Journalism Alumnus Publishes “The Era of the Clipper Ships,” a History and Tribute to His Own Ancestry

Donald Gunn Ross III ’93 (Journalism) has had an interest in American maritime history since he first learned he was related to naval officers and ship builders dating back to the 18th century. His new book, “The Era of the Clipper Ships,” pays homage to that heritage through meticulous research and through more sentimental touches — the image used for the cover of the book, for instance, is of a painting that once hung on the wall in Ross’s childhood house.

Clipper ShipThe book is the culminating achievement of a project that began more than 20 years ago. Ross had transferred to SUNY New Paltz after two years at Ulster County Community College. “I’d been around here all my life, so it was a perfectly natural transition,” he said. He worked closely with journalism professor emeritus Robert Miraldi and other professors in the journalism department, but never lost his fascination with American history.

Ross traced his own lineage back to Donald McKay, a shipbuilder who by the mid-19th century had earned a reputation for manufacturing the swiftest clipper ships anyone had ever seen.

“There were other good builders, but his ships were famous for being the fastest,” said Ross, noting that McKay’s ships were among the first that could make the journey around Cape Horn in less than 90 days.

Upon graduation Ross began sporadic work on a book considering McKay’s life and the history of the 19th century American merchant marine, and more than two decades later that labor of love has finally made it to publication.

Competitive Poetry Prize Goes to Digital Media & Journalism Professor

The Americana Institute for American Studies and Creative Writing has announced that Howie Good, professor of digital media & journalism at SUNY New Paltz, has been awarded the 2015 Prize Americana for Poetry. The award is given annually to a previously-unpublished, book-length work of original poetry that treats American culture among its subjects.

Howie Good

Howie Good

Good is recognized for his new collection “Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements,” which as the 2015 Prize Americana winner will be published by The Poetry Press in early 2016. The volume finds Good working in a variety of poetic forms, including free verse and prose poetry.

“I’ve been writing poetry for 12 or so years now, and I think over that time my style has evolved,” Good said. “This new collection includes as many different modes of expressing and emotional vocabulary as I feel capable of.”

Good joined the journalism faculty at New Paltz in 1985, when the program was housed within the English department. In the years since he has been a constant and vital presence as what is now known as the digital media and journalism department developed into one of the most modern and active journalism programs in the SUNY system.

Outside the classroom, Good has been a prolific writer. Much of his work in prose deals with topics related to journalism and media ethics, though he has also published on film and the local politics of education.

Good first published a collection of poetry in 2004, and to date he has come out with more than ten. His most recent release is “Dark Specks in the Blue Sky,” out this summer from Another New Calligraphy.

He explained that the gap between his scholarship and his poetic writing is not as wide as it may seem to some of his students, colleagues and readers.

“There’s a long tradition of frequent and, in my opinion, productive interchange between literature and journalism,” Good said. “I teach one class called ‘Literature of Journalism,’ in which I can take a more literary approach to journalistic writing. In other courses, writers who are concerned with conveying information may be presented as distinct from those concerned with storytelling, but in practice these sorts of boundaries are much more porous. Moving back and forth between scholarly and journalistic writing and literary writing seems natural, and I tend to think one enriches the other.”

Good collects web links to some of his recent work on his blog, Apocalypse Mambo.

A Study of Unrequited Love: Assistant Professor of Journalism Discusses Research on Academic Minute

Lisa Phillips

Lisa A. Phillips

Lisa A. Phillips,  assistant professor of journalism, was featured on the nationally syndicated educational radio program “The Academic Minute,” on June 12.

In her audio essay, Philips, who is the author of “Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession,” speaks about the effect unrequited love has on inspiration.

“’Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all.’ This quote is often used to soothe people whose hearts have been broken,” said Phillips. “But we don’t always know what it means. In my interviews with people who have gone through romantic rejection and my research into the history, psychology, and science of unrequited love, I found that Alfred Lord Tennyson’s sentiment can hold true, particularly for creative people.”

