Newsday Film Critic Rafer Guzman visits LHS Journalism Class


Jessica Sanders

Journalist Rafer Guzman of Newsday speaks to students via Webex on Jan. 27

English teacher Jessica Sanders’ journalism class–along with editors of Horizon–had the opportunity to meet Newsday entertainment reporter and film critic Rafer Guzman on Friday, January 27. Guzman made an appearance via Webex and spent the period talking about his career path and answering the students’ questions.

Guzman is a Columbia University graduate who started out his career as a freelancer for small publications. He then became a staff writer for the Wall Street Journal, where he covered travel and tourism. Eventually, he moved on to write movie reviews for Newsday, which he continues to do. 

Guzman explained his process of writing effective film reviews. “Don’t write your lede! Instead, write your last paragraph first. This way, you have a goal–a place you’re writing towards.” He added that he learned this trick from journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner. As for writing a lede, he explained, “What’s the best way to grab or pull in your readers? Should it be newsy, funny, slam-bang, discursive? Decide, and that’s your lede.” In the midst of giving these tips, Rafer added, “If someone’s going to read [your article,] you want to write it [so that a person] would want to spend their three minutes on it.”

Rafer Guzman of Newsday visits Jessica Sanders’ journalism class on Jan. 27. (Jessica Sanders)

The journalism students and Horizon editors took a lot away from this experience. Junior Madeleine Malinka, who is both a journalism student and editor for Horizon, explained, “I learned that when reviewing a movie, it is important to keep in mind the movie’s purpose. [For instance], Mr. Guzman explained how a romcom should be light and fluffy, rather than deep and intelligent, so a light and fluffy romcom would be fulfilling its purposes, even if it doesn’t have an intelligent plot.”

Horizon editor and junior Olivia Lanteri commented, “I loved his insights into how the business of journalism works. Specifically, his comments on how his articles are received by the public was very interesting.” She continued, “His comments on how he [rated] films were very informative. I liked how he was okay with viewing and analyzing movies of all types, both well-known and relatively unknown.”

Attendees who took Sanders’ journalism class last year were hearing Guzman for the second time. Sophomore Gianna Longo, a former journalism student and current Horizon editor, said, “There were some things I didn’t remember about him, like his education, so it was nice ‘meeting him’ for a second time.”

Meeting a professional journalist allowed LHS’s student writers to gain insight into the career of journalism as well as learn tips and advice that can help them improve their writing.