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The Vermont Cynic makes the Princeton Review list of top-20 college newspapers

August 5, 2014
The College Media Matters blog today featured the list of winners.

The College Media Matters blog today featured the list of winners.

The Princeton Review has just released the list of the country’s 20 best college newspapers.

You should go ahead and scroll down to Number 18.

For there is The Vermont Cynic, right between the Boston College newspaper, The Heights, and Dartmouth College’s The Dartmouth.

“There are actual tears coming down my face,” Managing Editor Taylor Feuss said upon hearing about the ranking. “We’ve worked so hard just to be great for our own standards, but to be recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the best in the country is something I could only dream of.

“It’s really such an honor.”

Editor-in-Chief Natalie Williams added, “It’s incredible. I’ve seen the paper go through so many transformations in my past three years on staff. It’s so cool to see the constant improvements.

“I am most proud of the staff because we have no journalism program. These are self-motivated students learning on their own,  teaching their peers and doing it really well. How often do you find that at any school?”

Newspapers on the list are a mix of dailies, like The Daily Tar Heel of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and weeklies, like The Cynic.

The Yale Daily News tops the list, reclaiming the spot that it last held in 2010, according to the College Media Matters blog.

The Cynic has been racking up honors in the past few years, including a 2011 Newspaper Pacemaker Award, the student press equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, followed by a 2012 Online Pacemaker Award.

NOTE:Accessing the full list of newspapers on the Princeton Review website requires visitors to create a Princeton Review account. The same list, with commentary from college media analyst Dan Reimold, can be found on his blog, no login required.


INTERNSHIP AUGUST Spotlight Post #1: Reporting from the Israeli war zone

August 4, 2014

UVM junior Aviva Loeb, layout editor for The Vermont Cynic, spent a month this summer interning at The Jerusalem Post in Israel. She fled the country July 10 as violence between Israel and Palestine intensified. This is her account.

Border Guard Car

An Israeli border officer speaks with a man whose car has been blocked in traffic during a July 1 protest, the first of several on which UVM student Aviva Loeb reported. She says that when she took the picture, “I was right in the middle of the protest, closer than I would have liked. In that photo, I was probably three feet away from the two of them.”


After three Israeli teens were killed earlier this summer by terrorists connected to Hamas, my reporting duties for The Jerusalem Post brought me to a candlelit vigil in downtown Jerusalem, only a few blocks from my hotel, which was my home base for the internship of a lifetime.

The evening vigil was so peaceful and respectful, I couldn’t have predicted what came next.

Just a day later, a protest I was covering quickly turned violent, with protesters chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Revenge” in Hebrew. They argued with police officers. They pushed and shoved.

One Israeli spit on an Arab man who had stopped his car, an easy mark because Arab cars have different-colored license plates than Jewish cars.

Most people know what came next. On July 2, right-wing Israelis killed a Palestinian teenager and dumped his body in the Jerusalem Forest as an act of revenge.

The other Post interns and I scanned Facebook groups looking for protests, eventually covering four in the next week. One story made the front page, a coup for any intern. At the time, we joked that the interns were developing the newspaper’s “protest beat.”

Jewish protesters reenact the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.

Jewish protesters reenact the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.

An Orthodox Jew participates in a protest in response to the kidnapping of three Israeli teens while a border police officer observes the scene.

An Orthodox Jew participates in a protest in response to the kidnapping of three Israeli teens while a border police officer observes the scene.

Then tensions rose. Riots broke out in Arab neighborhoods near my apartment. Protesters set tires on fire and threw rocks at police. I stopped taking public transportation.

Living under rocket fire from Hamas isn’t unusual for Israelis.  In fact, they’ve built this contraption called the Iron Dome, which intercepts rockets fired at the country. It’s pretty accurate too, boasting a 90 percent success rate. But this level of violence was new for me.

I remember sitting outside on a crowded downtown street when the sirens went off in Jerusalem for the first time in years, sounding enough like an ambulance that it was hard to tell when we were supposed to be running. But my roommate and I ran, genuinely for our lives.

