By Anne Galloway, VTDigger.org
The Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus will stop publishing print editions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The two sister newspapers will publish online seven days a week. Newsprint will be available Thursday through Sunday.
R. John Mitchell, chairman and president of the Herald Association Inc., made the announcement Monday evening, June 20. Mitchell told the staff at the Times Argus that the newspapers had cut “all the jobs we can without really decimating the newsroom.” Catherine Nelson, the publisher of the two newspapers, made a simultaneous announcement to the staff of the Rutland Herald.
Cutting the print editions, Mitchell said, was “an attempt to keep from having dramatic layoffs in the newsroom and to try and monetize the technical base we’ve built for social media.”
In 2009, the two newspapers eliminated the Sunday news desk and laid off 20 people over the course of a year. More layoffs have followed. The Times Argus sold its building in Barre several years ago, and the Rutland Herald building has been on the market. In December, the newspapers dropped publication of the New England Business Journals.
Like other mid-size daily newspapers around the country, the Rutland Herald and Times Argus have struggled to sustain advertising revenue. Most of the revenue for the two newspapers is currently generated by the print editions, Mitchell said.
The Rutland Herald and the Times Argus use a paid subscription model for all online content. Many news organizations give readers access to 10 free stories a month. The company says since 2010, readers have purchased 49,500 digital subscriptions. The combined print subscriptions of both newspapers is 18,000.
There are eight daily newspapers in Vermont, including the Newport Daily Express, the Bennington Banner, the Brattleboro Reformer, the St. Albans Messenger, the Burlington Free Press, the Caledonian-Record, the Times Argus and the Rutland Herald.