The future of news reporting celebrated at UC’s new Center for Local News

Veteran news reporter Geraldo Rivera lent his knowledge and insight to journalism students

The University of Cincinnati hosted approximately 150 attendees Nov. 11 at an event to announce a new Center for Local News in the Department of Journalism within the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The local news and the stories we tell in our own community are really important,” James Mack, dean of the college, remarked at the celebratory event headlined by legendary news reporter Geraldo Rivera. 

Dean James Mack of the College of Arts and Sciences speaking with Geraldo Rivera and his wife in the auditorium

College of Arts and Sciences Dean James Mack (left) speaking with Geraldo Rivera and his wife Erica Michelle Levy. Photo/UC photojournalism student Maylea Salmon

Rivera rose to national prominence in 1975 for pushing for and anchoring the first public airing of “The Zapruder Film” — a 1963 home movie of the Kennedy assassination taken by bystander Abraham Zapruder — on ABC’s Good Night America. The film shows the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, which occurred 60 years ago this month.

At UC’s Probasco Auditorium, Rivera — and former colleague Joe Coscia, longtime WABC-TV assignment editor — engaged in an hour-long discussion on the history of Rivera’s early contributions to “in the field” reporting under the mentorship of Al Primo (1935-2022), the creator of WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News format (which celebrated its 55-year anniversary on Nov. 11).

Rivera stressed to students to remember that “facts are facts” and to stay true to themselves when reporting the news, citing his own coverage in 1972 of the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island.

Brian Calfano shaking hands with Rivera

Head of the UC Department of Journalism Brian Calfano welcomes legendary news reporter Geraldo Rivera to the UC campus. Photo/UC photojournalism student Maylea Salmon

The event included a preview of an in-the-works documentary to commemorate Primo that is being produced and directed by Brian Calfano, professor and head of UC journalism. The project is edited by Reece Rexroad, a senior in UC's School of Communication, Film and Media Studies, and produced by Tanmay Srivastava, a UC digital media and history major who has already had his productions screened at the Cannes Film Festival. 

In describing his interview with Primo taken a few months before Primo’s death in September 2022, Calfano said, “Al Primo was a humble, artistic genius. He shared his vision for journalism, his inspiration for Eyewitness News, and his take on future trends in the industry.” WABC-TV used portions of the documentary’s footage in the station’s 75th anniversary event in August of this year.

The UC Center for Local News, Calfano says, will promote and continue Primo’s philosophy of eyewitness storytelling. 

The event complements the recent addition of a fully functioning television studio at the college’s new building, Clifton Court Hall.

Calfano says, “UC Journalism’s motto is: ‘Real World Ready.’ You can’t ask for a better real-world example to follow than Geraldo and Eyewitness News.”

A preview of the event appeared on WLWT-Channel 5.

Read more about the Clifton Court Hall television studio. 

Featured photo at top/Maylea Salmon

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