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Campus Tumult Sparked Love of Journalism for G. Claude Albert ‘72

Claude Albert '72, a former managing editor of The Daily Campus, is now editor-in-chief of The Connecticut Mirror.

G. Claude Albert ’72, a former managing editor of The Daily Campus, is now editor-in-chief of The Connecticut Mirror. (Photo courtesy of CT Mirror)

By Ethan Linder ’15

It was November 1968 and anti-war protesters had stormed into Gulley Hall at the University of Connecticut and refused to leave the building. UConn’s Storrs campus was in turmoil.

G. Claude Albert was an undergraduate student and news editor for The Daily Campus. Albert ran to Gulley Hall as soon as he heard what was going on. After observing the scene and gathering all the facts he could, he began writing a news story about the hostile takeover while his friend drove him to the printer. Albert was determined to have his breaking news story run in the next morning’s paper.

Shortly after that Gulley Hall incident, anti-war protesters burned down an ROTC structure on campus. Albert was one of the first reporters to see the ROTC building in flames, and then write about it.

These instances are two of the many memorable events that Albert, who is now editor-in-chief of The Connecticut Mirror, recalls covering during his time as a UConn student. Albert’s career in journalism spans nearly a half century now, a professional calling that he’s happy to see come full circle.

Albert, who grew up in Stamford, Conn., arrived at UConn in the fall of 1967, as an honors English literature major focused on pre-med. Although the pre-med courses were challenging, Albert made it through his first two years, even when a new passion started to get in the way.

During Albert’s second semester, a friend who wrote for The Daily Campus convinced him to give it a try. Albert went over to UConn’s student-run newspaper, which at the time was located in the Student Union, and was assigned to write an article about an upcoming speech on campus.

After the speech, Albert headed over to the Student Union snack bar. With no prior experience writing news stories, he sat down and wrote what he thought sounded best.

“I had read newspapers for years and just did it by ear. It sounded like a news story so I wrote it that way,” Albert said. Despite Albert’s lack of experience, his story was good enough to be published on the front page the following day.

He was hooked.

For the next three years, Albert worked at The Daily Campus, rising up through the ranks to managing editor. Albert recalled being at the student newspaper offices at all hours of the day and night. Many nights he would leave the newsroom at two in the morning, only to get up for his 8 a.m. organic chemistry class.

Albert’s time at The Daily Campus coincided with a tumultuous period in America. Albert remembered how strong the anti-war sentiment was on campus at the time, as well as the unstable atmosphere that loomed over the university.

“The Daily Campus was just starting to evolve into a newspaper that had to cover very serious things… and look at the news of the nation and the world through the local lens,” Albert said.

Eventually, Albert decided that journalism was his true passion, and he stopped pursuing medical school. At the time, the UConn journalism program was just a series of courses. Therefore, Albert kept English literature as his major, and took classes from UConn’s only two journalism professors at the time, Evan Hill and John J. Breen.

Albert knew he wanted a career in journalism.

Albert landed his first job while still in college as a stringer for The Hartford Courant. He said he got paid 25 cents per inch and $2 per town meeting to cover the town of Willington, not far from UConn’s Storrs campus.

After graduating in 1972, Albert secured a job on the Courant’s state desk doing copy editing. He worked his way up over several years, becoming assistant state editor, and then state editor, a job he loved. That position allowed him to work with reporters and build relationships with many of them, Albert said.

When Times Mirror Co. (later purchased by Tribune Co.) bought the Hartford Courant in 1979, the paper went through a major reorganization. Albert was promoted to deputy metro editor. He continued to work his way up the editing chain, becoming the deputy managing editor in 1989. He was named managing editor in 2006.

Albert’s main task during his time at these positions was to supervise the Courant’s Sunday newspaper, a position he said he enjoyed because of the variety and depth of the stories he worked on. As he moved up in management, though, Albert said he also moved further away from the duties he loved as state editor.

In 2008, during a time of financial turmoil for the newspaper industry, Albert was let go from the Courant.  It was one of the numerous downsizes in which, Albert said, “we’d lose dozens at a clip.”

