The Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus are being sold to new owners for an undisclosed price, according to Rob Mitchell, who serves as editor-in-chief of the paper.
Mitchell and his family have owned the papers for decades, and he said on Vermont Edition Thursday that he’s relieved that they’ve found a way to keep the papers alive. He said he’s not sure what changes the papers’ audiences can expect.
“I guess the easiest answer is I don't know,” he said, “but on the digital editions we have started an overhaul. It's still behind the scenes right now but we expect this to help us move that forward.”
With the growth of online news and a shrinking demand for newspaper classifieds, the Times Argus and the Herald struggled to make the business side of the newspapers work.
Earlier this year, the papers switched from daily publication to printing four days a week.
More acute financial problems at the paper became clear last week when the news staff ran a front page story that said some paychecks were bouncing and management wouldn't answer questions. News editor Alan Keays was fired over the coverage.
The online aspects of the news operation have been slow to catch up, and Mitchell said he hopes the sale will help carry both newsrooms toward better digital content.
The buyers, Reade Brower of Maine and Chip Harris of New Hampshire, aren’t strangers to the newspaper business. Brower owns a chain of Maine papers, and Harris co-founded a printing company that prints a number of papers across the region, including the Times Argus and Rutland Herald.
According to Seven Days, Brower said Thursday that he doesn’t intend to cut staff.
“I don’t have a cut and slash personality,” Brower told Seven Days Thursday afternoon. “I believe that you can’t save your way to prosperity. People are willing to pay for something if it’s good. I’m only interested in properties that I believe still serve their communities and are viable — and these two papers sort of fit the mold.”