The Newsroom of the Future’s First Fruits

Now that the Olds have been almost entirely swept out of the Burlington Free Press, we’re getting our first sign of its future direction. And it ain’t encouraging.

It’s a twice-yearly, glossy magazine aiming to provide “everything you need to know about Vermont’s many ski resorts.” And the name of said publication, according to Publisher/Ventriloquist Al Getler:

“A group of FreePressMedia employees, from millennials to baby boomers, sat around and said, ‘What is this thing going to be?'” he said. “The name came from one of our millennial staff members who yelled out, ‘Freshies!'”

Duuuuuude!

“Freshies,” for any Olds out there who haven’t been turned into Soylent Green (yet), means untouched, fresh snow.

Kind of ironic in this context, since the magazine will tread a well-worn path. It’s a booster publication designed to provide an advertiser-friendly atmosphere. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any articles about Act 250 hearings or climate change in “Freshies,” any more than you’d see suburban-sprawl coverage in “Lucky, the Magazine About Shopping.”

The impetus behind this project is entirely a sponsor grab. FreePressMedia Advertising Director Tammy Shannon said, “We realized everybody would be on board.” And by “everybody,” she meant the Vermont Ski Association and all the big resorts.

And all the ancillary businesses, since “Freshies” will also include groundbreaking journalism like “Where the locals eat, and where to find the best cheese, beer and burgers.”

Much of the content, I predict, will be previously-published pieces from the Free Press itself. And that’ll work both ways: the Free Press will be looking for stories that can be repurposed in the new magazine. Which will divert some of their precious time from, y’know, covering the news.

But hey, when push comes to shove, there aren’t any journalists anymore — we’re all content providers on this bus.

“I think it’s safe to say we see this as a product line for FreePressMedia, joining our family of products,” Getler said. “That’s what we see happening.”

See, we’re not reporting news. We’re making “products.”

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4 thoughts on “The Newsroom of the Future’s First Fruits

  1. Brad Schwartz

    Hey,

    I actually didn’t hate the content of Freshies. Maybe it’s sort of an advertorial, but when it comes down to it, what’s the real problem with that? It still is engaging and highlighting the beautiful ski and mountain spots of Vermont.

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      It’s just the idea of journalism in the service of marketing. Not that others don’t do it (Seven Days, especially), but it’s a dispiriting first act in the Al Getler administration.

      Reply

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