Growing up, Kevin Lizarazo always thought he would eventually end up in the computer science industry. But that all changed in freshman year of Stony Brook University when he took one News Literacy course and never looked back.
Now, Lizarazo, (‘14) who graduated Stony Brook with a double-major in Journalism and Political Science, has put his uniquely-acquired skill set to good use at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan organization, think tank and publisher. There, he gets to produce stories on international issues like child marriage, the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Kurdish struggle for independence.
At CFR, Lizarazo’s title is assistant multimedia producer. He said he wears many hats at the group. He helps produce long-scroll interactives called InfoGuides that highlight international issues and mix reporting, multimedia production, web design and political science into one website. He uses his reporting skills to reach out to sources and mine data from databases to produce interactive elements like maps and timelines.
Lizarazo also helps publish a video series called “Three Things to Know” about the world. He also produces a popular podcast called “The World Next Week,” which has been on iTunes and receives thousands of downloads a week. He said one of the biggest things he does is help produce “interactive long-form pieces of journalism” on international issues.
The 24-year-old has always had an interest in international news. Lizarazo said his education at Stony Brook University — both his political science and journalism training — “majorly” prepared him for his job. When interviewing for a internship at CFR, Lizarazo said the employer even remarked on his skillset.
“She called it a perfect nexus of skills that are needed to work at the council in that type of journalism they’re producing,” he said.
So what hooked him into journalism in the first place?
“It might have been Professor Reiner’s charm, I guess,” Lizarazo said. “He’s a very charming man. The way he spoke about the news is very charming.”
Professor Reiner stressed the importance of how to consume news, something that stood with Lizarazo.
“It was kind of then that I realized I kind of want to be the one telling the news,” he said. “And I want to tell it right.”
At the Stony Brook School of Journalism, Lizarazo said he learned how analyze data, facts and events and find out what they mean.
“[The school] taught me how to find stories within events and make them accessible to everyone else,” he said.
Lizarazo interned with CFR in 2013. He was hired in his senior year of college, and he just recently celebrated a two-year milestone with the company.
He also recently went on a trip to Hawaii this month, where a group of SoJ students took part in a NASA-funded research project on lunar exploration involving fieldwork on a lava flow in Hawaii. There, he was a multimedia coordinator and field tech, helping students with their tech gear questions. He also editorially advised their video shoots and photography.
It wasn’t Lizarazo’s first adventure with the school. He also participated on the Journalism Without Walls trip to Cuba. He is one of two alums who has helped lead trips abroad — Dipti Kumar assisted the school on its trip to Bangalore, India this summer.
To learn more about Lizarazo’s work, visit the Council on Foreign Relations at www.cfr.org. And if you’d like to drop him a line, feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— By Rohma Abbas