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Dispensing the News


Published July 10, 2009 at 11:23 a.m.

It may be sunny, but these are dismal days in Vermont's media.

Today The Eagle Times, based in Claremont, N.H., is closing down and its parent company filing for bankruptcy. Based just across the Connecticut River from Windsor, VT, the paper covered news from a number of towns in Windsor County and even had a bureau in Springfield, VT.

In addition to the Eagle Times, Eagle Publications published twoweekly papers—The Message for the Week, based in Chester, VT, and TheConnecticut Valley Spectator in Lebanon, N.H.—as well as a paper chock full of classified ads, The Weekly Flea.

One of the paper's alums, WDEV radio host Mark Johnson, eulogized the paper on his program this morning. Johnson started his newspaper career at the Times, later moving on to the Burlington Free Press.

Johnson rightly noted that the loss of the Times is troubling for two reasons: It truly was a locally owned paper that provided hyper-local news, and it was also part of the disappearing "farm league" for journalists. As smaller papers disappear, so do opportunities for younger journalists looking for their first job.

Yesterday, the Burlington Free Press joined its 84 newspaper colleagues in Gannett's Community Publishing Division in a mass layoff. In all, about 1400 employees are expected to be laid off nationwide. Including more than 125 people from six papers in New Jersey, and roughly 100 from the Cincinnati Enquirer. For a running tally, check out this site.

The numbers in Vermont are not yet clear, and we're waiting for more official word from Freeps Publisher Brad Robertson. Today, Robertson plans to hold two meetings with employees — one at 10a.m. and the other at 5 p.m. — to discuss the layoffs.