Alumni Newsletter

Get to know The DOAA Board: Vice President Rose Ciotta (’75)

Courtesy of Mike Kelly

Members of The Daily Orange staff in the 1970s are shown in The D.O.'s previous home on East Adams Street in Syracuse. Pictured are Mike Kelly (far left, in trash can), Rose Ciotta (sitting on desk in front), Mark Bromberg (on the right side of Ciotta), Phil Sneiderman (in front on floor with glasses), Dinah Eng (right of Sneiderman), Dena Bunis (behind Eng), Tony Pruzinsky (standing with notebook), Gary Myers (to left of Pruzinsky), Christine Kukka (behind Pruzinsky's right shoulder), Joe Van Eaton (to right of Kukka), Barbara Riegelhaupt (to right of Van Eaton) and Kevin Riordian (to right of Riegelhaupt, behind Kelly).

UPDATED: Jan. 25, 2017 at 3:34 p.m.

During the fall of 1971, in the midst of The Daily Orange’s work to obtain independence from Syracuse University, Rose Ciotta walked into a house on East Adams Street and received her first story assignment for the newspaper.

Three years later, Ciotta was The D.O.’s editor in chief, editing stories across the departments and spending “a lot of time” at the printer’s office.

Now armed with a Pulitzer Prize and decades of experience, Ciotta (‘75) is once again leading The D.O. through uncharted territory, this time as vice president of the revamped Daily Orange Alumni Association and its board of directors.

“The Daily Orange is such a gift to students at Syracuse and I’d like to do anything that I can to support it and help the students that work there go on to great things in their careers,” she said.

Ciotta, along with D.O.A.A. board president Tiffany Lankes (‘03), joined the association’s leadership last summer as part of an effort to focus the group’s mission and expand the paper’s alumni network. The longtime friends have dedicated their efforts to mentorship and network growth in particular, two areas in which Ciotta has vast experience.

Ciotta’s friends and colleagues say mentorship has always been an important part of her life. Even during her days at The D.O., Ciotta was known to be a dependable editor.

“I don’t know how it is now, but we used to spend all of our free time at The Daily Orange,” said Mike Kelly (‘75), a D.O. alumnus who worked alongside Ciotta and went on to author three critically-acclaimed nonfiction books. “And you really needed somebody who was sort of that magnet or glue that brought everybody together, and Rose was it. You could always talk to her.”

Ciotta was also a valuable mentor in Lankes’ career. During high school, Lankes lived down the street from Ciotta in a Buffalo suburb. Their families were close, and Lankes said Ciotta was instrumental in convincing her parents into letting her go to SU.

“She said, ‘You have to go to Syracuse, and you have to be the editor of The D.O., and you have to drink out of the shoe.’ So I was lucky enough to check off all three of those,” Lankes said.

Over the course of her career, Ciotta has worked across platforms and was working with data long before it was a buzzword. She started in print at The Buffalo News and moved on to The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she co-edited “Assault on Learning,” an investigation into school violence that won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Courtesy of Rose Ciotta

She then returned to her hometown, where she made the jump to broadcast with News 4 WIVB. Now, Ciotta is living in Buffalo while working as an editor at a California-based education news site.

“A lot of times people, as they move further into their careers, tend to hunker down,” Lankes said. “But she is someone who is constantly taking on the new challenges and I think she is an example of someone who has been able to do that successfully.”

As D.O.A.A. Board of Directors vice president, Ciotta has prioritized improving the staff mentorship program. She said she would ultimately like to get more alumni from older generations involved and facilitate more alumni-to-alumni mentoring. Upheaval in the journalism industry has made it more important than ever for alumni to communicate, Ciotta said.

“What connects us all is that we love The Daily Orange and we want it to succeed in the future,” Ciotta said.

Ciotta spent six years on the board of directors for Investigative Reporters and Editors, a nonprofit organization. While with IRE, she oversaw a vast network of members and helped implement major changes, including the creation of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

It is IRE’s model of connecting younger and less-experienced journalists with veterans in the field that Ciotta hopes to implement with The D.O.A.A. The first step toward this, she said, is to get in contact with more alumni; something she and Lankes agreed has been an issue in the past.

While all are optimistic about the outcome of these efforts, Lankes and Kelly are sure about one thing: that Ciotta is a good fit for the board.

“She still has a lot of passion for journalism and that’s very unusual today,” Kelly said. “A lot of our colleagues lost that passion.”

If you’re interested in joining The D.O.A.A. mentoring committee, please contact rose at roseciotta@gmail.com.

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