...And one more thing
Published: Sunday, May 6, 2012
Updated: Sunday, May 6, 2012 16:05
For the first time in 84 columns, I must apologize to the reader: the following is of little interest to you. This is my last column, and there is much I’d like to say, including a lot of thank yous and anecdotes, so bear with me.
First off, thank you to all the writers, editors, copy staff, and layout folks for being so good at what you do. And to everyone on the business side — to this day, I really have no idea what you do, other than the fact that you enable us to print 6,000 papers every week and not lose money. And that is awesome.
Specifically, I must thank Natalie DiBlasio, Elliot deBruyn, Haylley Johnson, Katie Ida, Julia Wejchert, Matt Kuperman, Brent Summers, Will Andreycak, Steve Hudecek and anyone I have forgotten. And Chris Evans, UVM’s student media adviser, for being an invaluable resource, but also letting us succeed and fail on our own. And my very good friend Candace Morgan, who sorted through a countless number of my drafts and turned them into something cogent.
I have to especially thank Jeff Ayers, who three years ago wrote a worthless piece of shit column about the Supreme Court entitled “A supreme waste of time.” I opined in a bluntly worded letter to the editor that the only waste of time was reading Mr. Ayers’ article, and so began my time at The Cynic.
I’ve never worked with such a dedicated group of people, and maybe won’t again. I mean, I’d imagine it’d be hard to spend 25 hours a week doing something for which you don’t get paid, or even credit, if you don’t love it.
All of the editors met on a Saturday morning in September at the Free Press offices to go through a few issues and rate them according to the standards of the Pacemaker – an award considered to be the Pulitzer of college journalism. We gave ourselves a pretty good score, but not a great one, by any means. I knew that what we did was good — being part of a 12-20 page paper every week is the thing I’m most proud of during my time at UVM.
Seriously. Some people reminisce about the successes of their high school basketball team; I will talk about theCynic. Yeah, that’s pretty dorky, but I’m not ashamed to say it.
It was a surprise just to be nominated for a Pacemaker — something that had never happened to The Cynic. UVM doesn’t even have a journalism program, for chrissake. We’re a smattering of mostly English and political science majors who are taking a stab at this newspaper thing.
So to get a phone call from Jeff Ayers in Orlando to tell me that we’d beaten out a dozen other finalists and won a Pacemaker was mind-blowing. I think it’s important to note that it was hard to understand a word he was saying because of Natalie DiBlasio’s screaming in the background.
So hey, I guess we were doing something right.
Jeff Wakefield, the head of UVM Communications, spoke at one of our meetings after we won the Pacemaker. He said that that 10 years ago administrators cringed at the thought of admitted students picking up The Cynicwhen they came to campus, because it was, well, a bad paper — news blended with opinion and jokes went too far.
Administrators still cringe when admitted students pick up The Cynic, Wakefield continued, but for an entirely different reason — because it’s full of stories about skyrocketing tuition, cuts to work study and the hacking of the school’s network – twice. And I think that’s something to be proud of.
The Cynicis taken seriously as a media organization, and that is entirely due to the hard work of 50 or so dedicated folks – seriously, that’s a huge staff. And it’s because writers didn’t take no for an answer and editors weren’t afraid to ruffle some feathers and field some angry phone calls, and emails that are light on grammar but heavy on capital letters – c’mon folks, “asshole” is one word, not two.
When you get an email from a frantic department head who has been less than helpful for three weeks, inviting you to sit down with him or her that afternoon because your feature is going to run with his/her comment or not, you know you’re doing something right.
There were certainly some times when we found ourselves in hot water — coming uncomfortably close to a libel lawsuit, for example. But I’m glad that fear of litigation didn’t stop us from pursuing the stories that were going to be difficult.
Of the lot of us who will be graduating next month, some of us have already moved on — to larger papers. I’ve taken a job in television, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself back in print. Some us may never have another byline, but that doesn’t diminish how valuable the experience was.
I’ll never forget my time at The Cynic or the people that I worked with. It was one of the first things I knew at UVM and one of the hardest things to leave. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that I met so many of my good friends through The Cynic, to which I attribute many vociferous discussions on the future of this country, impromptu dance parties, and many, many hangovers.