Rutland Herald Buyer Rejects 'Slash And Burn' Ownership Approach

Aug 12, 2016

The Rutland Herald and   Barre-Montpelier Times Argus are in the process of being sold to two out of state partners, ending the two papers' run as the longest continuously owned family newspapers in America.

The sale was announced late Wednesday night amid a controversy over checks that bounced for newsroom staffers and the firing of a long time editor who wanted to print a follow up story about those financial troubles.

One of the new owners will be Reade Brower, who owns three newspapers in Maine. He spoke to VPR about the recent announcement.

On his philosophy and guiding business model for owning local newspapers:

The overall model is just trying to find something that's sustainable and that's built on a common sense model with prudence. I believe you have to have some sort of pay wall that makes sense because your news is your core product and if you're giving it away as you know some of our competitors continue to do I just don't understand the monetary model that works.

Why he bought the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus:

It fits into the model being an integral part of the community, that's number one. If a paper is an integral part of the community I think it automatically creates viability and then the viability piece that sort of determines everything else. These papers, especially from what I've learned over the last you know couple of days, are really part of the community and have been doing a fine job.

The possibility of layoffs:

Our general philosophy is that you can't slash your way to profitability; that's just not that's just not the formula that works. What we want to do is maintain quality journalism and if you expect the readers to pay for content you've got to give them content.

"The overall model is just trying to find something that's sustainable and that's built on a common sense model with prudence." - Reade Brower, buyer of The Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus

The cut and slash philosophy, I just don't believe that's the way to prosperity. It's not to say that we won’t look at a position that doesn't make sense in this day and age.

If he’ll return to printing the papers seven days a week:

We will reconsider that position but I don't know. I don't I don't know the reasoning behind that [decision]. When we when we got involved in Portland I remember listening to some of the some of the talk shows that were talking about it and predicting that the print product which would disappear and I shook my head because I wouldn't be in this business right now if I didn't believe in the print piece of this.

If he’d hire back news editor Alan Keays:

I don't really understand the situation enough to really comment on that. We have a letter of intent [so] I don't own the paper today and without really understanding what happened it's really hard to comment on that. If you look at my history of I always felt like I've always been a fair employer and nothing is out of the question. Who knows if he even wants to come back.

If the Mitchell family will still be involved:

I don't think that has been even discussed. This happened so quickly and it needed to happen quickly. I would say that I will go back to the four days a week [printing] change. That seems like a change that was reactionary and that's not the way to change things. Reactionary changes are not good. You want to changes to be thought out and done by plan. I know the publisher will stay; you need to need to make sure you do have top management that's willing to stay in place.