Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Editors’ Note: After Ashe’s Election, Seven Days Updates Conflict-of-Interest Policy

Posted By and on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 3:28 PM

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe delivers remarks Wednesday on the Senate floor. - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe delivers remarks Wednesday on the Senate floor.
When Paula Routly and Tim Ashe began dating in 2002, she was the publisher and coeditor of Seven Days and he was a union organizer for United Academics. Nearly 15 years into their relationship, her job title remains the same. His, however, has changed.

In 2004, Ashe won his first of three races for the Burlington City Council. Four years later, he won his first of five bids for the Vermont Senate. In 2011, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for mayor of Burlington.

Throughout Ashe’s political ascent, Seven Days has addressed Routly’s potential conflict of interest in a variety of ways, depending on Ashe’s role at the time. When he ran for mayor, Routly recused herself from assigning and editing stories related to the race — and prepared herself for the possibility that he would run the city her newspaper covered so closely.

“I had to ask myself: What if Tim wins?” Routly wrote in a March 2012 story about other so-called “power couples” in Vermont.

He didn’t — and she returned to her role managing the Seven Days news team, recusing herself when his name came up and running a one-line disclosure when it appeared in print.

On Wednesday morning, Ashe did win — this time a race for president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate.

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Media Note: After 31 Years, Dave Gram Leaves the Associated Press

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 8:37 AM

  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Dave Gram
When Vermont’s political press corps files into the Statehouse Wednesday for the start of the legislative session, it will be missing one of its most veteran, talented and beloved scribes.

Associated Press reporter Dave Gram quietly left the newswire’s Montpelier bureau Monday after more than 31 years on the job.

“I’m just feeling very grateful for the career I’ve been allowed to have,” the 60-year-old Montpelier resident said in a brief interview that afternoon. “Grateful especially to the people of the state of Vermont, which is a pretty unique place — and which I think can offer some real value to a country figuring out how to get back to its democratic roots.”

He paused. “And it’s been a lot of fun.”

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Media Note: Associated Press Layoffs Hit Montpelier Bureau

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 9:24 PM

  • Associated Press
  • AP logo
The Associated Press’ dwindling Montpelier bureau is set to lose one of its three remaining reporters, according to a spokeswoman for the news cooperative.

The AP announced Friday that it was cutting 25 positions throughout its worldwide news division, but it did not immediately disclose which offices would suffer layoffs. CNN’s Brian Stelter first reported Friday in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter that Montpelier would join New Orleans, Albany, N.Y., and Charleston, S.C., on the list.

Lauren Easton, the AP’s media relations manager, told Seven Days Monday that in Montpelier, “One position is affected.” She declined to elaborate.

A decade ago, the AP’s Vermont staff included at least five reporters and a photographer. As of last week, only three employees remained: bureau chief Wilson Ring and veteran reporters Dave Gram and Lisa Rathke.

Reached Monday, Ring and Gram declined to comment, referring inquiries to New England editor Bill Kole, who also declined to speak. Rathke could not be reached for comment.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Media Note: Four Reporters, Producers Leaving WCAX

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Gina Bullard, center, with Tyler Dumont and Gary Sadowsky - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Gina Bullard, center, with Tyler Dumont and Gary Sadowsky
WCAX-TV is losing some of its top talent, according to news director Anson Tebbetts.

The departures include morning show host Gina Bullard, reporter Alex Apple, reporter Eliza Larson and producer Kristen Tripodi. According to Tebbetts, all the departures are voluntary and all of the positions will be filled.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Media Note: Burlington Free Press Lays Off Four Staffers

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Tuesday's Burlington Free Press - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Tuesday's Burlington Free Press
Updated at 11:04 p.m.

The Burlington Free Press on Tuesday laid off four employees — including three newsroom staffers — in what appears to be part of nationwide downsizing by its corporate parent, Gannett.

Among those let go were features writer Sally Pollak, news reporter Cory Dawson and sports writer Lauren Read, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation. Hours after the news broke Tuesday, the paper acknowledged the layoffs in a story on its website. In addition to the newsroom staffers, it said an employee in the advertising department was cut.

Pollak worked for the Free Press for 25 years, first as a sports writer and most recently as a food writer. She lamented the news on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.

“It was a good run: 25 years covering Vermont,” Pollak wrote. “Thanks to everyone for talking with me for stories and reading my stuff.”

