Introducing Abbi Sigler, CD alumna

In the fast-moving world of Virginia politics, Abbi Sigler sits at the center of the storm.

Sigler, who graduated from the College in 2013 with a major in government, is the deputy communications director for Republican Ed Gillespie’s gubernatorial campaign.

It’s a lot of writing. A lot of back-and-forth with the press. And it’s not that different from The Cavalier Daily, the former Life editor said.

“In a lot of ways, it’s similar to the Cav Daily,” Sigler said. “There’s a lot of moving parts and teams, but everyone is trying to meet the same exact goal.”

The 2017 governor’s race, still in primary season, has garnered national attention. It’s seen as a bellwether for both Democrats and Republicans as they head into midterm elections in 2018.

On the Republican side, Gillespie, who served as an advisor to President George W. Bush and as chairman of the Republican National Committee, faces off against Frank Wagner, a state senator, and Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County board of supervisors.

For a spot on the Democratic ticket, Tom Perriello, a former U.S. representative who has the backing of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, will go up against Ralph Northam, the current lieutenant governor who carries the endorsement of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Virginians head to the polls for primary elections on June 13.

It can be a bit hectic, Sigler admits. But she says her time on the paper has been a major boon.

“I understand what the press deals with,” she said. “I understand what it means to have deadlines you have to meet.”

Before working on Gillespie’s campaign, Sigler spent time in both Richmond and Washington. After graduation, she worked in Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office as a fellow and then as the deputy press secretary. When his term was up, she went to work in former Rep. Robert Hurt’s Congressional office. After he retired, she served as communications director for Rep. Mimi Waters.

It’s a media-centric career path she attributes in part to the CD.

“I’m not sure I would do what I do now if I hadn’t been a part of The Cavalier Daily,” she said.

Sigler joined The Cavalier Daily as a second year. After a short stint on the production team, she went all in on the Life section, penning a column and then handling Love Connection. She served as a Life section editor during fourth year.

Across three years, what does she remember most?

“Final Roll,” she laughed.

May: News from the Newsroom

By Tim Dodson, CD Managing Editor

May is a month of transition for The Cavalier Daily as we finish the last few print issues of the semester and prepare to enter summer production. 

As the school year came to an end we were reporting on — and are continuing to follow — two major proposals that could impact academics at the University. One is a potential merger of the Civil and Systems Engineering departments and another is major changes under consideration for the Echols Scholars Program. As the only news organization reporting on these changes, we are providing the community with much-needed information and a variety of perspectives. 
We are also continuing to follow the controversy over City Council’s decision to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from Lee Park. This past weekend, a white supremacist torchlit rally in Lee Park protesting Council’s decision made national headlines and we are continuing to report on the community’s response. 
During the summer, we will have regular content and fresh stories each day. We also have a summer staff (consisting of a summer editor, two writers, and a production staffer) that is set to start in June. 
May is also a month of reflection. Earlier this month we put our together our year-in-review issue and our graduation issue is coming out May 19. The end of the semester is also a time for us to consider our top stories, highlight our achievements and think about ways we can improve.  
Our top five most-viewed stories from this year are as follows:
Moving forward, we will continue to expand our digital presence. I am especially excited to see more reporters using Twitter starting in the fall and a greater, continued use of live-streaming on our social media platforms. 

Giving to Hoos Day 2017

The CDAA is pleased to announce that on Giving to Hoos Day, April 12, we raised a total of $4,076. We received $1,326 from 20 donors, and are receiving the remaining pledged matches shortly.

Thank you to everyone who donated. It is due to your generosity that we can continue to jointly support the work of excellent student journalism at The Cavalier Daily.

If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to the CD to help further its mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public, please click here.

We thank you for your continued support.

April: News from the Newsroom

CD Offices. Photo by Richard Dizon.

Photo by Richard Dizon.

By Tim Dodson, CD Managing Editor

April is a busy month in The Cavalier Daily‘s newsroom! We’ve published three special issues so far this month — faculty salaries, a food issue, and Founder’s Day — and we have a sustainability issue hitting distribution boxes next week.

I am particularly proud of an analysis we published earlier this month of a 164-page Freedom of Information Request that author Jeff Thomas provided to the paper. The documents showed the University’s advancement office has been tracking the admissions status of children of wealthy donors in hopes of getting certain applicants accepted or waitlisted.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello visited Grounds earlier this week and our news and video teams worked together to conduct some video interviews that we embedded throughout this article.

The Cavalier Daily has also ventured into podcasting this semester, with our Arts & Entertainment team taking the lead in producing a series called “The Pitch List.” You can take a listen to the most recent episode here.

Overall, our content has been reaching a large audience on social media — our average Facebook reach is 55,000 people!

Introducing Sabra Purtill, CD alumna

Sabra Purtill

Like many former Cav Daily staffers, Sabra Purtill found a home in the Newcomb Hall offices in a way that impacts her career to this day.

A 1984 graduate from the College, Purtill now works as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations at the Hartford Financial Services Group. In this role, she is in charge of communications with investors, analysts, and other individuals.

“The CD and my background in journalism was foundational for what I’ve done with my career on the communications side,” Purtill says. “There is a lot of really bad business writing out there. But being able to write succinctly is a skill.”

