It's a rare day when the newspaper itself becomes the story. Thursday the Burlington Free press was all the buzz as it rolled out its new format.
"It's been very interesting. I've been working on this for three years now, so this has been my life," said Michael Townsend of the Burlington Free Press.
Few have slept in the Free Press newsroom. Editors say the atmosphere in the newsroom Wednesday was more stressful than it was on 9/11.
"You have to start in the morning and it took us all the way to midnight to get this done," Townsend said.
The new format is a magazine or tabloid-style paper, 11 inches by 15 inches. It's been dubbed the "compact smart edition." They hope it will attract young professionals.
"We're gaining also younger professionals. I have to worry about younger readers as well as older readers. I think if we give the older readers a quality read and quality product they will like it," Townsend said.
St. Michael's College Journalism Chair David Mindich says he's concerned readers will have a hard time navigating through the new format.
Townsend says the paper is meant to be a supplement to the online edition, which put up a pay wall last week. Once you click through 10 stories you have to subscribe if you want to read any more. The Free Press is confident Vermont readers will be willing to pay more for its stories.
"Online is more of a driving breaking news force. Print has never been a breaking news medium since they invented radio and TV," Townsend said.
Printing for the new format starts early, at least until they work the kinks out. There's something epic about standing beneath that $2.4 million piece of equipment, as if freedom itself could roll right off the page. For the most part, reviews on the street have been rave ones.
"I really like it. I think that the format is easy to read the color certainly makes it look interesting," said Larry Crist, a Free Press reader.
As with all forms of media, Townsend says they'll continue to evolve, proud of their new product that's hot off the press.
The Free Press will offer complimentary editions of the new paper Sunday and Monday to give people the opportunity to try it out.
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