By Adam Federman, VTDigger.org
The family-owned Rutland Herald has entered into an agreement to sell the Herald and its sister paper the Times Argus, according to a story posted on the Herald’s website late Wednesday night, Aug. 10.
The story, written by the paper’s Editor-in-chief Rob Mitchell, said the paper would be sold to MaineToday Media, a company owned by Reade Brower, and to printing and marketing executive Chip Harris, a co-founder and former majority stockholder and president of Upper Valley Press Inc. in North Haverhill, N.H.
The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“The Mitchells said they could not release any further information as the papers went to press Wednesday night, but said more details would be released when available,” Mitchell wrote.
The story ran in Thursday’s print edition.
The agreement to sell the paper came as a surprise to newsroom staff who had been told at a meeting on Monday that the paper was not for sale. According to two employees, after the company wide meeting Monday morning in which the paper’s financial situation was addressed, Mitchell met with a smaller group of newsroom staff. He was asked directly if the paper was for sale or if it was in receivership. According to the employees, Mitchell said the paper was not for sale nor was it in receivership. But in an email to VTDigger, Mitchell wrote that that was “not an accurate depiction of what I said.”
Mitchell posted the story at 10:10 p.m. Wednesday. Just after midnight he emailed staff at the
Herald telling them that the paper had been sold.
In the article, the Herald’s president John Mitchell said Brower had the “entrepreneurial spirit and record that is crucial, and the community focus and commitment to journalism that has been at the core of our mission for decades. The simple truth is that, as a family, we felt that if we were unable to continue that mission, we needed to find someone who could.”
MaineToday publishes the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in August, the Morning Sentinel in Waterwille and the Coastal Journal in Bath, as well as several online news sites.
The Mitchell family has owned the Herald for more than 60 years and the Times Argus since 1964. They have about 80 full- and part-time employees.