In “Unrequited” Phillips supplements her own story with extensive social science research. Also included are accounts of other women who have been in obsessive love and the people who have been its target, accounts culled from deeply personal interviews gathered over the course of six years writing this book.

“What I want to do is help people going through this type of experience feel less alone, and help them see plainly the nature of what they are doing — when they are crossing a line, and when they can turn the energy of that obsession in another way, to help them benefit themselves,” Phillips explains.

The act of sharing these stories is confessional, says Phillips, “but I think it’s also a service. People have reached out to me and told me, ‘Your story gave me hope.’ That was powerful.”

A former public radio journalist, Phillips is also the author of “Public Radio: Behind the Voices.” She’s written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and many other national publications.

To listen to Phillips’ Academic Minute or read a transcript, visit

About “The Academic Minute
“The Academic Minute” is an educationally focused radio segment produced by WAMC in Albany, N.Y., a National Public Radio member station. The show features an array of faculty from colleges and universities across the country to discuss the unique, high-impact aspects of their research. The program airs every weekday and is run multiple times during the day on about 50 different member stations across the National Public Radio spectrum. For more information, visit

24 Inducted in Lambda Pi Eta National Honor Society

On Tuesday, May 12, 24 juniors and seniors majoring in communication-related fields were inducted into the Lambda Pi Eta National Honor Society at a ceremony in the College Terrace.  While the national Lambda Pi Eta criteria are a 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.25 major GPA, The SUNY New Paltz Chapter requires higher standards of an overall 3.25 GPA and a 3.5 major GPA, as well as junior or senior standing in a communication-related field.

Com Honor Society inducteesThis year’s inductees were: Andrew David Abbott, Anisa Ahdieh Arcos-Pangione, Payal Batra, Alexandria Bizub, Nyah Lee Del Carmen Bonilla, Christine M Borella, Gianna Elizabeth Canevari. Jill M Cronin, Emily Jean DeFranco, Alexa Mara Gold, Anne Eileen Jacobs, April M Lopez del Castillo, Nicholas Magnanti, Daniel Joseph Motto, Casey Marie Nardone, Annamaria Palumbo, Jesse M Pilnik, Ashley Elizabeth Riefenhauser, Amanda Rose Ruschak, Stephanie Anna Ryba, Paige Ashley Schindler, Sara Huq Shameem, Rebecca Zedeck and Nicole A Zuyus.

Approximately 100 people attended the ceremony, including family members, friends, faculty and 2014 Lambda Pi Eta inductees.  All enjoyed the intimate induction ceremony, buffet dinner, and congratulatory cake.  The event was organized by Donna Flayhan, associate professor of communication and the honor society’s faculty adviser. 2014 Lambda Pi Eta inductees Zameena Mejia and April Polydorou led the ceremony.

Lambda Pi Eta inductees Stephanie Black, Nick Magnotti, and Stephanie Ryba will lead the campus chapter next year.


Professor of Journalism Releases New Book on Love and Obsession

Drawing on elements of memoir as well as her own reporting and research, Assistant Lisa PhillipsProfessor of Journalism Lisa A. Phillips’ latest book, “Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession,” examines the perils and power of obsessive love in women’s lives.

“What I want to do is help people going through this type of experience feel less alone, and help them see plainly the nature of what they are doing — when they are crossing a line, and when they can turn the energy of that obsession in another way, to help them benefit themselves,” Phillips explains.

Phillips’ interest in this subject is rooted in her own experience falling in love with a man who did not reciprocate her feelings. She first opened up about the experience in a widely-read column that appeared in the New York Times on Dec. 3, 2006.

In “Unrequited” Phillips supplements her own story with extensive social science research. UnrequitedAlso included are accounts of other women who have been in obsessive love and the people who have been its target, accounts culled from deeply personal interviews gathered over the course of six years writing this book.

“Those conversations tended to be really long and intense,” Phillips says. “We gave each other a lot of support.”

