To the editor:
Motivated by an article in The Other Paper, several years ago I attended a City Council Meeting to speak about an issue. Since then, The Other Paper has been a reliable source to stay aware of actions and activities within the city I’ve called home for nearly 15 years.
Residents need to know what’s happening in our city. In the past, The Other Paper provided excellent coverage and perspective on issues great and small. The precedent set was useful reporting and a place for differing opinions about issues. Unfortunately, the paper has changed in recent months and is no longer that news source. Stowe, Hinesburg, and other cities’ news is not local information. Admittedly, the most recent issue celebrated accomplishments of some local residents. At the same time, large photos could have been reduced, leaving room for more local news. As a result of the changes, I now may glance at but then quickly recycle the paper.
Recently I went to the City Council and asked if they might approach the paper about returning the previous content and approach. Sadly, local media interpreted that as adversarial and anti-local business, a fact far from the truth or my intent. The goal was a solution that worked for everyone, both The Other Paper and City residents. The Other Paper could and should be an important source of local information, analysis, and differing perspectives. My hope was City officials and the paper would find a way to continue this service. Alas, that apparently could not happen.
When the paper indicated no intent to continue the tradition of such coverage, the City began an e-newsletter to focus on information and actions of importance to City residents. It will also be a source for the local legislative delegation to publish regular updates. The City is not in competition. My understanding is there will be only information and not the dialogue previously created by The Other Paper. I am disappointed for The Other Paper and yet grateful the City will provide a place where residents can get the most current information.
COVID created so many unexpected consequences including budgetary demands for local business. It is all unfortunate and regrettable. At the same time, I can only hope that someday The Other Paper will truly be South Burlington’s community paper again. For now, the e-newsletter is my only source of information about the city.
Barbara Sirvis was a contributor to the inaugural edition of The South Burlington Times.