Media Note: Vermont Newspapers Halt Print Production, Lay Off Staff | Off Message

Media Note: Vermont Newspapers Halt Print Production, Lay Off Staff

by

AXEL BUECKERT | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Axel Bueckert | Dreamstime.com
Several more Vermont newspapers are taking drastic measures to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Chittenden County weeklies — the Milton Independent, Essex Reporter and Colchester Sunannounced Tuesday that they will cease publishing print editions "until further notice." The papers will continue reporting local news online, executive editor Michelle Monroe wrote on their respective websites.

"This is a fast-changing and developing situation so we will be assessing our publishing plan real-time to determine the next print publication date," she wrote.



The papers are owned by Jim O'Rourke, who also publishes the St. Albans Messenger. It was not immediately clear Tuesday night whether the Messenger, a six-day-a-week paper, would follow suit.

In her note, Monroe said that the three weeklies have no plans to lay off employees "as we work through the crisis."

The West Lebanon, N.H.-based Valley News, which reports on both sides of the Connecticut River, announced several new cost-cutting measures Tuesday, including layoffs, pay cuts for managers and reduced hours for several departments.

According to editor Maggie Cassidy, the paper laid off two sports reporters and a features reporter on Tuesday, shrinking its full-time newsroom staff from 20 to 17. It had previously let go three part-time employees and opted to leave another features position vacant. Cassidy said the editors of the sports and features sections would become reporters. The Valley News also plans to share production duties with its sister paper, the Concord Monitor.

"Although we hope that we can bring staff back once things return to normal, we don’t know when or if we will be able to do that," Cassidy said.
Earlier this week, the biweekly Addison County Independent announced that it would suspend its Monday print edition "throughout the duration of the coronavirus health crisis" and publish only on Thursdays.

"With more businesses closing and advertising diminishing with those accounts, we have to conserve our resources as carefully as we can to keep the Addison Independent profitable," publisher Angelo Lynn wrote in Monday's edition. "That hasn't been easy these past few years, and this health care crisis will make that even harder."

Seven Days itself has been hit hard by the outbreak. It temporarily laid off seven employees on Monday, the paper reported. Last Friday, the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus laid off 20 staffers for a two-week period. Earlier that week, the publisher of three southern Vermont newspapers — the Brattleboro Reformer, Bennington Banner and Manchester Journalannounced companywide furloughs