Sunday, November 06, 2016

Effort to sell weekly newspaper in Vermont via essay contest and crowdfunding falls short

A Vermont publisher's attempt to sell his weekly newspaper through an essay contest, then additionally by a crowdfunding campaign, has fallen short.

"The Kickstarter campaign did not generate the money it set as a goal," The Hardwick Gazette reports. "The final contest entries are still arriving but it is unlikely a new owner will be chosen from the entries as 700 were needed. As such, the entry fees will be returned. Perhaps, some of the essayists will step forward to explore buying the newspaper. The motivation remains to find a new owner because The Hardwick Gazette is a foundation block of democracy."

The Kickstarter campaign's goal was $100,000. The fee for each 400-word essay was $175. Some readers wrote "I don't want to win" essays as contributions, but the Gazette reports, "The quality of essays received to this point is outstanding. The essayists have journalistic and business experience. They convey an appreciation for independent, local journalism, an understanding of community and a knowledge that hard work and thick skin go with the territory. Their passion for newspapers shines through."

Ross Connelly (AP photo)
The Gazette, doubtless in the voice of Editor-Publisher Ross Connelly, 71, makes an important point: "As the attempt to find a new owner of the newspaper progresses, the focus also is on the importance of sustaining democracy. The Hardwick Gazette is located in a small, rural community, but in a larger sense the newspaper is too big to fail. Citizenship and democracy start in people’s homes, their neighborhoods, their communities, with elected officials — on the local level. Yes, democracy is sustainable if citizens have independent, local newspapers that report on their towns and the lives they live."

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