'Behind The Times' Ceases Publication

Editorials / Sep. 15, 2005 12:00am EDT

'Behind The Times' Ceases Publication

The monthly newspaper with the quirky name, "Behind The Times," announced last week that the current issue, datelined September 2005, will be the last.

It's always a sad event when any publication decides to call it quits. The Behind the Times had a lively presence that will be missed in Orange County.

The newspaper was published first in Vershire and then in Bradford for a total of 21 years. Peter and Frances Mallary, who have owned it since 1992, told readers in an editorial that "now, alas, it is time to move on to other projects. Failing a last minute White Knight, this is the last issue."

Frances Mallary confirmed yesterday that no such "white knight" has materialized.

The Behind the Times covered the rural central and eastern areas of Orange County. Because it was a monthly (and thus always "behind the imes), its coverage was feature- and analysis-oriented, although it did take to printing the minutes of Selectboard meetings in several area towns.

It developed several outstanding writers and featured town history columns that drew a lot of readers.

The newspaper was originally conceived in the Vershire kitchen of writer Annie Proulx, making it perhaps the only Vermont paper to be founded by an eventual Pulitzer Prize winner.

The Herald editor remembers wryly that Proulx early on gave us a call to give her some tips on newspaper publishing. It soon became clear that Annie Proulx didn't need much advice on anything having to do with writing. She published the paper for several years with the help of a young Vermont Law School graduate, Tom Watkin, before her enormous literary success led her to other avenues.

Watkin eventually took over the paper and published it out of Bradford, dropping the word "Vershire" from the title so it could have more of a regional impact.

"I still have the carved wooden sign (in my kitchen) that hung on Durin Hill Road in Vershire with the name "Vershire Behind the Times" etched on its surface," he told The Herald this week.

"Noteworthy were some of (Proulx') earlier headlines, including my personal favorite: 'Lawnmower Explodes into Ball of Flames,' which was the lead story in an early issue, and generated animated local discussion.

"Most rewarding to me was giving local residents a voice in the paper," Watkin said—"writers like Anabel Batten, a highly entertaining 90-year-old from East Corinth who recorded the history of a village and its inhabitants that readers from across the nation seemed to enjoy.

"I'll miss Behind the Times; it had a good run," said Watkin, who still lives in Bradford.

The current owners told readers several months ago that the newspaper was for sale. The couple also puBlishes the free "It's Classified," and that is what has been paying the bills, Frances Mallary noted this week.

During their tenure, she said, "we tried to cover some stories with a bit more thoughtfulness than some papers do." A highlight, she said was their coverage of the civil unions dispute, which was particularly ugly in some of the rural areas.

Their final editorial was headlined, "Twenty-One Years and No Longer Counting" and it concluded, "It's been fun."

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