Posted May 17, 2007
This is it, the final “issue” of the Vermont Guardian you’re holding on your computer screen.
It was nearly three years ago that my fellow co-founder Greg Guma and I opened our bank account and launched the company. That was July 1, 2004. On Sept. 24, 2004, our first crew witnessed the first issue hit the streets, with a lead story on Jack McMullen’s attempts to confront the political ghost of Fred Tuttle in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, along with a feature on how the town of Marlboro was fighting the No Child Left Behind Act.
Though the faces changed over time, as is the case with any startup, many stuck it out much longer than I would have ever expected. It takes a certain breed of person to handle the ups and downs of a fledgling independent media operation — long hours, low pay, inconsistent pay when times are tight, etc.
It’s never a pretty sight, but with lots of help, support, duct tape, and other patchwork methods, the Guardian limped along as we tried to find our way financially while we pumped out some of the best journalism in the state, week in and week out. We won awards in Vermont and the region for our work, and our stories were being picked up around the country by major blogs and websites, helping us build awareness of the important efforts at work in Vermont.
We broke some important stories, and covered many others. We gave voice to people of various political stripes who are often ignored by the larger media — political candidates who don’t fit the mold of a party, or average citizens trying to make a difference.
There are too many people to thank, but I’m going to give it a try. First, our investors. You know who you are, and it would have never happened without you; Greg, my business partner and co-conspirator; our illustrious staff over the years, including Kate Casa, Dian Mueller, Christian Avard, Paul Fleckenstein, Sara Altieri, Amanda Cashin, Chris Stecher, Lauren Brownell, and many others who came and went for their own reasons. Our freelancers, including, but not limited to, Rob Williams, Alan Lewis, Carrie Chandler, Mary Fratini, Haris Begovic, Jessica K. Kell, Eesha Williams, Joe Milliken, Kevin Forrest, Joel Senesac, Doug Beekman, Sheryl Glubok, Christopher Parker, Beth Kanell, among them.
I also have to thank Bob Mathewson at the Valley News, who made sure our paper got out on time and looked great right up until the end. The great folks at Small Dog Electronics, on whose Macs we’ve produced the Guardian since day one, and SoVerNet who helped us connect to the world.
We also have our advertisers, in particular Trust Company of Vermont, NRG Systems, Everyone’s Books, Northshire Bookstore, Eyes of the World, the Flynn Center, Cheslea Green Publishing, and many, many more.
The groups we partnered up with on some pretty amazing events: the Special Olympics of Vermont and the Penguin Plunge, SolarFest, the Mozart Festival, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
Then, there were our thousands of subscribers and readers.
As I mentioned earlier this week, this is a very bittersweet time. We’ve accomplished a lot, but the time is right for me to move on and tackle new challenges.
We have rightly earned many accolades from readers, pundits, and our colleagues over the years, and everyone who worked with us as a staffer, a freelancer, intern, or volunteer should know they were part of something important and that has had an impact on events and issues that will far outlast its short life. We were the first newspaper to put breaking news on its website, to offer online subscriptions to readers, and to take our entire news operation online.
The Guardian’s website will remain active indefinitely for subscribers to continue accessing the paper’s rich archives, and more news stories will be posted throughout this week and next to ensure the paper meets its obligations to its many subscribers and advertisers.
I hold out some hope that we can find someone to manage and run the website as a news organization, or citizen journalism site. As we proved, the state needs such an outlet, and people want it.
The response from everyone to date has been humbling and heartwarming, and I leave this knowing that despite some of the shortfalls, we all have a lot to be proud of with the Guardian.