New President Of Burlington Free Press Talks Change
With falling ad revenues and declining circulation, it’s become a tough time to be a leader in the American newspaper business. Vermont’s largest daily, the Burlington Free Press, hasn’t been immune to those issues.
On Tuesday, the paper announced it has a new president and publisher to help guide it through a variety of transitions. Al Getler is a veteran of the newspaper business and most recently worked with several publications in Massachusetts.
Getler joined VPR’s Alex Keefe to talk about the future of the Free Press.
"I'm amazed how much goes on in this city. It seems like there's a festival every weekend. That kind of vibrancy is wonderful in a media company because my style of publishing newspapers, I like to get very involved in the community, I like to get very involved in daily life." - Al Getler, new president of the Burlington Free Press
Before committing to a newspaper market, Getler says he always scopes out the area first. “I go to the local greasy spoon. I go to a restaurant and find out what people are talking about, what they’re passionate about and see if it’s a match. I’m amazed how much goes on in this city. It seems like there’s a festival every weekend. That kind of vibrancy is wonderful in a media company because my style of publishing newspapers, I like to get very involved in the community, I like to get very involved in daily life,” Getler says.
Getler says readers should expect several positive changes under his new leadership. “You’re going to see more video, you’re going to see more podcasting come your way, with more subjects defined by what people’s interests are … there are other things coming at us in the media world that just change the game. We’re there at the front leading that change,” Getler says.
On deciding what to publish, Getler says, “I think there’s a certain amount of adjustment that has to take place between what we have reporters working on that readers find important, and what they don’t find important … what it is doing is saying to the editorial staff, ‘the world has changed. It’s time to take on your job in a different way.’”
Getler says beats such as City Hall, Education and the Statehouse aren’t going away. “All of these topics are going to be covered, it’s just the news room is organized a bit different … you can’t plant a body in a place where you used to be able to full time. But you still cover the stories,” Getler says. He explains that although they aren’t going to have a bureau in Montpelier, they will be sending someone there. “It’s not that far,” Gelter says.
"You can't plant a body in a place where you used to be able to full time. But you still cover the stories."
“I hope [readers] feel like we are covering the things that are important to their lives,” Getler says. “I’m excited about Burlington because I drive around and I see lots of construction, I see progress, I hear about startup companies. This was a pleasant surprise to me.”