By LEE KAHRS
Hello, I’m the new managing editor of this newspaper, and this is an occasional column you will see in Shelburne News and The Citizen from time to time.
I come to you via Brandon, a town of roughly 5,000, of artists and families and farmers and woodworkers nestled between Middlebury and Rutland along the Otter Creek.
I spent 11 years there as the editor of The Reporter, a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 1,500, no web presence and a rabidly loyal readership.
The last few months have initiated quiet, steady change behind the pages of Shelburne News and The Citizen. The Stowe-based Vermont Community Newspaper Group bought both papers in the spring of 2017, then purchased The Other Paper, the weekly newspaper of record in South Burlington, last summer. I was hired in August as the managing editor of The Other Paper, and that job morphed into managing all three weeklies.
Former managing editor Lisa Scagliotti has passed the torch after almost two years of solid work turning around the Shelburne News and The Citizen and making them relevant again. Her attention to detail and dedication to holding public officials accountable, not to mention her crisp, clean writing and sheer love of journalism, make her an invaluable member of Vermont’s rich newspaper community. Lucky for us, we got to keep her. She is now bringing her skills and journalistic acumen as a freelance reporter for all three papers.
As for me, at the tender age of 52, I’m pinching myself a bit. Opportunities like this don’t come often in Vermont, where the journalism community is a small, fiercely proud tribe in a professional niche like no other. Community journalism is alive and well here, thanks to family-owned newspapers that carry the torch in the face of media conglomerates that often swoop in and render perfectly good newspapers shells of their former selves.
With Town Meeting upon us, it’s the perfect time to appreciate your local paper. In these pages you find the information you need to make important decisions about the direction of your town, how your taxes are spent, and who you trust to lead the way in your local government.
But it doesn’t end for us when the Town Meeting votes are tallied, the last potluck casserole is eaten, or the scarf you’ve been knitting is finished. Fifty-two weeks a year, we bring you the news you want and need, from selectboard meetings to snowstorms, boiling photos to basketball shots, Notable Neighbor to business news. In these pages there are tales of life and death, success and failure, perseverance, opposition, celebration, and quiet good deeds. A good weekly newspaper holds a mirror up to the community it serves, and makes readers think.
I’m honored to lead Shelburne News and The Citizen into the next rich phase of hyperlocal community journalism. Like so many closely held Vermont traditions, the content you find here each week is handcrafted, original and unique, just like Vermonters ourselves. I’m excited for the future of these newspapers, and dedicated to reflecting the issues and the people in the communities we serve.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can.