As you may have heard by now, I am bringing back to local ownership the 145-year-old Brattleboro Reformer, the 180-year-old Bennington Banner and the 160-year-old Manchester Journal.
I learned about Brattleboro and, for that matter, about Vermont, by reading the Reformer, the Banner and the Journal, and made my investment decision based on the quality of the journalism I found in the publications.
I decided to invest in southern Vermont because I believe the Green Mountain State embodies all the things that make the American Dream so attractive to people around the world — grit, determination, self-reliance, stoicism and creativity. But, most importantly, I moved here because of the community — people who support each other through thick and thin, who rise to challenges unheard of 30 years ago when I first arrived on these shores.
Ingenuity, innovation and individuality are part and parcel of Vermont, and I want to continue to foster those traits.
A friend recently told me, and it was a lightbulb moment for me, that I have been a Vermonter all my life. He was right and for all the reasons I mentioned above. But just living in Vermont is not enough for me. I am investing in the state because I believe Vermont is special, and people around the world agree with me.
Vermont has cachet. It may be hard to believe, but everywhere I go in the world, and I’ve been to a lot of places, people want to know about the Green Mountain State. From India, to Ukraine, to the United Arab Emirates to the United Kingdom and to my home country, there is a fascination with all things Vermont.
Bennington is deeply steeped in history, with unparalleled scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Manchester also has its history, with Hildene, the estate of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, and the American Museum of Fly Fishing. And Brattleboro, situated on the banks of one of the most beautiful rivers of the United States, the Connecticut river, offers incredible water, summer and winter leisure activities all in one place. I believe that this region offers an experience unlike any other in the country.
I want to capitalize on that fascination, and I believe Brattleboro and southern Vermont can benefit from my investments. I have purchased a number of properties in Brattleboro, including the old derelict outlet mall at Exit 1. I am renovating these properties, creating local construction jobs and doing so because I believe in Brattleboro and southern Vermont. As the properties are being brought back to life, businesses are moving in, creating jobs and opportunities for the local community.
My purchase of the newspapers is an example of my belief in the southern Vermont communities. I want to continue to spread the word about what makes this area, and Vermont, so special. The three publications have been reporting about people, businesses, politics and stories of Vermont for more than 100 years and my goal is to make sure these publications stay in business and keep reporting for another 100 years.
Over the next few months and years we plan to innovate new ways forward for journalism. With the help of the current staff we are already developing new ideas, many of which we will be unveiling over the next year.
I want to reassure the community that I am 100 percent committed to the editorial independence of the newspapers. I have no intention of interfering with what the reporters cover and how the leadership staff will make editorial decisions each day. We will cover, unbiased, news that is important to the community and our dedication to the truth will always be our guiding rule.
My first appointment was to hire the appropriate leader to take the reins of Vermont News and Media. I have hired Jordan Brechenser as our company’s publisher and to run our newly formed organization. Jordan brings nearly two decades of local experience to the table and possesses the right background and knowledge to take these Vermont papers to the next level. I’m excited to have him on board.
In the next few months, I hope to meet more members of the community. We will be scheduling open houses in Brattleboro, Bennington and Manchester to meet our neighbors and hear their concerns. We will be looking for new sponsorship opportunities and seeking out new advertising partners both locally, around the country and around the world.
I am investing in these newspapers and in this community because I believe in Vermont. The United States has given me the opportunity to succeed and I want to find ways to pay back that opportunity by investing in the community. I am hoping you agree with me that Vermont, and southern Vermont in particular, is a truly great place that can only get better when all of us work together to expand the local economy and create good jobs for our children.
Most importantly, my door is always open to new ideas, suggestions, and recommendations, and to those who wish to share their concerns for our community. All I ask is you have patience as the changes unfold.
Those faces you’ve seen around the community over the past 10 and 15 years, the folks with the notepads and cameras, sometimes asking annoying questions, are my ambassadors as well. They, like me, are excited for this new, great adventure. For too long they’ve worried about their friends and colleagues in journalism, and they’ve been worried about their own jobs. I hope that relieving them of much of that worry they can continue to provide excellent journalism to you and your neighbors.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to meeting all of you as we grow the newspapers, reporting the news, life stories and expanding our coverage. This is my commitment to you, to provide the best local journalism anywhere, here in Vermont, across the country and throughout the world.
Paul Belogour, Founder, Vermont News and Media LLC