Tag Archives: Al Getler

Exit the Puppet Master

Looks like someone’s gotten the ziggy at Free Press Media. Opening sentence of a story on the Free Press website:

Former Free Press Media President Jim Fogler is returning to his previous role, replacing Al Getler in the top job at the Burlington media company and newspaper.

The bulk of the article recaps Fogler’s career and describes what a great fit he is for the job. Getler, meanwhile? We do not speak of him. The only other reference to the apparently former president and publisher is this:

Getler was hired as president of Free Press Media in January 2015.

Oh well. Easy come, easy go. At least Al will have his ventriloquist sideline to fall back on.

GetlerVentriloquistNo, really. Here’s a screenshot from his sizzle reel.


That’s the stuff. Sad to say, you can see his mouth move when his puppets “speak.”

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The new, tone-deaf, voice of the Free Press

This past Sunday, Burlington Free Press Publisher Al Getler grabbed the keyboard out of the hands of longtime editorialist Aki Soga, and penned an opinion piece of his own.

Bad idea. Because in the process, he revealed himself to be a lousy writer, a shallow thinker, and a doctrinaire Republican.

His thesis statement is that Vermont is in need of a “strong leader” to lift us out of our alleged doldrums. Those doldrums he discerned, Lord help us all, in the collected writings of Vermont’s Laziest Economist Art Woolf. His offenses against logic and his explorations of convenient statistics have been frequently chronicled in this space; if you want to check it out, just scroll down to my search box and enter “Woolf.”

Herr Perfesser’s stock in trade is statistical measures of Vermont’s shortcomings. He rarely, if ever, mentions the many ways in which Vermont is a great place to live, or the ways in which our woes are widely shared across the region or the entire country.

And this is the fragile foundation of Al Getler’s knowledge of Vermont. Sheesh.

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The Burlington Free Press is a whore

The second third of Paul Heintz’ “Fair Game” column delivered a bombshell for those of us who follow — and root for — our dwindling media sector.

The Burlington Free Press has begun to — not once, but routinely —  publish bespoke content written by interested parties, formatted and presented as if it were actual news.

Recently I caught one instance of this disturbing trend: the Free Press ran an article on the Q Burke Resort (before it was de-Q’d) — written by the resort’s PR person. It ran as a news story; the writer’s affiliation was not identified until a small note at the end of the piece.

The timing was unfortunate, since the article was published only a few days before the SEC came swooping down on the Stenger/Quiros operation.

What Heintz has done goes way beyond my isolated discovery. He runs down a lengthy list of articles, formatted and presented as news, in space supposedly reserved for journalism, that were provided by interested third parties.

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Today’s Free Press front page is just perfect

The Burlington Free Press’ descent into whoredom continues apace. Today’s front page encapsulates every worrying trend in the devolution of a once-adequate newspaper — sorry, “media property.”

The front page, for those not close enough to a library or convenience store to give it an eyeball, features Don Sinex, owner of the Burlington Town Center Mall. Sinex is seeking city approval for a complete makeover of the mall, including two 14-story towers that would be the tallest human-made buildings in the city. Sinex is certainly newsworthy; it’s the layout, and all the surrounding circumstances, that illustrate the shortcomings of the Queen City’s Newsroom Of The Future.

For starters, there’s the fact that the Free Press has been giving this story constant, breathless coverage for quite a while now — interrupted only by its ardent pursuit of Trump-related clickbait. I understand that this is a major story regarding the development of downtown Burlington, and I don’t mind quantity coverage with some balance to it. This, however, is giving over the paper’s most valuable real estate to Sinex.

And if you don’t think this was a pro-Sinex puff piece, just look at the headline:

Last Best Plan for Burlington Mall

If that isn’t an editorial, I don’t know what is. The paper could have said “Developer Touts Last Best Plan” or something like that, but no. This Is “The Last Best Plan.”


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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!'”


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Hey, Burlington Free Press: Meet your new boss!

Al Getler

The Burlington Free Press today announced the hiring of this man as its new President and Publisher.

No, this is not a joke. Do Not Adjust Your Set. Al Getler is a former newspaper executive who’s lately been seeking work as a “media consultant” (i.e. unemployed newspaper executive) and as a ventriloquist for hire. He mainly sells himself as talent for corporate events:

In addition to being a performer, Getler has worked for two Fortune 500 companies as an executive and knows what it takes to entertain all types of audiences while meeting the required standards of acceptability.

In other words, toothless comedy for corporate audiences. But hey, maybe he could bring a little fun to the lately-joyless Freeploid newsroom:

Looking for a unique idea for your next show or event? Have Al create a puppet character in the likeness of your CEO, your product, or that special person in your audience.

Oh, I’d pay to have him show up for his first day on the job with a Michael Townsend puppet. Can we make that happen, Al?

Aside from his services as an inoffensive mainstream humor provider, Getler also bills himself as a “marketing, management, and media” consultant, touting his “30 years of experience in the media, as a leader, executive running companies and as a serial entrepreneur.”

Is “serial entrepreneur” how you describe yourself if you’ve run multiple enterprises into the ground?

Somehow the Free Press’ story announcing Getler’s hiring doesn’t mention his current status as a self-employed ventriloquist/consultant. They say, circumspectly, that he “previously was group publisher of the North of Boston Media Group.” In fact, he lost that job almost two years ago.

The NoBMG includes the daily papers in Lawrence, Newburyport, Salem, and Gloucester, Massachusetts, plus some weekly papers and a few ad-friendly glossy magazines. Getler lost his gig in March 2013 when NoB’s out-of-state ownership imposed some big staff cuts.

According to ace Boston media watchdog Dan Kennedy, the Eagle-Tribune had a long and distinguished reputation as an independent weekly. That changed, however, with its corporate acquisition in 2005. Since then, it’s been cut, cut, cut, and cut again.

Getler was hired in 2007, and imposed quite a few of those cuts before feeling the blade himself. In 2008, for instance, he slashed “at least 52 jobs” at NoBMG, which got him this plaudit:

“This was a CYA situation,” one Eagle Tribune employee told The Valley Patriot. “Al Getler is trying to save his own job because his management of this newspaper has cost us millions and the only way he could show the company [in Alabama] that we could be financially viable was to immediately cut jobs to balance the books to meet the company’s financial goals.”

Hmm. Maybe he’ll fit right in at Gannett’s Incredible Shrinking Freeploid. At the very least, he’ll Bring the Funny in ways that Michael Townsend could only do by butchering his Twitter feed.

And there’s a bit of thematic consistency here. The man Getler is actually replacing is Jim Fogler, who left the Freeploid last year to take a job with Party City. Hey, balloons, noisemakers, and puppets! It practically screams “quality journalism,” does it not?