Pet Shop Owner: Free Press Makes Best Cage Liner

The Burlington Free Press is a struggling newspaper through no fault of its own. It’s in a declining business, and it’s owned by a profit-driven bloodsucking corporation. Still, it puts out many a good story.

Why, then, do I persist in mocking the Freeploid at every opportunity? And why does almost everyone else in Vermont print media despise the paper? Because it’s way too full of itself. The Burlington Free Press used to be the crown jewel of Vermont journalism; it isn’t anymore, but it still thinks it is.

Two prime examples from a single day — today. First story:

Police: Juror read Free Press during trial

A man who served on the jury in a sexual assault case against ex-jail guard Richard Gallow has been accused of contempt of court for allegedly reading the news during trial.

The jury in the case was ordered to avoid media coverage of the Gallow trial. Juror Robert Blow is accused of flouting that order — by reading the Burlington Free Press.

Which the Free Press is happy to tell you over and over again.

According to the Free Press account, the judge specifically ordered the jury not to read the Free Press*, but that Blow “referred to accounts by the Free Press during jury deliberation.” And Blow allegedly told a court officer “that he reads the Burlington Free Press every morning.”

*If his order wasn’t applied equally to all media, the judge would have been seriously delinquent.

Nice little plug for subscriptions. Also, bonus: Mr. Blow is 78 years old, which probably lowers the paper’s demographic.

The blatant self-promotion seems excessive. Also, out of place in a serious news story.

Second, the Free Press furiously pats itself on the back for winning some awards. (Except when said award is won by a fired staffer.)

FreePressMedia wins 5 Murrow Awards

FreePressMedia won five top place honors in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in digital reporting.

The awards were for general excellence, top website, breaking news, feature and sports reporting.

Well, good for them. I’ve got no problem with a media outlet announcing its awards — although I will point out that (1) these are regional awards, which are a far cry from national competitions, (2) the Free Press competes in the “small news organization” category, so it’s not like they beat the Boston Globe, and (3) the journalism industry is notoriously awash with awards. Apply for enough of them, you’ll win your share.

Still, nothing wrong with self-promotion during awards season. That’s what they’re for. But the Free Press went over the top with its descriptive language. Mikey Pom-Poms himself was in full blowhard mode, calling the recognition “outstanding,” and claiming that “FreePressMedia have reached a new level of consistency in quality storytelling.” “Newl level” compared to your competition, Mike?

Regarding one award-winning video piece, the Free Press says its reporters “took Free Press viewers with them, covering the story as no one else did.” Way to insult every other media outlet in the market, guys.

Another award was for coverage of a wheelchair entrant in the Burlington City Market. The Freeploid’s “Visuals Coach” (whatever that is) Ryan Mercer put three GoPro cameras to the athlete’s hand-cycle. Which is nice, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done on Vine or YouTube a gazillion times.

Do I sound churlish? Perhaps I do. But in this diminished age, the Free Press is a decent chain newspaper in a small media market. Nothing more, nothing less. Its braggadocio is excessive and off-putting.

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