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Cynic opinion editor takes on top job at local mag

May 23, 2014
Zach Despart

Zach Despart

A former opinion editor and columnist for The Vermont Cynic has taken on the top job at Thread Magazine, a Burlington-based arts, culture, music and politics online magazine.

Zach Despart, who wrote for the Cynic from 2009 to 2012, has worked for WCAX-TV in Burlington and continues to report for Middlebury’s Addison Independent. He’s been writing for Thread since 2012, said Ben Sarle, the magazine’s founder.

“I have no doubt that Zach will do a fantastic job as Thread’s editor,” Sarle said. “He’s been a trusted and talented part of the team for a long time.

“I’m stoked to see where he takes the publication.”

Despart said he hopes to continue producing in-depth features about issues that the Burlington audience cares about, as well as profiles of the creative people that give the city its identity.

“Burlington is a dynamic, beautiful city filled with so many talented people,” he said. “I want to continue to capture that.

“Ben’s poured a lot of hard work into the publication and cultivated a significant following in Burlington. I’m excited to keep Thread’s momentum going.”

Sarle began publishing Thread in 2011 and led the magazine until this year, when he was hired as the director of communications for the Vermont Democratic Party, according to a Thread press release.

Anyone with a story idea or an interest in contributing to Thread is encouraged to contact Despart at

The WRUV station manager and Werner Herzog

May 21, 2014

We here at the JaM blog can be guilty of pigeon-holing our talented students, thinking of our TV students only as awesome filmmakers or our newspaper students only as amazing journalists. Which, of course, they are.

WRUV Station Manager Sadie Holliday

2013-2014 WRUV Station Manager Sadie Holliday

Yet they’re so much more. WRUV’s just-departed station manager, Sadie Holiday, served up some excellent radio as a DJ, for sure. But she was serious about the visual arts, too.

Not too long ago, she and classmates in the 3-credit class Motion Picture Production got a chance to collaborate just a bit with Werner Herzog, the legendary German film director known for his recurring themes of remoteness in time and space.

Coming off local media attention about her efforts, Holliday took time to fill us in about the experience, which started with her professor, Peter Shellenberger, asking Herzog to work with his class. Herzog responded by sending Shellenberger some footage to use with his students . . . .

Said Holliday:

After Herzog initially sent up his roll of film, he followed up with two letters, which stipulated how the students should use the film. He requested that we use his footage in a piece of our own, using no more than 25 percent of his own footage, which meant that 75 percent of the running time had to be our own work. Other than the title having to be “Where’s Da Party At?” there were really no other guidelines.

Herzog really left the project and the content up to us. He didn’t want the original footage he shot to be released to the public. The project was really about the student’s work, and he had little involvement after the two letters he sent.

It was a really interesting experience. I’ve been a fan of Herzog’s work for a long time so having original material from him and having the chance to use it in our own work was amazing. This Herzog project became kind of normal to us, but every time I would mention it to anyone who knows who Herzog is, they would be astonished, and I’d be reminded of what a big deal it actually is. We’ve all been very lucky. It’s definitively been a great opportunity for everyone to get their work out into the public eye.

We recently had a screening of all of the Herzog projects at the BCA Center on Church Street in downtown Burlington. The Associated Press picked up the film night, which really shocked all of us. We had a great turnout. The room we were in was nearly full. It was great to see people from the community and students take interest and come out for a night of independent films.

Holliday’s video, as well as all other videos from the class, have been posted online for the world to enjoy.

UVMtv program director heading to Cannes

March 30, 2014
Callie Bowen

Callie Bowen

Callie Bowen, a first-year student at UVM and the incoming program director at UVMtv, has been accepted into the 2014 Creative Minds in Cannes Program.

As a program intern, Bowen will have the opportunity to travel to Cannes in the French Riviera for two weeks for the international film festival in May and attend red carpet events.

Bowen got her acceptance email Tuesday, she said.

“The first thing I saw in the subject line was CMIC waitlist opening slot, and I just started freaking out,” Bowen said. “I’m really surprised that I didn’t wake up the rest of my suite, I was so loud.