Not ready to retire, Albert took on the position of editor-in-chief at The Connecticut Mirror in August 2014. Unlike the Hartford Courant, which at its prime consisted of a huge newsroom with hundreds of employees, the CT Mirror is a small, nonprofit, nonpartisan online news outlet with 11 employees.

Albert said he’s delighted to once again be working directly with reporters.

“In a way I’m doing what I did when I was state editor of the Courant, in that sense I’ve come full circle,” he said. “I’ve come back to some of the things about editing that I love the most.”

UConn Journalism celebrates 50 years on April 15-16, 2016 with special events on campus in Storrs. All alumni and friends are invited to participate in interesting talks, food, tours, drop-in workshops and visits with old (and new!) friends. RSVP for the event through this registration form.

Ability to ‘Create Campus Dialogue’ Lured HuffPo Editor Curtis M. Wong ’01 into Journalism

Curtis Wong '01 is a senior editor at The Huffington Post. (Photo by Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Curtis M. Wong’s journalism career path led him from The Daily Campus to Hartford Courant to The Prague Post, and now to The Huffington Post. (Photo by Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

By Ylenia Elvy-Panton ’16

It was short walk from Buckley residential hall to Arjona on the campus of the University of Connecticut. For Curtis M. Wong, though, the commute has taken him a long way.

Wong, a Journalism and English major from Coventry, Connecticut, graduated from UConn in 2001 and is now senior editor of Queer Voices at the Huffington Post.

The first time Wong saw Connecticut’s flagship university during a tour, he said he found himself immediately drawn to the school. The large campus in Storrs could make a student feel like a little fish in a big pond, but the journalism department was small and made him feel comfortable, he said.

When Wong began working at The Daily Campus in his sophomore year, he got to practice the lessons from his journalism classes hands on, while nurturing some lifelong friendships.

“I loved working for the Daily Campus,” he said.

Wong said he and his old friends from The Daily Campus often reminisce about tough stories and misprints. One memorable story, Wong said, was when they stayed overnight in the newsroom during the contested presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. The news staff waited with two different versions of the paper to publish, he said.

Breaking news situations are similar in the working world, Wong said. “That taught me a lot about news judgment,” he said.

Although Wong now works for an online publication, his focus at UConn was print journalism, he said. He learned how to do print layouts for magazines and other publications in copyediting class, which he said he still applies to online work. Copyediting was one of Wong’s favorite classes, and he saved all of his projects and notes.

His favorite assignment in copyediting, Wong said, was one where each student created their own magazine. It revolved around a topic of their choice that reflected their interests, Wong said. He created a summer travel guide that showcased amusement parks in the United States. It was enjoyable to work on something that he liked, he said, but the most difficult thing was how hard he was on himself.

“I’m kind of a perfectionist,” he said.

During an internship with the Hartford Courant in Wong’s junior year, he said had the chance to be a part of professional editorial meetings to pitch ideas, and often went for feature style stories.

“I really like to highlight the extraordinary work of ordinary people,” he said.

Wong took that enthusiasm for human interest stories to his first job at Business Insurance in New York. Although the magazine was “very business driven,” Wong said, he managed to find and write feature stories covering damage from natural disasters.

Wong became certified to teach English abroad during the four years he worked and lived in New York. Then he moved to the Czech Republic and taught English to students of all ages. He said he enjoyed teaching, but always knew he was a “writer at heart.” So he began freelancing for print publications and was soon hired to work for the Prague Post. It was an interesting experience, Wong said, as the structure of media in Europe differed from America’s.

“Political leaders have less of a filter with communication,” he said. “Here in the U.S, it’s more of diplomacy at work.”

After a year and a half of working for the Prague Post, Wong returned to America and got his master’s degree at the Columbia Journalism School. He said the courses helped him “get up to speed” with digital media.

Almost immediately after graduating, Wong started working at the Huffington Post. The Huffington Post’s Queer Voices, which Wong helped launch, has been named the #1 LGBT news site on the internet, he said.

