by Paul Heintz
To all -
I want to first of all acknowledge that this has been a very difficult few weeks for all of you and for these newspapers. The uncertainty has weighed on all of you, and on us. You may wonder why we have rescheduled this meeting repeatedly. The simple, honest answer is that we have had a lot of work to do, each and every day, and wanted to ensure that any information provided to you was accurate. Our priority through all of this has been to preserve these newspapers and to make sure that our employees are paid, and we meet our obligations. We have worked tirelessly on that and have done that.
Yes, several employees had manual checks bounce. As was reported in the story Friday, we have been late paying expenses, and we have been late paying freelancers. None of that has been easy for you, for our drivers and it has not been easy for me or my father. I walked over to the bank with several of you to make sure you got paid. We have written letters for employees whose checks bounced, to make sure that your banks know that it was an issue between the newspapers and our lender, not your fault. Personally, this has been embarrassing, humiliating and difficult, as I'm sure it has been for many of you. If you are having any additional difficulties, you need to bring those directly to our attention in a one on one basis so that we can address those issues directly with our lender.
We are all tired, and if you're like me, you've lost a significant amount of sleep. But all our employees have been paid, and employee expenses have been paid. While it may look bad from the outside, it's not as bad as it looks.
At this point, there are still things we can't talk about, for a variety of reasons. Rather than focus on what we can not yet openly discuss, I am going to try to focus today instead on what we can talk about – the overall direction and the future of these newspapers. There is a future for these newspapers. The context to where we are right now is important. We started this year with a general plan that is designed to bridge our newspapers to the digital world. It's no secret that these newspapers and newspapers everywhere have had major, life-changing challenges. On top of this transition, we've had to deal with a flood that destroyed our press and a lot of other problems that are out of our control.
It has always been my family's intention to do whatever possible to ensure these newspapers make the transition to a new business model. We have worked on this plan over the course of the last few years, and have started putting it in place. In March, we launched the Business Vermont web site, an online iteration of the New England Business Journals. In May, we reconfigured and improved the Sunday newspaper, and launched our first consumer-focused mobile app, Go Rutland. In July, we moved to four days of print publication. We have started a web site redesign that will allow for a modern news workflow.
None of these things were or are easy to pull off. We've accomplished much with your support, your hard work, your diligence and our shared belief that we are here because the mission of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus is important. It's important for all of us to keep that in mind. My family has been a part of the Rutland Herald since 1935. We've been a part of the Times Argus since 1964. These newspapers have had hard times, and have had good times in those years. Through it all, the newspapers, and I believe, my family, have established a long track record of standing for the principles of free speech, government transparency, and of taking principled, public stands on issues that matter to the community at large. That has not changed – it will not change.
What is at stake right now is whether we can prove that a strong, community-oriented news organization can and will continue. I am here because I believe it will, and my career and my heart are dedicated to figuring that out.
Editor in Chief / Online Manager
Rutland Herald | Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
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