In Vermont, the reporters for the Burlington Free Press have had it. It’s the last straw. They are seething over…parking.
“While people are angry,” said one veteran journalist at Vermont’s largest daily newspaper, this week “the prevailing mood is one of disgust.”
“We feel absolutely frustrated and undervalued,” said another reporter at the Gannett chain’s Burlington Free Press on College Street in downtown Burlington. What these staffers were referring to was the announcement on Monday by Free Press management that ordinary working stiffs at the newspaper (excluding executives and the outside sales staff) would no longer have free parking provided by the newspaper. Depending at which downtown private lot they use — most are within two blocks of the office — Freeps employees began losing their free parking spots on Tuesday.
Free Press staffers, who spoke to “Inside Track” on the condition they not be identified, told us they were “stunned.”
It gets worse. Management also removed the “bottled spring water” from the newsroom, our sources say. Instead, faucets on the bathroom sinks in the staff men’s and ladies’ rooms now have mesh filters over them.
“The reason parking is provided,” said our source, “is because we often need our cars to cover a story. It’s part of our job.”
Management made the announcement to individuals or to small groups. As Monday afternoon unfolded, we’re told, “People were standing around, openly complaining. People were pissed and took it as a personal insult.”
But, sources added, Carey’s real message was, “If you don’t like it, find a new job.”
The fact is, said one reporter, “We’re spread too thin as it is.”
“They’ve finally crossed a line,” said one reporter. “They have no idea what we do in the newsroom.” “Our CEO makes $16 million a year,” said another, “and our news operation has become unimportant — even locally.”