Friday, July 10, 2009

More newspaper problems in NH

I almost took a job at this newspaper two and a half years ago ... and now, it's gone: ["Eagle Times Publisher Filing For Bankruptcy"].
This is one day when I realize that I made the right decision not taking a job. I really wonder about my decisions sometimes. At the same time, it was Tim Donnelly, the managing editor, who saw my resume online and called my house one day. I saw his number on the phone and said, "Who would be calling me from the Claremont Eagle Times?" We had a nice chat over the phone and I went up for the interview. The drive was a haul - about an hour and 20 minutes - and I was just wondering how bad it would be in the winter ... going north!
But the money wasn't bad and I was impressed with the small-time operation when I got there. Tim wore a dress shirt that was too small on him and a strange small necktie but I thought, "Well, a bit eccentric, no biggie ..." I was interviewed by him and the new editor who had just moved to New Hampshire from Chicago, which seemed a tad odd, but whatever. I thought the interview went pretty well and it seemed like they wanted me for the job.
Afterward, I took a short drive around Claremont and the back way home and realized that the region was a treasure trove of potential stories. I noticed a slew of independent businesses which seemed to be struggling which made me think that a series of features might be a good thing. There were run-down buildings all over the place. It got me wondering about poverty levels; code and zoning issues; how difficult is it to find housing in Claremont and surrounding communities; etc. I wondered, were my assumptions based incorrectly on what I saw ... which might not be the reality?
I pitched the ideas and a few more questions about responsibilities and other issues and, later, got a response from the editor that just took me back a little bit. Instead of being excited about the fact that one of his new reporters had already come up with a slew of new story ideas after being in the city for about an hour, he seemed discouraging. So I turned the job down and it was the right decision at the time.
Later, the owner of the Eagle Times and a slew of other weeklies closed down the Argus Champion, the newspaper of record for the Lake Sunapee area and surrounding communities. The newspaper was one of the oldest in the state, dating back 177 years. People were furious about the decision and the Concord Monitor published a few articles about the newspaper closing down. There was a rumor that the owner was interested in selling it. I attempted to find out if this was true but, it turned out, the owner was more interested in closing than selling ... I found that odd too. Hmm, close something down or get something for it ... weighing the options ... something vs. nothing ... he chose nothing.
Even more interesting is the fact that the Argus Champion was closed nearly a year ago. I wonder who is going to go next.

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