Tag Archives: Dan D’Ambrosio

Update from the Free Press: “Never Mind”

Earlier today, the Burlington Free Press posted an alarming story on its homepage. It quoted Michael Goldberg, the attorney currently operating Jay Peak and Q Burke, as saying the resorts were almost out of money and might permanently close.

I saw that, had the predictable “WTF” reaction, and wrote a post immediately.

The Free Press’ story was a stub, the industry term for a short urgent item that will be updated when more facts become available. And boy, what an update.

The full story confirms that the two resorts are cash-poor — but there’s still plenty of potential for their future, and Goldberg says he will “find a way to keep Jay Peak open, and open Q Burke Hotel in the fall.” He adds that there are already two high-profile hotel chains sniffing around Q Burke.

Well, that’s kinda different.

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Keurig Kold: If there’s a market for this, my faith in humanity takes another hit

Been an interesting week for homegrown planet-bespoiler Keurig Green Mountain. First, the maker of costly coffee pods had to do an embarrassing about-face on its decision to DRM-up its new coffee maker. It was a capitalistically noble effort to derail competition for its profitable (and planet-bespoiling) K-cups, but consumers rebelled.

Understandable. It’s kinda like if oil companies made cars, and DRM’d the tank so you could only buy their brand of gas. Consumers would naturally rebel. Or, here’s an even more insane one: it’s as if you could buy a printer dirt cheap, but then had to pay extortionate prices for cartridges.

Oh wait.

Anyway, embarrassing walkback for KGM. But help is on the way, in the form of its new cold-beverage system. Er, “kold.”

Keurig Kold, set to launch this fall, was developed in a partnership with Coca-Cola, Keurig’s largest shareholder, and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. Keurig CEO Brian Kelley said the new machine will make a Coke, and other beverages, indistinguishable from the originals.

The magic behind the Keurig Kold: its patented Karbonator system. Ah, the Keurig Kold Karbonator, or “KKK” for short. What could go wrong?

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The gang that couldn’t dig straight

That was quite a heapin’ helpin’ o’ bad news served up by Vermont Gas this morning. It announced yet another big cost increase for Phase 1 of its pipeline project, and asked state regulators to put the case on hold.

Which is, if nothing else, a sign that they realize how bad their situation is. How bad?

Yeeeesh. Company officials insist the pipeline is still economically viable, but it’s a lot less viable than originally thought. That changes the cost/benefit equation — which should include the environmental questions — quite a bit. In other late-breaking realizations…

Mm-hmm, I’ll bet. As I wrote in early September, Vermont Gas has been its own worst enemy, coming across as bullies with landowners, and as questionable managers with state regulators.

Whether its bumblefuckery is enough to shelve the project remains to be seen. Today’s announcement is the beginning of a new phase in the history of this proposal. Up till now, the economic arguments in favor of the pipeline had been strong enough to overcome resistance from the environmental community and a small number of landowners.

Those arguments are a lot less strong today. Vermont Gas has given the state a big fat excuse to kill the project — at a time when Governor Shumlin (to be entirely political about it) desperately needs a high-profile issue on which he can pander to the left. Well, if he wants one, he’s got one.

Update. The Governor has released a statement, and yes, he sees an open door in front of him.

Although I am pleased that the new leadership at Vermont Gas is taking the time to reevaluate the proposed projects, this further cost increase is very troubling. In the coming weeks my administration will be evaluating all of this new information and looking at these projects as a whole to ensure that they remain in the best interest of Vermont. Meanwhile, I expect Vermont Gas to also reevaluate its communications and negotiations with affected landowners to help improve relations. I trust those steps will continue.

The Brave New World of Journalismism is Upon Us

Oh boy, here we go… apparently Executive Editor Michael Townsend now occupies the Burlington Free Press Chair in “Good News” Editorials, recently vacated by Jim “Party City” Fogler. Because there it is, the dawning of the thorough Gannettization of Vermont’s Largest Newspaper, under the ominous title “Free Press Resets for the Future.”

The piece begins with a lengthy humblebrag about a recent Dan D’Ambrosio story on IBM that Townsend labeled “epic,” “readable and educational.”

Epic, eh? Guess that puts Homer in his place.

We are Gannett. You will be assimilated.

We are Gannett. You will be assimilated.

Right off the top, I had a strong feeling I was wading through bullshit. There was the title, first of all. But also because it was such a lengthy “soft lede” as they say in the news biz that I figured Townsend was burying the bad stuff; and finally, because I’ve been watching the news about how Gannett newspapers are “resetting for the future.”

By forcing all their newsroom staff to re-apply for their jobs. By cutting total newsroom staff. By getting rid of the formerly rigorous editorial process and relying on reporters to crank out publication-ready copy. By promoting clickbait over serious journalism. And by tearing down the walls between news and sales.

At FreePressMedia, we, as the rest of our colleagues in the Gannett company, are resetting the structure of the newsroom to better enable us to focus on the information and the presentation that you tell us via choice are most important, including accountability journalism and topics that Vermonters are known to be passionate about, such as the environment, local food and the creative economy. These changes are significant for our operations to produce content more tuned to the digital experience.

Part of this resetting is developing a new operational structure to enable us to focus more on the local content that deeply interests readers. With systemic changes in the media business in recent years including changes in approach, format and staff size, we are redefining journalism jobs for the future and our vibrant website, BurlingtonFreePress.com. During the next several weeks, the staff will apply for these jobs with new expectations. We expect time for adaption to the change in structure.

Emphases mine.

“You tell us via choice” means “we’ll abandon journalistic principles and pursue the stories that generate the most pageviews.” See that list: “The environment, local food and the creative economy”? What’s missing?

Oh, how about politics and public policy? Health care, welfare, corrections, infrastructure, taxation, investigative journalism, to name a few. Even transparency, until now a Freeploid bugaboo.

“Redefining journalism jobs” means higher expectations for production, along with lower salaries and worse benefits.

And “staff will apply for these jobs” meaning, well, senior writers, you’re probably S.O.L. We want younger, cheaper staffers more comfortable with multimedia technology.

Yesterday’s retirement announcement by senior writer Sam Hemingway suddenly makes a whole lot of sense. He saw the writing on the digital wall.

I’d expect a bunch more to follow him out the door, voluntarily or otherwise.