Thursday, August 11, 2016

Update: Nation's Oldest Familhy Run Newspaper No Longer Owned By A Family

Amid a month of strife, the Rutland Herald in Vermont
has been sold to a Maine media company.
Last week I talked about the apparent financial crisis at the Rutland Herald in Vermont, which is, or was, the oldest family owned newspaper in Vermont.

Late last night, we learned what was really going on amid the bounced paychecks and other signs of monetary strife.

The owners of the newspaper, and its sister publication, the Barre-Montpelier TImes Argus, sold it it to a Maine media company.

I don't know if this is good or bad, but at least the Herald survives for now, apparently.

The whole episode once again illustrates how newspapers are struggling. Sure, there are a lot of on line media outlets and local newspapers are usually a part of that.

But as noted earlier, newspapers have not figured out how to be profitable online, even as print versions go by the wayside.

On Vermont Public Radio's Vermont Edition news and talk show today, David Mindich, a journalism professor at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont said local newspapers like the Rutland Herald are a critical way to shine a needed light on local government and root out corruption.

These days, media profitability depends upon reader clicks, the number of times people cruising the Internet stop at a particular story.

More often than not, it's fluff, and not the important stuff that goes on. Mindich told Vermont Public Radio that editors need to be sure they're pushing important stories not just the "cat riding around on the Roomba story."

Even if everybody is paying attention to the cat on the Roomba and not the city councilor on the take.

Here's why:

It's true more people will read the cat on the Roomba story over the city councilor taking bribes from the construction contractor.

But a few people will read about the city councilor, which is fodder for the prosecutors, the political opponents and activists who would keep that city councilor in check.

If we lose the local papers to the clickbait fluff, the crooked city councilor will get away with (maybe literally) murder.

Is that the world in which we want to live?

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