Two Vermont newspapers have announced they are scaling back their print operations to four days a week, and publishing online-only editions the other three.
Starting July fourth, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and its sister paper, the Rutland Herald, will move to electronic editions for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Those online publications will contain news, sports, opinion, comics, and obituaries, according to the papers’ president. Thursday through Sunday will see expanded newsprint editions, he said.
"We're trying to adapt," John Mitchell, the president and chairman of the Times Argus and Rutland Herald told necn in an interview Tuesday. "We will continue to do the job that we always do: to try to make sense out of your community, as responsibly as we can."
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Mitchell said production costs and advertisers' shifts to digital marketing contributed to the change, noting more and more people are getting their news through smart phones and other devices.
Tuesday, employees were busy answering subscribers' many account questions.
Mitchell said the papers already have strong online subscriber bases, which he said his team aims to make more robust, to make up for a change in revenue from the reductions in printed editions of the paper.
Mitchell said there would be no pink slips for staff employees, but acknowledged hard-working delivery drivers, who are considered independent contractors, will surely feel an impact.
"That is too bad," daily Times Argus reader Deb Gable said as she examined the paper's Tuesday morning headline announcing the change. "I wish this wasn't happening."
Traci Griffith, the chair of the St. Michael's College Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts Department, expressed concern the move may leave some consumers less informed, especially seniors and those on fixed incomes who don't use tablets or computers.
Still, Griffith called the papers' announcement a sign of the times in the media world.
"It's not that news is dying, it's just that it's taking on a different form," Griffith said. "[The Times Argus and Rutland Herald] are trying to make changes that will allow them to be able to survive. And you can't fault them for that. It's better to have them in some form than not have them at all."
Mitchell said the papers promise to revamp their websites and boost social media presences as part of their digital shift. He also indicated the removal of tight print deadlines may also enable more in-depth reporting from his team of journalists.