Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism

Covering Entertainment in the Digital Age

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   (760) 778-4542
Julie Albertson is the online entertainment and niche products editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, CA, which serves the nine cities and unincorporated communities of the Coachella Valley, east of Los Angeles. Her responsibilities include leading online coverage of local entertainment events, developing and producing entertainment, recreational and tourism content and managing the website’s performance. Before joining The Desert Sun in 2003, Albertson worked as senior entertainment producer and lead web designer for the Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution. Albertson received her B.A. in print journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and also did graduate work at Clemson University.

   (303) 820-1394
Ricardo Baca is the lead pop music critic for The Denver (CO) Post, covering people, trends and songs that define the audience’s popular and indie music experiences. Baca assumed his current role after working as entertainment general assignment reporter for the newspaper. Before joining The Denver Post in 2002, Baca was pop culture writer and TV critic for the Corpus Christi (TX) Caller Times. Baca received his B.A. in journalism and theater from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

   (215) 789-6047
Gina Bittner has been national entertainment producer and senior producer for Knight Ridder Digital since 2001, working out of offices in Philadelphia, PA, where she began as Entertainment Channel Manager for Philly.com (a division of Knight Ridder Digital) in 2000. In her current position, Bittner works daily with entertainment and senior producers across the company’s shared markets. Her responsibilities include identifying and developing entertainment features and new entertainment-related content strategies that benefit a network of 28 websites. Bittner started her career at Philadelphia City Paper, spending four years there as assistant editor to join Microsoft Sidewalk in 1997 as executive producer. She also spent a year as senior producer for washingtonpost.com before joining Knight Ridder Digital. She received her B.A. in radio-television-film from the School of Communications at Temple University. She also has done course work as an exchange student at the University of Swansea in Wales.

   (805) 655-1765
Allison Bruce recently joined The Ventura County (CA) Star as a business reporter after working five years for The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier. As education reporter for The Post and Courier, Bruce won an award from the South Carolina Press Association for a series of articles on Y2K and series on English instruction for speakers of other languages. Her other experience includes reporting for The Rock Hill (SC) Herald. Bruce’s professional education has included training through the Education Writers Association, the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, the National Writers’ Workshop and the American Press Institute. She received her B.A. in Journalism and MBA from the University of Georgia.

   (313) 222-8854
Kelley Carter is an arts and entertainment reporter and columnist for The Detroit (MI) Free Press where she has worked since 1998 covering everything from the local and national music scene to electronic games to personality profiles. Her previous professional experience includes The (Minneapolis, MN) Star Tribune, The St. Petersburg (FL) Times and The (Flint, MI) Journal. She also is actively involved in the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and previously received a Poynter Institute Scholarship for Excellence in Journalism. She also held a six-week fellowship from The Detroit Free Press to Michigan State University where she taught a mini course in popular culture and entertainment. She earned her B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.

   (510) 652-9378
Vera Chan is a freelance columnist, writer and editor based in Oakland, CA, specializing in popular culture, trend-spotting and transcultural features reporting. She has contributed to Asian Pop, the culture beat for SFGate.com, which is the online division of The (San Francisco, CA) Chronicle, as well as for the San Jose Mercury News, Diablo and San Francisco Business Times. Previously, Chan served as events editor and feature reporter for the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, CA, where she generated trend and analytical stories beyond daily coverage. Chan also served as Executive Leadership Program Coordinator for the Asian American Journalists Association in San Francisco, which named her “Member of the Year” in 2003. She was an American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors fellow in 2000 and shared a team project award in 2000 from the South Asian Journalists Association for a series on local Indian arts and entertainment. Chan received her B.A. in mass communications and masters in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.

   (540) 777-6474
Thomas "Tad" Dickens was named online editor of The Roanoke (VA) Times last fall after having spent four years as the courthouse reporter for the newspaper. He was instrumental in the launch of podcasting by the website and also writes two of the website’s popular features: “Web fix,” a column about oddball websites, and “Your Top 10,” a local favorites page. Dickens has been with The Times since mid-1999. Awards include the Virginia Press Association-Virginia Trial Lawyers Association award for Excellence in Journalism in 2004. He also is a member of the Committee for Concerned Journalists. Dickens graduated with a B.A. in journalism from East Tennessee State University.

   (213) 346-3125
Gary Gentile has been business writer for The Associated Press based in Los Angeles, CA, since 2000, focusing on the impact of rapid advances in technology on how consumers view and use all forms of entertainment and how companies produce that entertainment. Before joining AP, Gentile was business editor for Fox News Online’s now defunct www.foxmarketwire.com. His 20 years as a journalist have included working for the Financial Planning Magazine, The Hartford (CT) Courant and The Record-Journal in Meridian, CT. He received several awards from the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and is a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers as well as the Los Angeles Press Club. Gentile attended Fairfield University.

