After months, that Vermont paper finds its owner
The publisher of had tried (and failed) to give away his newspaper
February 17, 2017
Ross Connelly, who ran the paper since 1986 with his late wife, knew the climate for print was rough. He decided that instead of doing a traditional sale, he’d hold an essay contest, asking people to pay $175 to enter.
Connelly would choose the best entry, hand over The Hardwick Gazette, and start his retirement.
Only his plan hit a snag: Not many people entered the contest, far short of the 700 he was aiming for. (Figure 700 times $175 and you get $122,500, a nice nest egg for the retirement Connelly had in mind.)
Turning to crowdfunding
Failing that plan, Connelly briefly attempted a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to save the paper, which has published since 1889. He raised just under $24,000, about a quarter of what he said he needed to keep the paper going.
But this newspaper story, unlike so many these days, has a happy ending.
Connelly said this week that he found a new owner, and ended up selling the paper after all.
Ray and Kim Small become the new owners on Friday. Ray had entered the essay contest, with an entry that “conveyed a passion for community journalism,” according to the official sale announcement.
The Smalls do not have a background in journalism, and have said they don’t plan to change much about the paper.
Connelly wrote is last editorial this week, and what jumps out at you is just how much hard work goes into putting out America’s small papers. Here’s an excerpt from that editorial, thanks to Poynter, which covered the story.
“I’ve been asked often whether the newspaper is sustainable in this digital age of social media, sound bites and short attention spans. My response is that depends on whether the owners are willing to shoulder the work and work the time needed to gather the news and report it each week.
“That includes selling ads, subscriptions and newsstand sales each week throughout the 10 towns covered by the newspaper. And none of those and other tasks would have been possible without the hard work and commitment of countless people who worked at and with the Gazette for all these years.”
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