A ‘New Day’ for Quartet of Vermont, Massachusetts Newspapers

After 21 years of MediaNews Group and Digital First Media stewardship, The Berkshire Eagle and co. are once again locally owned.

In a note to readers, newly installed publisher Ed Woods promises that local ownership of The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass. will translate into more jobs:

Today, the real transformation work begins. Our strategic plans call for bringing back jobs that had been consolidated into other Digital First Media locations. We’ll be enhancing our products by improving quality and adding additional relevant and compelling content.

Meanwhile, in a separate note to readers celebrating the return to local ownership of The Berkshire Eagle and three sister Vermont papers – the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and weekly Manchester Journal, president Fredric D. Rutberg, a retired judge, concludes on a note of pride:

Personally, I am flushed with pride to have been a part of returning this great institution to local ownership; at the same time, I remain awed by the responsibility that comes with leading such an important organization. While my colleagues and I have purchased the company in the legal sense, we know that the newspapers really belong to their readers and the communities they serve. We are stewards of your hopes and inspirations and those of future generations. This is a duty we accept eagerly, as we strive to make you as proud of your newspaper as you are of Berkshire County.

This is a miracle of sorts. One that, from the West Coast, can perhaps be viewed by weary L.A. Times staffers as a sign that it is possible to be returned to local ownership after years inside the consolidating and streamlining ways of a far-distant behemoth. The paper has another piece, for which they got comment from Mark Miller and sister Margo, who enjoyed a long career with the Boston Globe. Their family owned the Eagle from 1891 through 1995.

Included are more details on the new board:

In addition to Rutberg, the ownership team includes John C. “Hans” Morris, of Stockbridge, a former president of Visa Inc. and the current board chairman of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams; Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y., for the past 33 years, a longtime second-home owner in Stockbridge; and Stanford Lipsey, publisher emeritus of the Buffalo News and former owner and publisher of the Sun Newspaper Group in Nebraska.

Former Eagle Publisher Martin Langeveld is a member of the board of directors and was an adviser to the group during negotiations leading to the purchase of the New England Newspapers group.

Editor’s Note: The original version of this item (headline and text) incorrectly characterized The Berkshire Eagle as a Vermont newspaper. FishbowlNY apologizes for the error.

Screen grab via: berkshireeagle.com