The unflinching honesty of the author and her interviewees drives the book’s ultimate message of understanding. The act of sharing these stories is confessional, says Phillips, “but I think it’s also a service. People have reached out to me and told me, ‘Your story gave me hope.’ That was powerful.”

Phillips will give a reading of “Unrequited” on campus at the Honors Center in College Hall on Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Phillips has taught at the College since 2003. She previously worked for 12 years as a public radio journalist, contributing stories to a number of outlets including NPR. She is the author of “Public Radio: Behind the Voices,” a book profiling the most listened-to voices in public radio.

For more information on Phillips and her work, visit

LA&S Outstanding Graduates Honored

Students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who excelled academically and outside of the classroom were among graduates honored during the campus-wide Outstanding Graduate Awards ceremony, held Thursday, Dec. 11 in the Multi-Purpose Room.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Philip Mauceri presented the students with certificates.

Congratulations to all LA&S Outstanding Graduates:

Alexis Moody

Asian Studies
Dennis Gross

Mia Faske
Carly Rome
Hayley Ward

Communication Disorders
Sarah McNamara
Shayna Burgess
Heidi Schmidt (Graduate)

Digital Media and Journalism
Gianna Canevari
Julio Olivencia
Alexandria Fontanez*

Maya Slouka
James Frauenberger
Karissa Keir
Danielle Brown (Graduate)

Kevin Vogelaar
Jessica Pierorazio (Graduate)
Jonathan Mandia*

Languages, Literatures & Cultures
Alexandria Fontanez*
Sarah Walling

Latin American & Caribbean Studies
Adam Repose

Elizabeth Saunders
Jonathan Mandia*

Political Science/International Relations
Andrew Roepe

Hannah Lake
Stefany Batista
Geoffrey Ralls
Morgan Gleason (Graduate)

Sarah Alestalo
Imuetinyan Odigie
Allison Smalley

Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Sudies
Emily Holmes

*Received multiple departmental awards.

Dylan, Bowie and Beyond: An Evening with D.A. Pennebaker

D.A. Pennebaker

D.A. Pennebaker

By Despina Williams Parker

Legendary documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker stood to deliver a talk in Lecture Center 100 on the evening of Oct. 29, following a video retrospective of career milestones such as Don’t Look Back, Crisis and The War Room.

He’d not prepared any comments or seemed to have given much thought to what he might tell the assemblage of digital media faculty, aspiring young filmmakers and fans of his acclaimed documentaries. Pennebaker turned to Lecturer Thomas Cznarty, who delivered his introduction, and asked what, exactly, he was supposed to say.

Later, Pennebaker would call the meticulous planning and scripting of ideas a “yellow pad process,” one that he has never embraced in his art or life.

“I never plan anything, because it would be like planning a love affair,” Pennebaker said. “What would you plan? Everything is a new and wonderful thing that attracts you and comes to you. The idea of planning it negates the whole idea.”

In a fascinating lecture about technology, the power of chance and working without a script, Pennebaker said he was drawn to documentary filmmaking as an art form because it most faithfully realizes the camera’s true potential as an instrument of discovery.

“You tend to go into it to see what will happen, not necessarily to create legends,” Pennebaker said. “You want to use your camera as a way of finding out something that interests you, and as long as it interests you, you keep going.”

Don't Look Back Monterey Pop The War Room

His interest in musicians, which Pennebaker attributed to his boyhood in Chicago – a city “bursting with music” – led him to film some of the most iconic performers of the 60s and 70s.

Pennebaker’s seminal film, Don’t Look Back (1967), which documents Bob Dylan’s last acoustic tour, came about by chance, when Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman invited him to film the artist in England.

Such fortuitous events are a hallmark of Pennebaker’s career, which spans six decades. Pennebaker never searched for cultural icons; they came to him.

“They just barge right into our lives,” he said.

Before filming Don’t Look Back, Pennebaker had only heard one Dylan song on the radio and read an unflattering Time magazine profile, which called him a mediocre folk artist.

