Speakers 2019


Tamar Charney

National Public Radio

Tamar Charney is the Managing Director for Personalization and Curation at National Public Radio (NPR.) In this role, she creates and executes new editorial strategies for programming a unique and customizable mix of the best international, national, and local public radio news that is blended with hand curated podcasts. Previously, she held the title of Managing Editor of NPR One.

Prior to managing the content strategy for NPR's state of the art mobile app and voice assistant experiences, Charney was the Program Director of Michigan Radio where she managed on-air, online, and news strategy, as well as operations. Before, that she produced talk shows, documentaries, and news programs for the station and previously had been a reporter and editor at Michigan Radio. She has held a variety of jobs at other public radio stations including WDET and WEMU. On the side, she writes and does voice-overs for a variety of clients.


Paul Cheung
Knight Foundation

Paul Cheung is the director/journalism + technology innovation at the Knight Foundation overseeing investments and initiatives designed to drive transformational change in news media.

Cheung has 20 years of experience at the forefront of digital transformation— pioneering VR360, automation, data journalism and visual strategies and digital training initiatives. He led cross functional teams of journalists, technologists, data-scientists and designers, working at media outlets including NBC News Digital, The Associated Press, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal.

He served two terms as national president of the Asian American Journalists Association from 2013 to 2016 and currently serves on the board of the American Society of News Editors. He was a 2016 Punch Sulzberger Executive Leadership graduate at Columbia University.


Stephanie Clary
CNN Worldwide

Stephanie Clary is the director of social publishing for CNN, where she leads a global team of producers and oversees the publishing of social content across CNN's social platforms.

Previously, Clary was the managing editor at Mic, where she oversaw daily newsroom and helped form written and video content strategies. Prior to joining Mic, Clary was the managing editor of "Breaking News", an NBC start-up, where she led a global team of journalists covering breaking news around the world, 24/7. There, she oversaw the coverage of major international and national news events, including the Paris attacks, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Turkey coup attempt and the 2016 elections. She also worked on the product side of "Breaking News", providing editorial guidance as the team built new workflows, optimized organization and data, and created unique and innovative user experiences.

Clary shares a Pulitzer Prize with The Seattle Times staff for the 2010 breaking news coverage of the Maurice Clemmons manhunt. She created a real-time collaborative project between journalists and readers, connecting them to public safety resources and information. It also served to debunk rumors or inaccurate reporting during the developing story. She also shares the 2016 Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation with the Breaking News staff and a SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism award for her coverage of the 2010 winter Olympics.

Clary graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with degrees in journalism and political science.


Kurt Gessler
Chicago Tribune

Kurt Gessler is director of editorial operations for the Chicago Tribune, focusing on content strategy, analytics, product, platforms and technology. He also started the Tribune's first internal digital training program.

Gessler has served as adjunct faculty at Northwestern University, leading graduate classes in web development, data viz and digital journalism.

Most recently, he has taken what he learned from both fields and has helped newsrooms refine their digital strategy and workflow. Before coming to the Tribune, Gessler was Managing Editor/Online for the Daily Herald, focusing on strategy and startups.


Darrell Hoemann
The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Darrell Hoemann is photo editor of the Midwest Center for Investigative Journalism, sold his first photo to a newspaper at age 15 and was published in the St. Louis (MO) Globe-Democrat.

He is also owner of Darrell Hoemann Photography.

He completed his newspaper career with 25 years at the Champaign (ILL) News-Gazette, as their first photo editor, retiring in 2013 to pursue a freelance career and work with the center.

Hoemann was a founding member of the Associated Press Photo Managers, serving on the board for several terms. After his retirement, he was designated an emeritus board member, and continues to serve the photojournalism community. He was also president of the South Carolina Press Photographers Association and is a 38 year member of the National Press Photographers Association.


Mark Husley
Big Ten Network

Mark Hulsey joined the Big Ten Network as vice president, production and executive producer in July 2009.

In April 2014, Hulsey was promoted to senior vice president of production and executive producer. Under Hulsey’s direction, the Big Ten Network produces more than 1,500 live events a year, including 1,000 streamed events through BTN’s innovative Student U initiative.

Throughout Hulsey’s tenure, the network has been an industry leader in technical advancement for the production of live events. Big Ten Network was the first collegiate sports network to initiate the “at home” production model, allowing the network to produce hundreds of live events per year from their Chicago studios, rather than producing all live events solely on-site.

Hulsey came to Chicago after serving as the Executive Producer at Fox Sports Midwest/Fox Sports Indiana/Fox Sports Kansas City since 2000. At Fox Sports Midwest, Hulsey administered the production of more than 450 live events for seven universities and professional sports teams in a six-state region. Additionally, he oversaw all live event studio pre-game and post-game coverage, collegiate preview shows and 30-minute specials. During Hulsey’s tenure, Fox Sports Midwest won multiple Emmy awards for best Live Event Special for coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. Hulsey also produced and directed numerous live events for the network.

