Rough Week for News

Opinion / Aug. 11, 2016 9:13am EDT

The state has been dumbfounded this week watching the Rutland Herald.

For those that haven’t been following the events, a story ran in the Saturday edition of Vermont’s oldest daily, enumerating myriad complaints from staffers and freelancers whose checks have either bounced or not materialized.

That story was followed the next day by the firing of editor Alan Keays. Since then, little has been revealed about the goings on inside the company, which also owns the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus.

Earlier in the year, both papers announced that they would cut back their print production to four days a week while focusing attention on their websites.

Under the current veil of secrecy, it’s difficult to know what to make of these happenings. This much is certain: it’s the duty of journalists to seek the truth and report it fully (in fact that’s in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics). It’s a difficult job and I wouldn’t pretend that it’s one that all journalists do perfectly all the time. But we have to try.

Because that effort is so important, it’s disheartening to see a corporation that makes transparency its business operate so opaquely in public.

• • •

In Hardwick, publisher Ross Connelly announced in June that he would hold an essay contest and award the winner ownership of the Gazette.

The deadline for submissions came today, August 11, and Connelly announced that though there has been great enthusiasm, he hasn’t quite received the requisite minimum number of entries (700) and will extend the deadline 40 days. Those interested in making their case for ownership of a small weekly in Hardwick, should get in touch with Mr. Connelly soon.

Things are tough in the newspaper business, but it’s an a satisfying job that provides an invaluable service.

On his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver spent a lengthy segment discussing the importance of local newspapers and the continuing distress that the industry faces. It’s a spot-on look at the topic and Oliver (as always) makes it eminently accessible. Here’s a link:

T. Calabro

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