Who We Are

TheLand-Medium-12John Albert covers Sunni Islam. John’s interest in religion took shape at Seattle’s University of Washington, where he earned a B.A. in International Studies with a concentration in Middle East Studies. John’s father is a third generation New York Jew, his mother is from the tiny Roman Catholic principality of Liechtenstein. They raised him secular, teaching him Seinfeld and Swiss-German, respectively. This is John’s first trip to the Middle East.

ja2093@columbia.edu | @azerbaijohn





Indrani Basu covers Progressive Judaism and is Social Media Editor for The Land. Indrani was born and raised in New Delhi, India’s capital city, where she studied English Literature. She’s a traditional muckraking newspaper journalist and was a crime and human rights reporter with India’s largest print daily, The Times of India. She is a newly-minted photographer and is interested in writing about communities living on the fringes of strife, religion and development.

ib2314@columbia.edu | @IndraniBasu88





Rachel Benaim covers Sufism. Before coming to the J-School, Rachel studied English Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at Yeshiva University. She is currently a New York correspondent for The Times of Israel, an online daily based in Jerusalem. Rachel has been published in The Gibraltar Chronicle, The West Side Spirit, The Jerusalem Post,and a variety of other publications. A South Florida native, she is no stranger to ‘odd news’ and enjoys covering stories on everything from a theoretical zombie apocalypse to breaking Middle East news. When she’s not in the J-School, you can probably find her enjoying a hot chocolate at Joe’s.

rdb2138@columbia.edu | @rdbenaim


 TheLand-Medium-2Ernest Chi Cho covers the Ba’hai. Ernest is a New York-based Cameroonian multimedia journalist. He has a degree in Political Science from the University of Buea. Before moving to New York in 2009, Ernest was news anchor and deputy editor-in-chief at Equinoxe Television, a privately owned TV station in Cameroon. In 2011, Ernest participated in the Entrepreneurial Journalism Program at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is an M.S. broadcast student at Columbia Journalism School. Ernest is bilingual (English and French) and is interested in African affairs. 

erniechicho@yahoo.com |  www.ernestchicho.com



 TheLand-Medium-5Shayna Freisleben covers Armenian and Greek Orthodox. She is a native of Los Angeles, Ca., and graduated from Emory University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Middle Eastern studies. Shayna has interned for the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. and for the Institute of the Study of Modern Israel, a think tank in Atlanta, Ga. She speaks Arabic and Hebrew. Besides her interest in Middle Eastern politics, Shayna maintains an encyclopedic knowledge of the various Real Housewives franchises.     

saf2177@columbia.edu |@sfreisleben





Patricia Guerra covers Evangelical Christians.  Patricia is a California native who was raised in Mexico. She holds a B.A. in International Journalism and Media Studies from Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey, and attended the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate exchange student. Patricia worked at Univision in San Francisco where she covered duties of assignment editor, writer, associate producer and on-air reporter. Patricia covered the primary and general presidential election of 2012 with a focus on Latino issues. In that same year, Patricia and her colleagues received an Emmy Award in the category “Best Large Market Evening Newscast” in the Northern California Chapter. 

pmg2131@columbia.edu @PattyGuerraD 



Jihii Jolly covers the Druze community and is a Web Editor for The Land. Jihii is a journalist, writer, and producer who is continuously curious about communication, religion, and media literacy. She is associate producer of the The Future Journalism Project, a media initiative exploring the present state, current disruption, and future possibilities of American journalism. Jihii is also a video producer at an educational media and design unit called EdLab.

jollyjihii@gmail.com |@jihiitea





Yvonne Juris covers Modern Orthodox Judaism. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, where she is studying video, radio and print journalism. Yvonne is also interning with MSNBC and was a host for two culture shows at WBCR. She has covered education, infrastructure, politics, culture and the arts. Yvonne is also a vocal and instrumental musician. She has performed roles with Opera Moderne, Opera of Manhattan, Brooklyn College Opera Workshop and plays classical/jazz flute with various ensembles. She is thrilled to be going to Israel with her religion reporting ensemble.




Kali Kotoski covers Ultra-Orthodox Judaism and is a Photo Editor for The Land. Kali is a photo and print journalist. He has covered Islam and the Bronx. He is aspiring to be a foreign correspondent that covers conflict and the developing world.









Saman Malik covers Shia Islam and is a Web Editor for The Land. Saman was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. A graduate of Concordia University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Saman launched her career in television production at the leading Pakistani media corporation, Hum Television Network, where she covered subjects ranging from teen entrepreneurs to Pakistan’s general elections. As a freelance producer, writer and digital journalist Saman has worked for Voice of America, MTV, Toronto Star, The News and Dawn.com. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in documentary filmmaking at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. 

