online.

Photographer Thomas Rodriguez, standing, and writer Joseph P. Treaster check out their story posted online.

Within 48 hours, Treaster’s story about Berdonces, complete with photographs of her, a blue-footed booby, and other iconic Galápagos animals taken by UM technical specialist Thomas Rodriguez, appeared in The Times, providing a real-life learning experience for the eight UM students who had come to the Galápagos to sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills by communing with nature.

During the three-week, six-credit course, “The Galápagos Islands: Environment and Culture, Writing, Research, Critical Thinking,” the students swim with sea lions and penguins, hike volcanoes, get within inches of giant Galápagos tortoises, and study Charles Darwin and climate change — all as a precursor to writing articles on Galápagos issues that will be published in the Miami Planet, the University’s online environmental magazine.

“We’re using the Times article as a model for the work the students are doing and to show them how reporters conduct interviews, seize opportunities, and turn their reporting into articles,’’ Treaster said.

That’s something Treaster knows inside out. He often draws on his 30-plus years of experience at The New York Times to inform his UM classes on the fundamentals of reporting and writing for mass audiences. And it was two of those fundamentals—keen observations and an inquisitive nature—that tipped Treaster to Berdonces’ appointment, which the Ecuadorean government had not planned to announce for a few days.

Thomas Rodriguez's photo of Africa Berdonces, the new director of Galapagos National Park, ran in The New York Times.

Thomas Rodriguez’s photo of Africa Berdonces, the new director of Galapagos National Park, ran in The New York Times.

Waiting near the director’s office late the Friday afternoon of May 20, Treaster said he “sensed excitement among the secretaries and other staff assistants,” and started asking questions. Pretty soon, someone mentioned Berdonces’ news. Nobody, however, would officially confirm her appointment, so Treaster set out to find out as much as he could about her and what her new role might mean for the Galápagos.

As luck would have it, he bumped into Berdonces at the park headquarters and learned that she grew up in the Galápagos, has a master’s degree in environmental studies from James Cook University in Australia, and felt quite prepared to take on one of the world’s most significant environmental posts. “This is my passion,” she told Treaster. “I studied for this. I’ve been a national park guide. I’m a dive master. I’m from a family in the tourism business. I know the business of the Galápagos from inside.”

Within a couple hours, Treaster interviewed half a dozen other people, including Berdonces’ father, a dive shop owner, and a physician who has known her since she was a teenager.

Working with government officials and others, Treaster put Berdonces’ appointment and the challenges she faces in context. As he noted in the Times article, she is taking charge just as the Ecuadorean government is taking steps to better protect the Galápagos.

“It is,” Treaster wrote, “banning all fishing in the northern third of the island chain and creating a sanctuary for sharks. A new port on the mainland will be the exclusive conduit for cargo bound for the islands, the better to keep nonnative animals and plants from reaching the islands and disturbing the ecological balance. The government has also imposed a 36-room limit on new hotels to limit crowds, and is bringing together the management of land and sea areas, which had been overseen separately.”

As fellow instructor Heidi Carr, a former Miami Herald editor who co-directs UM’s Galápagos program and teaches “The Galapagos Islands: Social Media and Global Strategic Communication,” noted, Treaster is a never-ending fount of such information because he never stops collecting it.

“He is continually talking to strangers and asking questions,” Carr wrote in an email from the Galápagos. “Just last night, all we wanted to do was grab dinner and buy water. He ended up interviewing the hostess of the restaurant, getting a tour of the hotel’s $380 rooms, interviewing the owner, and having a very in-depth discussion about the environment, ecology, the Galápagos government, getting permits, and what people who stay there do when they are there.”

While Treaster has had innumerable bylines in The Times over the decades and will have many more—he’ll be returning to the Galápagos next fall to work on a Times travel program called Times Journeys—it was the first time Rodriguez has had a photo published in any newspaper.

“It’s one thing to post a picture to Facebook and receive  a lot of likes,” Rodriguez said, ‘but to have a photo published in a paper like The New York Times that is read by millions really is something else.”

