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Two 2019 Grads Are Winners of This Year’s Salomon Award

Winners will use the funds to expand Black Lives Matter protest reporting on their lauded Twitter account, NYC Protest Updates 2020.

Congratulations to Curtis Brodner ’19 and a fellow alumna from the Class of 2019, winners of this year’s award from the Richard and Marylee Salomon Fund for Journalists, recently announced by the journalism department.

The $2,000 prize will aid their efforts to expand their reporting on the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. In early June, Brodner and his partner, who is choosing to remain anonymous, developed a Twitter account, NYC Protest Updates 2020 (@protest_nyc), into a staff of 30 volunteers, who assist with reporting, videography, and other duties. The feed has amassed more than 24,000 followers as of the end of July.

The feed’s reporting has been picked up and credited by several news outlets, including The New York Times, the New York Post, WABC-TV-7, CBS News, “Good Morning America,” and BuzzFeed. The two journalists also have been featured in The Daily Beast. Another story on them by a major magazine is in the works, Brodner says.

The reporters state that they will use most of their award to pay for Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests related to possible police misconduct in New York City.

Their efforts constitute not only on-the-ground coverage of the protests, spurred by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other people of color; they also represent a rethinking of the way journalism is practiced.

“With this grant, we hope to expand our model to a broader range of subjects and types of coverage in order to provide high-quality, trusted reporting for people who have lost faith in news,” Brodner and his partner wrote in their proposal.

If successful, Brodner and his partner plan to develop their Twitter account into a multifaceted, nonprofit news organization, called UpFront. It would entail other media, such as video, podcasting, and TikTok, and have a section of its website dedicated to the intersection of technology, race and gender.

Brian Kates is a former professor at Purchase who taught Brodner and his partner; he is also a longtime journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize and George Polk Award at the New York Daily News. He’s delighted with the pair’s work, but unsurprised.

“It was clear early on that Curtis and his partner were destined for real achievement in journalism,” Kates says. “While still students, they regularly produced outstanding enterprise stories for several local news outlets. They’re resourceful, smart, tenacious, and perhaps most important, relentless in their pursuit of the truth.”

This is the second award given by the Salomon Fund, which was started in 2017 by associate professor Andrew Harris Salomon in honor of his late parents. The first award went to Jessica Glenza ’11, a reporter at The Guardian US, to help finance South of the South, her quarterly of journalism, photography, and literature.