It’s Take 2 for 219 Magazine, the CUNY J-School’s Forum for Long-Form Work

Steve Strasser

219 Magazine, the online publication created more than three years ago as a showcase for students’ long-form work, has a new editor and a new look.

Prof. Steven Strasser, who teaches the fundamental Craft of Journalism course as well as feature writing, narrative journalism, and editing, has taken over from founding editor Tim Harper, who now oversees the Journalism School’s new academic imprint, CUNY Journalism Press. Under Harper, the site published narratives, first-person stories, indepth profiles, and literary reportage from the city and around the world and won a major award for investigative reporting.

The relaunched 219 Magazine has a simpler design with more photos than before. Yet it retains its devotion to long-form journalism.

In a message to students and faculty, Strasser wrote:

“You will notice that the magazine now is identified simply as something “Published in Times Square, New York City.” That label requires every story to be as lively and colorful as our polyglot neighborhood. As an editor with a background in newsmagazine writing, I love stories that showcase a writer’s commitment, personality and point of view. The site now features three of the kinds of stories I have in mind:

● Lisa Riordan Seville’s “Unfair Fate.” Our 2010 alum spent months piecing together this rich and riveting capstone project, which traces a Manhattan murder case’s 30-year course (yes, 30 years!) and the psychological torture inflicted by the endless fog of our justice system. For the 219 story, Lisa went back into the case last summer and continued to report and update until publication this month. Within a few days, Lisa’s lovely essay about her work on the project also will go up on the site. This project took passion and personal commitment as well as superb reporting and writing skills.

● Gabrielle Sierra’s “Mackenzie Street.” Like every 2013er, Gabrielle had to find a Sandy story (or two or three) to report for Craft class. But this was a very personal story for Gabrielle, whose childhood home and neighborhood in Manhattan Beach were severely damaged by flooding. The story of her family’s struggle to preserve home and history – conveyed through sensitive reporting and writing – makes her narrative a natural for 219. I would love to hear from Gabrielle again, and from many other 2013ers.

● Sean Carlson and Chester Soria’s “Great Expectations.” As they finish up a mountain of work to get ready to graduate with the class of 2012, Sean and Chester took time to write an analysis of Obama’s transition for 219. As political junkies, they already were focused on whether the president was keeping faith with his young supporters, and this piece lays down the markers. As alums, Sean and Chester are more than welcome to stay on the story and hold the president to his promises.

That’s a taste of what’s to come. You’ll also find reviews on the site, and there will be room for an endless stream of those – covering any and all cultural events that you think our community should know about. Shortly you’ll also see a new channel called “Storytelling,” where young writers (i.e., you) will have a forum for writing about writing. Given our strong standards of still photography at the school, 219 also should benefit from some of the best photographic work that our community is producing. There will be lots more of I-don’t-know-what. Writers of narratives and other long-form nonfiction are raising their heads above the electronic noise and looking around. We’re all seeking new ways to present vivid, rich stories that require a commitment from writer and reader alike. Let’s invent some new forms at 219.

We will keep on specializing in longer feature stories (as opposed to the shorter, newsier stories and large-scale multimedia group projects on our NYCity News Service). But we still have to be as smart, fast and flashy as our neighborhood. The magazine is open to anybody in the CUNY J-School community – most definitely including alums, and perhaps even the occasional faculty member.”