29 lists to recap what was great (and not so great) about 2012

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2 things we covered that we didn’t expect to be so popular
1. It’s no secret that Charlottesville is a running town, so we figured a long profile on three local ultra-runners, who run 100 miles at a time for funsies, would be a hit. We were surprised at the amount of feedback and the number of people who enjoyed the article, but really, who doesn’t enjoy a story involving vomit and moose?
2. As news reporters, we get few opportunities to write about ourselves or editorialize content. So when we got to write personal essays for special issues like Best of C-VILLE, we got a kick out of it. E-mail exchanges about the essays even led to new friendships with local fellow writers.

It’s a ‘do! Live Arts’ production of Hairspray tops our list for the year’s most impressive production. Photo: Will Kerner

9 live acts that deserve an encore
1. With all of the color and bounce of a ’do with just a bit too much product, Live Arts brought the ’60s swinging back into style with Hairspray, taking a stab at inequality in the American Bandstand generation, and setting its positive message to plenty of toe-tapping R&B tunes.
2. The Madwoman Project rolled its gyspy cart right into the thick of things this fall, delighting audience members and confusing more than a few passersby on the Downtown Mall. Kudos for taking the theatrical tradition of low budgets and making it part of the appeal.
3. Jack White made a typically bold statement on his tour by bringing with him two support bands: one all female, dressed in red on a red stage, the other all male, clad in blue on a blue stage. In C’ville, Jack gave us the blues, and a huge, yellow moon came out for the gig.
4. For a few weeks in May, the Paramount staff transformed themselves into producers of “Paramount Idol,” the reality show-mimicking singing competition. Hosted by local news anchor and former Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler, the “showdown” featured plenty of local talent and saw Jennifer Stuart take the title.
5. Feminism, theater, and community bonding all rolled into one at the SuperCLAW attack in June. As the birthplace of the original theatrical ladies’ arm wrestling league, Charlottesville hosted this year’s national match at The Jefferson Theater.
6. With a laundry list of fun and fancy-free productions under the Black Box Players’ belt, its take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one golden ticket. Director and founder MaryAnne Thornton takes community theater to great heights, and December’s show was no different.
7. The Ash Lawn Opera outdid itself in 2012, offering a winter production in addition to its standard summer run. While Broadway staple The Music Man and operatic classic The Magic Flute continued to bring world-class opera and top-tier performers to town, the holiday season’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors turned its focus toward families, children, and a new community tradition.
8. Spring Awakening’s spindly tree limbs, raked wooden stage, and moody lighting comprised the perfect set for UVA Drama’s production of the dark musical by Duncan Sheik.
9. The Paramount dressed up for the Virginia Film Festival’s Oscar broadcast with a red carpet (complete with fashion gawkers), gift bags, the official program, and M.C.s, while glam-savvy patrons broke out the designer duds, limos, and bling.

1 quote that’s actually kind of creepy when taken out of context
“There are an awful lot of people who die, and it doesn’t get reported. Nobody signs a death certificate, they’re buried in the backyard and nobody ever knows they’re dead.”—Clara Belle Wheeler on the need for stricter voter fraud enforcement

3 social media lessons we learned despite having disavowed social media
1. We first saw our Twitter followers seriously spike during the Sullivan ouster in June. Like everybody else, we were keeping people updated via the Web as we waited for the Board of Visitors to announce their plans following the first major public outpouring of support for the president they’d just dumped. Live tweeting gets people talking. Even if
you’re just telling them about how you wish you could order pizza to the Rotunda lobby at 1am.
2. The news team learned a difficult lesson the week before the presidential election: Regardless of how much time and energy we spend investigating a scoop, online followers are more likely
to view and share a photo of a llama wearing an Obama sweater than a 2,000-word story about controversy at UVA’s medical center.
3. News and social media are often about being in the right place at the right time. When you happen to be a few blocks away from a UVA building engulfed in smoke, snap as many pictures on your iPhone as possible. They will all be shared via Twitter.

Challenges ahead: UVA’s medical center is facing rising health care costs, increased competition, and limited government support. Photo: Jack Looney

6 stories we got to first
Charlottesville is a pretty media-rich market, and as a weekly, we usually stay out of the race to break news. But there were a number of stories we beat the competition to—and plenty you only read about here in C-VILLE.
1. A Facebook post written by a UVA student who said the school failed her after she was raped led us to discover the University’s sexual assault policy has been under investigation by the federal government for more than a year.
2. UVA’s medical center, like others associated with public universities, is facing a tough new reality: Financial pain from rising health care costs, increased competition from more strategically agile private competitors, and shrinking government support. We tackled the issue in a cover story, and explored the link between the medical center’s liability status and the attempted ouster of UVA President Teresa Sullivan.
3. Not all the big stories out of the University brought bad news. Turns out, UVA’s endowment is performing like gangbusters. It weathered the economic downturn relatively well, and is now ranked near the top in the country, even outpacing those at a couple of the Ivies.
4. In late July, Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center sued the state Department of Corrections on behalf of inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. The class-action lawsuit claimed that the inmates received poor medical treatment, which resulted in cruel and unusual punishment, and even death in some cases.
5. We shared a story about a local company’s innovation and how it could be the answer to a product safety problem that caused a national tragedy this year. Lighthouse Instruments has pioneered a technology that can detect impurities in sealed vials of pharmaceuticals, like the tainted vaccines manufactured by a Massachusetts company that killed dozens.
6. Random Row tenants have known for years that their stay would be short, and the owner planned to sell the corner property to developers. But in October, business owners breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that the project was delayed and they could remain on the corner of McIntire and West Main indefinitely.

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