Business & Economy

Burlington Free Press cuts print publication to 6 days a week

A “For Lease” sign adorns the 100 Bank Street building in Burlington that formerly housed the Free Press as seen July 19, 2021. File photo by Jim Welch/VTDigger

The Burlington Free Press is ending publication of its Saturday print edition.

The newspaper still plans to publish stories that day, it announced Wednesday, but only online. The change, which the paper attributed to “continued rapid shifts toward digital news consumption,” will not result in layoffs to its news or sales staff, it said.

“The Vermont team of journalists and I remain committed to providing subscribers with unique and insightful news coverage,” the Free Press quoted its executive editor, Emilie Stigliani, as saying. “While the medium delivery is changing — on Saturdays — journalism remains our focus and our mission.”

The Free Press is part of the USA Today Network, which is owned by the Gannett publishing company. The paper reported that others in the network were enacting similar changes.

In response to a request for an interview with Stigliani, Gannett spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton provided a written statement.

“This decision better aligns our resources to maintain strong local reporting across our nationwide network, to better serve our partners, and to accelerate our digital future holistically for the benefit of our loyal subscribers and advertisers,” Anton wrote. “We recognize and appreciate the deep loyalty our longtime subscribers have to our daily newspapers and are committed to delivering a quality product as we execute our subscription-led business strategy.” 

Vermont’s daily newspapers have for years grappled with declining advertising and circulation revenues, as well as increased printing and distribution costs — and the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated those problems. 

Other newspapers in the state, including the Rutland Herald, Brattleboro Reformer and Addison County Independent, have reduced publication frequency. The Milton Independent, Colchester Sun, Essex Reporter and Hardwick Gazette scrapped their print editions. And the company that produced the Waterbury Record shuttered the publication entirely.

The decline of Vermont’s print newspapers follows a national trend. The Poynter Institute reported last month that, since 2004, about 1,800 newspapers have closed in the United States. 

The Free Press, which once boasted the largest news staff and highest circulation of any paper in the state, has been contracting for years. 

Steve Terry, former managing editor of the Rutland Herald, on Wednesday wistfully recalled the days when the Herald and the Free Press battled one another for dominance. 

“Those days are long, long gone,” Terry said.

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Fred Thys

About Fred

Fred Thys covers business and the economy for VTDigger. He is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science. He is the recipient of the Radio, Television, and Digital News Association's Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and for Enterprise Reporting. Fred has worked at The Journal of Commerce, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, and WBUR, and has written for Le Matin, The Dallas Morning News, and The American Homefront Project.

Email: [email protected]

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