The news outlet started out covering marriage equality and celebrity activists, but grew to be “much more,” he said. Along with topics, terminology used in the community has also evolved.

Now, Wong said he’s responsible for the digital layouts of stories as a senior editor at HuffPo. Writing is still a big part of his job, he said, and he considers himself a writer “before anything.”

“It’s challenging,” Wong said. “But, rewarding.”

The only thing Wong said he would’ve changed about his UConn experience was writing for the Daily Campus sooner. It’s the “ability to create campus dialogue” that made working for the student newspaper such a great experience, Wong said.

Getting to write about what affects people the most, first for UConn’s student newspaper, and now the Huffington Post, is what Wong said he enjoys best about journalism.

Follow Curtis M. Wong on Twitter: ,

UConn Journalism celebrates 50 years on April 15-16, 2016 with special events on campus in Storrs. All alumni and friends are invited to participate in interesting talks, food, tours, drop-in workshops and visits with old (and new!) friends. RSVP for the event through this registration form.

CT Mirror Budget Reporter Keith Phaneuf ’88 Still Keeps a Copy of His ‘Sudden Death’ Story

Keith Phaneuf

Connecticut Mirror state budget reporter Keith Phaneuf  “fell backwards” into his good ‘sudden death’ story, and into his career as a journalist. (Photo courtesy of WNPR/Chion Wolf)

By Shannon Hearn ’16

Three semesters into his college career at the University of Connecticut in 1983, Keith Phaneuf dropped out.

Deciding he had no business majoring in engineering, Phaneuf nabbed a job as a reporter at a local radio station, WINY in Putnam.

“I wasn’t entirely interested in working for the radio industry, but I really liked the reporting aspect to my job,” Phaneuf said.

After a full year of covering municipal meetings for the radio station, Phaneuf decided to re-enroll at UConn, this time majoring in journalism.

And so, as a junior commuter from Putnam, Phaneuf began working his way through UConn’s journalism courses in the fall of 1986. First up was Newswriting.

Phaneuf was confident. “I’m so far ahead of these clowns; I know what I’m doing,’” he recalled thinking.

Halfway through the semester on a particular day that still stands out, Phaneuf remembered how he had actually parked in the off-campus commuter lot (instead of sneaking a spot on-campus and risking a ticket from campus police).

“I grabbed a shuttle bus from there to Arjona,” he said. “The driver of the bus was complaining to someone who was sitting near the front about how there weren’t enough drivers and she had to cover too many shifts.”

Vaguely preoccupied, Phaneuf hopped off the bus, headed into Arjona and plopped down at his desk only to be handed the dreaded Newswriting “sudden death” assignment.

“There were a range of reactions. A couple of kids peed down their legs, some kids laughed and others just rushed over to the Co-Op,” he said. “I was used to working around a certain amount of pressure. I honestly didn’t completely panic.”

Phaneuf walked outside, wondering what he was going to cover and then a shuttle bus went right by him.

“I saw it and I said to myself, ‘there it is,’” he said. “There’s a shortage of shuttle bus drivers.”

He took two steps onto the bus and asked the driver where transportation service headquarters were located.

Turns out, she was on her way there. The driver woman radioed ahead and asked if Harold Gagne, the transportation director, would be up for an interview.

She got his consent for an interview on the spot.

“My good luck was just flowing at this point,” Phaneuf said. “I was literally being driven to my sudden death assignment.”

He talked with the transportation director, ran back to Arjona and threw together his story.

“I didn’t do a very good job with it. I didn’t talk to a single passenger and there were all kinds of problems. I think I misspelled buses,” he said. “I knew when I went back though, that I did have a story. I remember other kids had written about how there was a sale at the bookstore.”

The sudden death story didn’t end there, however.

“When you turned in an assignment back then, you handed in three copies: a permanent file, a hard copy turned back to you and a copy for The Daily Campus who had the option to use it or not,” Phaneuf said.

A couple of days later, Phaneuf picked up a copy of UConn’s student newspaper and discovered his story. Only it had been run under another person’s name.

