Times Argus newspaper switches to morning publication

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(Host) One of Vermont’s long-standing afternoon daily newspapers is making the move to mornings.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The presses will run much earlier at the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus beginning September 29. After more than a century of hitting the news stands in the afternoon, the Times Argus will become a morning paper.

Managing Editor Maria Archangelo says, in a way, the paper is behind the curve. For years the number of afternoon dailies has been dwindling as newspapers and newsmakers have adjusted to changes in the way we live, work and read the paper.

(Archangelo) “In the granite quarries for example, when people would go to work in the middle of night and get off around the time that the paper was coming out, it made a lot more sense. These days the news cycle is really geared toward morning papers. You don’t have a lot of news conferences happening at eight o’clock in the morning so you can get it in your afternoon paper.”

(Zind) Archangelo says transforming The Times Argus to a morning paper will allow it to collaborate on more stories with its sister paper, the morning Rutland Herald.

From an economic standpoint the move will give the paper a longer shelf life. That may translate into better sales. The Times Argus currently has a circulation of roughly 11,000.

(John Mitchell) “The hope is that we’ll be able to sell more newspapers just by being on the newsstand longer.”

(Zind) John Mitchell is publisher of The Times Argus and the Rutland Herald. He says the longer shelf life and increased circulation are selling points for the paper’s advertisers.

The Times Argus has struggled in recent years with staff layoffs, and hiring and wage freezes. Mitchell says there may be some savings in putting both of his papers out in the morning, but the Times Argus decision isn’t meant as a cost-cutting measure.

(Mitchell) “We did not do it to save money. We would hope that we would be able to, any money we saved editorially we would be able to reinvest back into the news product.”

(Zind) Maria Archangelo says the paper is making some other changes in conjunction with the move to mornings. She says the distribution area will be expanded including limited distribution in Burlington. The paper also plans to boost its local coverage and beef up its editorials and take a stronger stand on local issues. Archangelo says she wants the Times Argus to return to being a force in the community.

(Archangelo) “Evening newspapers, afternoon newspapers are really a dying breed in much of the country. We don’t want to be part of that. We want to be part of a growing operation.”

(Zind) Once the presses roll for a morning edition of the Times Argus, only two afternoon dailies will remain in Vermont.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Barre.

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