To survive, Vermont media must court conservatives

by Matt Krauss

With the exit of President Donald Trump isn’t this a perfect time for Vermont media to build a working, mutually beneficial relationship with Vermont conservatives? COVID-19 has permanently transformed our institutions and practices. Aren’t Vermont media’s websites, publications, and programs now routinely and unashamedly asking for survival money?

Told it’s temporary. What if it isn’t? What if 2020 becomes the good old days? Free money is like returning repeatedly to a buffet. Tough to say, “I’ve had enough.” Don’t you feel those please donate appeals are now a permanent fixture? No one, especially conservatives, wants to see a local business fail. Their employees are neighbors. They rent local space and they are civic minded. However is asking for a handout a viable business model in 2021?

There are many reasons for the perilous state of Vermont media. Most of them are beyond a local solution. To be effective I was taught to focus on items you have some control over. During these challenging times what industry ignores any part of their potential market, in this case Vermont conservatives?

Citizens legitimately bemoan the loss of local media. Sympathetic conservatives respond, “Why should I read, listen, watch, and donate when virtually none of it speaks to me?” The media’s choice shouldn’t be an autopsy or an apology tour. It’s between permanent charity status or cultivating new clientele. Aren’t many of us fearful when approaching new, unknown people? Great salesmen turn that fear into action. We know it may be a challenge to cater to conservative readers and listeners. We’ll root for your success.

Conservatives say that you are more likely to find two unicorns mating in your backyard then a paid conservative news/editorial employee at any large Vermont media company. – Matt Krauss

Doubt the premise of benign neglect? Answer these simple questions. Who are the paid conservative editorial writers in Vermont media? What programs at public radio/tv speak deeply, intensely to conservatives? Where are Vermont media’s weekly paid conservative columnists? Conservatives say that you are more likely to find two unicorns mating in your backyard then a paid conservative news/editorial employee at any large Vermont media company. 

Conservatives were thrilled when a newspaper created a column, “Stuck in Vermont.” They mistakenly believed the column was about their plight in Vermont. Why not have a conservative co-host it? Have you heard the program, Brave Little Conservative? Oops, sorry, “Brave Little State”? This program title implies Vermont nobility over less brave states. Conservatives cringe knowing those states are where their children, grandchildren, and friends are now living, working, and creating memories without them. 

They don’t expect you to become Fox News. They are a media empire making oodles of money. How? They welcomed those who were ignored. Pride aside, do it for the Benjamin’s. 

I’d appreciate Vermont conservatives being open to any new media offers. Set aside past grievances and extend a friendly handshake. Work with your former adversaries and problem solve together. I’d like local Vermont media to be more inclusive, to thrive, and be profitable. Here are a couple of thoughts: 

Conduct a virtual listening tour. Please visit working Vermonters at the local auto repair shop, nurses lunch hangout, construction company, day care center, landscape business, and barber/beautician (mother lode of grounded Vermont advice). Avoid upscale anything. Compare what you heard to your work product. Make appropriate adjustments.

Couldn’t the Vermont Press Association focus less on their 16 annual awards and more on creating the 1st annual conservative/Vermont media virtual conference? Invite conservatives. Focus on three items: meet and greet, establishing trust, new product ideas. 

Create, brand, and nurture a small conservative program/show/space in your media offering. Establish a local focus group of conservatives. Be welcoming to their voices. What have you got to lose? 

Someday COVID-19 will be gone. I want Vermont media to survive to report it.

Matt Krauss of Stowe is a happily retired state employee and former Vermont Legislator.

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6 replies »

  1. Great points and well stated. What is strikingly missing is inclusion of the religious community, the true home of conservativism. That may be the “bridge too far” for our media but is where the journey should begin.

    • One only needs to look at Southern Conservatives to see how they are moulded. Religion is a big part of ALL their lives, there is no argument about that. They live it every day of the week, not just election day.

  2. We all know the mainstream media has a liberal bias. I want truth in reporting. The media claimed the BLM protest were “mostly peaceful” when we could easily see the protests were quite violent. I may not like the news but I expect it to be truthful. Right now, I have lost all respect for the mainstream media. This loss of respect happened long before Trump became President. I just hate it when mainstream media reports how I feel as a republican ,a conservative when mainstream media has never once asked me. According to mainstream media the words, republican and conservative are derogatory terms. It is so sad that I no longer trust the media. The local news, WCAX and WPTZ, both have ads claiming “news you can trust” Sadly it is not true.

  3. Perhaps the first thing that needs to be done is to agree on what a “conservative” is. There are fiscal conservatives of all shapes, genders, sizes, and colors. The problem is that the folks who insist that “conservative” is a social statement (no blacks, no gays, no women who want to control their own uteruses), use a hand picked set of religious rules (unless it’s Donald). The result is that you leave the fiscal group behind. The great irony is that this insistence on a social order that has not existed for the past 50 years, will continue to beef up the Democratic Party and assure far greater fiscal liberalism than any of us want.

  4. Everyone is insincere… the “conservatives” do not conserve anything and the liberals do not liberate anyone. Free market capitalism lost. Communism lost. Fascism won.

  5. On the money!!! The “press” south of Rt 4 has no room for any moderate, let alone conservative, views——almost all of their editorials are from the WAPO or some other non-Vermont source. I am the token conservative in the Manchester Journal every other week, buy that is a tiny paper with a limited circulation one day a week. Conservatives and moderates need to bombard every paper with letters to the editor. it is our only chance to get a voice in most venues. Good Luck!!

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