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December 2008

December 21, 2008

Student Media Consolidation at SMC

St. Michael's College is served by a pair of student news publications: The Defender, a traditional print newspaper, and The Echo, an online magazine (for which I served as tech editor this past semester). Both publications publish weekly or biweekly, ranging from 7-10 issues per semester in recent years. They also both cover many of the same stories when it comes to on-campus events. Journalism majors at St. Mike's have traditionally had to spend two semesters writing stories for both publications as part of the two Writing for Media classes (typically sophomore year), and then spend at least one semester working as an editor on the staff of one of the two (typically one semester junior year). This is about to change, though, as the spring 2009 semester will see The Defender and The Echo produced by one merged staff.

Defender advisor Paul Beique and Echo advisor Marybeth Redmond will co-teach the combined class, and both have been adamant that neither publication is going away or getting folded into the other — this is very much a merger of equals. Two of the student staff editors from each publication are returning next semester to help lead the merger experiment, as well (including me, again — I'll be the editor of The Naked Opinion, which is sticking around and becoming cross-platform).

The move is largely designed to provide journalism majors with the wide range of media experience they need to graduate into today's journalism world. No longer is it good enough for a reporter to know how to take good notes and write a print story on deadline. The trend now is for "backpack reporters" — journalists who can write, record audio, take pictures and video, and craft a full media package for a story for a print setting and for the Web. While The Defender does have a Web site and multimedia components, it's clear that those elements take a back seat to print stories, in all honesty. Conversely, Echo staff members never have to learn print design. A glance at the Web sites for NPR or The New York Times will quickly reveal just how converged media forms are getting.

So is the merger of our publications at St. Mike's ultimately a good thing? I say yes, but with some qualifications. I personally love new media and multimedia (and that's why I'm a part-time blogger!), so it's good to see my department validating my interests as legitimate. For the journalism majors who aren't as dorky as me and thus aren't as excited to delve into multimedia storytelling, it'll be good to have the department pushing them in that direction. And from a purely practical standpoint, our campus has just 2,000 students, and two publications to cover a campus this small can get redundant. Prominent sources will surely be thrilled to no longer have two reporters begging to interview them about the same story.

At the same time, though, there is something I'll miss about having two wholly separate publications. Though they would both cover major campus events, I always liked how The Defender covered the campus more in-depth, while The Echo tended to gravitate towards more off-campus stories in Burlington or elsewhere in the area. While the publications themselves remain, I wonder how a merged staff will change story-gathering trends. And plus, it never hurts to have an extra voice in the discussion of campus issues. It'll be fun next semester to find out for sure what's gained and what's lost in our student media.

December 17, 2008

Tent City Report

Tent City — the Champlain College initiative to raise awareness of homelessness — may be over but the conditions for the homeless are worsening as winter continues. See this WPTZ video about the 160 residents of the city simulating the life of the homeless and what other students can do to help lessen this problem.

The Finals Countdown

Stressed about Finals? Of course you are! Here are a few great tips on how to ace those exams. Watch, listen and learn!

December 15, 2008

Lip Sync

Not all college students spend every second studying for those exams. Check out Champlain student Laura and her roommate "singing" some familiar tunes.

Watch the video here.

Vermont Yak, Don't Talk Back

Renaissance man and media Professor Rob Williams has a new project on his hands, and it's a new take on traditional farming. Professor Williams is part of the Vermont Yak Farm in Waitsfield, VT. Three families on two farms take the mission to raise and breed grass-fed yak for organic meat and fiber to help build a more diverse and sustainable agrarian future for the greater Green Mountain region. Learn more about the new cattle in Vermont by watching the video and picking up The Champlain Current, the student newspaper on Champlain's campus.

Or check out On the Yak Track, from Seven Days last April.

Where the hell is Matt?

Hola, amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I got a lot on my plate these days. Finals = best time of the year, no?  I don't know about you guys, but for me, as the tests and papers pile on, all I want to do is drop out of school and travel the world.  Well, meet  Matt. A self-proclaimed "deadbeat from Connecticut" who is essentially sponsored by Stride gum to travel the world and dance.  Just watch the  video at  It'll make you smile, cry, dance, board a plane to Timbuktu, basically do anything other than study for this Chinese Philosophy exam! And, make sure to check out the "About Matt" section for his full story.

December 11, 2008

Journalist Evans Rubara Speaks at St. Michael's on Human Rights Atrocities in Tanzania

Coinciding with World AIDS Day on Dec. 5 and the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, St. Michael's College hosted "AIDS and the Denial of Human Rights," a week-plus of programs from Dec. 1-10. Events included film screenings, a rally in support of HIV/AIDS research funding outside Sen. Patrick Leahy's office on Dec. 5, and a talent pageant that benefited the Ilula Orphanage Program in Tanzania. Last night, the series culminated with a compelling and profoundly moving lecture from Tanzanian journalist Evans Rubara in the McCarthy Arts Center.