You have a minute-and-a-half to find a bomb shelter, even less if you live in other parts of Israel. We had no idea where to look—or even what we were looking for. Thankfully, we were only a block away from our hotel. Once there, we ran down flight after flight of stairs. We must have descended far below ground level. It was cool and slightly damp. Children were crying. Adults frantically made phone calls.

“They won’t hit Jerusalem,” people told me. “They can’t even reach us.” But against all odds they had. The rockets were mostly intercepted by the Iron Dome, although one fell about 45 miles outside the city onto an open field.

Israel was at war with Hamas.

In that moment in the bomb shelter, I decided that I wanted to go home. Back to Burlington, my hometown. Back to safety. Back to where everyone got along and we never had bad news of this magnitude.

Everyone told me that this was part of Israel, but it was a part I had no interest in experiencing. I never wanted to see the inside of a bomb shelter again.

Israeli border police observe the July 1 protest.

Israeli border police observe the July 1 protest.

Crying over the phone, I called my boss and explained to him that I had decided to leave. He understood, as did the seven other American interns who in a month had become some of my closest friends. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.  I didn’t want to leave my friends; I didn’t want to leave my internship.

But I didn’t want to spend three more weeks living in fear.

At the airport the next day, I heard the sirens go off again.  Nobody knew what to do because this had never happened at the airport, right in the center of the country, as far away from Gaza or the West Bank as it could be.

We walked rather than ran to the shelter, which wasn’t big enough to hold everyone. I squeezed into the crowded room, which could only be distinguished as a bomb shelter because it had no windows. I overheard a British man tell his friend over the phone that he had seen the rocket off in the distance.

When the 10-minute waiting period was up, we filed out, and business at the airport went back to normal.

Once I was in the air, I thought about getting right back on a plane and returning to Israel. I missed my friends, my office and my roommates. But landing in New York was the best feeling in the world. I was grateful to be back on American soil, so close to home and so safe.

No one truly wins in a war. Hundreds of lives have been lost and homes destroyed. My first few days back in Burlington didn’t seem real. As grateful as I was to be home, it felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.

My heart is still in Israel, with my friends and coworkers who have stayed to brave the rocket fire.

Aviva Loeb’s summer internship changed radically when fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas. She took all of the protest photos featured above. The snapshots below show her working as a Jerusalem Post reporting intern.

Loeb, second from right, interviews Hannah Goslar Pick, a Holocaust survivor and close friend of Anne Frank.

Loeb, second from right, interviews Hannah Goslar Pick, a Holocaust survivor and close friend of Anne Frank.

Loeb, right, poses with fellow interns Lia Kamana and Jacob Goldstein on the day that their protest story made the front page of The Jerusalem Post.

Loeb, right, poses with fellow interns Lia Kamana and Jacob Goldstein on the day that their protest story made the front page of The Jerusalem Post.


WRUV named best college radio station (of course)

July 30, 2014
Seven Days today named WRUV the area's best college radio station

Seven Days today named WRUV the area’s best college radio station

Sure, you’ve always suspected that WRUV was the best radio station around. But now it’s official.

Local alt-weekly Seven Days today announced the winners of the 2014 Seven Daysies awards—essentially the readers-choice awards for the Northeastern Vermont set. WRUV came out on top, being named top college radio station.

In giving the award, the editors write on their website: “Few commercial stations have the staying power of the University of Vermont’s WRUV. With both students and community-member adults at the mike, the station has been pumping out eclectic programming since 1955.”

WRUV, the radio voice of the University of Vermont, is a non-profit, non-commercial station made up of UVM students, staff and community members. The station made its official broadcast debut from its studios in the a campus barn in January 1955.

The station follows a rule of originality: Programming for each show is chosen by a show’s DJ—and WRUV has more than 100 DJs playing at any one time in 84 different shows. The material broadcast by on 90.1 FM or streamed on is unique.

Other finalists in the college radio were WGDR 91.1 FM of Goddard College, WJSC 90.7 FM of Johnson State College, WRMC 91.1 FM of Middlebury College Radio and WWPV “The Mike” 88.7 FM of Saint Michael’s College.



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.”


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