Not only did Natalie DiBlasio land a prestigious and hard-to-get internship in the heart of the USA Today newsroom, she broke records while there. Just four days after arriving, DiBlasio scored a front-page story on the dampening effect of drought and budget cuts on firework displays around the country — the fastest, in the memory of her editor Dennis Lyons, any intern had achieved A1 placement. The next week, she landed another front-page spot with her article on a national trend toward implementing flashing, left-turn signals to improve traffic safety — a trend she discovered through her own reporting. All told, DiBlasio has earned 18 bylines for USA Today, six of which were printed on page one.
It wasn't DiBlasio's first time in a newsroom. That came three years ago, when, by chance, she enrolled in student media adviser Chris Evans' course, News Writing Across Media. "I had no idea I wanted to go into journalism when I came to UVM," DiBlasio says, who took the class to fulfill a requirement for her public communications major. To earn extra credit, she submitted one of her stories to UVM's student newspaper, the Vermont Cynic.
"What happens at the Cynic is if you're really good, you advance through the ranks quickly," Evans says. And that is the story of DiBlasio's tenure at the paper, where she started as a reporter, became news editor, and this year serves as editor-in-chief. How has the experience shaped her time at UVM? "It's changed everything. It is, really, my education at UVM," DiBlasio says. "I'm learning so much through everything you can do at the Cynic — from the writing experience, from the editing experience, and from our adviser."
Ever the intrepid reporter, Evans recalls a time at a national student media conference when DiBlasio, realizing there were representatives from news organizations present, quickly revised her resume on the spot, printed it along with examples of her writing at the hotel's business center, and went table to table introducing herself and delivering the materials. "A lot of things went into play in getting the USA Today internship," Evans says, "and her drive is the central one."
An internship at a national paper positions DiBlasio well — even in a time of uncertainty for the industry at large — of finding a position at that level after she graduates this December. In the meantime, she's extended her work with USA Today by being accepted as one of 14 collegiate correspondents to contribute a weekly story to the USA Today College website.
On top of that weekly deadline is the pressure to see the Cynic through another semester. Says Evans of DiBlasio at the helm: "I expect this to be another shift in the way the Cynic operates. Natalie has been a phenomenal guide already, and her vision is going to be so much wider, larger. She's always surprising me with the kind of work she does and what she achieves."