VTDigger.org merges with Vermont Journalism Trust

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VTDigger.org and The Vermont Journalism Trust have merged.

At a joint meeting of the boards of VTDigger.org and Vermont Journalism Trust, the directors of the two nonprofit organizations decided unanimously to combine operations.

Vermont Journalism Trust will be the umbrella organization for VTDigger.org. The web site will continue to operate under the VTDigger.org moniker.

The online news site VTDigger.org was established by Anne Galloway of East Hardwick and began publishing on Aug. 31, 2009. According to Galloway, its founding editor, the choice to produce in-depth news vital to Vermonters online and via the nonprofit model was dictated by conditions in journalism today.

“The economic model that since the mid-19th century has supported print journalism is in steep decline,” Galloway explained. “Classified and display advertising has migrated to the Web and subscription revenue has been steadily eroded by declining readership and the availability of free news from other media outlets. Investigative journalism and beat reporting have been especially hard hit. We wanted to produce in-depth journalism vital to Vermonters within a sustainable economic model. Our objective is also to fill gaps in the media landscape. We have already begun collaborative arrangements with several news outlets.”

According to Bill Schubart, one of the five founders, of The Vermont Journalism Trust was established to fund in-depth journalism in traditional and emerging media.

“We started with the idea that a free and open press is fundamental to a citizen’s role in the conduct of democratic government,” Schubart said. “Recent declines in the funding and publication of in-depth and investigative journalism constitute a threat to the democratic process. Our model for supporting serious journalism was ProPublica.org. The Trust’s goal is to fund comprehensive reporting within Vermont and to make it available to all existing outlets in print, radio and TV. In the merger, neither our goal nor the goal of VTDigger has changed. We are essentially medium and channel agnostic.”

Galloway explained the online rationale of VTDigger.org. “People often confuse production medium and distribution channel,” Galloway said. “Online news distribution is the only platform on which an editor can produce in text, still image, audio and video. TV, radio and news print are defined largely by their production medium, whereas online news production can mix and match the most effective medium to convey information. Online, we have the technical freedom to use all media to publish news and ideas.”

Clifton said, “VTDigger.org is the ideal platform on which to build out Vermont Journalism Trust’s commitment to expanding quality journalism in all media.”

Doug Clifton, a founding director of The Vermont Journalism Trust and former editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and former executive editor and senior vice president of the Miami Herald, said the goal of the merger is to support reporting on matters of public policy.

“The complementary nature of the two organizations drove the early merger exploration,” Clifton said. “The clear success of VTDigger.org in developing consistent, in-depth reporting on government, economic, business and environmental news for Vermonters realized in part our own mission. VTDigger.org is the ideal platform on which to build out Vermont Journalism Trust’s commitment to expanding quality journalism in all media.”

Con Hogan, a director of VTDigger.org, who will continue on the combined board noted that “the time for competitive scoop journalism in print is past.”

“With broadcast media carving seconds off their delivery of breaking news, the deeper more analytical news that we produce becomes more and more suited to a cooperative model in which traditional news organizations exchange and share in-depth stories,” Hogan said. “VTDigger.org is pioneering some of that sharing now with other news outlets and the combined resources of VTDigger.org and the Vermont Journalism Trust will only enhance this model. If the goal is to better serve Vermont readers with high integrity content, then sharing that content across outlets and platforms makes sense. “

The economic model for the merged entity will combine philanthropy, foundation support, business sponsorship, and a voluntary subscription model akin to the public broadcast model. VTDigger.org has already been recognized by J-Lab and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in support of its mission to provide interactive news platforms and to give Vermonters a deeper look at their community.

Follow Anne on Twitter @GallowayVTD

Anne GallowayAnne Galloway

Comments

  1. Congratulations on the big news, Anne. We at The Commons look forward to continued collaboration and commiseration. Thanks for making the media landscape better for all of us.

  2. Ken Dean :

    VTDIGGER is a treasure to us all. Glad to see the building stages at work to make VTDIGGER even better. Each year will bring a new expansion of vision and content. To date the early steps and harvest have been excellent. That will only continue for years to come. A Vermont gem growing each day.
    Good work. Good reporting. Good progress. A Big Thank You!

  3. I’m so excited to see that this merger has taken place because it assures that VTDigger will be able to continue the excellent reporting model that you’ve established over the past year. As co-founder of newsofthenorth.net in Wisconsin, I know how important it is to find solid funding sources for an operation like VTDigger. I’m looking forward now to many more years of REAL news on the VT scene. Thanks, Ann!

  4. George Plumb :

    It is so great to know that a small, grassroots organization like Vermonters for Sustainable Population can send a commnentary or press release to VTDigger.org and know that unlike other media there is a resonable chance that it will get published. Thanks for your courage, creativity, and hard work in developing this resource. You will have an annual donation from me!

  5. Darren Allen :

    Congratulations, Anne. Your work has been invaluable, and I look forward to many more years of news that explains our world.

  6. Bob Rottenberg :

    My congrats too. Speaking as a Board member of Vermont Independent Media, I look forward to continued opportunities for collaboration! Well done!

  7. Diane Derby :

    “Con Hogan, a director of VTDigger.org, who will continue on the combined board noted that ‘the time for competitive scoop journalism in print is past.’”
    Sad, but true. Good to know VTDigger will keep the tradition alive, albeit in a non-traditional way. Thanks, Anne, and all of your colleagues for your continued commitment.

  8. John Bloch :

    I am overed joyed at you business savvy nay jelous that we in access have not taken this path we will watch this effort with great interest.Congratlations.
    John

  9. Jane Stein :

    Wonderful news, Anne. Congratulations, and long may you and VTDigger wave. You are invaluable.

  10. Ron Pulcer :

    Congratulations Anne and VTDigger.com!

    Given that there will most likely be lots of noise, but a lot of gridlock in Washington the next two years, it seems most of the action and progress could be at the state-level. Vermont is facing many challenges, like other states. However, I think / hope Vermont has a better chance to improve things, given our state’s small size.

    And, Anne and VTDigger will be there to cover Vermont news in these challenging, yet exciting times!

  11. Congrats.
    Since Peter Freyne has left us, we really need VtDigger.

  12. Wally Roberts :

    Congratulations to VJT and Vtdigger. This is a marriage that makes sense philosophically, economically, and strategically. I think it goes a long way to ensuring that the people of Vermont will be able to get the news and views about public policy that will enable them to keep our democracy strong.

  13. This is a smart AND wise move! A perfect example of focusing the real work, energy and mission rather than spending time looking over your shoulder…. I hope you find power in partnership .

  14. David Usher :

    A wise move driven by a noble purpose. The trick will be to gain a readership and subscriber support based on journalistic integrity and damn good reporting. Vtdigger has shown it can be done.

  15. You have been helping Vermont change to meet a quickly changing future. Congratulations and best of luck.

  16. Dennis Shanley :

    Congratulations. I have come to rely on VtDigger as THE Vermont source for unbiased news and in depth reporting. At the same time I was concerned about you being able to keep your nose above water in these tight fiscal times. The unification of VtDigger and Vermont Journalism Trust seems like a wonderful decision strongly benefiting both organizations.

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