   (619) 293-2040
James Hebert is an arts and lifestyle writer for the San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune who specializes in coverage of pop-culture trends, digital entertainment and new media for the newspaper’s Currents section and the Sunday Arts section, as well as the Night & Day entertainment weekly. Hebert joined the Union-Tribune in 1990 as a staff writer and copy editor for the features section. He has received multiple awards in arts writing, criticism and other categories from the San Diego Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Best of the West and Copley “Ring of Truth” competitions. He earned his B.A. in broadcast-film and psychology from San Diego State University and his M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

   (801) 257-8607
Vincent Horiuchi is a television writer for the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, UT, where he has worked since 1987, covering the evolution of entertainment and, earlier, technology for the paper. He has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and The Associated Press for his work. He is a graduate of the University of Utah.

   (704) 358-5047
Tonya Jameson has been pop culture columnist for The Charlotte (NC) Observer since 2003 and was the The Observer’s pop music critic for four years before moving into her current position. Jameson started her career at the paper in 1994 as a police and courts reporter. In all of her beats, she says she “looked for ways to include the underrepresented perspectives in the paper,” something that is more challenging in the digital age. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and was a Knight Ridder Fellow in 1997 and a 1993 Chips Quinn Scholar. She also attended the Knight Center at the University of Maryland seminar on “Covering Youth Culture: Getting Beyond the Fads” in 2004. Jameson earned her B.A. in communications from the University of Alabama and a Master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland.

   (415) 362-4701
Jonathan Kiefer is a San Francisco-based freelance arts and culture writer whose work includes an online film column for Maisonneuve Magazine in Montreal, Canada, where he is also a contributing editor. In addition, Kiefer is a contributing writer and columnist for San Francisco Magazine and visual arts columnist for East Bay Monthly in Emeryville, CA. He also has contributed to Salon.com, The Republic Online, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. Previously he worked as a staff writer for Newport This Week in Newport, RI. He also is the author of a nonfiction book about San Francisco cinema to be published by City Lights Books in 2006. He received his B.S. in film from the College of Communication at Boston University.

   (410) 332-6291
Stephen Kiehl is currently popular culture writer for The Baltimore (MD) Sun, a position he moved into after covering state transportation issues and suburban education for the newspaper. While at The Sun, Kiehl received the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Front Page Award in 2004 for local news reporting for coverage of a boat capsizing and was a member of the reporting team named finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for coverage of the DC-area sniper attacks. Before joining The Sun in 2001, Kiehl was a reporter for The Palm Beach (FL) Post. Other professional education includes a week-long computer-assisted reporting boot camp at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 2001 and the National Writers Workshop, also in 2001. Kiehl received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University.

   (713) 220-2773
Pamela Mitchell has been the online entertainment editor for chron.com, The Houston (TX) Chronicle’s website, since 2001, where she supervises the development of new content features. In addition, she covers entertainment news, including live online coverage of the Grammy and Oscar awards and the Super Bowl. Mitchell personally wrote and posted the story of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe “malfunction,” putting the item at the top of the Google searches for the event that night and making her a finalist in the Online Journalism Association Awards in 2005. Other awards include the Jesse Award (from The Chronicle) for Online Coverage/Features and three Lone Star awards from the Houston Press Club in 2003 and 2004 for Internet Features. Before joining The Chronicle in 1998 as assistant entertainment editor, Mitchell spent four years in various features and entertainment positions at The Hartford (CT) Courant. Mitchell earned her undergraduate degree in English with a journalism minor from Central Connecticut State University.

   (813) 259-7919
Richard Mullins covers technology for the business section of The Tampa (FL) Tribune, a position he took over in January after six years as a business reporter for The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY. His beat focuses on major Tampa Bay companies, including HSN and Nielsen Media Research. Mullins also contributes to The Tribune’s broadcast and online partners. His professional education includes the 2000 National Writers Workshop in Hartford, CT. He earned his B.A. at the College of Wooster (OH) and a masters degree from Northwestern University.