“They had edited it some, but it was my story,” Phaneuf said.

Phaneuf told his professor, Peggy McCarthy, and later learned that the journalism department threatened to stop sharing student stories with the Daily Campus if something like this ever happened again.

Phaneuf remembered going to speak with an employee at the Daily Campus — a “social misfit” who brushed off the incident as a freshman slip-up.

The Daily Campus never ran a correction of the story. However, Phaneuf still keeps his original version of the story.

“I fell backwards into a good story,” Phaneuf said. “The one day I followed the rules and took the shuttle bus, then the bus drove in front of me and the transportation supervisor was in the office and he agreed to talk to me. On the other hand, I had some bad luck because the Daily Campus plagiarized my sudden death story.”

Phaneuf has spent most of his 24 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances. He interned as a reporter at The Day in New London in the spring of 1988 before graduating from UConn that May. He then worked as a reporter for The Day from 1988 to 1993, including one year covering the state capitol.

In 1994, Phaneuf took a reporting job at the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. From 1998 to 2010, he covered state government and politics for the JI.

Phaneuf is now the state budget reporter at The Connecticut Mirror, a nonprofit news website that has the largest bureau covering the state capitol.

Follow Keith Phaneuf on Twitter at @CTMirrorKeith.

UConn Journalism celebrates 50 years on April 15-16, 2016 with special events on campus in Storrs. All alumni and friends are invited to participate in interesting talks, food, tours, drop-in workshops and visits with old (and new!) friends. To RSVP for this event, please complete this registration form today. 

How Elizabeth Crowley ’13 Found Her Passion & Career Path Via UConn Journalism

By Chloe Vincente ’16

Elizabeth Crowley

Elizabeth Crowley, a 2013 UConn Journalism graduate and former editor in chief of The Daily Campus, now works at NBC Universal as a Creative Coordinator. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Crowley)

Elizabeth Crowley credits her University of Connecticut journalism classes and professors for helping her discover two important things: her passion for media and a path toward achieving her career goals.

Three years after graduating with her UConn journalism degree, Crowley is now working in Manhattan for NBC Universal as a creative coordinator.

A native of Fairfield, Connecticut, Crowley said she always aspired to make it in New York City.

She transferred to UConn from Northeastern University in her sophomore year, picking journalism as her major. During her very first week in Storrs, she began writing for UConn’s student newspaper, The Daily Campus,

Crowley said she loved her journalism classes, and reporting and editing for The Daily Campus. When she wasn’t practicing her print journalism skills in Storrs, Crowley interned at her local newspaper, the Stamford Advocate, writing mostly feature stories. She worked at the Advocate full-time during every break; winter, spring and summer.

Crowley said she focused all her efforts on print news when she first arrived at UConn. But after studying broadcast journalism in a class taught by adjunct Prof. Steve Kalb, she said became much more interested in television news production. (more…)

Ryan Gilbert’s Journey from UConn Journalism to

By Laura Costello ’15

Ryan Gilbert '12, national editor at

Ryan Gilbert graduated from UConn with a degree in journalism in 2012 and now works as national editor at (Photo courtesy of Ryan Gilbert)

Growing up a train ride away from New York City, Ryan Gilbert always wanted to see Broadway shows.

Now, seeing them is his job.

As national editor of, a website devoted to news and editorial coverage of New York City’s theater scene, Gilbert sees every Broadway show at least once and brushes shoulders with some of the biggest names in theater.

He also curates web content for the 43 cities that host tours of Broadway shows through Broadway Across America,’s parent company. Recently, he spent several days immersed in the “Phantom of the Opera” production in Orlando, Fla.

He’s basically living his dream.

Fifteen years ago, though, his dream was very different. (more…)

Q&A with WTNH News 8’s Teresa (LaBarbera) Dufour ’01


teresa-labarbera_4x6Teresa (LaBarbera) Dufour has held most jobs in a broadcast newsroom: reporter, producer, anchor and host. Dufour says each of her job experiences, beginning from when she was still a journalism student at the University of Connecticut, were invaluable steps leading her to the next opportunity.

