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News | Vermont Guardian to cease publication

Posted May 15, 2007

WINOOSKI — The Vermont Guardian, which earlier this year became the state’s only exclusively online newspaper, will cease publication this month.

The move comes three months after the Guardian dropped its print format as a way to cut costs and better reach its growing readership on the Internet. That move drew significantly more readers — topping more than 8,000 readers per day (with more than 20,000 page views) and 150,000 readers per month.

“The reason we are closing our doors is simple,” said Shay Totten, the paper’s co-founder, editor, and publisher.”While the move to online helped us bring our costs in line with our revenues, and to be more fleet-footed in how we respond to breaking news and analysis, I have been offered an opportunity that, for the benefit of my family, I cannot turn down and it means that the paper must cease publication at this time due to the enormous amount of time that I put into this publication every day.”

This week’s issue will be the paper’s last, and will largely be comprised of a “best of” retrospective of some of the most important stories the paper published in its two-and-a-half year run, Totten said. The Guardian’s first weekly print edition hit the streets in September 2004, and its circulation topped 10,000 readers statewide.

“We have rightly earned many accolades from readers, pundits, and our colleagues over the yearUs, 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,” said Totten. “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. These are all great accomplishments, and I look forward to seeing what folks come up with next.”

Totten will be the new editorial director of Chelsea Green Publishing in White River Junction. The job title encompasses the existing editor-in-chief role, and has been expanded to include the oversight and development of multimedia tools and online content. (Read Chelsea Green’s press release here.)

In the coming months, Chelsea Green plans to launch a new website, which will host much of the new content, and begin thinking of new ways for each author’s book project to be more than simply a book, making each a way to help organize action around the core idea and purpose of the title.

Founded in 1984, Chelsea Green Publishing Company is dedicated to the politics and practice of sustainability. During the past twenty-three years, Chelsea Green has published a wide range of titles from the political New York Times best seller, Don't Think of an Elephant, to ecological classics like The Man Who Planted Trees. Its authors are on the cutting edge of politics, energy, agriculture, green building, economics, food politics, gardening, and religion.

“It was a very difficult decision, but more than three years of long hours and low pay was, in the end, simply too much to bear for me and my family any more,” said Totten. “Still, I made this decision after a long discussion with my family — who has supported me and the paper to the bitter end — and with close friends, allies, and our investors. All agreed that the Guardian has much to be proud of, and it is time for me to move on.”

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,” said Totten.

The paper’s other co-founder, Greg Guma, left the Guardian in early 2006 to take over as executive director of the Pacifica Foundation, which operates the Pacifica Radio Network.