Burlington Free Press is a daily newspaper based in Burlington, Vermont, in the United States. With a circulation of about 20,166 daily and 27,830 on Sundays, it is the largest daily newspaper in Vermont.
The longtime editor Michael Townsend accepted early voluntary retirement in October 2015.
The newspaper has been hit by waves of layoffs over the past several years and employs 272 full-time employees in its Burlington headquarters. International news is usually reprinted stories supplied by the Associated Press and Reuters news services.
Burlington Free Press originally began as the Free Press Weekly, publishing its first issue in 1827. With use of the telegraph, the newspaper became an evening daily in 1848, although it did not publish a Sunday newspaper until 1965. With the purchase of the Burlington Times in 1868, the Free Press Association was founded. In 1882 the evening edition was canceled due to poor sales and an influx of morning edition readers. In 1961 a new corporation, Free Press Association, Inc., was organized by high-positioned Free Press personnel who purchased it from 50 stockholders. In 1971 the Free Press changed hands, merging with the Public Opinion and becoming a part of the Gannett Company.
In July 2008, the company announced they would raise the retail price of their newspapers, except on Sundays, from fifty cents to seventy-five cents. This did not affect the price for subscribers.
In December 2008, the Gannett Company announced a company-wide workforce reduction of ten percent. Burlington Free Press laid off six of its newsroom staff.
On January 19, 2009, the company introduced a "compactly-edited" daily newspaper, to circulate three days a week, with the full normal edition of Burlington Free Press appearing on the rest of the days of the week.
In April 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists awarded its 2011 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism, and the Burlington Free Press was on the list twice. Burlington Free Press reporter Candace Page won for her story, Hard Lessons of the Tweed in the Features Reporting category for newspapers with a circulation less than 50,000. The Free Press staff was honored in the online deadline-reporting category for the stories, videos and social media reporting related to the shooting at the Occupy Burlington encampment Nov. 11. Included in the awards submission were tweets, videos and online stories from the first report of gun shots in City Hall Park to the tension between police and protesters later that evening.
In June 2012, Burlington Free Press switched from the broadsheet format it had used for decades to an all-color tabloid format, at the same time introducing a paywall to its website that in the first three months caused a 12 percent drop in the paper's online page views (from about 600,000 to about 530,000).
In July 2012, the Burlington Free Press won two national-level awards from the Associated Press Media Editors association. The newspaper was honored in the under-40,000-circulation class in two categories: FIRST AMENDMENT: For an “investigation of the sloppy handling of warrants by the Vermont judiciary, which revealed negligence at every level of the legal system.” DIGITAL STORYTELLING AND REPORTING: For breaking news coverage of the fatal Occupy Burlington shooting in City Hall Park in November.
In October 2012, Burlington Free Press announced plans to sell seven of its 12 properties in downtown Burlington, worth an estimated $3.3 million. The paper plans to keep its printing press and mail room, but is selling office space.
In June 2013, the Burlington Free Press won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in digital reporting for coverage of a dramatic rescue on the Browns River in Jericho last year. Radio Television Digital News Association judges selected Burlington Free Press Multimedia Editor Ryan Mercer's video for recognition in the breaking-news category. The association's chairman said the field of award competitors this year was the best the organization had seen. The award marks the first national citation for the Burlington Free Press from the RTDNA. No other Vermont media received a national Murrow Award. The paper also was awarded five regional Murrow Awards - four for video and one for its website.
In August 2013, Burlington Free Press announced that it had cut 13 jobs across the paper's departments, but did not release information on what positions had been eliminated.
In December 2013, the Burlington Free Press won nine first-place awards from the Vermont Press Association, including general excellence, best website and several writing and photography prizes. The Free Press took top honors in nine of the 13 categories the state’s largest daily newspaper entered. In addition to general excellence and best website, the Free Press took top honors for The Mavis Doyle Award for best coverage of state government, best state story, best local story, best coverage of Tropical Storm Irene, best feature writing, best sports photo and best feature photo. It also won three second place awards.
In April 2014, the Burlington Free Press launched a new website, along with mobile and tablet apps, that cemented its position as the dominant print site in Vermont. With dynamic delivery of stories, videos, photo galleries, and rich interactive content, the new site enabled the Burlington Free Press to easily maintain the largest digital audience of all print publications in the state.
In October 2014, Burlington Free Press announced that nearly all of its staff would be required to re-apply for their jobs in a move that Executive Editor Mike Townsend called "resetting the structure of the newsroom." One veteran reporter was later laid off after refusing to re-apply for her job.
In November 2014, both of the Burlington Free Press' Statehouse reporters left the newspaper under unclear circumstances. The paper has not announced whether it intends to keep a news bureau at the Vermont Statehouse. Within weeks, both reporters - Terri Hallenbeck and Nancy Remsen - were hired by a local rival, the weekly Seven Days.