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December 04, 2013

Media Note: VPR Hires Vermont Press Bureau's Chief Statehouse Reporter

HirschfeldOne of the Statehouse's top print reporters is moving into the world of broadcast.

Vermont Public Radio has hired the Vermont Press Bureau's Peter Hirschfeld to join the station's capital bureau, according to VPR news director John Dillon. 

"I'm really excited," Dillon says. "He's a trusted, respected, leading journalist who really has established himself for breaking news and enterprise reporting.

A Jericho native and Worcester resident, Hirschfeld (pictured at center during a Statehouse press conference) joined the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus in 2003 as a sports reporter and copy editor. In 2009, he moved over to the Vermont Press Bureau, which covers state government for the T-A and the Rutland Herald. Both papers are owned by John Mitchell.

 "This is a family here to me," Hirschfeld says. "I'll never be able to repay the debt of gratitude that I owe to John Mitchell and to [Herald editor] Rob Mitchell. It's been an honor to work for this organization and I'm happy here... It's just time for something new."

At VPR, Hirschfeld will replace Dillon himself, who left the capital bureau in September when he was promoted to news director. Hirschfeld will join veteran journalist Bob Kinzel at the station's Montpelier studios. VPR has made a number of hires in recent months, including digital reporter Taylor Dobbs, digital producer Angela Evancie and weekend reporter and producer Annie Russell. 

Hirschfeld.Porter(Hirschfeld, at right, is pictured with Louis Porter, Gov. Peter Shumlin's secretary of civil and military affairs. Porter was Hirschfeld's boss when both worked at the press bureau.)

Hirschfeld says he's looking forward to joining "a really exciting and growing newsgathering organization" and moving into the radio world. He's not exactly a stranger to the medium, nor to the station's listeners. Since last January, when VPR and the Mitchell family papers forged a content-sharing arrangement, Hirschfeld has recorded versions of his print stories for broadcast.

"I'm just really excited about the potential of the medium to maybe more successfully convey the humanity in the stories that I write," he says, adding that radio can create a "more direct line" to news consumers.

Hirschfeld's defection is a blow to the Times Argus and the Herald, which have shed news staffers in recent years through layoffs and attrition. Though he's technically the papers' Statehouse bureau chief, that bureau consisted of Hirschfeld alone during last winter's legislative session. The previous year, three reporters contributed to Statehouse coverage. In September, the papers hired former Bennington Banner reporter Neal Goswami to join the bureau.

Reached after the announcement Wednesday, Rob Mitchell said the papers would "absolutely" replace Hirschfeld, though he declined to provide further details.

"Working with Pete has been fantastic, and I think he's going to do a great job for VPR," Mitchell said.

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