“I immediately called my mom and started screaming on the phone that I got in. She was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

The Creative Mind Group states on its website that the internship program is the most competitive program they offer.

This unique experience affords the participants an opportunity to work intimately with a Film or Television company in a department pertinent to the participant’s career goals. It also provides the students with an opportunity to prove themselves with a company that could hire them and launch their career. The program consists of an internship with a noteworthy Film or Television company, follow up assistance with post festival job securing and access to exclusive parties & networking events.

In these weeks leading up to the red carpet, Bowen can be found doing her weekly video updates about UVM events for UVMtv and UVMBored.

UVM’s student media gets PBS airtime as part of a ‘visionary’ college union

March 12, 2014

When PBS went looking for the nation’s most noteworthy college unions, producers quickly found their way to the University of Vermont’s Dudley H. Davis Center.

And, just as the offices of WRUV-FM and The Vermont Cynic sit at the center of the student center, our own radio station and newsroom sit at the center of  the show.

Well, actually, they sit at minute 8:28 and a little after. But you get the idea.

The Davis Center figures prominently in a PBS “Visionaries” documentary about college unions, released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Association of College Unions International.

Hosted by actor Sam Waterston—who you might know as District Attorney Jack McCoy on the TV series “Law & Order”—the PBS series highlights stories of nonprofit organizations around the world that are working to make a positive difference in their communities and beyond.

The documentary features interviews with former Cynic editor-in-chief Natalie DiBlasio, now a reporter for USA Today, and former managing editor Devin Karambelas, an intern at “Vermont Edition” on Vermont Public Radio, each of whom spent untold hours working in the Cynic newsroom, which is located on the ground floor of the Davis Center.

Devin Karambelas, left, and Natalie DiBlasio in the Cynic newsroom as featured in the PBS "Visionaries" documentary

Devin Karambelas, left, and Natalie DiBlasio in the Cynic newsroom as featured in the PBS “Visionaries” documentary

“The incredible thing about campus is that, no matter where you go, students are doing things,” DiBlasio says in the documentary, “but having the Davis Center be here–in this magnificent building, with wonderful resources–it attracts people.”

Says Karambelas, “It’s so infectious, the energy that you get in here.”

The Davis Center was featured thanks to a recommendation from the international college unions group, in part because of the center’s environmental stewardship, celebrated when it was awarded the Gold standard for leadership in energy and environmental design from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The documentary features interviews with and footage of dozens of students and UVM employees for whom the Davis Center is a home away from home.

Karambelas, who speaks in the show of spending late nights in the Cynic newsroom to meet her newspaper’s deadlines, says, “In some sense, I don’t think I’d rather be anyplace else.”

Former Vermont Cynic staffers—a New York Times writer and CDM Group exec—talk shop with current Cynics

February 10, 2014

Vermont Cynic alumni Eric Lipton of the New York Times and Josh Prince of The CDM Group spent Saturday with current UVM reporters, editors and visual journalists, talking over ways to improve their work, get creative and land jobs.





Lipton and Prince—Cynic leaders in the 1980s—said they traveled to UVM, in part, to give back to a student newspaper that helped to shape their lives.

“My entire professional career is like a direct line from the Cynic,” said Prince, chief creative officer of an organization that bills itself as the world’s largest global healthcare communications company.

Lipton—Cynic editor-in-chief in 1987 and now a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter working for The New York Times in Washington, D.C.—said he had a chance to exercise his creativity at the UVM student newspaper.

He encouraged current Cynics to do the same.

“Something you must have in order to have a creative life is the ability to write and the ability to think critically,” Lipton said. “You have your lives in front of you. You can go so many different ways with your creative skills.”

Vermont Cynic alumni Eric Lipton of the New York Times and Josh Prince of The CDM Group give career advice to current Cynics Saturday at the University of Vermont.

Vermont Cynic alumni Eric Lipton of the New York Times and Josh Prince of The CDM Group give career advice to current Cynics Saturday at the University of Vermont.

Lipton comes to UVM about once a year to offer journalistic advice to Cynic staffers. Prince said that he comes not only to offer career advice but to recruit for his agency.

