I’ve got nothing bad to say about Emilie Stigliani, the now-departed executive editor of the Burlington Free Press. She’s smart, energetic, open-minded, and apparently a poet as well, who knew. She’s now departed for Sacramento after nine years at the Freeps, the last three as ExEd.
Stigliani’s job was the professional equivalent of pushing the boulder up the mountain and waking up the next morning back at the bottom. She presided over the paper at a point well into its decline phase, as ad revenue and subscriptions dwindled away, newsstand sales essentially disappeared, and her corporate bosses continued to expect handsome profits off the ever-diminishing operation.
None of that was her fault. Nor was it her fault that, during her tenure, I canceled my online subscription because the Free Press had become all but irrelevant to my work and my interests.
Its coverage of the Statehouse and state politics is a thing of the past. Its handful of reporters rarely set foot outside Chittenden County. And it really can’t even do much of a job of covering Burlington itself anymore. Stigliani did her best to staunch the bleeding, and that’s about all she could realistically do.
She had a good heart and a clear view of her paper, unlike her predecessors. They continued to see the Free Press as a prestige operation long after it had devolved into a shell of its former self. They bristled at criticism. They blocked me from the paper’s Twitter feed because I kept pointing out that the emperor had no clothes.
Stigliani unblocked me. That’s a minor thing in the grand scheme, and I had a positive view of her talents and efforts long before she restored by Twitter privs.
I’m sure the Free Press’ corporate masters will find a capable successor. (Well, I hope so. There was that time they hired a mediocre ventriloquist as publisher, so you never know.) Their prospects are better than they deserve because there are far more talented and dedicated journalists than there are good jobs.
So, a fond farewell to Stigliani. Her work is appreciated, even by someone who stopped paying for the paper during her tenure. Wasn’t her fault.