VTDigger Founder Anne Galloway Steps Down | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


VTDigger Founder Anne Galloway Steps Down


Published May 23, 2022 at 7:34 p.m.

VTDigger.org founder and editor Anne Galloway - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • VTDigger.org founder and editor Anne Galloway
VTDigger.org founder Anne Galloway has stepped down as executive director of the state’s largest online news outlet. She will remain with the nonprofit as an editor at large, Galloway announced Monday in a letter to readers, focusing on reporting projects.

“It’s now time to let VTDigger thrive on its own,” she wrote.

Senior editor Jim Welch has been named interim executive director while VTDigger conducts a national search for its next leader, members of the Vermont Journalism Trust board of trustees wrote in a parallel announcement. The trustees’ letter said Galloway, 57, was departing her role “to pursue other creative ventures.” She “leaves the hardworking Digger team in a position of strength to continue their vital work,” their letter reads. The trust is VTDigger's parent organization.

Board president John Reilly responded to an interview request by forwarding a copy of the trustees' published letter. He did not respond to follow-up questions about Galloway's departure, which comes a few weeks after the organization completed its spring member drive.

Galloway told Seven Days in an email that she'd been mulling a transition for more than a year. Completion of a strategic plan in April provided "a natural point at which to make an announcement," she wrote.

Galloway started VTDigger in 2009 after she was laid off from the Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, which, like many print media outlets over the last 15 years, experienced steep revenue declines and newsroom cuts. Galloway has since grown the website from a plucky blog into a statewide powerhouse with revenues in 2020 of $2.4 million.

Along the way, VTDigger has become a national model for others looking to reinvigorate local news through reader contributions, grants and other new funding sources.

“Anne is one of the great pioneers of local nonprofit journalism,” Sarabeth Berman, CEO of the philanthropic American Journalism Project, which has provided grants to VTDigger, tweeted Monday.

Galloway earned her reporting reputation — and that of VTDigger — by aggressively investigating the EB-5 scandal in the Northeast Kingdom, since documented as the largest known financial fraud in state history.

Galloway said in the letter that she will continue covering the long-running scandal in the months ahead as she returns “to my roots as an investigative reporter.”

The new role appears to be a detour from a route Galloway had previously envisioned. Asked during a 2019 interview where she expected to be professionally in 10 years, Galloway expressed ambition to become “head of a regional online news group.”

In addition to the pandemic, the intervening years brought turmoil within VTDigger’s growing ranks. An internal survey found significant staff dissatisfaction, and in April 2020 newsroom employees moved to unionize, citing low pay and high turnover. The newsroom’s managing editor, Colin Meyn, left later that year, with several employees telling Seven Days at the time that they observed tension with Galloway over newsroom management. (Former Seven Days writer and political editor Paul Heintz has since replaced Meyn.)

Management and the newsroom union, the VTDigger Guild, signed a collective bargaining agreement in December 2021. In an emailed statement to Seven Days in response to an interview request, Galloway said negotiating the contract was among her proudest accomplishments.

“The Guild is so grateful to Anne for what she’s built,” union spokesperson and political reporter Lola Duffort said in an emailed statement Monday. “Digger will only continue to grow and thrive, and that’s because she accomplished what she set out to do: create a financially sustainable, trusted, and local model for news.”

Galloway, in her emailed statement, said her departure "gives a new generation of journalists and business thinkers the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the VTDigger vision."

Correction, May 24, 2022: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sarabeth Berman's name.

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