It has been very troubling to see the story unfold ever since the Chester Selectboard voted for the local electronic media source, The Chester Telegraph, to replace the designated local newspaper, The Vermont Journal, as their paper of record. There seems to be a great deal of confusion on what the definition of a newspaper is, so I decided to consult the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
“Newspaper, noun: A paper that is printed and distributed usually daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinion, features, and advertising.” (Source: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/newspaper)
Now, if one were to review 1 V.S.A. & 174 Notice by Publication, “When a notice is required to be given by publication in a newspaper, it shall mean a newspaper published in the county where the subject matter is situated, pending or to be heard, or a newspaper published within the State which has a general circulation. In any case, in its discretion, the court may cause such notice to be further published in a newspaper which circulates in the neighborhood of the persons interested. Whenever a notice of any kind is required to be given by publication in a newspaper prior to a certain date for a certain number of weeks successively, it may be given by an insertion prior to such date once a week, for the number of successive weeks required, either in a daily, semiweekly, or weekly newspaper. If such publication is in a daily or semiweekly newspaper, such notice shall be inserted on the same day of each successive week.” (Source: www.legislature.vermont.gov/stat…/section/01/003/00174)
Comparing these two passages, it is perfectly reasonable and implied that a newspaper is, by default, a printed publication. By this very definition, The Chester Telegraph is not a newspaper, but rather an online electronic media source. This hardly seems to fall under the statute on what can be a designated paper of record. The language and definitions are easy to comprehend, and it is even implied that the paper of record should be, in fact, a printed paper of record.
The Vermont Journal has always been a news source that has been a part of this community and it saddens me to see the very community they strive to serve turn against them.
I used to write for The Vermont Journal and it was the most rewarding experience I ever had. Unfortunately, I had written an article that was accidentally biased towards a singular viewpoint. It is a common error, and my inexperience is what created it. We redacted my article and issued an apology because that is what entails professional journalism.
Several months down the line, I was contacted by The Chester Telegraph to write for them. They assured me that my article was not biased and I was treated poorly. It has been quite some time, but I am confident in the mistake I had made. I haven’t returned to journalism because I am attending college for professional writing and creative writing so that I don’t make the mistake again. It is troubling though that The Chester Telegraph did not see the error that I had made. I think this reflects their journalism. I hope one day I can more confidently return to the news world, but until then, I hope the Chester Selectboard makes the right decision, and follow common sense, that a newspaper is a printed publication, and The Chester Telegraph cannot even begin to serve their community without becoming a printed media source.
Thomas Foster IV