Really, Free Press? Really?

I shouldn’t spend so much time bagging on the Burlington Free Press, but they just keep doing bag-worthy stuff. Like this — the current homepage on its website. Featuring News!!

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 1.40.26 PM

Yeah, we’re all, like Diogenes, in search the perfect pumpkin pie.

There are two additional bitchslaps to the corpse of Joe Pulitzer here. The first is that the pumpkin pie article was written by Candace Page, who used to do a fine job covering the environment for the Free Press; her byline is a reminder of better days long gone. The second is the tiny headline at the lower right: “Food donations ‘critically low'” at Burlington food bank. The gourmet foodie thing gets top billing, while the plight of the poor gets the shortest possible shrift.

But after all, the plight of the poor makes lousy clickbait.

This, on top of the Freeploid’s announcement of its new btvfoodie app, part of its ongoing pivot away from serious journalism and toward audience-friendly “content.” I have to say, this makes me feel that much better about reducing my subscription — er, sorry, account. “Subscription” is so 20th Century, isn’t it?

When I first dubbed the Free Press “Seven Days Lite,” I was half kidding. But it looks more and more like I was dead-on. The Free Press is doing its best to poach Seven Days’ ad-friendly endeavors while decreasing its serious coverage to alt-weekly levels.

I know, I know: the Free Press is in a tough spot, with decreasing revenues and a profit-hungry corporate parent mandating its every move. Given the situation, it makes sense to reposition the Free Press as a Burlington-centered, feature-oriented newspap — sorry, multimedia content platform.

I get that. What I don’t like is Michael Townsend insisting that the Free Press is still a serious force. It is, in fact, becoming largely irrelevant to those of us who (1) are interested in solid coverage of state politics and policy, and (2) don’t live in Chittenden County.  For us, the Free Press has fallen to fifth place, behind VTDigger, VPR, the Mitchell Family Organ, and — yes, I’ll say it — Seven Days.

3 thoughts on “Really, Free Press? Really?

  1. gyrfalcon7

    The sad thing is I bet Candace would be appalled at this herself. (The other sad thing is I’m going right over there to read the piece because although I’m not all that interested in “the perfect pumpkin pie” (I vastly prefer squash), I’ll basically read any damn thing she cares to write about.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      I understand that Candace is a foodie herself, and probably enjoyed writing the piece. There’s nothing wrong with an article on pumpkin pie just before Thanksgiving; my issue was all about the placement.

      1. gyrfalcon7

        Yes, the placement is what I was talking about. You were kinda horrified at that, and my thought was that she would be, too.

        She’s clearly a foodie, and it’s a first-rate piece on that hoary old subject. (Turns out, she’s also for squash over pumpkin.)

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