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Miscellany News Named Top Student Newspaper in Northeast

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the Vassar campus last March, top editors at the student newspaper, The Miscellany News, decided to turn the publication into a digital newsletter that would chronicle the challenges everyone affiliated with the College would be facing. Thirteen months later, the MISC received a tangible reward for its efforts: It was named the best small college newspaper in the Northeast by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The April 2, 2020 edition of the Miscellany News

Photo: Courtesy of Miscellany News

In an announcement at the SPJ’s annual convention, the MISC was lauded by the judges of the annual contest this way: “Incredibly high-quality, evocative writing, combined with a variety of full color graphics (all while working remotely due to COVID-19) make this a winning entry.”

Jessica Moss ’21, who was editor-in-chief of the newspaper last spring, said she and others on the staff were honored to receive word the MISC had been judged the best among all student newspapers at colleges with enrollments of less than 10,000 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and eastern Pennsylvania. MISC staffers have won individual awards in previous SPJ contests, Moss said, but this year marked the first time the publication had been named best overall in the region.

Keeping the MISC going as the pandemic arrived posed some formidable challenges, Moss said. “We took a week during Spring Break to collect our thoughts to think about news coverage,” she said. “But we knew we had this robust team that wanted the paper to continue to function as an educational resource for the staff, and we did some thinking about how our coverage could be helpful to the Vassar community.” 

Moss said she oversaw the operation “late at night at my kitchen table” at her home in South Salem, NY. Communication with staff was particularly challenging, she said, “because we were scattered not only across the country but around the world, so we were coping with all those time zones.” She said she and others on the staff recruited students to write their own stories about how they were coping with the pandemic while keeping Vassar students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i abreast of other news about the College and the surrounding community.

Moss said she was grateful to the “devoted staff and social media team and talented designers who made sure we were speaking to people where they were and providing information they wanted to know about.”