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Brent Summers: From The Vermont Cynic to the New York Times

December 5, 2012
Brent Summers

Brent Summers

A week ago, UVM senior Brent Summers completed his term as editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic.

Today, his reporting showed up in The New York Times.

Not a bad turnaround.

Summers’ work appeared in a story titled “The Divestment Brigade” on page B1 of the paper’s New York edition. A version of the story appeared the night before on NYTimes.com.

“Every reporter dreams of seeing their name in The New York Times one day,” Summers said. “I had no idea that it would happen to me while still in college.”

Earlier this semester, Summers, the senior Cynic writer, received a call from Times’ environmental writer Justin Gillis, who wanted him to cover a Burlington appearance by activist Bill McKibben.

As many UVM students know already, McKibben has been campaigning to pressure colleges like UVM to end their investments in funds associated with fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas.

Gillis asked Summers to take copious notes but said that his contribution would amount to just a couple of paragraphs. That prediction turned out to be true, but Summer’s notes were indeed copious: nearly 3,000 words of observations and interviews of local, state and national figures.

As it turns out, the remainder of the notes might not go unused.

After seeing Summers’ work, Gillis talked to him about the possibility of writing for the Times’ Green blog, a section of NYTimes.com devoted to discussion of energy and the environment.

“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity and determined that this will not be my last byline in the Times,” Summers said.

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