This letter is from VTDigger founder Anne Galloway. Read a response from the Vermont Journalism Trust board of trustees here.
When I started VTDigger 13 years ago, I never imagined it would become the largest newsroom in Vermont and the national example that it is today. The organization has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.
It was in 2009 that I began to build one of the first nonprofit online news organizations in the country. With chutzpah and no capital, I single-handedly covered the Statehouse, armed with a notebook and home video camera. But my vision was to create a full-scale newsroom ensuring that people in Vermont had access to news about the inner workings of government. I believed then, as I do now, that journalism is the underpinning of the democratic values we share.
Today, VTDigger is Vermont’s newspaper of record, and the only online nonprofit news organization in the country that has replaced daily print newspapers in a local market. We have developed a sustainable funding model that is the envy of our competitors in print and broadcast.
It’s now time to let VTDigger thrive on its own. I’m stepping back from management of VTDigger and its parent organization, the Vermont Journalism Trust, to become founder and editor-at-large. This new role will enable me to pursue ongoing reporting of the EB-5 scandal at Jay Peak Resort and return to my roots as an investigative reporter.
Founding VTDigger has been the most rewarding professional experience of my life so far. I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I have a knack for finding tech and business solutions for journalism. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned at VTDigger to a bigger stage.
The Vermont Journalism Trust will begin a national search for a new leader this summer. Over the next six months, I will assist the board with the transition as VTDigger continues to publish excellent reporting and expands coverage in regions of the state.
Meanwhile, the organization is in good hands. Jim Welch has been named interim executive director. You may know Jim’s work as the executive editor of the Burlington Free Press back in the 1980s. After his successful career at the Free Press, he went on to serve as an executive at USA Today for decades. I believe news organizations run best when managed by journalists, and Jim continues that tradition at VTDigger.
And don’t worry. You’ll get the latest in-depth news from VTDigger every day, thanks to the unstinting efforts of chief product officer Stacey Peters, who will continue to keep the digital trains running on time.
In an age when newspapers are struggling in Vermont and around the country, here are a few of the accomplishments I’m most proud of:
- More Vermonters than ever rely on VTDigger for critical daily news coverage. The organization has grown to 550,000 unique readers per month.
- The number of employees on staff is 32, up from 23 in 2019.
- VTDigger is one of the first news organizations nationwide to participate in the American Journalism Project’s business capacity program.
- I take personal pride in the company’s generous wages and benefits for our hard-working journalists and business staff.
- VTDigger has won dozens of local and national awards for our journalism and tech innovations, including a congressional commendation for Covid-19 coverage.
- The organization’s business and web development projects have garnered support from the Google News Initiative, Facebook Accelerator and the Lenfest Institute.
- The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program has recognized me as a national leader.
As I transition back to writing, I leave VTDigger on solid financial footing knowing that my original strategy of underwriting, membership, e-commerce and philanthropy is a winning combination. This sustainable model will ensure the organization continues to serve readers for years to come.
It has been a privilege to lead this pioneering enterprise with such a dedicated group of editors, reporters and business staff. Their commitment to VTDigger’s mission is inspiring.
There is nothing more rewarding to me than hearing from readers who thank VTDigger for making a tangible difference in their lives. Folks around the state have shown me so much love and support over the years. I can’t express how grateful I am for that.
BTW, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll just be spending more time in my garden this summer (and Jim will be spending less).
Keep looking for more news in pursuit of truth.
VTDigger Founder and Editor-at-Large