By Dan Cotter, publisher
It probably comes as no surprise that at a small newspaper like the Vermont Standard, everyone on staff has to do a little of everything and wear many different hats. But what is a bit surprising is that one of my favorite responsibilities at the paper is to post the obituaries on our website.
As I edit them, I really enjoy learning about the people who passed away. I’ve found that nearly everyone has an interesting story. The obituaries are usually submitted by family members, and the love they express for their dearly departed and their touching descriptions of lives well lived are quite inspiring. It amazes me when I read about all these remarkable people who lived in our area – their impressive accomplishments, their friends, relatives and pets that will miss them so much, their passions, their personalities, their favorite sayings, etc. It’s a good reminder that, despite all the tragic, discouraging events and bad actors we hear about in the national news every day, most people around here are upstanding and admirable.
Like I said, posting obituaries is one of my favorite duties. It makes me feel more connected with this place and the people who make it special.
I suspect that this type of highly-personal local news content is what the majority of our readers like most about the Standard. Whether it’s the stories about area residents who passed away or articles about fascinating people still in our midst — ordinary people doing extraordinary things — or the photos we present of individuals, often children or seniors, participating in local activities… I think it’s those stories about our lives playing out together and our shared experiences that help us appreciate one another and live together in harmony.
For 169 years the Standard has been telling stories every single week that help connect those who live here. Perhaps we’ve even told your story at some point along the way.
It’s classic local journalism.
In telling the stories of the people in our community, the Standard helps everyone to know each other better. Although it’s not our sole purpose, it’s one of our most important purposes. It’s one of the main functions we’re trying to preserve when we conduct our annual fundraising appeal.
Without meaningful human connection, towns are merely geography. But when we’re all better connected by the type of content published in the paper and on our website, we’re a vibrant community that values and respects each other. And therefore, we’re able to tackle the issues and concerns we all must face together.
Despite the evaporation of the advertising revenue that traditionally supported newspapers and the economic devastation wrought by the COVID pandemic that exacerbated our revenue problem, we are working hard to keep the Standard afloat. Across the country, newspapers like the Standard are disappearing at a rate of two per week. In fact, according to a report issued recently by Northwestern University, 336 weekly papers like ours, serving small communities in the US, have shut down since the end of 2019.
There’s no question, we cannot sustain the Standard alone. We urgently need your help. We hope you’ll consider making a donation to our 2022 annual appeal. If you’re able, please send us a check at PO Box 88, Woodstock, VT 05091 or go to our Vermont Standard THIS WEEK website at www.thevermontstandard.com to make a contribution with your credit card.
The Standard is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your gift can’t be deducted from your taxes, but your gift will help ensure that the Standard will be around to serve our community for a long time.
Recently, one of our donors mentioned to me that his grandchildren were once featured in a photo on the front page of the Standard. It was a nice memory of a wonderful moment for his family that the paper captured and shared with the community.
That’s what I’m talking about. How essential it is to have local journalism that helps us share our lives with our neighbors. Just like when we get to pay tribute to our cherished loved ones for all to see upon their passing.
With this fundraising appeal, we’re trying to ensure that residents of our community will always have the Standard as a place to connect with one another in a truly meaningful way. Please join us in this important mission if you’re able to.