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From the Publisher: Variations on a Theme 

Published January 20, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated January 20, 2021 at 3:52 p.m.

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Seven Days has published many "theme issues" over the years. Devoting the entire paper to a single, usually seasonal subject has turned up some great stories that we might not otherwise have discovered. Similarly, from a business perspective, it has attracted new readers and advertisers. Whether the focus has been on food, music, travel or the Adirondacks, having a concept has helped us plan ahead and reliably generate unique and interesting content for this newspaper as it has grown.

There have been a few cringe-worthy moments: On the day after 9/11, we published our annual Performing Arts Preview. Focusing on one thing can result in missing something else that's more important. But, generally speaking, the strategy worked well until we started hiring full-time writers whose reporting could drive our coverage. As our editorial team has expanded, we've reduced the number of annual theme issues to accommodate more breaking, timely and cover-worthy journalism.

A year ago at this time, the list had been whittled down to one theme issue per month. Before the pandemic hit, we wondered if even that might be too much.

Then a strange thing happened. Just in time for the Money Issue, on April 8, 2020, the story of the hour became the economic impact of the coronavirus — on businesses, individuals and the state budget. Marc Nadel's brilliant cover caricature, of president Donald Trump tossing out toilet paper rolls of cash, perfectly captured the moment.

The Summer Preview, on May 20, came at just the right time, too: as Vermonters were beginning to wonder what they could and couldn't do outside safely. We wrote about summer camps, foreign workers, arts organizations, food trucks and the call for mask mandates in stores.

The Animal Issue, on August 18, paid timely attention to the role pets have played in keeping us sane. Other themes, such as Back to School, Winter Preview and Winter Reading, have similarly helped us package and present the news of the day.

Which brings us to the Wellness Issue. Under normal circumstances, it would explore new angles on perennial subjects such as improved eating habits and fitness routines. Instead, the topic has taken on an importance we never could have imagined a year ago. In the past 10 months, COVID-19 has claimed 400,000 Americans and turned our lives upside down. Surviving is not just a matter of avoiding infection; it's about finding ways to stay well and hopeful while the public health crisis runs its course. In our prolonged isolation, in which each of us is weighing risk factors, nothing could be more personal. Or essential.

Whether you're seeking solace in the pool, at the gym, in the snowy woods or on the couch, we hope you find our focused reporting on this topic useful and restorative.

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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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