Rubara spoke of atrocious human rights abuses being carried out in his homeland by multinational mining companies looking to attain Tanzanian gold, tanzanite, and other minerals by any means possible. He showed a documentary film that showed first-hand how companies like Barrick Gold and Anglogold Ashanti displaced entire villages to build large-scale mining operations, moving the villagers to refugee camps in their own country where water and toilet facilities are nearly non-existent. The companies strip the land of its natural resources and sell them, while the Tanzanian government allows them to operate without paying taxes or reparations to the people who have been displaced. Rubara cited one case where over 50 small-scale miners were allegedly buried alive by one of the multinational companies.

These companies have put hundreds of thousands of small-scale miners out of work — some have since turned to prostitution, exacerbating the AIDS pandemic in East Africa. The conditions brought forth by the multinational mining operations have caused poverty and AIDS alike to increase dramatically in Tanzania — and as Tanzanian and other governments turn a blind eye, the problem is only getting worse.

The most enlightening fact of the evening for me was that the American government invests in some of these mining companies. Rubara challenged the near-capacity audience to take the time to write to our congressmen and demand that our tax dollars be withdrawn from supporting the rape of the resources and culture of Tanzania and the inhumane abuse of its people. The plight of the Tanzanians is something I won't soon forget.

For more information on Evans Rubara and his story, check out this story in last week's Seven Days and a profile of Rubara in the latest issue of The Echo.

December 08, 2008

Champlain College Student Crowned Miss Vermont

Vermont09 Brooke Werner, a senior Public Relations major at Champlain College, was recently named Miss Vermont USA for 2009. Unlike the Miss America pageant, the Miss USA competition does not feature a talent round. Instead, the women are judged based on evening gown and bathing suit modeling, as well as on an interview.

Incidentally, Miss Vermont has won the "Congeniality" award five times in the Miss USA pageant, three more times than any other state. Congeniality is evaluated on terms of how friendly the contestant is and how enjoyable she makes the competition for everyone else.

In other news, I was recently awarded the "Mr. Monroe Street Award," in which my cat Vonnegut placed second. He withdrew from the bathing suit competition, as he was distracted by a shoelace and could not be convinced to put on the suit. I thank all who voted for me (which is me).

Also, congratulations on winning, Brooke!

Cats Can't Afford Meow Mix

Even large research universities are feeling the cold economy. The University of Vermont is planning to lay off employees and freeze salaries in an attempt to reduce the $22 million budget deficit.

President Fogel reported that “multiple strategies will be used, including the permanent elimination of a number of positions,” and also said that the University would determine which positions or personnel will be cut around mid-January at the earliest.

Fogel also remarked that administrators have concluded that operating budgets for the upcoming year will not increase, and the deans and vice presidents will not receive any salary raises next year.

The faculty union expressed concern that the quality of education for students might decrease with layoffs and a planned enrollment increase. How many faculty members will be out of jobs is not known.

December 04, 2008

LIVEBLOG NOW: Prog-Dem Forum

Here with Cathy Resmer.  Tune in!

December 03, 2008

Free Live Music is the Best Kind

Grimis This Saturday, the St. Michael's student radio station WWPV 88.7 The Mike is hosting a double-bill concert for the always agreeable price of free.

The headliner is a band called Grimis, from Boston. They bill themselves as a "rock/folk/jazz" band, and that's actually fairly accurate. They've got the chops and the improvisational spirit of the jam band world, but with the structure and focused songwriting of the indie rock world — similar to bands like The Slip and Apollo Sunshine, both of whom Grimis has shared a stage with in the past.

Kicking off the night will be a progressive rock/jam group called Delta 9 and the Flo, from Connecticut. Fans of Phish and Umphrey's McGee will be sure to dig this bunch.

This all goes down Saturday in Eddie's Lounge, upstairs in Alliot Hall on the St. Mike's campus. The show starts at 7:00 p.m., and once again, it's free and open to all. Here's the Facebook event page.

December 01, 2008

Why Can't We All Just Get Along!?

Homeprogdem_2 Welcome back to all you students who trekked home for Thanksgiving.  Today marks the beginning of the hellish two-week sprint to the end of the semester. Now's the time when words like "library," "Adderal," and "my damn professor" begin circulate more frequently in the university lexicon.

But mark this date:

Seven Days will be hosting a live debate between some important Progs and Dems following up on some voter concerns raised in the November election. Seven Days political columnist Shay Totten will moderate.

Here's the names: 
Donkeys — Rep. Johanna Leddy Donovan, D-Burlington, Jake Perkinson, Chairman, Burlington City Democrats
Moose — Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, Jane Knodell, City Councilor, P-Ward 2

Here's the details:
This Thursday at 7 at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center down by the waterfront at Lake and College.

I'll be liveblogging from the event with Seven Days Online Editor, Cathy Resmer.

Here's some links:
Seven Days - Facebook

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