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August 21, 2013

This Week's Issue: Fixing Shabby Burlington Apartments; New Cops Learn How Not to Be Racist

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Happy Hump Day, everyone. Here's what you'll find in this week's Seven Days:

Grab this week's issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

August 16, 2013

Morning Read: Times Profiles the Lynn Sisters, Vermont's Next-Gen Newspaper Publishers

MorningreadIt ain't all bad news in the world of newspapers, writes New York Times media reporter Christine Haughney.

Up in Vermont, three twentysomething sisters are making a go at extending their family's publishing reign to a fifth generation. And the papers they run, Haughney writes in a B1 story in Friday's Times, "have been surprisingly profitable."

That's right. She's talking about the one and only Lynn family, whose small empire of Vermont newspapers includes the Addison County IndependentSt. Albans Messenger, Milton Independent, Colchester Sun, Essex Reporter, Brandon Reporter and Mountain Times

As Seven Days' Shay Totten did back in January 2011, Haughney focuses mostly on Addy Indy publisher Angelo Lynn's three daughters: Polly, Elsie and Christy:

[I]nstead of fleeing the newspaper business, the Lynn sisters have embraced it, and not just because it is part of their heritage.

“I’ve grown up in the papers,” said Elsie Lynn. “But I don’t think that’s the reason I’m in it. The future is exciting for me. We have this chance and this opportunity to be pioneers and change our career and change this industry.”

You can read Haughney's story here. And while you're at it, check out Seven Days' Ken Picard's January 2010 profile of the fourth-generation Lynns, Angelo and Emerson. (Haughney, btw, must really dig the Vermont newspaper industry. Last September, she wrote about recent changes at the Burlington Free Press.)

August 14, 2013

This Week's Issue: Drones, Vaginas and Cholera

CoverYou know the drill — another Wednesday, another Seven Days. No epic website outages here today (knock on wood!), so here are the news and politics stories you can read right now:

Grab it on newsstands, online or on the app.

Media Note: Barton Chronicle Reporter Looks On as His Car Gets Stolen

CrvLet's say you're a thief looking to steal a car. You probably don't want to be seen, so you wouldn't want to commit the crime in broad daylight. And competent reporters are usually on the lookout for unusual things, so stealing a car from a newspaper's parking lot might be a bad idea. And since you can't drive a stick shift, you'll swipe an automatic. Right?

Not if you're this hotshot wannabe bandit in Barton.

Yesterday afternoon, someone stole Barton Chronicle reporter Paul Lefebvre's SUV from the office's parking lot — in broad daylight, as Lefebvre looked on:

Continue reading "Media Note: Barton Chronicle Reporter Looks On as His Car Gets Stolen" »

August 09, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newWho won and lost the week in Vermont news and politics?

Switch-bumpers, snake-haters, calculators, power companies, TV stations, defense attorneys, creepy travel writers and more!

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Aug. 9: 

Winners:

Brooks McArthur — The Burlington defense attorney played some serious offense this week on behalf of his client, Burlington Police Department Deputy Chief Andi Higbee. When the Vermont State Police refused to give the Burlington Free Press a copy of a cruiser cam video of Higbee's July DUI arrest, Brooks took it upon himself to hand over a copy. A savvy way to score points with Freeps transparency czar Mike Donoghue and shift the conversation to why Higbee was pulled over in the first place. 

WPTZ-TV — Last month WCAX-TV announced that, come September, it would expand its news coverage to weekend mornings. But the station's main competitor, WPTZ-TV, beat Channel 3 to the punch, launching its own weekend news programming last weekend without fanfare. What's more? Channel 5 will feature four full hours of news coverage — twice as much as Channel 3's promised.

The Timothy Szad Beat — The recently-released sex offender is back in town after a brief trip to California. And that's got the state's cops and courts reporters in a tizzy reporting his every last move. Public service journalism or tabloid reporting?

Patrick Leahy — Because the U.S. Senate President Pro Tem's got some very special friends in the entertainment, defense, telecom, legal, tech and beverage industries.

Peter Welch — A BuzzFeed puff piece on the Vermont Congressman's bipartisan street cred netted something even better for Welch: a glowing editorial from the Saint Albans Messenger's Emerson Lynn echoing Welch's — ahem, BuzzFeed's — talking points.

Losers and tie score after the jump...

Continue reading "The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers" »

August 07, 2013

This Week's Issue: Seven Days Writers Finally Go Outside

080713-coverToday's Seven Days is worth picking up just to see our writers in adorable little cartoon form on the cover, as illustrated by Rob Donnelly (right). But if you're looking for actual news, here's what we've got this week:

Pick up your copy in print, online or on our app. And BTW, Northeast Kingdom-ites, did you know we now distribute more papers than ever in your neck of the woods?

