Welcome to the Burlington Free Press’ Wank-a-Thon, a.k.a. your Sunday paper

If you were so unfortunate as to spend your money on a copy of the Sunday Freeploid, sorry about that: you wasted your hard-earned cash on a prolonged orgy of self-congratulation. Must have been plenty of dislocated shoulders around Freeploid HQ after all that furious back-patting.

Yep, the Freeploid seized on its move to much smaller and much cheaper digs as a pretext to fill its meager news hole with page after page of news… about itself. And lots and lots of space-eating pictures, too!

How did they wank? Let me count the ways…

The front page, of course, with a photo of a guy washing windows at the new FreePressMedia space overlooking Your Fair City from seven stories up. And if you liked that picture, just wait till you turn to Section B. You’ll get lots more. Lots and lots more.

Section B is dedicated to Vermont news. Well, it usually is; today, it’s mostly dedicated to Freeploid wankery. It starts on page B4 with the egregiously egotistical headline: A CHANGE FOR THE AGES.

The ages. Really, now.

Reminds me of when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and President Nixon called it “the greatest event since creation.” Which, as I said at the time, certainly put Jesus in his place.

The narcissistic headline tops a lengthy meander down Memory Lane by Freeploid stalwart Sam Hemingway, which includes no less than eight reproductions of past Free Press front pages. Hemingway’s article, with all the front pages and other photos, takes up an entire four pages.

And then you get to the hard-core wankery: A tour of the new Freeploid offices on Bank Street.  

Reporter Dan D’Ambrosio somehow wangled an interview with Publisher Jim Fogler, in which he waxed ecstatic about the move and how it sets the stage for a brighter, more prosperous future. The two-page story is larded with photos of the new space, most of them featuring its very nice views over downtown Burlington and Lake Champlain. The message, apparently, is: “Your daily paper may suck, but look — we’ve got scenic vistas out our office windows! Thank you for supporting your local paper!”

As if anyone gives a hot damn what the Freeploid’s offices look like.

Add it all up, and you’ve got seven pages of precious newspaper space given over to an unpaid advertisement for the past and present glories of the Burlington Free Press, as seen by itself. Well, seven pages of “content” plus a full-page ad paid for by some of the contractors who worked on the new offices. As Barney the Purple Dinosaur might say, “I wank you, you wank me, we’re a wanking family…”

Really, the Freeploid’s overweening self-regard is sickening. After all, what they’re celebrating is a failure, a retreat: the move came about because the paper’s staff has shrunk so much that it needs a lot less space. And because its corporate masters at Gannett are eager to cash in its real estate holdings. I’m sure the $2.8 million sale price will help boost quarterly earnings for shareholders. I’m even more sure it won’t be plowed back into the quality of the local product.  

It certainly didn’t do anything for the quality of the January 19, 2014 edition.  

6 thoughts on “Welcome to the Burlington Free Press’ Wank-a-Thon, a.k.a. your Sunday paper

  1. As incredible as it is to be able to say, my own hometown newspaper has just improved over the years!  The Messenger actually earns my subscription dollar these days!

  2. As someone who uses Twitter as their primary news feed, the last 24 hours was basically me scrolling past spam. The local reporters I follow to find out what’s going on in VT (especially when I’m traveling out of state) decided (I assume based on editor/publisher directive) to stop reporting actual news, and instead tweet views of Lake Champlain from their new offices.

    Don’t get me wrong, the pictures were lovely.  But perhaps there was actual NEWS that could have been reported. Thank goodness for sites like GMD and VT Digger – otherwise I’d believe the world stopped to watch the BFP relocate, and nothing else relevant happened in the last few days.

    Thanks for covering this bullshit.  

  3. I picked up a Free Press from a new stand the other day.  I didn’t buy it, I just picked it up.  I had thought at first that the paper I had picked up had something wrong, that the ‘meat’ of the paper had fallen out, because it felt like it was one page thick.  Then I felt the others on the stack and realized that it WAS that thin!  There was NOTHING in the paper.  With all that Vermont has to write about, the Free Press has nothing in it.

    So, too bad that they are rejoicing in abandoning their 200 year old location, after having already abandoned their 200 year old paper. The Free Press is no more.

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