About Cindy

SHORT VERSION:

Cindy E. Rodríguez is a veteran journalist with more than two decades of daily newsroom experience. She also taught journalism throughout her career — at NYU, Fordham University and Boston University, to name a few —  before deciding in 2011 to teach full time. At Emerson College, she is a Senior Journalist-in-Residence who has developed new courses including the popular Covering Immigration class.

Moments before the start of a Zoom class, August 2020.

She has taught mobile journalism workshops throughout the U.S., focusing on how to shoot and produce video packages using smartphones. Her current passion is creating virtual reality videos to produce empathetic and immersive storytelling experiences.

She is developing an Urban Affairs Reporting class in collaboration with The Bay State Banner, which will focus on reporting on issues affecting residents of Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester. (It was set to begin in the fall of 2020 but was postponed a year because of COVID-19.)

In 2015, her Whiting Foundation Fellowship took her to Cuba for research and to lay the groundwork for the creation of Emerson’s first study-abroad course in Cuba for journalists.

During her journalism career, Rodríguez specialized in race relations and cultural affairs at The Detroit News, wrote provocative columns on the intersection of culture and politics for The Denver Post, and covered immigration and demographics for The Boston Globe. She has been published in The New York Times, ABCNews.com, The Village Voice, The Huffington Post, Latina Magazine, and Time magazine, among other publications. She has spoken on issues related to immigration, race, ethnicity, culture, and the Latinx experience in the U.S. at conferences throughout the country.

She is a former Vice President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She was born and raised in Harlem. Her parents hail from Puerto Rico and Cuba.

LONG VERSION:

Cindy is a MoJo — short for mobile journalist — who has an affinity for technology and gadgets that help reporters tell stories in the most effective and immersive ways possible. She’s adept at using VR technology to produce authentic storytelling experiences.

As a web-2.0 journalist, Cindy knows how to shoot high-definition video, edit on Premiere and Final Cut Pro X, create podcasts and audio slideshows and how to effectively use social media as a reporting tool. She’s adept at using social networking sites to engage audiences and promote stories and understands SEO optimization and viewer metrics.

With Emerson journalism students in Havana, Cuba, May 2016

In 2015, she received a Whiting Foundation research grant to travel to Cuba and coaxed colleague Douglas Struck, a veteran foreign correspondent, to apply as well. They created Emerson College’s first study-abroad course in Cuba. In 2016, they took 18 students to Cuba for a two-week immersion class. Several students won awards for the projects they produced for the class website, https://word.emerson.edu/reimaginingcuba, including a local Emmy.

With Emerson students in El Paso, Texas, in March 2015 during an intensive program focused on border issues, enforcement, human trafficking, and migratory patterns.

She established the NAHJ chapter at Emerson College and serves as the organization’s faculty advisor. She also sits on the boards of the Massachusetts Scholastic Press Association and the Mass Media Fund (Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.)

In 2011, the International Center for Journalists selected Cindy as an international reporting fellow. She traveled to Israel for her multimedia reporting project on the struggles that gay Orthodox Jewish men face.

My name in lights in Times Square, New York City.

Prior to immersing herself in all things digital, Cindy worked in the world of print as an award-winning journalist and columnist.

During her lengthy journalism career, she parachuted into stories throughout the country, working on big breaking news stories, including covering the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and its aftermath, writing nuanced stories about how the attacks profoundly shaped American thinking and immigration policy.

She covered race relations and cultural affairs for The Detroit News, and was the lead writer on an award-winning series on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riots.

During her four years as a columnist and blogger at The Denver Post, she won several writing awards. Her columns ran in newspapers throughout the country.

At The Boston Globe, she worked her way up from general assignment reporter to immigration and demographics reporter, a beat that took her to all parts of the U.S. and Latin America. During her time on that beat, she beat The New York Times and The Washington Post on national stories regularly. Working closely with demographers at Northeastern University in early 2001, Cindy broke the story about the enormous number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S., an amount that was double that of Immigration Service estimates.

At the The Syracuse Newspapers, she ran an in-house weekly teen magazine, hj, and was Youth Editor of the daily newspaper. In this position, she wrote, edited, and designed pages, and managed a team of 50 high school correspondents, a staff writer, and several interns.

Cindy has been published in several dozen publications including The New York Times, The Village Voice, Latina Magazine, on ABCNews.com. She blogs on occasion for The Huffington Post.

During a break at the American Indian Journalism Institute, students spotted the Will Ferrell poster and began citing lines from “Anchorman.” I knew we had to capture this moment. Photo by Janine Harris

She’s written on myriad topics, from hip hop to health care, from labor issues to education. Her story assignments have taken to cities across the nation and many parts of Latin American and the Caribbean. She’s met dozens of dignitaries and celebrities along the way. The most fascinating people for her, however, have been regular people.

Cindy taught journalism at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus, where her students wrote for the hyperlocal website LincolnSquareNews.org, which she designed. In New York, she has also taught at New York University, and Hunter College (CUNY), where she also served on the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism committee.

She also held adjunct faculty positions at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Boston University, Northeastern University and for several years ran the S.I. Newhouse Minority High School Journalism Program in Syracuse, NY.

Rodríguez served as vice president-print of The National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 2006 to 2008 and in 2007-2008 served as a board member of Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc.. She is a member of both the National Association of Black Journalists and Society of Professional Journalists. She was also Co-Editor of The UNITY News student newspaper project during UNITY 2004 and UNITY 2000, the largest conventions of journalists in the world.

The Unity News Staff
Students who worked on The Unity News in 2004

She has also mentored aspiring journalists working on The ASNE Reporter, the convention newspaper of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. She’s also been editor, for several years, of The Latino Reporter, a convention newspaper of NAHJ that brings together 25 college students from across the country for a one-week journalism bootcamp experience.

She has won numerous accolades throughout her career including First Place Award for Best Serious Columnist from the Colorado Press Association, a New York State AP Award for column writing, and an award from the National Association of Black Journalists for work on a team project covering the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit unrest.

In 2000, she earned a National Press Foundation fellowship which allowed her to live and study in Cuernavaca, México, for four months while on sabbatical from the Boston Globe.

At age 13.

Cindy was born and raised in Harlem by a headstrong, Puerto Rican mother who was a case worker for the New York City Department of Welfare. Her father, who fled Cuba in 1958 when Batista was in power, held many jobs in Gotham: elevator operator, janitor, short-order cook, hot dog vendor.

While her neighborhood was tough, Cindy had a strong network of friends and they stuck together. Even as a scrawny kid, Cindy showed leadership skills in organizing friends to hold car washes to make money for pizza parties.

Cindy earned a B.A. in English at The City College of New York, up the block from where she grew up. At the same time, her mother was earning a Master’s degree in bilingual education. Her mother often stopped at the college newspaper office, where Cindy was editor her senior year, and they’d head out for lunch at the college cafeteria. Many years later, Cindy returned to New York City to earn a Master’s degree in digital media from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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