Save The Hardwick Gazette
Save The Hardwick Gazette
The Hardwick Gazette was founded in 1889. Help ensure its legacy and save a foundation block of democracy.
The Hardwick Gazette was founded in 1889. Help ensure its legacy and save a foundation block of democracy. Read more
Ross Connelly is no quitter. While his essay contest to give away The Hardwick Gazette has not yet generated enough entries to validate the contest, in his heart and mind the quality and not quantity of the entries should rule the day.
With scores of inspired entries from people across the country and around the world dedicated to the preservation of real journalism, Connelly extended the contest for a final time on September 21st when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the gap in funding to make it financially viable.
“We may be a small rural community, but in a larger sense this contest is too big to fail,” he says. “It is asking people to consider the value of independent journalism. Consider that citizenship and democracy start in people’s homes, their neighborhoods, their communities, with elected officials – on the local level. Local, independent newspapers are the foundation blocks of our democracy and are necessary to keep it solidly in place.”
Connelly initially launched the contest in June at HardwickGazette.com to turn the Hardwick Gazette over to a new owner. Entrants are required to write a 400-word essay explaining why they want to own a rural weekly newspaper and submit that with an entry fee of $175.
The 71-year-old owner/publisher of the Gazette hopes to generate as many as 700 entries. The contest received worldwide media attention generating scores of excellent entries but still shy of the goal by the initial Aug. 11 deadline, extended to Sept. 20.
As of the 21st of September, the number of entries is still short of the goal but the quality of the essays is promising. In them, Connelly sees the same kind of enthusiasm and commitment to journalism he and his late wife, Susan Jarzyna, brought with them to Hardwick 30 years ago. Rather than end the contest and return the fees, Connelly is exercising his last option to extend the contest through Oct. 10 while launching the crowd funding campaign to assure a winner can be selected. If the Kickstarter raises $100,000 by Oct. 10, the panel of judges will evaluate the essays and choose a winner, regardless of the final number of entries received.
This strategy is already supported by members of the community. At their own volition, they submitted “I don’t want to win” essays, including the fee and a note expressing the importance of the Gazette’s survival.
“These are people who just want to see the Gazette endure,” Connelly says. “They recognize the value of the independent voice — socially, culturally and politically. It’s a sentiment being felt broadly, even internationally. “
In support of this understanding, he was buoyed by a recent segment of Last Week Tonight by the popular HBO satirist John Oliver. He used his comedic platform to drive home the importance of real journalism in the digital age.
With the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, Connelly is optimistic he will soon be able to name a contest winner. The new owner will have the responsibility and privilege of continuing the long tradition of delivering news to Hardwick and nine surrounding towns in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
- (20 days)