Samanmalik@gmail.com |@SamanMalik




Lisa Malykhina covers Hinduism and is a Web Editor for The Land. Originally from Russia, Lisa grew up in Seattle and Washington, D.C. She earned her undergraduate degrees in English and Journalism from Boston University. During her year at the journalism school, she has written about everything from the mayoral elections, to stop and frisk, to dumpster diving. She enjoys covering sustainability, and is writing her master’s project on urban agriculture. Her hobbies include exploring ethnic food in New York City and reading, and her favorite writer is Vladimir Nabokov. 

 em2996@columbia.edu | @lmalykhina





Poppie Mphuthing covers Catholicism and is Managing Editor of The Land. Poppie was born and raised in London and has lived in South Africa for over a decade. She has an undergraduate degree in history from South Africa’s Rhodes University. Before moving to New York to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Poppie was a news anchor and online columnist at eNCA, South Africa’s leading 24-hour television station. She enjoys debating world affairs, reading books, writing socio-political commentary and experiencing new countries. 

tpm2114@columbia.edu @poppiemphuthing 





Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil covers Sephardic Judaism. Devi is a physician, researcher and assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine. After completing the seven year combined BA/MD program at Northwestern University, she did her internship, residency and fellowship training at Harvard Medical School. Devi appears on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera America, CBS and “The Dr. Oz Show” to explain developments in medicine. Devi is a student in the Documentary Program at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 

devichechi@gmail.com  | @devichechi www.doctordevi.com  




Evan Simko-Bednarski covers Coptic Orthodox Christianity and is a Photo Editor for The Land. Evan is a Brooklyn-based journalist and photographer, currently earning his M.S. at the Columbia School of Journalism. His work has appeared in the Battery Park City Broadsheet and the Columbia Journalism Review. Evan is also an editor at the literary journal Armchair/Shotgun, a performing guitarist, and a hobbyist mechanic. 

 es3261@columbia.edu | @simko_bednarski | evansimkobednarski.com





Harry J. Stevens covers Mormonism and is Web Developer for The Land. Harry is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. He has covered politics, the environment, business and culture for several publications. 

harryjosephstevens@gmail.com | @Harry_Stevens | harryjstevens.com







Our Professors:

TheLand-Medium-3Ari L. Goldman, a former religion correspondent for The New York Times, has been teaching the “Covering Religion” seminar at Columbia since 1993. This year’s study-tour to Israel is the 14th he’s led with Columbia students. In past years, the class has gone to Russia, Ukraine, India, Italy, Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. Professor Goldman was born in Hartford, Conn., and was educated at Yeshiva University, Columbia and Harvard.  He is the author of three books, including the best-selling The Search for God at Harvard.His new book, The Late Starters Orchestra




TheLand-Medium-4102Gershom Gorenberg is an Israeli historian, journalist and blogger. Gorenberg has been covering Middle Eastern affairs and the interface of politics and religion for three decades. His most recent book is The Unmaking of Israel, on the crisis of Israeli democracy and the history behind it. He is also the author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977 and The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, and coauthor of Shalom Friend, a biography of Yitzhak Rabin that won the National Jewish Book AwardA senior correspondent for The American Prospect, Gorenberg has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Foreign Policy and other leading publications in North America, Europe and the Middle East.



TheLand-Medium-4077Yogi Trivedi is the teaching fellow for Covering Religion.  Yogi is a doctoral student and teaching fellow in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His doctoral project focuses on the study of North Indian devotional traditions within Hinduism.  He is interested in the role of media in community formation and the transmission of beliefs and practices in early modern India.  Yogi’s doctoral project is enhanced by his experience and training as a lecturer and performer of bhakti poetry and classical and devotional North Indian music.  His latest award-winning book is the first-ever English hagiography of a eighteenth century Hindu spiritual leader and social reformer, who is believed to be a manifestation of divinity by millions of Hindus worldwide. Prior to pursuing his academic interests, he worked as a broadcast journalist in New York City at CBS News and NY1 News.



One thought on “Who We Are

  1. Hello,
    What an interesting roster of folks. I am an undergrad religious studies student at the University of Victoria in Western Canada, I was directed here from a journalist by the name of Raphael Ahren after I had sent him a response to one of his articles I did for a class. This is a very cool site. I have been interested in journalism, and I wonder if there is any chance I could get connected with people here, as it seems like there could be many great contacts to have here. Shot in the wind.



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