Emilie Stigliani, the executive editor of the Burlington Free Press, is leaving the newspaper to take an editing job in California at the Sacramento Bee.
Stigliani's last day is Monday, March 7. She's spent nearly nine years at the Free Press, including the last three as the top editor. Stigliani penned a goodbye letter that the paper published online Friday morning.
"The Free Press gave me my first opportunity to grow as an editor and to find joy serving as a partner to reporters and editors and as liaison between you, the reader, and our newsroom," she wrote.
In an interview later Friday, Stigliani told Seven Days that she'll work at the Bee on in-depth journalism projects and investigations with another recently hired editor who led a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Indianapolis Star.
"It's not running from the Free Press," Stigliani said, "it's going to a new opportunity."
Emilie Stigliani on a cold Vermont adventure in January
Once the area's newspaper of record, the Free Press' status has slipped in recent years, amid layoffs, other departures and contractions in the newspaper industry. The Free Press is owned by Gannett, which merged with New Media Investment Group, the parent company of the GateHouse Media newspaper chain, in 2019.
At the end of September, the paper's print circulation from Monday through Saturday averaged about 6,487 daily and 8,325 on Sunday, according to a report from the Alliance for Audited Media. A decade ago, circulation was 31,095 on weekdays and 40,708 on Sundays.
Last year, the Free Press gave up its Burlington offices and in October, moved to Williston. And the paper announced in January that it would no longer print a Saturday issue but instead produce a digital version that day. The change takes effect March 5.
Stigliani said the paper is poised for good things. She said that hiring is under way for an investigative reporter, and that the Freeps boasts a strong corps of veteran reporters and editors — including Aki Soga, Brent Hallenbeck, Liz Murray, April McCullum and Alex Abrami in sports — mixed with a new crop of young reporters. Longtime scribe Joel Banner Baird retired in January, Stigliani said.
"There's a great mix of institutional knowledge and experience, and new energy," Stigliani said.
Gannett has posted her job online as part of a nationwide search for a new editor.