Behind The Scenes
13Mar/120

Hiatus

Just an FYI: I will be out of the office for a few weeks, so this blog will go on hiatus. See you in April!

13Mar/120

Budget for Feb. 14, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the March 14, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

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13Mar/120

It's always nice to be appreciated

As I often remind the newsroom, you more often hear negative reactions to the job we do, as opposed to the positive feedback we get, too. It's always human nature to remember the bad things people say to you. I'm sure there will be plenty of negative letters to address in this blog in the future, but today I wanted to share a letter which will appear in tomorrow's Reformer.

In response to the reader who complained that the Reformer doesn’t have enough pages: I have been reading the Reformer since I moved here in 1973, and I honestly feel that the Reformer is better than ever.

In my opinion, the content is friendlier and more interesting. I like the emphasis on stories about interesting local people and businesses, of which we have plenty. I like the new Friday format, and commend the staff for creative solutions to difficult economic times for us all, especially print media.

Bravo! We are a creative, alive small town with a daily newspaper that reflects us well, and I feel we are very fortunate indeed.

Thanks to Caitlin Adair ... it's always nice to be appreciated.

Filed under: Letters No Comments
12Mar/120

Budget for Feb. 13, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the March 13, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
12Mar/120

Nothing better than a good dose of Sunshine (editorial)

Here's an advance look at our editorial for Sunshine Week:

It is Sunshine Week, a national initiative to not only discuss but also promote the importance of open government and freedom of information.

As a brief history lesson, the roots of Sunshine Week stretch back to 2002, when the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday after some Florida legislators aimed to create a series of new exemptions to the state’s public records law. The following year, the idea of a national recognition was raised during an American Society of Newspaper Editors meeting; it grew in scope to encompass a week, and the first was celebrated in 2005.

The non-partisan, non-profit initiative is now celebrated each year to coincide with James Madison’s birthday on March 16.

Most importantly, this is not simply a “newspaper” or “journalist” event. Sure, the news media is an interested party, but so are civic groups, nonprofits, libraries, schools ... anyone and everyone interested in “the public’s right to know.”

Above all, that should and does include you.

Just last year, here in Vermont, the State Senate approved changes to the state’s open meeting law which was first passed in the 1970s. Can you believe it was the first significant changes to the law in about 40 years?

According to a report by the ACLU, S.67 included “a new enforcement tool — a citizen’s right to recover attorney fees and costs if she alleges an open meeting violation in court and wins. Reimbursement ‘shall be provided unless (1) The public body’s position was objectively reasonable; and (2) The public body acted in good faith.’”

Meeting notice requirements were also clarified and conditions around “electronic” meetings, given the changes in everyday technology, were set.

“The bill gives a public body the chance to ‘cure’ a violation of the open meeting law after having been given notice of an alleged violation,” the ACLU report continues. “A ‘cure’ means the public body corrects mistakes/violations after the fact — disclosing what was discussed in an executive session, for example. A ‘cure’ relieves the public body of facing penalties or of having to pay attorney fees and costs if litigation is pursued.”

While many journalists around the state, us included, said the bill fell a little short, it is clear efforts have been made to strengthen the law.

Still, as Secretary of State Jim Condos pointed out during a conversation with the Reformer on Monday afternoon, there are still more than 260 exemptions to the state’ Open Meeting Law floating around in other legal documents around Montpelier.

Title 317, for example, lists 40, while another 200 have been ID’d elsewhere. While the Legislative Council has stated there are just 240 exemptions to be found, the Secretary of State’s Office has found at least 20 other instances where verbiage in a statute could be considered an exemption.

To us, that just seems like too much.

“Transparent and open government is critical to our democracy ... that people know what their government is doing (is important),” Condos said.

We agree, and call on lawmakers to continue working to make sure government — at the local, state and national levels — remains open and transparent. Only then can we be secure in knowing that not only are they doing the jobs they were elected to do, but that our best interests are at the heart of all decisions.

11Mar/120

Budget for March 12,2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the March 12, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
9Mar/120

Budget for Feb. 10, 2012, weekend edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the March 10, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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8Mar/120

Town Meeting 2012 — a reflection

There's always a certain time of year that presents a challenge for any newsroom. Graduation time. Annual elections. Here in Brattleboro, the big challenge comes each March, on Town Meeting Day.

A true testament to the staff -- editors and reporters alike -- I think we all do a great job trying to balance preview and review stories, along with candidate profiles, budget analyses and other related content. To top it off, four reporters and two editors (myself included) attempt to cover 23 towns in Windham County.

Did we get information from all 23 towns this year? No. But we were able to give readers 18 bylined stories in the next day's Reformer, covering many towns in our coverage area. Then, just for those who weren't interested in Town Meeting, we were able to squeeze several more local stories onto the Towns page.

I don't mean this to be a self-pat-on-the-back; rather a public acknowledgement of the hard work the staff does each year to get as many towns covered for this annual event.

8Mar/120

So you're blogging … now what?!

Jeff Sonderman wrote a pretty interesting piece for Poynter last week -- 8 keys to creating, growing blogs within a news website.

It's a good read for any professional or community journalist, with some food-for-thought for any good writers thinking about delving into the murky blogging waters.

Particularly of note:

-- There are at least two essential ingredients for a good news website blog: The blog needs a voice ("the right kind of writer") and the right type of content niche. For example, with this blog I'm attempting to "open the doors" of the newsroom to the general public, but also discuss various topics related to publishing a newspaper in the 21st century.

-- Three advantages for blog news coverage: speed in delivering breaking news; offering a gathering point for the community; and a blog can become an entry point to journalism across the site.

-- Finally, be sure to manage the growth as you blog expands. Communicate and coordinate among your blogosphere, while avoiding "topic sprawl" and make sure to take advantage of big successes. "A very successful blog can grow into something bigger."

Some good keys to help build upon ....

8Mar/120

Budget for Feb. 9, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the March 9, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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