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Yusuf Omar
Hashtag Our Stories

Yusuf Omar is a multi-award winning journalist and co-founder of Hashtag Our Stories, a TEDx speaker, former CNN Senior Social Media Reporter on Snapchat and former Mobile Editor at the Hindustan Times in India where he empowered 750 journalists to tell stories with the phones.

He has been a foreign correspondent with just his phone since 2010 and covered the Syrian civil war.

At Hashtag Our Stories, he’s empowering mobile video storytelling communities around the world, creating shows in every language.


Dan Pacheco
Syracuse University

Dan Pacheco holds the Peter A. Horvitz Chair of Journalism Innovation at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and is a pioneer in the use of virtual reality for journalism. In 2014 he started and co-produced The Des Moines Register’s Harvest of Change VR project for the Oculus Rift, the world’s first large-scale use of virtual reality by a commercial news organization. Harvest of Change earned an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2015 for its innovative use of 360-degree video for virtual reality.

Previously, Pacheco spent 20 years in the trenches of digital publishing everywhere from Fortune 500 companies to startups. He started his career as an online producer for Washingtonpost.com, where he produced Interact, one of the first online news communities on the Web. Subsequently, as a principal product manager at America Online, he oversaw some of the Internet’s first truly global community products. In 2005, after pioneering the first implementation of a social networking platform at a U.S. newspaper, he received an NAA “20 Under 40” award. And in 2007, he received a Knight News Challenge grant to build a democratized publishing service that evolved into an eBook platform.

When he’s not teaching, Pacheco is busy exploring new technologies shaping the future of media, which lately means augmented reality, citizen sensor networks and drones. He is also working on an Emerging Media Platforms course that will be offered through Newhouse’s Communications@ Syracuseonline master's program.


Robert Scheer
Indianapolis Star

Robert Scheer was raised in California, and while earning a biology degree from Humboldt State University, took a photo class on a whim and worked toward becoming a photojournalist. After working at several small Northern California newspapers, he joined the Indianapolis Star as a staff photographer in 1998, where he currently works. An early advocate for newspaper video, his still, multimedia, and mobile work has sent him to news and sporting events in Iraq, Greece, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and most large cities of the United States.

In recent years, he has worked on IndyStar investigations into the deer breeding industry, the underregulated world of pet medicines, and with a team of four colleagues, broke major investigations on USA Gymnastics and disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar. In addition to being an adjunct professor at Indiana University, he teaches a Summer multimedia camp for high school students. In his free time, Scheer volunteers as an ESL tutor, and does outdoor things like cycling and backpacking.


Ray Soto

USA Today

Ray Soto is the Director of Emerging Tech for the USA TODAY NETWORK.

His primary role within the organization is to revolutionize storytelling with emerging technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality.

He has seen and lead the network’s VR and AR growth, participating in their earliest immersive storytelling ventures in a leading role in the planning and production of USA TODAY NETWORKS’s premiere virtual reality series, VRtually There, and flagship projects like USS Eisenhower VR, 321 LAUNCH, and the Pulitzer Prize winning multi-media report The Wall.

Most recently, USA TODAY NETWORK and GANNETT were named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list for AR/VR specifically.

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Almudena Toral

Almudena Toral is a visual journalist and filmmaker currently based in Miami. She heads the enterprise video team at Univision News Digital – the team covers the U.S. and Latin America through documentaries, photo essays, visuals for interactives and special projects, illustration and animation. Prior to joining Univision, she taught video storytelling at Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, pursued her own projects worldwide and worked at The New York Times and TIME. Her work has also been published by The Guardian, AlJazeera, VICE, The Intercept, Canal+, NPR, PBS and other outlets.

A short documentary Toral produced on children PTSD after the zero tolerance policy was named 2019 World Press Photo Online Video of the Year. Her work has also been recognized by two News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Pictures of the Year International, the Hillman Prize, RFK Human Rights Journalism Awards, PDN Photo Annual, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, the Webbys, Ortega & Gasset awards, the New York Press Club and others.


Emily Withrow
Quartz Bot Studio

Emily is director of of member experience at Quartz, leading a cross-functional team responsible for creating a compelling vision for the member experience and collaborating with other teams to make it happen.

She was formerly the director of the Bot Studio at Quartz, where she wrote, designed, and built interactive narrative experiences for text and voice.

She is on leave from Northwestern University, where she taught for six years prior to joining Quartz.

Before that, she worked for The A.V. Club and McKinsey & Company.

Withrow spends much of her free time talking with robots, rock climbing, and researching recipes she will eventually abandon for nachos.


Amy Schmitz Weiss
San Diego State University

Amy Schmitz Weiss is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University.

She teaches journalism courses in basic writing and editing, multimedia, web design, data journalism, mobile journalism, sensor journalism, media entrepreneurship and spatial journalism.

She is the recipient of the 2017-2018 San Diego State University Grant Program. Her project entails examining the intersection of journalism, social media and location-based services in today’s digital/mobile environment.

She was the 2014-2015 recipient of the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education by the Online News Association.

Her research interests include online journalism, media sociology, news production, multimedia journalism, and international communication. She has published her research in several peer-reviewed articles, chapters and a co-edited book on a variety of topics related to journalism.