Write An Essay To Win A Local Newspaper Newspaper for sale! Host Linda Wertheimer talks to Ross Connelly, owner of the Hardwick Gazette in Vermont. After 30 years, he's retiring and holding an essay contest to find a new publisher.

Write An Essay To Win A Local Newspaper

Write An Essay To Win A Local Newspaper

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Newspaper for sale! Host Linda Wertheimer talks to Ross Connelly, owner of the Hardwick Gazette in Vermont. After 30 years, he's retiring and holding an essay contest to find a new publisher.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Are you in the market for a newspaper? The Hardwick Gazette, a weekly paper in northern Vermont, is holding an essay contest to find a new owner. Ross Connelly, who's owned the paper for 30 years, is ready to retire. And after he couldn't find a buyer through more traditional means, he decided to try something a little different. Ross Connelly joins us now by telephone from the gazette's office in Hardwick, Vt. Thanks for being with us.

ROSS CONNELLY: You're welcome, and thank you for having me. I appreciate your interest.

WERTHEIMER: So Mr. Connelly, tell me why you decided to pack it in. I mean, are you old enough to retire?

CONNELLY: (Laughter) Well, I'm past retirement age. I - yesterday was my 71st birthday. And I figured 30 years at this is enough.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

CONNELLY: I'm older than I used to be. I still have the passion of a journalist, but I don't have as much energy as I did. And on a personal level, my wife died four and a half years ago and she was a integral part of the business. So I just decided to talk to my son at length about it. And the town deserves some fresh people here. As I said, I still have the passion but I don't have the energy that I think is needed and that readers deserve.

WERTHEIMER: So you're setting up a competition, an essay contest, to find the new owner of the paper. How does it work?

CONNELLY: Well, it's basically a writing prompt - why I want to own a paid weekly newspaper. And there's a minimum of 700 entrants required for the contest to officially begin. And I will accept a maximum of 1,889 entries. And we have a numerical ranking system to grade the essays, if you will, until we come up with a short list and then out of that a winner.

WERTHEIMER: Well, now there's an entry fee?

CONNELLY: That's correct.

WERTHEIMER: So what's that?

CONNELLY: $175.

WERTHEIMER: So if 700 people send in $175, you would have -

CONNELLY: Oh, I don't know. What is it, $122,000 or something like that? And if I got all 1,889 entries, it would be 300 and some thousand dollars.

WERTHEIMER: So if you do that, would that compensate you for the sale of the paper if you had sold it?

CONNELLY: Yes. But one of the things that is very important to me is that the paper continue. As I say, it's been around for 127 years. It's an important institution in the town. People depend on it. And if we're not here to report the local news, who's going to? I can't put a dollar figure on that intrinsic value, but it's valuable.

WERTHEIMER: Have you thought about how you're going to spend your retirement?

CONNELLY: (Laughter) That's a question a lot of people ask, and my standard answer - and I'm not being facetious, but my focus and energy is getting out next week's paper. When I don't have that in front of me, then I will be able to turn my energies to - OK, what do I want to do now? And I'm quite confident that that will happen without a problem.

WERTHEIMER: Ross Connelly is the owner of the Hardwick Gazette. Thank you very much.

CONNELLY: You're welcome. Thank you.

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