Katy Cardin, the just-departed news editor at The Vermont Cynic, has spent the semester writing with the USA Today collegiate correspondent program, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to write for a national publication and get advice from USA Today journalists. While it’s not necessarily easy to get into the program, collegiate correspondents tend to gush a bit about their experience, so it’s worth taking a shot.
We here at the J-Blog—and, I mean, literally, all of us—caught up with Katy and asked her to tell us more about the program.
How did you get the position?
For the first round of the application process, I had to submit my resume, a cover letter and some sample clips. I didn’t tell any of my friends or family except for Devin Karambelas, the Cynic’s managing editor, because I didn’t want to jinx myself. Superstition at its finest. When I got accepted into the second round, I had to write an original piece based on a recent article in USA Today—within 48 hours. I wrote about the ways students can get into trouble for posting inappropriate things on social media sites. Apparently they liked it, because I was accepted into the program after that.
What do you do as a collegiate correspondent?
My job basically is to think of topics that are important to college students across the nation and report on them. I have to come up with my topic a few days before my deadline, and I write one story a week. I actually have less than a week to write the stories, too: It’s more like two to three days.
I have to find specialists in the areas that I’m writing about and interview them, as well as get in touch with students all across the country, which can be difficult to do in such a short amount of time. When I submit my stories, I include hyperlinks in them as well so they can be somewhat interactive. I also do conference calls with the editors and guests at USA Today once in a while, which is a really interesting experience that not a lot of people get.
What’s the experience like?
It has been a really rewarding experience so far. I feel honored to be a part of this program, as the editors told us that they had a pretty large pool of applicants to choose from. It makes me feel like my writing is getting better and better each year and with each experience. It’s also great to be in touch with the other correspondents who are all passionate journalists and be able to help them and ask them for help with my stories if I need it. I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the program.
Pretty soon, The Vermont Cynic might need to set up an alumni room at USA Today.
Katy Cardin, the just-departed Cynic news editor, this semester became the fourth USA Today collegiate correspondent to come out of the Cynic newsroom in just two years.
And she’s already made an unexpected Cynic connection.
In a recent conference call with other college-age writers from around the country, a USA Today editor announced that the correspondents would have the chance to chat with one of Gannett’s rising stars: Natalie DiBlasio, a breaking news reporter and host of Newsbreak with Natalie DiBlasio.
This particular rising star also happens to have been the Cynic’s editor-in-chief in 2011 and the first Cynic journalist to join the USA Today College team. Since then, Cynic editors Becky Hayes and Devin Karambelas have taken on the collegiate correspondent role.
In the conference call, DiBlasio spoke about her time at UVM, saying that “she got her start in a UVM news writing class, and that really lit the fire under her for journalism,” Cardin said.
Writing for the nation’s highest-circulation newspaper has it’s benefits, Cardin said.
When she sends emails with “USA Today article” in the subject header, top officials of national organizations tend to return her messages immediately, she said. She recently sent out a tweet asking aspiring politicians to contact her for a story she was working on: USA Today retweeted her message, and she said she received close to 30 responses within an hour.
“I’ve had a good chance to get a lot of really cool sources,” she said, “which obviously makes stories better.”
UVMtv will celebrate the move on Wednesday, Nov. 20, with free food, music and studio tours. It will be an exciting coming-out party for UVM’s only student-run video studio.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20
WHERE: UVMtv studio in Billings (just below Ira Allen Chapel). Park in the Billings lot, enter by the back door and follow the signs!
One of the greatest challenges for a college newspaper staff can be reporting on the death of any member of a campus community. When the deceased is a much-loved university leader, when the death is unexpected and when the cause of death is potentially sensational, the challenge is even greater.
Kathy Cook, an associate director of residential life with a 16-year history at the University of Vermont, died this week in a house fire at the edge of campus. She was the lone fatality, and authorities say they are still investigating the cause of the fire.
The Vermont Cynic staff worked together to provide complete coverage: objective and sensitive to the traumatic nature of the story. This college news team was the first to post a comprehensive package of story, photos and video, and the first to get the news to the Burlington community through social media, ahead of two local newspapers and TV stations. Other media outlets emailed Editor-in-Chief Mike Eaton throughout the day, asking for help reporting the story.
Earlier this week, the Cynic picked up two national awards for previous work, both in print and online. Midweek, the staff showed why they deserved it. Coverage of a campus death requires a careful mix of thoughtfulness, empathy and—somehow, at the same time—impartiality and a commitment to the facts of the news, even when some of that news is difficult to report. As this team’s adviser, I couldn’t be prouder.
Vermont Cynic staff members are celebrating tonight after their paper took home two best-of-show awards from the National College Media Convention, a 2,300-student event that came to a close today in New Orleans.
Six Cynic staff members were on hand to accept the awards: one for best special edition (9th place) and one for best multimedia package (3rd place). It was the first time that the Cynic has entered in either category and comes off a year of growing the Cynic’s multimedia coverage, said Mike Eaton, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief.
“It feels incredible to have won two best-of-show awards, a great confirmation of the hard work that each and every person on the Cynic contributes,” Eaton said. “Placing third in multimedia in our first year with a multimedia section illustrates that perfectly.
“I’m so proud of everyone and couldn’t be more optimistic for the future of the Cynic.”
The winning multimedia entry, published online in conjunction with the housing issue, showcases the kind of multimedia collaboration effort that former photo editor—and now multimedia editor—Natalie Williams has been working on in the past year.
When I started as multimedia editor, I had no experience in multimedia or video and was incredibly nervous. I knew I had some pretty big goals, but I had no idea we would accomplish them and more.
We went from a section that put out a couple videos a semester to one that releases at least two videos a week. And now we are award-winning! It is absolutely unreal.
When I heard that we won, I was completely in shock. I was freaking out in my apartment alone and immediately called the assistant multimedia editor Cory Dawson. We had no idea that the section would have this kind of success so soon. I am utterly overjoyed, and this means the world to me.
The Cynic publishes a new edition each Tuesday, both in print and online.
UVM grad Elliot deBruyn, who served as managing editor at The Vermont Cynic in 2010, today received a production credit in the video portion of a fine New York Times dining piece that today appeared online and in print.
DeBruyn, who in his time at UVM also served as the Cynic’s photo editor and as a multimedia intern at The Burlington Free Press, led the newsroom that produced issues later recognized as some of the best in the country by Associated Collegiate Press.