August 06, 2013

Morning Read: BuzzFeed Calls Welch "Republicans' Favorite House Liberal"

MorningreadWhich member of Vermont's congressional delegation travels to the Middle East with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor? Hikes in the Grand Canyon with Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)? Steals popcorn from the Republican cloakroom?

Here's a hint: It sure ain't Bernie Sanders.

Splashed across BuzzFeed's homepage this morning — right above a pair of stories titled "15 Experiences EVERYONE Should Have In College" and "11 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Dogs" — is an improbable homage to the apparent bipartisan street cred of Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

"Meet Republicans' Favorite House Liberal," the story is called. 

Not the most compelling link bait we've seen, but hey!

Continue reading "Morning Read: BuzzFeed Calls Welch "Republicans' Favorite House Liberal"" »

August 01, 2013

Media Note: Layoffs at the Burlington Free Press [UPDATED]

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UPDATED THROUGHOUT AT 5:52 P.M.

The Burlington Free Press laid off 13 employees Thursday, including at least five newsroom staffers. 

Among them is longtime staff writer Matt Sutkoski, a general assignment reporter who wrote the popular Weather Rapport blog. Sutkoski joined the paper full-time in 1992.

"It's the way the business is. It kind of feels like it was inevitable," Sutkoski said. "Things happen. I'll just redirect myself and I'll be fine."

The layoffs also included reporter Elizabeth Murray, editor Emilie Stigliani, copy editor Jordan Kilty and photographer Maddie McGarvey, according to several sources familiar with the situation.

Continue reading "Media Note: Layoffs at the Burlington Free Press [UPDATED]" »

July 10, 2013

Media Note: WCAX Expanding News Programming to Weekend Mornings

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Citing demand for more local news programming, WCAX-TV announced Wednesday it's expanding its coverage to Saturday and Sunday mornings. Starting September 7, the station will air an hour of local news at 8 a.m. both days.

"The public has asked us to do it," says WCAX news director Anson Tebbetts. "News is, as you know, seven days a week."

The station will be the first in the Burlington-Plattsburgh television market to offer locally produced programing weekend mornings, which WCAX owner Peter Martin says are growing more and more essential.

"Morning news — not just here, but around the country — has become almost a center of gravity. People want it and watch it in surprisingly large numbers," Martin says. "There is a set of advertisers — for instance, automobile companies — who are anxious to reach people who watch news."

The move is also the first local broadcast news expansion in Vermont since September 2010, when WCAX added a 5 p.m. weekday newscast and a 5:30 p.m. interview show. The station's primary competitor, WPTZ-TV, began airing a 5 p.m. show in 2002 and a 5:30 p.m. show in 2005.

"We're going to wish them well," WPTZ news director Sinan Sadar said. "More news is better for everybody."

Neither Tebbetts nor Martin would say precisely how many new hires the station would make to staff the shows, though Martin said, "There will be at least several." Tebbetts said some existing on-air staff might also shift to the weekend time slots.

Continue reading "Media Note: WCAX Expanding News Programming to Weekend Mornings" »

July 08, 2013

Morning Read: St. Mike's Prof Blows Whistle on Lincoln's Spying Operation

Morning ReadAbe may have been honest, but he was a snooper too. In an op-ed piece appearing in Saturday's New York Times, St. Michael's College journalism professor David Mindich blows the whistle on Lincoln's extensive domestic spying operation.

The communications-interception program approved by Lincoln in 1862 was similar in scope, if not in technology, to the systematic surveillance undertaken by President Obama's National Security Agency. Mindich notes that while the current operation may be alarming, it is not — despite what many commentators have claimed — "unprecedented" in American history.

Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's secretary of war, got the go-ahead from the 16th president for a plan to take complete control of the nation's telegraph lines, Mindich relates. Stanton was thus able to "keep tabs on vast amounts of communication, journalistic, governmental and personal," the prof writes. And the head of the Department of War "ultimately had dozens of newspapermen arrested on questionable charges."

But Mindich adds that he wasn't appalled by Stanton's requests to Lincoln for sweeping powers of surveillance. Upon unearthing these documents in the Library of Congress in the 1990s, Mindich recalls, "I accepted his information control as a necessary evil." Given the cause for which the Union was fighting, "the benefits of information monitoring, censorship and extrajudicial tactics, though disturbing, were arguably worth their price," Mindich tells his Times readers.

There's a kicker, though. 

"Part of the reason this calculus was acceptable to me," Mindich continues, "was that the trade-offs were not permanent. As the war ended, the emergency measures were rolled back. Information — telegraph and otherwise — began to flow freely again."

Moral of the story: To protect privacy, put an end to the wars that the government cites as justification for its snooping activities. "If you are a critic of the NSA's surveillance program," Mindich reasons, "it is imperative that the war on terror reach its culmination."

Read Mindich's op-ed here.

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