A Vermont newspaper dispute raises questions over nonprofit ethics

Meeting house in Charlotte, Vermont. Photo (cc) 2018 by Nicholas Erwin.

The Vermont nonprofit VTDigger has a fascinating story about another nonprofit, The Charlotte News. Although it’s not entirely clear what happened, James Finn reports that the editor departed after the publisher and the volunteer board apparently tried to interfere with her coverage.

There are some big names involved in the controversy, including high-profile journalists who quit the board in support of the former editor, Chea Waters Evans. There’s also a discussion about new ethical dilemmas that have arisen as more and more community journalism is being provided by nonprofits. Poynter’s ubiquitous Kelly McBride weighs in.

All worthwhile topics, of course. But I have to wonder if these people ever worked for a small paper. A publisher who meddles in coverage? Pass the smelling salts! Anyone who’s ever had a story killed so as not to offend an advertiser (and yes, I have) will probably roll their eyes over this.

Still, it sounds like a good, dedicated editor-reporter was pushed into resigning when she should have been given a raise. I hope this is resolved so she can come back.