Alum takes role of CEO at VTDigger

Sky Barsch’s storied career has led to her new role as CEO of VTDigger

Sky Barsch has had a versatile career. 

After graduating from Castleton in 2002, Barsch has done everything from reporting to publishing and editing Vermont Sports Magazine, working in publishing and advertising for The Nation, marketing for the Civic News Company and even opening her own fitness studio in Montpelier.

Now, Barsch has stepped into a new role – CEO of VTDigger. 

A major issue on Barsch’s mind as she starts this position is the hardship local independent publications face as readership numbers diminish. 

“I think that we’ve seen where without local news, and when people are getting their information from not as trustworthy sources it can really devolve our civility and make us less civically engaged,” Barsch said. 

But Barsch said her experience within multiple areas of journalism and publication has shown her, from multiple angles, how the industry is dealing with this issue. 

“I think something that overlaps and all these areas that I have worked in it’s just how much innovation it’s taking and how much how much brainpower and how many talented people are working on trying to solve this local news crisis,” Barsch said. 

While she was studying at Castleton, Barsch was editor of the college newspaper, at the time called The Cairn. 

A significant experience during that time was when she traveled to D.C. during George Bush’s inauguration and wrote a story about it when she got back. 

“A lot of the coverage that we did was about stuff that was happening at Castleton. So, to go to one of the biggest world events, it was such a rush and it was so exciting and I got to talk to all these people and I felt like I was really witnessing history happen. It was almost like a journalism drug habit that was really forming,” Barsch said, laughing.

Former communication professor Bob Gershon also remembered Barsch’s trip to D.C. and the “great” story she wrote from it. But going beyond well-written stories, Gershon wanted to highlight how he views Barsch’s character.

“The thing that I really loved about her wasn’t just the fact that she was super competent – it was that her heart was always in the right place,” Gershon said.

Another former CU professor, Tom Conroy, shared similar opinions of Barsch. Conroy described her as someone who was “always generous with her time,” remembering her working with high school students from Danby as part of a project for a public relations class. 

“They were mostly impoverished students. One time they visited Castleton, and they visited the school newspaper, and she spent time with them, and they were so pleased that she was showing them something about journalism,” Conroy said. “That was one of my fondest memories of when she was at Castleton.”

Conroy went on to say that Barsch continued to be generous with her time after graduating, always being willing to come back to speak to classes. 

Barsh still has a strong connection to Castleton. And though she’s originally from Connecticut and says she isn’t “technically” a Vermonter, she still likes to say she is because her “heart is here.”

“That very first summer [in college] I knew I didn’t want to leave Vermont. I really loved it,” Barsch said. 

Though Barsch left Vermont to work for The Nation in New York just a few years ago, love is actually what ended up bringing her back to the state. Barsch shared that she met her now husband just a week before she made the move to New York. 

“It was a total rom-com,” Barsch said. 

After trying long distance, Barsch ended up moving back. And this September, she and her husband embarked on a bike ride from Amsterdam to Paris as part of their, as she calls it, “planned elopement,” that ended with their wedding ceremony. 

Barsch still appreciates her time in New York City, though.

“It was nice to have a little time away and come back with fresh eyes and even a whole new appreciation for Vermont,” Barsch said. 

Conroy sees this as beneficial to her new position as VTDigger CEO as well. 

“Sometimes it’s good to get outside of a place for a while. And when you come back, you’re able to have just a little bit more of a critical perspective of what you’re seeing,” Conroy said. “I know she’ll be good. She’s good at anything she does, it seems. And she will certainly keep the newspaper in good shape and make it prosperous and enlighten a lot of Vermonters.” 

Both Gershon and Conroy expressed their confidence in Barsch taking on this role, with Gershon commenting on how good it feels to see former students achieving success. And further, both of Barsch’s former professors also agreed that she’s left a mark on Castleton.

“She’s elevated the entire legacy of Castleton and every single Castleton graduate,” Conroy said.

Barsch and her husband after their wedding in Europe.

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