To read Treaster’s story and view more of Rodriguez’s photos, visit The New York Times.

 

Posted in Freeze Frame, Priority: Home Page TeaserComments (0)

Interactive Media Program Ranks in Top 25

Tags:

Interactive Media Program Ranks in Top 25


Special to UM News

InteractiveMediaCORAL GABLES, FLA. (March 17, 2016—University of Miami School of Communication’s Interactive Media Program has earned the No. 23 spot on The Princeton Review‘s just-published list saluting the top 25 graduate schools to study game design for 2016.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2015 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

The company’s 40-question survey asked schools to report on everything from their academic offerings and faculty credentials to their graduates’ starting salaries and employment experience. Among criteria The Princeton Review weighed to make its selections: the school’s academics, facilities, career services, and technology.

“This ranking is a tribute to the quality of our faculty and the innovative curriculum they have built. Graduates from this program are being hired into fantastic positions in great organizations. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment, given how new our program is,” said Gregory J. Shepherd, dean of the School of Communication.

The Interactive Media program aims to prepare a new generation of innovators and leaders in the field of interaction design. Its mission is to explore the use of technology, design, human behavior, and their impact on communication. The multidisciplinary curriculum brings together students from different backgrounds to learn about game design, web design, mobile, data visualization, interaction design, and other emerging technologies. The program trains students to research, prototype, design, and build projects in business, social, academic, and cultural contexts.

“It has long been our mission to help students find – and get into – the schools best for them,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review Senior VP/Publisher. “For students aspiring to work in the burgeoning field of game design, we strongly recommend University of Miami School of Communication’s Interactive Media Program and each of the other schools that made our 2016 lists. These are truly the ‘cream of the crop’ institutions from which to launch a career. Their faculties are outstanding. Their facilities are awesome. And their alumni include legions of the industry’s most prominent game designers, developers, artists, and entrepreneurs.”

The Princeton Review’s full report on this project at www.princetonreview.com/game-design also features a companion list of “Top 50 Undergraduate Schools to Study Game Design for 2016.” It includes profiles of the schools with application information and links to the school sites.

For the fourth consecutive year, The Princeton Review teamed up with PC Gamer, a monthly magazine published by Future plc as its reporting partner on this project. PC Gamer has a feature on the list in its May issue available on newsstands March 29. The feature has information on some of the schools’ unique programs, class offerings, prominent professors, and alumni.

The Princeton Review developed its Top Schools to Study Game Design project in 2009 with assistance from a national advisory board that helped design the survey instrument and methodology. Board members included administrators and faculty from respected game design programs, and professionals from some of the top gaming companies.

The Princeton Review is also known for its annual rankings of colleges, law schools, and business schools in dozens of categories, which it reports on its site, and in its books including The Best 380 CollegesThe Best 295 Business Schools, and The Best 173 Law Schools. The company is not affiliated with Princeton University.

– See more at: http://www.com.miami.edu/news/2016/03/17/university-miami%E2%80%99s-interactive-media-program-named-princeton-review-2016-list-top-25#sthash.hSP97eSn.dpuf

Posted in Honors, News, Priority: Home Page TeaserComments Off

Tags: ,

School of Communication to Host Coral Gables Comedy Festival


ComicCure2CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 16, 2016) — Comic Cure brings the Coral Cables Comedy Festival to the University of Miami campus on Thursday, March 31, when more than 20 local comedians will take the stage at the Bill Cosford Cinema to compete for the title of “fan favorite.” A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Public Relations Experience Program (PREP) in the School of Communication.

“As a UM alumnus, it’s not only rewarding to bring my work back to the very campus that taught me so much, but I feel it’s my responsibility to provide a learning opportunity for students,” explained co-founder Benjamin Leis. “UM and the School of Communication have such amazing programs, organizations, and offerings. We hope to highlight a few that evening.”