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Media Note: Getler Out, Fogler In at Burlington Free Press

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 6:01 PM

Burlington Free Press website - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Burlington Free Press website
After 22 months on the job, Burlington Free Press publisher Al Getler has been replaced by his predecessor, the newspaper announced Thursday. The Gannett-owned daily provided no explanation for Getler’s departure. He declined to comment.

Returning to the paper’s top job is Jim Fogler, who served as publisher for four years before leaving in September 2014 to become vice president of business development at Party City. Fogler returned to journalism — and Gannett — in January, when he took a job as publisher of the Poughkeepsie Journal.

According to the Free Press story announcing the transition, Fogler will now publish both papers. Even after he took the job in Poughkeepsie, the story said, he continued to commute between the two regions, because his family remained in South Burlington. 

“I’m excited to be back, and I look forward to reconnecting with the community as well as the team here,” Fogler told the Free Press’ Dan D’Ambrosio. “My plan is to split my time evenly between the two sites.”

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Media Note: In Essay Contest, Nobody Wins the Hardwick Gazette

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 8:04 PM

The Hardwick Gazette office - FILE: COURTESY OF HARDWICK GAZETTE
  • File: Courtesy of Hardwick Gazette
  • The Hardwick Gazette office
An attempt to give the Hardwick Gazette to whoever wrote the most compelling essay has failed. Publisher and owner Ross Connelly didn't get enough submissions to follow through.

Connelly, who is 71 and has spent three decades as publisher of the Northeast Kingdom weekly, announced the contest back in June. The concept was simple: People would submit a 400-word essay along with a $175 entry fee, and a panel of judges would pick the winner.

News outlets across the country, including the New York Times and Washington Post, picked up the story. Despite the media buzz, there apparently aren't many people interested in the grueling job of running a local newspaper in a remote, rural community. Connelly had determined that he needed 700 entries to make the contest financially viable for him; the Associated Press reported earlier today that he'd received only 140. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Media Note: Hardwick Gazette Essay Contest Gets a Final Deadline

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 1:12 PM

  • File: Courtesy of Hardwick Gazette
  • The Hardwick Gazette
Ross Connelly is still short on the number of essays he needs in order to give away his weekly newspaper, the Hardwick Gazette. But the 71-year-old owner and publisher is extending the contest deadline a second and final time — until October 10.

Connelly attracted national attention in early June by announcing he would give the Hardwick Gazette to whomever submitted the most compelling 400-word essay, along with a required $175 entry fee. He determined that he would need at least 700 entries to make the arrangement financially viable.

When he didn’t hit that mark, Connelly extended the deadline, from August 11 to September 20.

Now, he says, he’s pushing it back one last time.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Transparency Group: Cops Should Release Winooski Shooting Video

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 1:55 PM

The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw.
A group that calls for government transparency is urging Vermont law enforcement to release videos that show a sheriff's deputy fatally shooting an unarmed man in Winooski last week.

The New England First Amendment Coalition wants officials to release body camera videos of the incident so the public can evaluate Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Palmier's decision to open fire on Jesse Beshaw, 29, after a brief foot chase Friday evening in downtown Winooski.

Beshaw, the subject of an arrest warrant for burglary and unlawful mischief, approached Palmier with his right hand behind his back and did not respond to Palmier's verbal commands, Vermont State Police said. He was shot seven times and died at the scene.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Media Note: Herald Publisher to Retire, Photographer Fired

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 4:20 PM

The Rutland Herald headquarters - FILE: CALEB KENNA
  • File: Caleb Kenna
  • The Rutland Herald headquarters
Updated at 11:19 p.m.

The longtime owners of the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus are preparing to hand off the papers to two out-of-state investors.

"It looks like we will close the sale late this week, although that may still change," editor in chief Rob Mitchell wrote employees Monday, according to an email obtained by Seven Days. Mitchell's family has owned the Herald since 1947 and the Times Argus since 1964.

Chip Harris, who agreed last month to buy the papers with partner Reade Brower, confirmed Monday that the sale was imminent. 

"There's been no official date at this point," said Harris, a semi-retired publishing executive who lives in New Hampshire. "But the hope is we'll be closing by the end of the week."

In his email, Mitchell said that, "as part of this transition," publisher and CEO Catherine Nelson "has decided to leave the company and is retiring." 

"We should all wish her well in whatever comes next for her," Mitchell wrote. "My father [Herald Association president R. John Mitchell] and I will be backstopping her role this week or until the sale is final, so if you have questions please come to me or to Dad."

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