A full-color, tabloid-sized News & Citizen — the weekly newspaper in Morrisville — will launch in early January.
The revamped newspaper will be a merger of the current broadsheet-format News & Citizen and the free weekly, The Transcript.
Thursday will be publication; the first issue will hit mailboxes and newsstands Jan. 7.
The combined weekly will serve Morrisville, Hyde Park, Johnson and the rest of Lamoille County, and will also circulate in more distant places.
“We think the new tabloid format and merger of the two papers into a single weekly for Morrisville and the county will allow us to build the strongest possible newspaper, from the perspective of both our readers and advertisers,” said Greg Popa, publisher of the News & Citizen and its two sister newspapers, the Stowe Reporter and Waterbury Record.
Stowe Reporter LLC bought the two Morrisville-based publications on Oct. 1 from Bradley Limoge, whose family has owned and operated the News & Citizen since 1923. The newspaper has been continuously published since 1881.
The new News & Citizen will be distributed free, inserted into mailboxes throughout the county. Its initial circulation will be 13,500 copies per week. The paper will distributed to all towns in Lamoille County except Stowe.
“Change is never easy, but the No. 1 question we’ve been asked since our purchase of the Morrisville paper has been, ‘When are you going to abandon the broadsheet format?’” Popa said. “After taking a good look at the two papers and the markets they serve, we agreed that one great paper for Morrisville and Lamoille County is the way to go.
“We expect to build on the News & Citizen’s venerable reputation and long history of excellence in serving its communities,” he said.
The News & Citizen has covered and carried the news — town business, births, deaths, graduations, school sports — and commented on it, while The Transcript, which is free, was launched more recently, with a focus on advertising, lighter community fare, and advertising inserts. Combining the strengths of the two — and ending the duplication of efforts — made sense, Popa said.
The News & Citizen will move out of its longtime home on Portland Street in January. The new office will be in a historic building at 92 Lower Main St.
“Mickey Smith (editor of the News & Citizen) found the space and it perfectly serves our needs,” Popa said. “A downtown office provides great visibility. We’re looking forward to being in the village.”
The sales and news staff will work from the Morrisville office, while business, circulation and production functions will be consolidated at the Stowe Reporter’s offices in Stowe village.
Advertising combinations are in the works for the Stowe Reporter Company’s trio of newspapers. In January, the News & Citizen will also join the Burlington Area Newspaper Group (BANG). The BANG group of seven newspapers offers advertisers discounted rates in community weeklies in South Burlington, the Mad River Valley, Williston, Shelburne and Charlotte, in addition to the Reporter’s own publications. Through BANG, Lamoille County businesses can reach up to 55,000 households with just one ad buy.
Readers will experience expanded, aggressive news coverage in the new News & Citizen in an easy-to-read tabloid format. The newspaper will feature color photography and color advertising.
“We believe that a great newspaper is at the heart of a great community, which is why we are in this business and why we are dedicated to delivering the kind of news coverage that citizens expect and deserve,” said executive editor Tom Kearney, who oversees news and content at the company.
The Stowe Reporter and Waterbury Record have won numerous state and regional news and design awards under Kearney’s and Popa’s leadership, something they intend to duplicate at the News & Citizen.