When publisher Steve Pappas made a series of cost-cutting moves at the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus in March, he hoped they would last just two weeks. Instead, they've lasted three months.
Now, in a bid to lure back advertisers and court new subscribers, the papers are returning to their pre-pandemic publishing schedule and hiring back at least some former employees.
"The whole staff is really excited about it," Pappas said.
The Herald and Times Argus, which are owned by the Pennsylvania-based Sample News Group, furloughed 20 of 42 employees in March as the coronavirus wreaked havoc on Vermont's economy. They also cut their print run from five days a week to three.
Since then, according to Pappas, the papers have seen a steady increase in subscribers and have come close to hitting their revenue targets. The company has also benefited from forgivable federal loans provided through the Paycheck Protection Program. Recently, president George "Scoop" Sample gave the Vermont papers the go-ahead to resume printing Tuesday through Saturday.
Pappas said he has already hired back two newsroom employees and has plans to bring back two more, but he does not expect to fully restaff the papers.
"I don't think anyone thought we'd come out of this looking like we did going into it," he said. "And I'm sure that will be true for every business that is pushing through the pandemic."