How I used engagement methods to serve caregivers of people with autism in Newmark’s Social Journalism program at the City University of New York

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I’m Ariam (pn: Ah-ree-ahm) and I spent the past year-and-a-half using my journalism education and background, advocacy work, and interpersonal skills to support the emotional and informational needs of caregivers of people with autism and other disabilities. I worked with a diverse group of families who are intimately impacted by the autism spectrum disorder and over time, I understood that people in this community are resilient, compassionate and loving.

Forty-two percent of adults who care…


Realizing the power of empowering people who care for others to care for themselves through a mindfulness practice called meditation has been the greatest discovery of my final semester in the Social Journalism program at The Newmark’s J-School at CUNY.

In mid-October, I connected with a group of parent caregivers and a self-advocate during a Bronx Family Advisory Support Group meeting in the Bronx and introduced myself and my mission for people like them. First I told them that I am also a caregiver and understand the challengings of providing consistent, round-the-clock support for another human being. Then I…


For Black Families Who Suspect Their Child May Have Autism, Stigma May Be the Biggest Hurdle in Receiving a Diagnosis

Leah Seyoum who runs Reach DFW Families and Beyond, a private Facebook group for families caring for individuals with autism in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area in Texas, remembers a request from a mother in California who did not want to disclose her child’s disability.

The administrator and mother of two boys on the spectrum posed the question of whether the parent should be accepted to other families in the group. …


Forty-two percent of adults who care for at least one person said they want information about managing their own stress according to a 2015 report by AARP’s “Caregiving in the U.S.” This statistic represents people in all caregiving roles including those who care for the aging population; however, my practicum in the Social Journalism program at the Newmark Journalism School at CUNY focuses on a different subgroup within the caregiving experience. …


Health data reveals lack of access to services for the autism population in Queens

When Jasmine Ferrer sits down with a care coordinator to discuss potential services for her adult brother who is on the autism spectrum, she leaves the conversation with more questions than answers. “It’s frustrating trying to navigate the system,” she says. “Services don’t always fit my brother’s personality or his interests.” Ferrer’s family lives in Jamaica, Queens. The neighborhood falls in the borough’s 12th Community Board district, which has an estimated quarter of a million residents. Ferrer’s brother, who is in the process of receiving Medicaid, has not had occupational therapy for the past two years.

According to data released…


A dynamic group of journalists who listen and engage with communities. They offer empathy. They question everything. They’re truth tellers.

By Ariam Alula, ‘19

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Students in the Social Journalism program monitored and verified user-generated content across various states during the ProPublica-led Electionland project on November 6, 2018, in the newsroom of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.


An Idea that Spurred from a Roundtable Discussion at My First Hackathon On Newsroom Diversity

My classmate and I drove to West Virginia University on the morning of October 26 where I experienced a day of many firsts. It was my first time in a majority Republican state, my first time eating teal-colored cornbread, and it was my first time participating at a hackathon titled “Missing Voices: Diversifying the News Hackathon.”

Before the two-day event, I barely knew what a “hackathon” was. All I remembered was that I had applied to receive a travel stipend to this cool thing our professor, Carrie Brown, had sent us in an email in early September. Weeks prior to…


There’s a new tool in town and her name’s chatbot.

If an SMS could talk, it might say something like, “Hi, I’m a journalist. I’m working with people who have rheumatoid arthritis and I’d like to know more about your journey.”

They’re called chatbots. Google defines the tool as “a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with human users”. I also would add that chatbots are not meant to replace human connection but can be a means to interact with humans in real time. Journalists at various publications including the New York Times used a chatbot earlier this year to survey the types of stories readers wanted to know…


It was 8:30 a.m. when I sent my first tweet to the Maricopa County recorder in Arizona on Election Day. It read: “Hi. I’m working with @Electionland to track voter problems from @newmarkjschool. Are voters being redirected to other centers or is Chandler City the only one?” While mining tweets on the “verification” team, I had learned voters were locked out of their polling site and were asked to vote elsewhere.

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Adrian Fontes is the recorder of Maricopa County, which is home to 2.2 million of the state’s 3.6 million registered voters in Arizona. That morning, he sent out several…


I learned a new way of engaging an audience on social media after reporting my first instastory on the one hundred-billion-dollar platform

A forwarded email appeared in my inbox one Saturday afternoon while editing a homework assignment in a silent corner of The Graduate Center’s first-floor library. The subject line read: “RSVP 10/21: Profile by Buzzfeed News with Charlamagne tha God.”

I began writing a storyboard later that night.

I decided to be apart of a studio audience who wanted to listen in on a conversation about mental health between American journalist Audie Cornish and the Power 105.1 …

Ariam Alula

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