Fun fact: On New Years Eve 2013, Teresa married businessman Brandon Dufour in a lavish affair at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT and changed her professional name from LaBarbera to Dufour.

In a Q&A, Dufour explained the arc of her career in journalism since graduating from UConn in 2001. (more…)

Catching up with Award-Winning NYC Broadcast Journalist David Ushery ’89


David Ushery is both an anchor for the weekend editions of “News 4 New York” is the host and creator of “The Debrief with David Ushery.”

David Ushery is an anchor for the weekend editions of “News 4 New York” and is the host and creator of “The Debrief with David Ushery.” Photo via

After landing competitive internships at both The Hartford Courant and Los Angeles Times while still a student at the University of Connecticut, David Ushery recognized his calling in the news business.

Ushery is now an Emmy-award winning news anchor at one of the leading news stations in New York City, WNBC-TV News 4.

“I treasured my time in the small journalism department,” Ushery said in a phone interview. “In fact, I went back recently to say thank you to Wayne Worcester, who was one of my instructors there. That foundation of print and writing has served me well in my career.” (more…)

CT Law Tribune Web Editor Karen Ali (’88) Recalls Her ‘Sudden Death’ Lucky Break


Karen Ali, a 1998 UConn journalism Alum, currently works as the web editor at the Connecticut Law Tribune in Hartford (photo courtesy of Karen Ali)

Karen Ali, a 1988 UConn journalism alumna, currently works as the web editor at the Connecticut Law Tribune in Hartford. (Photo courtesy of Karen Ali)

Karen Ali, a 1988 University of Connecticut graduate, discovered her passion for journalism while writing for The Daily Campus. Ever since, she has immersed herself in the journalism world. After stints at the Waterbury Republican-American, The (Danbury) News-Times and, Ali now works for the Connecticut Law Tribune in Hartford.

As the CT Law Tribune’s web editor, Ali manages the website, handles the social media accounts, writes and copy edits articles, and takes photographs.

Ali also keeps busy blogging for a wellness website and writing freelance pieces for an indie book reviewing company.

In an email interview, Ali recalls her experience at UConn as a positive one, including the nerve-wracking “sudden death” assignment all j-majors face. (more…)’s Justin Verrier ’09: ‘You’ll never be more valuable than you are right now’


“Read everything. If you don’t
read, you’re not a writer,” advises ’09 UConn grad and current NBA editor Justin Verrier. (Photo courtesy of Justin Verrier)

Justin Verrier graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2009 with a double major in Journalism and English. He currently serves as the contributing NBA editor for

Verrier is responsible for organizing the National Basketball Association editorial content on the sports website while also contributing to blogs, columns and features. In the Q&A below, he talks about his job, his experience as an undergrad at UConn and his advice for aspiring sports journalists.


An Interview with Talent Booker, Writer and UConn Alumna Ashley Papa ’05


Ashley Papa '05 serves as both a Guest Segment Producer and a writer for Fox News. (Photo Courtesy of Ashley Papa)

Ashley Papa ’05 serves as both a Guest Segment Producer and a writer for Fox News. (Photo Courtesy of Ashley Papa)

Ashley Papa works as the guest segment producer for “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson.” The live news show on at Fox News Channel covers topics ranging from general news to investigative reporting to politics. Papa books the various talents for on air commentary and does all the pre-interviews with the guests.

Papa also writes about nutrition, dating and relationships for’s online feature magazine. She is a 2005 graduate of the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science.

In an email interview, Papa shared insight into her broadcast journalism job as a talent booker and how UConn helped to shape her career.

What is a typical work day like for you?
A typical, non-breaking news day looks like this:  I get in around 8 a.m. and leave around 4 p.m. However, I start checking the blackberry as soon as I get up.  When I get into the office, I meet with my production team and my anchor to go over the show rundown and guest segments for the day.  We talk about the topics we’re covering, I’ll do pre-interviews with them to get their point of view.  If it is a satellite interview, I have to coordinate ordering studios, wherever that may be.