Natalie Williams, the 2014 Cynic editor-in-chief, said she was impressed with the daylong workshop.

“It was great to be able to speak with really accomplished people who got their start at the Cynic,” Williams said. “Eric and Josh provided really constructive feedback and successfully made us think about what impact we want to make as an organization.”

Prince said he remembers his days at the Cynic fondly.

“All of our lasting friendships were forged at the Cynic,” he said. “Once a Cynic, always a Cynic.”

UVM media students team up with Ellen to surprise a lucky family in South Hero, Vt.

January 28, 2014

UVM media students are accustomed to spreading the word via WRUV-FM, UVMtv and The Vermont Cynic. Last week, however, they went on a brief media blackout to take part in a super-secret segment of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 11.32.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 11.32.47 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 11.33.01 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 11.33.04 PMThe UVM student media program helped facilitate the segment, in which six students helped to surprise a South Hero family that Ellen—yeah, we’re on a first-name basis now—had chosen to receive a gaggle of gifts as part of her “Cash at Your Door” segment.

To keep the Jan. 22 surprise gift-giving a surprise,  Ellen’s producers forbade the students saying a word, especially through social media. The students restrained themselves. They got a backstage pass to the proceedings in sub-zero wind-chilly weather, and some even went on-camera to deliver the gift cards. (See the embedded snaps.)

In the field were Melisa Rayvid and Michael Cohen of UVMtv, Sadie Holliday and Maxe Mazelis of WRUV, and Natalie Williams and Cory Dawson of The Vermont Cynic.

“It was a very cool experience but also incredibly cold,” Williams said. “We were in South Hero, by a lake where the weather was well into the negatives.”

Dawson, the Cynic’s video editor, echoed those sentiments:

So here’s my account. We obviously were the people who brought in all their gifts. It was extremely cold. We must have heard everyone from California say “Its 70 in Burbank” at least 20 times. Our manager was this guy named Phil. Great guy, but no sense of direction. We had to call him and redirect him a lot. We even missed the house the first time.

It felt great to give this obviously deserving family all these gifts. The amount of gifts you see on screen wasn’t even a quarter of the gifts that they actually got, there was an entire van full of gifts. We must have been going from the van to the family, back and fourth, for five minutes.

We had Phil describe the process they have every family go through to determine if they’re worthy of these prizes. Very simply, they have a mock telemarketer-type person call and ask them some questions, and from those questions they can discern when they’re usually home and what the situation is with the family. But he said they always say, “It’s a one in a million chance this will happen to you,” when in reality it’s quite a good chance, relatively speaking.

It feels really good to give to these people, who obviously deserved it. The crew from Ellen were all really great, and they all do really want to make these people happy.

Check out the video to see the UVM media crew in action.

You need an online writing portfolio

January 15, 2014

So there you are, going through college, studying hard, getting good grades and producing fabulous work.

What do you have to show for it?

The answer should be: AN AMAZING ONLINE PORTFOLIO!

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 10.57.49 AM

Is this who your Facebook profile says you are?

Potential employers today are going to look you up. When they do, you don’t want them to find pictures of you in less-than-professional moments. You want them to see you at your best. There’s lots of advice out there about what to put into a portfolio. However, if you’re in college—and you’ve made it this far in today’s post—you likely know what you want to display. If you don’t, all you need to do is stop by your college’s career center to ask the professionals there what they think you should be sending into the world.

Professional portfolios are easier to make than you realize

Professional portfolios are easier to make than you realize.

Once you’ve chosen the work that you want the world to see, you’ll find it easy to produce blog-style portfolios on free platforms like WordPress—which hosts this blog—or Google’s Blogspot, each of which has its pros and cons. You can create pages with words, photos, images, videos and links galore.

In my news-writing course,  I ask students to collect their work into an online portfolio. Many of these students have gone on to turn their blogs into professional-looking websites that showcase their work and help them get jobs.

Here are just a few portfolios of UVM students and recent UVM grads. Some began in my course; some didn’t. Each is a brilliant showcase of work that presents them as professional and eminently hirable.

Each of these sites were put together with WordPress or Blogspot. You could have yours up and running within the next hour.

Get to it!


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