Journalist loves digging for news

It’s 9 a.m. on a Monday and students in David Blow’s journalism class are feverishly scribbling to keep up with Anne Galloway.
The editor of was explaining how a few years ago, after job cuts had to be made forcing her out as a editor of the Barre Times-Argus, she had a spark in her mind to provide Vermont information about its own legislature.
“In order to stay in journalism, I had to do my own thing,” Galloway told the class last week. “I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was I wanted to produce a lot of stories.”
She started the unique non-profit website on her own and put in countless hours to find money to fund it. Now, almost three years later, she has more help from an editor, a sales director and full-time and free-lance reporters. Most of Galloway’s employees, she said, have similar interests in “geeky government issues” as the readers they write for.
VTDigger also provides readers with press releases and countless stories about important issues from health care reform to campaign financing. The site, she stressed, is also transparent with sponsorship placements and revenues listed. Unlike a lot of news sites, she said, nothing is hidden behind a pay wall.
Although the stories run a bit long compared to typical online news stories, Galloway defends her site by saying that she wants to give readers stories about politics, health care, energy and money issues that are as in-depth as possible.
Randal Smathers, the editor of Manchester Newspapers in Granville, N.Y. and former Rutland Herald editor, is a fan of Galloway’s work and VTDigger. But Smathers, in an interview with students before Galloway’s visit, questioned the length of the stories on the site in the fast-paced quick news era.
“I’m curious to see how it is working in the Twitter age,” he said. “It’s an interesting model, but it’s a great way to start at how we might do journalism down the road.”
Galloway told students she’s aware of the modern quick-hit online news format preferred by many and is working on a plan to incorporate that onto her homepage in the near future.
“We want to give quick information to the political junkies, CEOs and law makers who read the site, but we don’t want to abandon what we’ve got; the core info that people need,” Galloway said. “There’s a tension to move in that direction of Twitter and Facebook, but the industry in still in flex. We don’t know where it is going to end up.”
Also in the classroom last week was CSC senior Zach Kulpa, who created a news aggregator site called as his senior project.
Kulpa told students he realized that his peers just don’t read the news. He hopes his site will be able to provide students with quick blurbs of news, following the short Twitter format. He chooses five stories a day to highlight with links to the full story.
Susan Allen, the special assistant to Gov. Peter Shumlin and head of communications, supports Galloway’s site. She said she respects the site because it does not have an agenda, is thorough and objective. Allen, who was editor at the Time-Argus when Galloway was laid off said in a telephone interview with the class that she’s a fan of Galloway and the site and thinks it is another example of how journalism is moving in a new direction.
“There’s a lot going on with online journalism and Anne’s site is one big piece of it,” Allen said. “Online journalism is going to be the way of the future.”

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