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Work: The Editors of 'VT Ski + Ride' Chase Stories on Snow

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Lisa Gosselin Lynn (left) and Abagael Giles - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Lisa Gosselin Lynn (left) and Abagael Giles

Name: Lisa Gosselin Lynn and Abagael Giles
Town: Middlebury
Job: Editor and assistant editor of VT Ski + Ride

At the opening of what was then called the Vermont Ski Museum in 1993, the Rutland Herald reported on Olympic skier Doug Lewis telling the crowd, "Skiing is Vermont, even more than maple syrup or the cows." The sentiment stands today, as Vermont's ski industry remains the largest in the eastern U.S.; it generates some $1.6 billion in economic activity for the state, according to reports from the Vermont Ski Areas Association.

Roy Newton, the founder of the museum, also started a monthly newspaper called Vermont Ski News. Addison Press bought the publication in 2005, and it has since evolved into a free, glossy lifestyle quarterly. (The names of both museum and magazine now include mentions of snowboarding, a nod to the more recent influence of Jake Burton Carpenter and other snowboarding pioneers.)

Today, VT Ski + Ride magazine distributes 25,000 copies in seven states, as far south as Pennsylvania. According to the magazine's editor and Addison Press vice president Lisa Gosselin Lynn, it reaches as many as 100,000 people who might want to visit the Green Mountains.

"Ideally one of our goals is, we want to attract people to Vermont, and we want to give them ideas of what to do here, where to stay, where to eat," Lynn said.

Lynn runs both VT Ski + Ride and Vermont Sports, a magazine that publishes 10 issues a year, along with assistant editor Abagael Giles. While the two work with freelancers, they also do a lot of the writing themselves. That means they spend plenty of days on the ground — or the slopes — reporting. The two look at the economic and social impacts of the ski and snowboarding industry and culture, covering anything from gender equity in snow sports to the consolidation of ski resorts.

The magazines took home multiple awards from the New England Newspaper & Press Association this year and are currently seeking another assistant editor. Lynn said both magazines had their best year in advertising revenue this year. Seven Days spoke with Lynn and Giles about the future of print publications and the practical aspects of reporting from the snowiest parts of the state.

SEVEN DAYS: In an era when magazines are generally in decline, and plenty of people are ready to declare that print is dead, VT Ski + Ride and Vermont Sports have managed to grow. Why do you think the magazine model is still working for you?

LISA GOSSELIN LYNN: There are many different ways you can deliver content across various formats, and we do it all. We have print magazines, but we also have very vibrant websites for both publications, and we have newsletters and social media.

However, I think print delivers a level of credibility that is really continually lacking in many other digital media right now, and it offers a chance to do really long-form, in-depth articles. I think that there is a real sense of context that you get in print that you do not get online, where you can kind of keep clicking and keep clicking and keep clicking.

In VT Ski + Ride, we feature a dream home in every issue, because we know a lot of people have second homes here and are looking to add on, build or move here. We feature an après-ski column about great places to eat or drink, or we profile the breweries or cheesemakers around the state. We have beautiful design and photography that's really compelling. And for people who want something that's tangible, that can sit on a coffee table for several months, this is a great publication.

I find it really interesting that two of the largest digital brands in the U.S., REI and Airbnb, recently launched print magazines. And I think there's something about branding that print delivers that you really can't get in any other medium.

SD: Abagael, you went on a training with U.S. Army mountaineers for a story as they prepared for an international competition. Tell me about that experience and how that story came about.

ABAGAEL GILES: I have to say, it's amazing to walk into the office and have your editor say, "I'd like you to go skiing for work." That happens frequently here.

It was amazing to me, as a backcountry skier, to see how military mountaineers move through that environment. I had so much admiration for their cohesiveness as a team. You really got to see the personalities of all the people come out in a way that I think all of us feel and experience when we're in the backcountry. To have that with a subject was really fun and eye-opening.

LGL: Abagael kept up with them, too.

AG: I tried! They were very nice and very welcoming. It was a really fun day.

SD: Lisa, when you hired Abagael, was there a moment when you had to be like, "I just need to check — you can ski, right? You can handle this kind of story?"

LGL: I think I hired her in May, so I had to go on blind faith. She talked about some backcountry adventures she'd been on. I was pretty darn sure she was a way better skier than I was, certainly, in the backcountry.

AG: This is another example of an awesome day for a reporter: Last summer I did an interview with an elite trail-running coach, and I actually got to go out with my running vest and stash my recorder in my pocket and interview him on the trail and try to keep up with him.

LGL: Last night Abagael was in a pool learning how to do a kayak roll. And then this morning, she was on the bridge in Middlebury doing video of the University of Vermont Outing Club kayaking over the falls.

SD: I recently did an outdoor interview where all my pens froze, and then my phone died from the cold mid-recording. How do you manage interviewing and taking notes while skiing?

AG: It's definitely tricky. One thing I always try to do is keep my phone in my inside pocket, as close to my body as I can, to keep it warm. I definitely use a lot of recording when I'm out in the field like that. Fact-checking is really key when you're talking to someone in that kind of a setting.

LGL: Lots and lots of pencils.

AG: Waterproof paper helps a lot.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Snow News Day | The editors of VT Ski + Ride chase stories on skis"