- Rob Donnelly | Rev. Diane Sullivan
The past 15 years have been grim for American newspapers. Roughly 2,100 have either merged with a competitor or gone out of business, the New York Times reported Sunday in a special section titled "A Future Without the Front Page." The lost print media outlets have been huge and tiny, mainstream and alternative. In their wake, public service journalism that holds local officials accountable is falling by the wayside, along with print obituaries, sports scores and event listings. Of the 6,800 papers left in the U.S., many are "shells of their former selves," the Times lamented.
While Vermont has been buffeted by the industry's prevailing winds, the trend hasn't blown away any local newspapers — yet. Instead, the media landscape has shifted, and news outlets are changing hands, for better or worse. Since 2016, at least 20 — including four newspapers printed for more than a century — have new owners. Three rounds of layoffs have roiled WCAX-TV since Gray Television bought the popular station in June 2017, though the news department was spared — mostly.
Paul Heintz's roundup story, "Meet the News Boss" chronicles the good, the bad and the flatlanders who are snatching up Vermont media companies.
Local digital media companies are changing, too.
DailyUV, a news website that combines citizen journalism and social media, is expanding statewide and into New Hampshire. It's now called HereCast. Reporter Derek Brouwer investigates the thinking behind a site that does not employ — or edit — the writers who create its content. Meanwhile, Burlington-grown Front Porch Forum has expanded to the Empire State. Plenty of dog poop to complain about there, too.
A website out of St. Albans called Ever Widening Circles is focused on the bigger picture. It publishes inspiring stories from around the world. Also on the global stage: Christina Asquith of Charlotte is cofounder of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, a nonprofit covering the issues that most impact women and girls worldwide.
This week's media issue also catches up with Burlington City Council President Kurt Wright, who has been hosting a local news radio show since the day before Town Meeting Day. In the food section, Sabine Poux asks local eating enterprises about the influencers who dish about them on Instagram.
And finally: On Monday, Gannett, the parent company of the Burlington Free Press, announced it is merging with another giant newspaper chain, GateHouse Media. John Walters weighs in on that marriage in his Fair Game column. Spoiler alert: He's not optimistic about the future of the "Freeps."
Good thing the Northeast Kingdom's Green Mountain Trading Post is too quirky for corporate. The penny saver is safe — for now.
This is your media. Stay informed.