Leis has had a special connection with the University of Miami since he stepped foot on campus as a freshman from Philadelphia in August of 2004. He was an active campus leader having pursued a degree in broadcast journalism and political science. After graduation his involvement with the University continued, as a volunteer leader for seven years and as a professional working for the UM Alumni Association for about five years.

In Comic Cure’s special festival format, more than 20 comedians divided between the two shows perform their best material in three-minute sets. At the end of each show, the audience votes for their favorite, choosing which comedian wins the grand prize and bragging rights.

Tickets are available in advance for $20 at CoralGablesComedyFestival.com. Tickets are also available for $30 the night of the show at the Cosford Cinema, 5030 Brunson Drive, Coral Gables, Fla. 33143, as long as seats are available. People 18 and older are welcome with discounted tickets for students. Parking is available for free on campus. Doors open at 6 p.m. with shows at 7 and 9 p.m.

PREP is a faculty-supervised course for students to take their knowledge out of the classroom and into the workplace. PREP is designed to provide students with hands-on experience “doing” their future careers. PREP provides a supervised workforce for special events, non-profits, and sports organizations throughout South Florida.

Comic Cure produces live comedic events showcasing local performers to raise awareness, volunteers, and funds for local charities. Created by Leis and his brother, Richy, in 2015, Comic Cure combines the passions of both brothers while supporting deserving non-profits within the community.

 

Posted in Priority: Home Page More News, UM PresentsComments Off

Tags:

Take This Short Survey to Help Advertising Students


Did you know that UM’s advertising program is the first in the nation to place in the top four out of more than 150 schools in the National Student Advertising Competition four years in a row, with two of those top-four finishes rendering the team national champions? You can help the school’s NSAC team gather the research they need to reach first place again by taking and sharing this quick survey, www.tinyurl.com/miami-nsac.

Posted in NewsComments Off

UM’s Brothers Grim Are Sundance Bound

Tags: ,

UM’s Brothers Grim Are Sundance Bound


By Julia D. Berg
UM News

Boniato4

From left, co-directors Eric Mainade, Andres Meza-Valdes, and Diego Meza-Valdes are headed to the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to screen their horror short.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 13, 2016) – University of Miami School of Communication alumni The Meza Brothers, a.k.a. Andres Meza-Valdes, B.S.C. ’09, and Diego Meza-Valdes, B.S.C. ’09, are headed to the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to showcase Boniato, their 23-minute short horror film featuring migrant workers on a boniato (sweet potato) farm who cross borders into a supernatural world, a metaphor for the murky underground network into which many undocumented workers fall.

This is the Meza Brothers’ eighth short in the horror genre and the first they’ve co-directed with seasoned stuntman/action director Eric Mainade, who came up with the initial story concept.

Excitement was running high in December as news of Boniato’s selection by Sundance—launched by Hollywood legend Robert Redford and held annually in January in Park City, Utah—rippled through Miami’s indie film community.

“All I kept yelling was ‘No! No!,” recounts Andres Meza-Valdes, 31, about the moment he heard the official news by phone from Lucas Leyva of the Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative funded in part by the Knight Foundation to help seed interdisciplinary collaboration and regional filmmaking in Miami.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Meza-Valdes said. “I was with my parents, so they got the scoop firsthand, which is cool because it was nice to share the moment with them. Then, I called my girlfriend. You know, the important people in my life who have contributed for so many years and had to put up with the craziness and stress that come with making an independent film in Miami!”

His co-director and younger brother, Diego, 30, admits he “cried, for real” upon receiving the news. “It’s the coolest thing to happen to our career so far.”

Boniato is one of just eight short films selected for screening January 22-29 in the Midnight Shorts category at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. A total of 72 short films will be screened, selected from 8,712 short film submissions; 123 feature-length films were selected from 12,793 submissions.

The siblings had to wait a few weeks for the official announcement. “It was a bit of torture,” said Andres. “We even thought at any minute one of our friends was going to reveal it was all a big prank. When it became public, it felt like a sigh of relief. We called everyone: the actors (Carmela Zumbado, Felix Cortes, Alex Garay), our DP, ADs, PAs, friends, extended family, haters on the Internet. I even wrote to one of my heroes, [director/producer] Michael Bay. He doesn’t know who I am, but I wanted to tell everyone who inspired and/or helped me out.”

