Oldest family newspaper struggling to pay bills, staff – USA TODAY
RUTLAND, Vt.Â âÂ TheÂ Rutland Herald, theÂ oldest continuously family-owned newspaper in the U.S.Â published under the same name in the same city, is having financial trouble.
Staff of the HeraldÂ âÂ first published Dec. 8, 1794Â âÂ and sister newspaper Times Argus met MondayÂ morning following news that the media companyÂ failed to pay employeesÂ and delivery crews. They were told all staff has now been paid and that the papers would continue to operate.
Editor-in-Chief Rob Mitchell shared what he said to the staff about two hours after the meeting. In his statement he acknowledged that the media company is having financial problems.
Mitchell’s statement reads in part: “Yes, several employees had manual checks bounce. As was reported in the story Friday, we have been late paying expenses, and we have been late paying freelancers. None of that has been easy for you, for our drivers and it has not been easy for me or my father. I walked over to the bank with several of you to make sure you got paid. We have written letters for employees whose checks bounced, to make sure that your banks know that it was an issue between the newspapers and our lender, not your fault. Personally, this has been embarrassing, humiliating and difficult, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. If you hare having any additional difficulties, you need to bring those directly to our attention in a one on one basis so that we can address those issues directly with our lender.
“We are all tired, and if you’re like me, you’ve lost a significant amount of sleep. But all our employees have been paid, and employee expenses have been paid. While it may look bad from the outside, it’s not as bad as it looks.
“At this point, there are still things we can’t talk about, for a variety of reasons. Rather than focus on what we can not yet openly discuss, I am going to try to focus today instead on what we can talk about â the overall direction and the future of these newspapers. There is a future for these newspapers.”
Around noon when the meeting concludedÂ about six peopleÂ walked out of the building in Rutland; none wanted to comment about the meeting. MitchellÂ came out toÂ speak with reporters but offered no comment other than to say he would be issuing an email statement later.
Reporters working in the Rutland newsroom Monday said the print edition would be publishing Thursday as normal. The media company publishes online only Monday through Wednesday and prints Thursday through Sunday.
Rutland Herald News Editor Alan Keays was fired on Friday because he directed reporters to cover the situation, he said. In a story published Friday morningÂ written by Rutland Herald reporterÂ Gordon Dritschilo,Â several staffers said they had not been paid and had not heard fromÂ their bosses what the next steps are. Mitchell’s statement Monday did not mention Keays.
The Rutland Herald is the oldest continuously family-owned newspaper in the United States, published under the same name in the same city, according to the paperâs website.
In 1964, The Rutland Herald bought the Times Argus.