   (206) 448-8095
Dorothy Parvaz is a general assignment pop and subculture reporter in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Life and Arts Department, where her job “is to find stories that no one else knows about.” She has also worked for The Seattle Times, The Arizona (Phoenix) Republic and Asahi Evening News in Japan. She is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association and her professional education includes a 2003 fellowship from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. She received her B.A. form the University of British Columbia and her graduate degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

   (314) 340-8136
Gail Pennington has been television critic for the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch since 1994, writing reviews, features and news stories about “everything television-related.” She joined The Post-Dispatch in 1974 as a copy editor and worked in various positions before being named TV critic. In 2004, she was finalist for the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards and won the Alan J. Merritt Award for excellence in copy editing. Pennington also is an active member of the Television Critics Association. She earned her bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

   (212) 275-7820
Jennifer Styles is an assignment editor for CNN, based in New York City, who covers stories throughout the northeastern U.S. for CNN and CNN.com. She field produces segments for general news as well as CNN entertainment, and plans logistics of breaking news coverage for producers and photojournalists in the New York bureau. Styles joined CNN in 1999, and was the CNNmost recently CNN’s assignment editor in Atlanta before moving to the New York assignment desk. Styles received her Bachelor of Arts and Science degree from Michigan State University College of Journalism.

   (602) 444-8749
Stacy Sullivan recently became assistant arts and entertainment editor for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, AZ, after working three years on the newspaper’s metro desk. His assignment is to increase coverage of technology trends in the arts and entertainment world. Before coming to The Republic, Sullivan served as database editor, then features editor for the Pensacola (FL) News Journal and spent 10 years as politics and government reporter/editor for The (Shreveport, LA) Times. All three newspapers are owned by the Gannett Co. Inc., which recognized Sullivan’s work in 2004 with a Best of Gannett second place for investigative reporting and named him Newsroom Supervisor of the Year in 1998. His professional education has included numerous in-house training sessions as well as computer-assisted reporting by NICAR. Sullivan is active in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, where he served as a board member from 2002-2004 and participated in leadership training. He received his B.A. in journalism from the University of Louisiana.

   (415) 503-3164
Laura Sydell covers digital entertainment technologies as an arts reporter for National Public Radio, where she has worked since 2002. She is based in San Francisco, a major center of technological innovation, and covers the people who are “shaping the future of entertainment and media” for the NPR audience. Previously Sydell was senior technology reporter for Marketplace Radio. Sydell also served as a teaching fellow and lecturer from 1999-2002 at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career from The Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, Women in Communication, Inc., the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the New York Press Club, the National Women’s Political Caucus, American Women in Radio and Television and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Her professional education has included a fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University in 1998-1999. Sydell received her undergraduate degree in Russian cultural history from William Smith College and a law degree from Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University in New York City.

   (302) 324-2875
Kimberly Walker is assistant features editor for The News Journal in Wilmington, DE, where, as part of a three-person features management team, she oversees the newspaper’s weekend entertainment, the Sunday arts and leisure section and the daily entertainment coverage. Her assignment is to increase readership of her sections among young adults in their 20s and 30s. Before joining The News Journal in 1998, Walker worked for The Daily Item in Sunbury, PA. Her professional education includes an American Press Institute seminar for Lifestyle editors in 2004. Walker earned her B.A. from the University of Delaware.

   (212) 456-0316
Buck Wolf has been the entertainment producer for ABCNEWS.com since 2000, where he is the lead reporter for one of the largest Internet news sites for daily coverage of entertainment related events and trends. He also has written a weekly column, “The Wolf Files” for ABCNEWS.com for more than seven years, featuring humorous looks at the fringes of pop culture. In addition, Wolf is a regular guest on the ABC Radio Network as an expert on entertainment and pop culture. Before joining ABCNEWS.com in 1997, Wolf spent two years writing and developing content for Court TV’s network online services. His professional education has included various in-house seminars, as well as Investigative Reporters and Editors conventions. Wolf earned his B.A. from State University of New York at Buffalo and both a master of science in journalism and master of arts in international affairs from Columbia University.

   (408) 920-5384
Todd Woody is deputy business editor for The San Jose (CA) Mercury News, where he helps set the agenda for the newspaper’s business and technology coverage in the heart of Silicon Valley where trends in multimedia, wireless and entertainment technology are franchise topics. Woody also supervises the newspaper’s reporters responsible for digital entertainment technology and legal issues and video and computer gaming. Woody has won numerous top awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Associated Press News Executives Council. He also is a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He received his B.A. degree in politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in journalism form Columbia University

What fellows have to say about past seminars:
"Vikki was a knowledgeable and extremely accessible source. Her interaction with the fellows added a great deal to the success of the program. She has ensured that we will bring new insights back to our newsrooms... This seminar rivals any executive meeting or conference I've ever attended. From the bios to the seating arrangements - well done. The seminar made it very clear that these huge demographic shifts are not a separate subject matter but affect every other beat."
- Adrienne Sanders, San Francisco Examiner
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