Pennebaker said he had not set out to make a music film, but a documentary “about a person who might be a poet.” Dylan’s signature turns of phrase captivated Pennebaker, who said the singer was “able to say things in a kind of condensed way, which great poets do.”

In filming Dylan, Pennebaker said he knew that the singer “was going to spend his life trying to figure out who or what he is, and he’s going to do that through his music.”

Pennebaker’s next film, Monterey Pop, a recording of the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, captured iconic performances by emerging rock legends Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

In the early 1960s, Pennebaker and colleague Richard Leacock developed a portable camera and synchronized sound recording system that gave unprecedented access to musicians on stage, and revolutionized concert filmmaking.

Pennebaker said he arrived at the festival with five volunteer cameramen shooting with the “homemade cameras” that he worried would malfunction at any moment. Though he would not see the footage until he returned to New York, Pennebaker realized that he was witnessing musical history.

Pennebaker recalled making the decision to send two of his least experienced cameramen to film Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, after rationalizing that “no one here listens to Indian music.” Shankar’s performance would wow concert goers and become one of the film’s highlights.

“When I see the film it amazes me,” Pennebaker said. “You watch two guys learn how to be filmmakers in front of your eyes.”

In his concert films, Pennebaker had a knack for being at the right place at the right time.

In 1973, RCA Records commissioned Pennebaker to shoot promotional footage of David Bowie performing as the androgynous alien rock star, Ziggy Stardust. During the concert, Bowie made the announcement that it would be his last performance as the Ziggy Stardust character – which shocked the band as well as the audience.

“Everything about it was a surprise, but the biggest surprise was when he sang, the whole audience would do back-up,” Pennebaker recalled. “It was such an amazing sound. It was like hearing gospel; it had a religious quality to it.”

Pennebaker knew that he had captured something special, and spent the next month working with Bowie to mix the tracks.

“He was terrific. He wanted that film to be good,” Pennebaker said. The film, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, was released in 1973.

Beyond his classic concert films, Pennebaker provided an insider’s look into Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in the Oscar-nominated The War Room (1994) and most recently, profiled dueling chefs competing in a prestigious French pastry competition in the documentary Kings of Pastry (2009). He co-directed both films with his wife and longtime collaborator, Chris Hegedus.

Much like most of the great films of Pennebaker’s career, Hegedus came knocking at his door. Hegedus arrived at Pennebaker’s studio 45 years ago at a time when Pennebaker was on the edge of bankruptcy. The synch-sound, cinéma vérité style Pennebaker had made famous interested her, and Pennebaker knew he’d found much more than a professional collaborator.

“I knew right away when she came in that she understood everything I was trying to do. I knew that we’d be partners in a real sense,” he said.

In meeting Hegedus, Pennebaker said he became “religious overnight.”

“I thought, ‘Someone is watching over me,’” he recalled.

Pennebaker’s life is a testament to his ability to recognize a good thing when he sees it, and to make art out of all the happy accidents along the way.

To the young filmmakers in the audience, he offered a parting wish: “That you have as good a time doing it as I did.”


College Names Next Visiting Ottaway Professor

1306 Alissa Quart

Alissa Quart

Author and multimedia narrative journalist  will join the New Paltz faculty in spring 2015 as this year’s James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professor of Journalism. She will teach an upper-level journalism seminar called “Narrative Nonfiction in the Digital Age.”

Quart is the author of three critically acclaimed non-fiction books: “Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers, and Rebels;” “Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers” and “Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child.” Her books have been published in 14 languages.

She is currently co-editor of Economic Hardship Reporting Project with Barbara Ehrenreich, a non-profit devoted to developing and supporting journalism about inequality. Her current multimedia project, “The End of the Middle,” is about America’s struggling middle class and is supported by the Magnum Foundation. Her first book of poetry, “Monetized,” will be published this year by Miami University Press.