Purtill specifically cites the lede as a good way to start whenever she is creating business communications in order to center and focus her thoughts. She also still finds herself copy-editing memos that are handed to her at work, saying that she “can’t help but to proof things.”

This hearkens back to the start of Purtill’s journalistic career in junior high and high school, when she was involved with the school paper and the yearbook. Though she never wanted to be a serious journalist, she enjoyed participating in her free time. It was this attitude that she carried to U.Va.

In her first year, she worked for the University Journal, a startup conservative paper. She switched to the Cav Daily her second year because, she joked, she wasn’t as conservative as other members of the Journal.

The Journal was fun though,” she says. “Just like all start-ups.”

At the Cav Daily, Purtill started as a copy editor and a member of the production team. One summer she served as the summer editorial page editor. A dedicated student in the Government Honors program and a worker part-time, Purtill was on a rigorous track that kept her from joining the Junior Managing Board or Managing Board. However, the production schedule fit in well with her hectic life.

“Copy editing came at the end of the day, so it worked for me,” Purtill says. “If you were there for production at the end of the day, it was all hands on deck. There was glue everywhere, gluing pieces of copy to the print, and then we would have to rush to Crozet to get it printed.”

The chaos and busyness made the 5th floor of Newcomb Hall a community for Purtill, who today is still involved with the CD. She currently serves as a member of the Financial Advisory Committee on the CDAA Board. She has big hopes for the future of the paper, having seen the growth of digital channels from a position of authority within the financial services industry.
“I’d like the CD to be able to successfully transition to the digital age while remaining relevant to the University audience and remaining financially viable,” she says. “And these are huge challenges. But I am guardedly optimistic… the University and the CD are full of smart, hardworking young people that understand the digital age well.”

Women and the CD

It’s no secret that hundreds of women have shaped The Cavalier Daily throughout its 127-year history.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. The University did not co-educate until 1970. And some male students were skeptical when the first women enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences (see below).

Women and the CD

Still, the CD quickly became a place where women worked to affect change — both within the paper and across Grounds.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, here are three Cavalier Daily alumnae who left the organization and the school better than they found it.

Holly Smith (Class of 1972)

Smith was part of the first class of undergraduate women at the University of Virginia. And she showed up ready to get to work.

“I arrived in Charlottesville in September of 1970 ready to do battle in the cause of making sure that women were given equal treatment at the University,” Smith said in an interview with Virginia Magazine.

Smith decided to join The Cavalier Daily’s staff and use the paper as a platform to highlight gender divides on Grounds. She tackled issues ranging from health care access to women’s athletics, according to the magazine profile.

Smith took particular aim at equity on the Lawn, looking into whether the University’s axial space would open up rooms to female applicants. For one story, she posed inside room 48 East in a bathrobe.


Women and the CD

Marjorie Leedy (Class of 1977)

Leedy was the first female editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily. She was elected to the role as a third-year student in 1976 after serving as news editor.

There were already a number of women on staff by the time Leedy joined. Mary Love, the first woman to serve on the managing board, was elected business manager in 1973.

“The women in editor positions at the time tried hard to be mentors and to encourage other women to succeed,” Leedy said.

Leedy’s election generated conversation, but she said a lot of the buzz had to do with newsroom politics and other standard fare.

“I think the staff was excited about electing a woman, but the overall feeling was more one of relief that the CD was able to keep both me and Scott Weisenberger, the other News Editor, who ran against me,” Leedy said.

During her term, Leedy and her team fought to maintain the paper’s independence from the administration.

At the time, University President Frank Hereford and the Board of Visitors were trying to exert control over the paper. They formed a Media Board and attempted editorial oversight in the wake of a series of investigative pieces.

Leedy decided it was time to lay the groundwork for an independent Cavalier Daily.

“We realized… that the CD ultimately would be best being as independent as possible of the University — in the best of all possible worlds paying for Newcomb Hall space, for instance — and we began the process of figuring out how to get there,” Leedy said. “…I’d like to think that the CD today is in a place in which it can no longer be threatened like that.”

The paper became independent of the University in 1979.

Lianne Provenzano (Class of 2017)

Provenzano was first elected to the Cavalier Daily’s managing board as a first-year student. She went on to serve three full terms on the paper’s leadership team — including the first all-female managing board, which was elected in 2015.

Provenzano started out as a member of the production team. When she first arrived at U.Va., the design staff was still primarily focused on putting out the print edition of the paper.

That changed throughout the course of Provenzano’s time at The Cavalier Daily.

In her two terms as operations editor, she helped incorporate online graphics into the paper’s nightly routine. And as chief financial officer, she worked with the paper’s business manager to bump up digital ad sales.

“We began focusing more on… sponsored content and other methods of increasing revenue that did not rely on the print paper,” Provenzano said.

She was also part of the team that completely eliminated the paper’s debts, negotiated a new printing contract and arranged a five-year lease for space in Newcomb Hall, ensuring financial independence in a digital-first news environment.

Working with the first all-female managing board was a unique part of her experience, Provenzano said.
“There was a different kind of closeness among the group that allowed us to work well together,” Provenzano said.