The Boniato project—singled out for awards last year at the Diabolique International Film Festival, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Fright Night Horror Weekend, and Freakshow Film Festivalbenefitted from having an experienced producer, fellow alumnus Cory Czajkowski, B.S.C. ’07, on the team. “Cory is a special dude,” said Andres. “On top of being producer, he works on the sound, and with horror/action this is so important.”

In addition, two UM Frost School of Music jazz alumni, Adam Robl, ’07, and Shawn Sutta, B.M. ’09, composed the music tracks for the film. “These guys are just A-plus talent,” said Andres. “They really helped make the whole movie feel ‘big’ and delivered a production value we could only dream of achieving.”

For those squeamish about watching horror films, Diego suggests the genre is innate in fairy tales. “Our culture has always been fascinated with dipping our toes in fear. So when people say they aren’t fans of horror, I always ask if they’ve seen Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.”

Diego explains that when shooting Boniato, the team was striving to create a plot that is more similar to the European or Asian style, where tension builds more gradually than in typical American horror flicks. “We wanted to create an entertaining horror roller coaster, using socially relevant content, driven by fantasy.” To add to the film’s intrigue, there is purposely very little dialogue during the first five minutes; then all of the dialogue is in Spanish, with English subtitles.

“We like to call it ‘theater in front of the lens,’ ” said Diego. “For Boniato, Eric Mainade brought in his amazing stunt team to perform acrobatic action, high-flying choreography, and horror sequences—but he was also making sure to give the characters true motivations, and making them feel grounded. That way, the audience cares about what they’re watching.”

Mainade came up with the original script concept while driving to a movie shoot on the small ranch he and a fellow stuntman lease amid the massive, commercial fields in southwest Miami-Dade County.

“Day after day, I witness all sorts of surreal moments out in the fields—from barefoot Haitians working in horrid conditions, to little kids working all day in the elements. Every character in this movie was inspired by the countless faces in these very fields,” he said.

The Miami-based Borscht Corp. hooked him up with The Meza Brothers, and the three fleshed out the script, with a production estimate of $14,000. Borscht Corp. provided some initial financing and a few production aides, and introduced them to cinematographer Antal El Hungaro. “Beyond that,” Mainade explains, “it was a family affair, with my wife, Kristina, as the production manager; Diego’s wife, Veronica, in charge of wardrobe; as well as numerous other friends and family doing whatever needed to be done.”

After Sundance, the team plans to adapt Boniato into a feature.

As a youngster, Andres was drawn to exploring the horror genre. Diego was quick to join in his brother’s pursuit. “I’m the classic little brother who tailed after my big brother. My brother and I have been directing films together for so long, it’s almost as if each of us has evolved into the counterpart of the other. He was always including me in his love, so as a brother I am forever grateful for that.”

Andres describes his younger brother as relentless, honest, and giving. “Diego is an editing machine,” Andres said. “He looks at film in a radically different way than me, and I love that. He puts the film together in his head when on set.”

Reflecting on how the School of Communication prepared them for a career in motion pictures, Andres is effusive. “Oh my God—in so many ways. Ed Talavera, Christina Lane, Jeffery Stern, Tom Musca—these professors changed our lives.” Diego has continued his connection to the University and works as a videographer in University Communications.

This is not their first award-winning work, but it is their first time at Sundance.

“We were not expecting this at all,” said Andres. “Horror isn’t the most respected of genres and after making eight shorts we’ve sort of made peace with the fact that a lot of mainstream outlets just aren’t interested in these types of films. On the other hand, the genre also has it’s own ecosystem and community that we love being a part of.”

 

Posted in Features, Honors, News, Priority: Slider Feature ItemComments Off

  • Features
  • Tags
  • Popular
  • Subscribe
  • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
    Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

    You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

UM Facebook

UM Twitter