Quart has written for The New York Times Sunday Review, The Atlantic, The Times Magazine, Elle, The Nation, London Review of Books (New York) and many other publications. In addition, she served as a contributing writer/editor at Columbia Journalism Review and Mother Jones, and was formerly a senior editor of the multimedia e-book publisher The Atavist. The transmedia work she co-conceived, wrote and produced for The Atavist, “The Last Clinic,” was nominated for an Emmy and a National Magazine Award in 2014.

Quart previously taught at the Columbia University School of Journalism and was a 2010 Nieman fellow at Harvard University.

About the James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship
The James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship, SUNY New Paltz’s only endowed professorship, is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., now the Dow Jones Local Media Group, which operates print and online community media franchises in seven states. The flagship newspaper of the chain is the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y.

Thirteen well-known journalists have preceded Quart as Ottaway professors. Four have been Pulitzer Prize winners, including Renée C. Byer, a photographer for The Sacramento Bee; former New York Times investigative reporter and columnist Sydney Schanberg; Bernard Stein, an editorial writer with The Riverdale Press; and John Darnton, a former Times foreign correspondent.

Other past Ottaway professors were science journalist and author Sonia Shah; NPR Foreign Correspondent Deborah Amos; New York Times investigative reporter Andrew Lehren; award-winning broadcast journalist and media consultant John Larson; Ann Cooper, a former public radio reporter who headed the Committee to Protect Journalists; Byron E. Calame, a longtime Wall Street Journal editor and reporter who has served as  The New York Times’ public editor; Roger Kahn, the author of 20 books and one of America’s foremost literary journalists; Trudy Lieberman, one of America’s best consumer reporters; and Martin Gottlieb, the global edition editor of The New York Times.

Professor Releases New Book, Proceeds Benefit Local Food Bank


Howard Good

Howard Good’s collection of poems titled “Fugitive Pieces” is his latest book in a string of nearly two-dozen publications written over his more than 20-year career as a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz.

While all of his books are special, this one, in particular, said Good, is near and dear to his heart as all proceeds from the book will go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.

“Although there are many charitable causes worthy of support, it wasn’t a hard decision to support the Food Bank,” said Good, who noted that he, and his wife, Barbara, have contributed to it for a number of years now.

He adds, “Giving the proceeds from the book to the Food Bank is another way of making my writing relevant. Being a writer means being kind of self-involved, but that doesn’t mean writing itself has to be.”

In this collection, Good’s poems are collages sourced from various ordinary texts as well as his own imagination. Images from large historic events to those from our public and private lives create stories that leave readers hungry for resolution.

“Sometimes the reader is rewarded with rich and multivalent conclusions, sometimes frustrated by the author’s refusal to resolve completely the disjunctions created within the poems,” says fellow poet Eric Burke. “In all cases, the reader is compelled by these marvelous poems to engage with the painful difficulties of the shared reality in which we live.”

Good holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in American culture from the University of Michigan; a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa; and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Bard College.

“Fugitive Pieces,” which costs $15, is available now at

Russian Documentarian to Screen Short Films on Oct. 30

The Media and Journalism Society student organization presents “Babylon 13,” to be held in the Lecture Center room 102 on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

The guest speaker, filmmaker Yuri Gruzinov, is a Russian native who left Russia to live in Ukraine as a young adult. On January 22, 2014, Yuri was wounded with three bullets while recording the Hrushevs’kogo Street, Kyiv clashes. Upon recovery, on March 16, 2014, Yuriy and his crew were captured while filming a documentary about the Crimean referendum and were held by the separatists in Simferopol, Crimea, for six days. In September of 2014, he was filming in Donbas near the town of Debalcevo, on the very front lines of the war.

The screenings will include short movies about Maidan, the Crimean invasion by Russia and war in Eastern Ukraine. The movies are exclusive and only partially are available for view on the official Babylon ’13 YouTube channel. Screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with Yuri.

The screening is free and open to the public.
View the event Facebook page.