From the Publisher: One Year at a Time | From the Publisher | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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From the Publisher: One Year at a Time 

Published December 27, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

click to enlarge A note from a reader - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • A note from a reader

The year we just lived through was another tough one for media outlets across the country. A widely cited November 2023 report found that the news sector had shed 2,681 jobs year to date — a number that already exceeds total annual losses from both 2022 and 2021.

The labor contractions extend across all platforms: The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Condé Nast, and vaunted nonprofit outlets such as NPR and the Texas Tribune have let staffers go. Even our neighbor to the north, which subsidizes local news publishers with tax credits and other incentives, is feeling the pinch. In early December, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce.

Trust in U.S. media is at a low point, too. According to Gallup, in 2023 newspapers had the confidence of just 18 percent of Americans, down from 51 percent in 1979.

Here in Vermont, it's a different story. That's why we live here, right? Maps of the country's growing news deserts show that Vermont is still mostly verdant — except in the northeastern corner of the state that borders New Hampshire.

Seven Days is doing its part. Even people with complaints about our coverage often express appreciation for the free public service we provide, from our long-form investigations and local news reports to cultural stories and event listings. We've received countless love notes from readers this year, some of which are shown here.

Happily, they're usually wrapped around a check.

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In 2018, we started asking readers to help pay for our reporting by becoming Super Readers. Their positive response has encouraged us to swing for the fences — to tackle ambitious projects like our first-ever Dairy Issue on May 31 and, three weeks later, the inaugural Québec Issue. Joe Sexton's deep dive on the child abuse that shut down the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center took up most of the paper on October 25.

Many of our cover stories in 2023 required months of reporting. In late summer, we ran Chelsea Edgar's account of her full-immersion stint with Bread and Puppet Theater; she was the first reporter since 1983 to embed with the iconic troupe and offer a window on its workings. The next week, Derek Brouwer and Colin Flanders delivered the complex profile of a defendant in a murder case. Seven Days routinely publishes quality stories you'd expect to find in a national magazine, not a free local newspaper.

Reader support has also helped us build an experienced reporting team that includes veteran consulting editors Ken Ellingwood and Candace Page, along with two full-time food writers — Jordan Barry and Melissa Pasanen — and video journalist Eva Sollberger, who filmed the 700th episode of her "Stuck in Vermont" video series in October.

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Rachel Hellman, who covers our state's rural areas, has been almost entirely financed by donors. She came to us through Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in underserved communities around the country.

If you value our work and can join the thousands of readers helping to sustain it, we welcome your support.

Contributors to Seven Days hear from Gillian English. An avid reader, she came to us in 2019 after graduating from Champlain College, where she helped restart the student newspaper. When the pandemic hit, we had to lay her off.

She wound up at a weekly paper in Mattapoisett, Mass., working as a writer, then as its editor. In January, we lured her back. For the past year, Gillian has been an invaluable part of our team, supporting our advertising and editorial staff and managing our social media channels.

Gillian is a few years older than newly minted culture staff writer Hannah Feuer, who just graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Other rising talents who helped us get through the year were college student summer interns Katie Futterman and Abigail Sylvor Greenberg. Don't miss Abigail's very entertaining "Backstory" in this week's issue, in which she confesses lying to her boss — me! — to get the gig. I'm so glad she did.

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Seven Days aims to be a place where such promising young journalists can build careers. Working with them makes me feel hopeful about the future of this profession, which, difficult and humbling as it can be, is reliably meaningful and rewarding — whether we're documenting local tragedies and challenges or true tales of creativity and resilience.

For now, thanks to our readers, advertisers and supporters, the story of this newspaper remains in the latter category.

See you in 2024. Our first issue hits the streets on January 10.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

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About The Author

Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Paula Routly came to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. After graduation, she stayed and worked as a dance critic, arts writer, news reporter and editor before she started Seven Days newspaper with Pamela Polston in 1995. Routly covered arts news, then food, and, starting in 2008, focused her editorial energies on building the news side of the operation, for which she is a regular weekly editor. She conceptualized and managed the “Give and Take” special report on Vermont’s nonprofit sector, the “Our Towns” special issue and the yearlong “Hooked” series exploring Vermont’s opioid crisis. When she’s not editing stories, Routly runs the business side of Seven Days — overseeing finances, management and product development. She spearheaded the creation of the newspaper’s numerous ancillary publications and events such as Restaurant Week and the Vermont Tech Jam. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.


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