$23,599 pledged of $100,000 goal
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By Ross Connelly
$23,599 pledged of $100,000 goal
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About

www.hardwickgazette.com

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.

www.hardwickgazette.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/us/want-to-own-a-newspaper-a-vermont-contest-has-trouble-finding-takers.html

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2016/09/10/writing-your-own-ticket/VIR6QtuM078Pz7mD3s0CnK/story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2016/06/08/owner-of-small-vermont-newspaper-launches-essay-contest-for-new-owner/?utm_term=.9dcf160c2232

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/06/08/sharpen-that-pencil-essay-winner-will-become-owner-vermont-newspaper/sZ94FO0C4sVE8WNvnQwUaN/story.html

http://www.poynter.org/2016/this-vermont-newspaper-is-having-an-essay-contest-the-prize-this-vermont-newspaper/415777/

http://www.poynter.org/2016/you-can-still-win-that-vermont-newspaper-in-an-essay-contest/425838/

http://www.npr.org/2016/06/12/481750657/write-an-essay-to-win-a-local-newspaper

http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulfletcher/2016/06/09/write-an-essay-win-a-newspaper-the-whole-business/#4594ddf11a23

Risks and challenges

To see the rules of how the winning essayist will be selected and legal framework of the transfer of The Hardwick Gazette, please go to www.hardwickgazette.com and read the contest rules.

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    Centennial Issue of The Hardwick Gazette

    Citizenship and democracy start in people’s homes, their neighborhoods, their communities, with elected officials — on the local level. Local newspapers in Vermont and throughout the country are foundation blocks of democracy. The Hardwick Gazette crowd funding appeal offers donors the opportunity to keep one small foundation block — one local, independent newspaper — solidly in place.

    People often say their vote doesn’t matter. All votes matter because they add up. Contributions of any size to The Hardwick Gazette KickStarter campaign are important because they add up and will allow a new owner of The Hardwick Gazette to be chosen from the essay contest entrants.

    With a successful KickStarter campaign, each contributor of $25 or more will receive an autographed copy of the magazine we published in 1989 commemorating the centennial of The Hardwick Gazette (while supplies last). Of more importance, each KickStarter contributor will have the knowledge their donation was a vote for an informed citizenry and for democracy.

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