From New York City to Buffalo

Four alumni who participated in the Newhouse NYC program trace their broadcast journalism careers back to experiences made in Manhattan.

Each year, WKBW-TV in Buffalo hires four new journalists as part of the Journalism Career Program (JCP), which is a partnership between the E.W. Scripps Company and the Newhouse School. Each journalist receives a yearlong, full-time job, plus living expenses. At the completion of the program, journalists can sign another contract with WKBW-TV if positions are available, or choose to move on to another company. It’s a unique program that helps recent graduates jumpstart their broadcast careers.

I spoke with four broadcast and digital journalism alumni who participated in the Newhouse NYC and JCP programs, and who can trace their career paths from New York City to Buffalo.

Jeff Slawson

Jeff Slawson ’17
Multimedia journalist at WKBW-TV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

During the Newhouse NYC program, I loved interning at “MSNBC Live with Kate Snow.” I learned I wanted to become a reporter, and it opened my eyes to what I could do with the news. I wound up interning with WPIX that summer, so I can definitely say the Newhouse NYC program was one of the best experiences of my college career. After graduation, I applied to almost two dozen job positions before accepting a spot in the JCP program in 2017. Luckily, after the JCP program ended, they offered me a contract with WKBW-TV, where I have spent the last four years as a film reporter and part-time TV anchor, mostly covering city planning and development.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

As an intern, ask as many questions as you can, but never say you know the answer, even if you do. The way somebody explains an answer may give you a different outcome than you expect, so always be listening and inquisitive. When applying for jobs, you cannot let the rejections get to you. You have to learn from the experience and have confidence that you will find the right job.

Nikki DiMentri

Note: DeMentri recently moved to Indianapolis where she works as a multimedia journalist/reporter for WKBW’s sister station, WRTV

Nikki DeMentri ’18
Multimedia journalist/reporter at WRTV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

I met Newhouse NYC director Cheryl Brody Franklin [at an event at the Fisher Center], and I knew immediately I wanted to do the Newhouse NYC program before I even set foot on the main campus. I eventually did the program in the fall of my senior year and interned at NBC News in the Specials Unit. One of my favorite internship experiences was helping with the pre-shoots for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller Center tree lighting because I always watched them growing up. After graduating from Syracuse, I spoke with [alumnus] Jeff Slawson, who raved about his experience in the JCP Program. As a result, I joined the JCP program in 2018, where I currently work as a nightside reporter and occasionally fill in as a morning live reporter.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

Research the position and company’s market, reputation, and scope before your interview. By having that background knowledge, you can share how your strengths align with that company. You never want to apply for a job and have them call you for an interview, only for you not to know what they do.

Taylor Epps

Taylor Epps ’19
Multimedia journalist at WKBW-TV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

Newhouse NYC was my favorite college semester and helped me transition from college student to working professional. Although I never thought I would do morning news, I interned as an anchor for “CBS This Morning: Saturday,” where I worked on several live segments. I always felt bad for those who had to wake up at 2 a.m., but several months ago, I started a morning news job here in Buffalo, where I am waking up at 3 a.m. Thankfully, my internship prepared and taught me the beauty of morning news. I applied to the JCP program in 2019 after hearing fellow NYC alumna Nikki DeMentri’s experiences from Cheryl Brody Franklin. I accepted their offer and was brought on as a multimedia journalist, and I cover various ‘feel-good’ stories within the Buffalo community.

Note: Taylor interned at WNEP-TV the summer after completing the Newhouse NYC program.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

Always pick people’s brains and try to learn something from them. Try to learn about their path, how they got to their current position, and always keep in touch with them. You will end up applying to so many different jobs, those connections can help you along the way.

Jeddy Johnson

Jessica “Jeddy” Johnson ’19
Digital Multimedia journalist at WKBW-TV

Describe your Newhouse NYC experience and the path to your current role.

I did the Newhouse NYC program the fall of my junior year, and I interned at the “Today” show, where we had rotating shifts. Some days I would conduct research, which is a critical—and often overlooked—skill in journalism. On other days, I was down at the plaza at 6 a.m., talking to as many people as possible and practicing my hospitality and relationship-building skills. Once I graduated from Syracuse, I joined the JCP program’s 2019 class along with Taylor Epps. I currently work as a digital multimedia journalist at WKBW and write feature stories.  

Note: After finishing the Newhouse NYC program, Jeddy interned at Bloomberg and News Channel 9 WYSR.

What is your advice to interns and recent graduates?

Treat the job search process like picking a college: cast a wide net and see what opportunities lie ahead. But don’t seek companies just because of their reputation. Look for companies and jobs that appeal to you and will enhance your professional skills. I know the job market is shrinking with the pandemic right now, and many industries are evolving, but everything is a blessing in disguise.

Alex Safaya is a junior dual major studying public relations at the Newhouse School and marketing at Whitman. This semester, he is participating in the Newhouse NYC program and interning remotely with the Krupp Group.