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Recent Vermont Cynic grad makes national headlines for her reporting—and goodwill

January 6, 2014

UPDATE, Jan. 9 — In an interview with ABC news, DiBlasio discusses the ethics of sharing a source’s information with a third party: in this case, the source’s mother.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 2.44.35 PMHundreds of news outlets today are reporting the story about USA Today reporter Natalie DiBlasio, the 2011 Vermont Cynic editor in chief, whose outreach to a reader helped a woman find her missing son.

The story—which started circulating around social media a day before becoming official, widespread, old-media news—started with DiBlasio’s USA Today article about recent frigid temperatures gripping the country. The story was accompanied by a photo taken by Associated Press photographer Jacquelyn Martin of a homeless man, who identified himself only as “Nick,” warming himself by a grate in Washington D.C.

The man turned out to be Nicholas Simmons, a 20-year-old who disappeared from his home in upstate New York on Jan. 1. His mother, Michelle Hannah Simmons, reached out to DiBlasio, who contacted the photographer. Together, they helped Nick’s mother track him down.

As of this afternoon, stories about DiBlasio appeared in everything from the USA Today-affiliated Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, where people who knew Nick originally saw his photo, to the Canadian National Post. DiBlasio said she has also been invited to talk about her experience on the Jan. 6 episode of Inside Edition.

Gawker was among the first to report about DiBlasio's work in helping a mother find her missing son.

Gawker was among the first to report about DiBlasio’s work in helping a mother find her missing son.

Journ-optimism from across the sea

December 16, 2013

So, yes, it’s a weird journalism-jobs landscape.

Media outlets continue to bleed talent in the form of layoffs, buyouts and staff cuts, and a story out today on the Poynter website makes a case that, while newspapers continue to retain their position at the front of the traditional media pack when it comes to online advertising revenue, newspapers will lose more than half of their share of digital ads in the next five years.

But the news about news isn’t all gloomy. Persistent, talented students can graduate into amazing careers. Just ask Jessica Bartlett at The Boston Globe, Molly Shaker at Good Morning America or Connor Boals, formerly of Thomson Reuters and now a producer at the mobile-first startup NowThis News.

It doesn’t hurt to have a great internship, of course, both for U.S. students and those overseas. Belgian college student Lana Mortelmans wrote us recently to offer her insight into the global journalism sitch.

One takeaway message: Would-be journalists are struggling everywhere, yet optimism drives them on.


By Lana Mortelmans

LanaPicSixty journalism students are supposed to graduate this year from the AP Hogeschool in Antwerp. Most plan to work in the journalism sector, but more than 80 percent say they are afraid that they won’t find a journalism job. The media, their teachers, other journalists—everyone tells them how hard it is for journalists to find a job. The students are scared.

Perhaps they shouldn’t be. Every AP student has found an internship, and the vast majority believe that a good internship can facilitate the search for a job. Most hope to land a job in print media. But can they?

Though Belgian media is actually holding up well in comparison to other countries, print suffers more than other forms of media. This year, the circulation of Belgian newspapers decreased by 14 percent, with popular newspapers leading the decline. Last month, it was announced that another 205 Belgian newspaper journalists would be fired. The number of newspaper mergers keeps increasing. Belgian radio consumption decreased by 7 percent last year. Belgian television is doing better, with a decrease of just 3 percent.

Without new, energetic talent, journalism will be doomed. It’s up to our generation to make sure journalism will survive.

We all chose to study journalism because we’re interested in media. It’s a fact that the number of available journalism jobs is decreasing, but if we are demotivated now, we certainly won’t find journalism jobs. We should be proud to be journalists. I would be proud to call myself a journalist. And I’m sure I will be soon. I can’t wait to see my own journalistic work published. I hope that my fellow journalism students can find similar motivation as they step into the job market.

I hope that my fellow journalism students can find similar motivation as they step into the job market.

Lana Mortelmans is a 20-year-old journalism student in her third and final year at Artesis Plantijn University College in Antwerp. She hopes to become a television journalist. 

What it’s like @ UVM

December 13, 2013

We here at the UVM Journalism and Media blog don’t often tread into PR-land, but here’s a great reason to do so. The video branch of University Communications this week put out a fun video titled “What it’s like here,” which really does provide an accurate and upbeat version of the kinds of activities and lifestyle that students can expect when they come to UVM.

Don’t miss a quick shot of two WRUV DJs at 1:08!

So you want to write for a national audience

December 3, 2013

Katy Cardin

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.

Cynic news editor Katy Cardin continues UVM’s USA Today tradition

December 2, 2013
Katy Cardin Works

Cynic editor Katy Cardin (right) works in the Cynic newsroom this fall with Cynic photo editor Phoebe Sheehan.

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.

As a collegiate correspondent, Cardin writes college-specific features for a national audience, typically on the USA Today College website but sometimes on the newspaper’s main website.

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’s Grand Opening: Food, music & studio tours

November 14, 2013

UVMtv Station Manager Jack Steele and Program Director Melisa Rayvid are part of the team setting up the station’s new studio in Billings Hall.

UVMtv students have had a big year, dominated by moving their entire TV studio from the Davis Center in the middle of campus to Billings Student Center on UVM’s north end. Not an easy task.

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!

The Vermont Cynic leads coverage of a campus death

November 2, 2013

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

Kathy Cook

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.


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