Class Notes

Lewis DVorkin (BA ’74). Dvorkin has worked for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and most currently, the LA Times.


Thomas Fensch (MA ’67) signed a contract to distribute 19 of the books he has written internationally in China, Germany, India, Russia, Italy, Poland and South Korea – with Japan, Spain and South America to be added to that list in the near future. They will be available through a print-on-demand system which prints the books as they are ordered leaving no leftover copies. Fensch has written 34 non-fiction books since 1970, including five on John Steinbeck and two on Dr. Seuss. 


Lewis DVorkin (BA ’74), the new editor of the LA Times, has had a stellar career in journalism stretching back to the ’70s and ’80s when he worked for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today among other news providers. While enterprise editor at The New York Times in 1978, he experienced an 84-day newspaper strike that affected that publication and other major New York papers.

DVorkin played a key role in the transition of the journalism industry into the 21st century, joining Forbes as executive editor in 1996 as that magazine launched its website. He left Forbes for AOL where he held various roles from 2000 to 2008. He helped launch TMZ, before founding his own news website, True/Slant.

True/Slant pioneered a new model of online journalism in which a small, full-time staff edits outsourced work submitted by contributors or advertisers. Forbes bought True/Slant in 2010 and hired DVorkin as chief product officer, a role where he brought the “contributor network” to the magazine’s website. He has held up the business model as a possible future for online journalism and wrote a book about it, The Forbes Model for Journalism in the Digital Age.

Will Norton, publisher of The Daily Iowan when DVorkin was student editor, said “Lewis and I drove to Des Moines to get perforated tape of the Watergate testimony. I cannot tell you how many times in the last few years Lewis has told me what to look out for in this new media world in which we live.”

With such innovative accomplishments throughout his career, DVorkin’s influence will surely be a boost for the LA Times.


Jackie Majerus (BA ’88) was a keynote speaker at Iowa City Public Library’s “Recording, Reporting and Responding to Violence and Terrorism on Children” panel on October 21. Majerus is the director of Connecticut-based nonprofit Youth Journalism International, which she co-founded in 1994, and where she works with young journalists across six continents. She was a reporter at newspapers in Illinois, New York, and Connecticut from 1988 to 2011.

Vishwas R. Gaitonde (MA ’89) wrote a multimedia essay, King of Melody, Lord of Rhythm: Lydian Nadhaswaram’s Musical Journey, which was published in The Mantle, New York. It incorporates text and video to tell the story of an Indian child musical prodigy. The Hindu, one of India’s leading newspapers, published his article, “The Grand Piano Chase,” which follows the music prodigy Lydian Nadhaswaram through the pianos he has played. Gaitonde has also had a career as a health writer and holds degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Madras in India


Margaret Duffy (PhD ’95), professor of strategic communication, is the inaugural executive director of the Novak Leadership Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. She is also CEO of two student-staffed advertising agencies with national clients. The new institute will be the world’s first center for communication-and-marketing-based leadership education.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman (BA ’98) is managing editor at Omaha Magazine, and a freelance writer for several other publications, including The Omaha World-Herald, Destra Magazine, The Glenwood Opinion Tribune and Wedding Essentials Magazine.

Fred Longenecker (MA ’98) coinvented a toilet training device for toddlers called the Potty Duck, which won Creative Child Magazine’s 2017 Product of the Year award. He created the science-based, educational toy alongside pediatrician Dr. Shelly Mann. Ten percent of Potty Duck’s profits go toward building public bathrooms and improving sanitation in developing countries. Longenecker is an education researcher, inventor, and stay-at-home dad. 

Kirk Murray
Kirk Murray (BA ’94/MA ’01), a videographer
and photojournalist at the University of Iowa.

Kirk Murray (BA ’94/MA ’01), a videographer and photojournalist at the University of Iowa, has had two once-in-a-lifetime experiences—being up close and personal with a multi-million dollar painting and winning an Emmy award—within the last year.

Murray was the director of photography for Jackson Pollock’s Mural: The Story of a Modern Masterpiece, produced and created at the University of Iowa, which won an Emmy from the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The documentary film tells the story of the painting’s travels from New York to Iowa City, then to Los Angeles and on to Venice, Italy. An estimated 1.5 million people have viewed the painting during its 10,000 mile trip around the world.

The inspiration for Mural came when word got out that it was going through a two-year restoration process at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. Kevin Kelley, the film’s producer, asked Murray to head photography.

“Kirk is our go-to guy for high-quality video in our department. Mural was a high-profile project, so we needed the best for the team,” Kelley said. “In Italy, it was a full schedule and odd hours, but Kirk was right there through all of it. I never had to worry if he was getting good stuff, and he won an Emmy Award for his work. I think that says it all.” While shooting the film, Murray got extremely close to the $140 million painting to get necessary detailed shots. He says that he has the University of Iowa to thank for the experience.

“During my time at the university, both as a student and an instructor, the biggest thing I learned was to get as much out of a story as you can,” Murray said. “Ask the tough questions, do the research. The story is in there, you just gotta pull it out.


Brett Johnson (MA ’11) delivered a talk as part of the SJMC’s Ph.D. Seminar entitled, “The state of research in mass communication law today: Conflicting paradigms, tricky intersections and public relevance.” Johnson has a Ph.D, from the University of Minnesota and teaches mass communication law at the University of Missouri. In 2008, Johnson was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he studied and blogged about Brazilian history, culture and politics.

Jake Abrams (BA ’12) is an assistant producer on Steve Harvey’s new talk show Steve in Los Angeles. Previously, Abrams worked as an anchor and reporter at Daily Iowan TV and as a producer on Big Morning Buzz Live and The Gossip Table in New York and Windy City Live in his hometown of Chicago.

Brian Albert (BA ’13) is a copywriter for creative services at the online streaming platform Twitch in San Francisco. Albert has previously worked as a journalist and editor at IGN and as manager of PR and social media at Maximum Games.


T Siegworth
Tanner Siegworth (BA ’15). 

Tanner Siegworth (BA ’15), like Murray, also won an Emmy—his was for news photography and came from the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the Academy. He studied under Kirk Murray in his time at the University of Iowa, during which he also worked at Daily Iowan TV. Siegworth now works as a TV photojournalist for KSL in Salt Lake City. “I’m honored to have my photography and reporting recognized,” he said, “and I’m proud to work telling good visual stories.

Kaché Henrietta Claytor (MA ’16) won a prestigious Fullbright English Teaching Award, where she will teach college-level English and conduct writing workshops in Colombia and research the African diaspora in Latin America. Claytor holds ambitions of becoming a professor in the future.

Joanna Krajewski (PhD ’17) is an assistant professor of Communication at Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida.

Time Capsules from 2015:


ON THE FIELD: The Hawkeye football team won every regular season game for the first time in history, going into the post-season with a record of 12-0. 

ON THE SCREEN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out nearly 30 years after the original film made its debut. 

IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM: NASA confirms the discovery of water on Mars.