Greene Teams fulfill veteran journalist’s dream

Three different Greene teams, fifty-one members, and top-notch reporting and writing would make anyone proud, especially Robert W. Greene. These students, along with professors from Stony Brook are living out Greene’s final wishes — to create a program that will train journalists who will be ready to hold the future of reporting in their hands.

Rebecca Anzel, an 18-year-old student from Hicksville and 2010 Greene Team member, reminisces about her time when she once took the newsroom by force at Stony Brook for the weeklong journalism program.

Greene Institute alumni

2010 Greene Institute alumnae Sabrina Syed and Rebecca Anzel talk shop / Photo by Drew Mongiello

And in few short weeks she will be doing it again. Like many Greene Institute alumni, Anzel credits the program for her decision to study journalism at Stony Brook. Anzel is one of three alumni who will be incoming freshmen this fall.

“I am actually going to be attending Stony Brook in a little less than a month,” she said. “Stony Brook’s journalism program excites me. The professors all know what they are talking about, seeing how they all have connections to the field.”

Anzel described the weeklong boot camp as grueling, but something that had a huge impact on her. Throughout their stay, professors and editors from credited newspapers like Newsday worked with the students to critique and give insight on their articles.

“My writing has improved a lot with all the tough editing,” said Anzel, who said she was taken aback by some of the professional editors. “It’s kind of disheartening when they cut out so much of what your writing. [But], they know what they are talking about and it really, really helps.”

Sabrina Syed, an 17-year-old Hauppauge student and another 2010 participant, was going into her junior year when she attended the camp. Although she was younger than the other 18 students. Syed said the Greene program was an immense preparation for the obstacles she would face as editor of her high school paper.

“I started thinking if I can lead a group here, I can definitely lead my staff back at home,” she said. “So when I was editor-in-chief this year, I definitely was so happy because I had the confidence that I got here to lead the group and know what I was doing.”

Last year, Syed was part of a team where she took it upon herself to take charge and get her team exclusive information. She went as far as calling the Staller Center to get access into the theater before general admission, so they could get special footage.

Jeff Stern  a 19-year-old member of the original Greene Team in 2009, was unsure what to expect going into the program.

“I was excited,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about Journalism and I did.”

Jeff Stern

2009 Greene Institute alumnus Jeff Stern returns to Stony Brook campus. / Photo by Drew Mongiello

Stern learned some of his most valuable lessons through his mistakes. In one incident, he was recording a video of the Ducks’ coach speaking, but when he went to playback the footage he realized there was no sound. “The lesson is always turn the microphone on,” Stern said.

Stern might not consider himself a journalist, but others would beg to differ. Coupled with his girlfriend Rebecca Wickel,19, he created one of the most popular blogs at Elon University, Still Good People. “We wanted to do something productive over the summer,” Stern said. Collaboratively, they came up with the idea for their blog because they wanted to show their readers the everyday heroes and moral individuals.

When someone agrees to join the Greene Team, they must be prepared to work. A usual day starts with breakfast at 7:30am and ends with working on news stories around 9pm. During the week the students spend their time attending lectures and press conferences, editing videos, blogging and writing profiles of one another.

“We learned so many things. How to take a picture correctly, putting the settings in yourself, to using a video camera, to using Final Cut Pro,”Anzel said.

Although at times one might become overwhelmed with the work and packed schedule, all three alums agree that the program has been something irreplaceable.

“Definitely take advantage of what you got, like where you guys are and what you guys are learning because it really helped me so much,” Syed said. “I know you guys are going to be tired working till nine pm, but it really is so worth it. You’re going to be so thankful you guys participated.”

Anzel echoed that sentiment. “They say that the most important thing in journalism is to get connections,” Anzel said. “And when you come to this program you get to know all the professors … and also every single one of these professors has some sort of connections themselves to the outside journalism world.”