Matt Krauss: An open letter to VPR/Vermont PBS board members

Editor’s note: This letter is by Matt Krauss, a retired state employee and Vermont legislator who lives in Stowe.

Dear VPR/Vermont PBS board members,

I listen to VPR and watch Vermont PBS and want this merger to be successful. A few changes might help meet that goal. Like any Vermont family it’s better to bravely face uncomfortable subjects rather than ignore them. Asking and answering challenging questions assure all a brighter future.

My commentary focusing on the VPR/Vermont PBS merger was recently forwarded to you. It was published in 10 newspapers including the Waterbury Roundabout (editor Lisa Scagliotti) and The Chester Telegraph (editor Cynthia Prairie). The civic dedication of these small, independent, local, and financially constrained newspapers allowed many thousands of Vermonters to assess the merits of the proposals. Indeed one of those who read the commentary in the Caledonian-Record was a fellow board member. What would the outcome be if those 10 newspapers, or all Vermont newspapers, suddenly decided for financial reasons to cancel the publication of letters and commentaries and reallocate the funds? Yet in all honesty, isn’t that what VPR did when it cancelled its Commentary Series? Is it reasonable to expect VPR/Vermont PBS to have a comparable “letters and commentaries” space open to all Vermonters? Can we agree that freely communicating over the public airways without gatekeepers will help democracy thrive in Vermont? VTDigger published the Commentary and in 2020 published 860 commentaries. They are an online competitor of yours, but felt the expense and effort was their civic duty. What should we be saying in defense of VPR/Vermont PBS when such a robust and equal effort is absent? You have expressed a goal of filling Vermont’s news reporting void. That’s a laudable goal. Will you match that effort with an undertaking to fill the shrinking open public discourse space?

Almost all Vermont media, especially those locally owned and operated, are in a perilous situation. Your friendly competitors in the Vermont media have faced layoffs, cutbacks, unfilled positions, pay cuts, and downsizing. VPR said that they had not suffered any layoffs. Last year you requested $874,000 of COVID-19 funding. The legislature asked for your proposal but, some questioned the judgement surrounding the nature and size of this submission. Specifically, requesting equipment replacement that wasn’t COVID-19 related. Can you understand how this request may have been seen by other media companies suffering the terrible effects described above? Perhaps we can agree that certain items in the Legislative submission were inappropriate given the nature of the funding? When your request was pared down to $100,000, VPR had millions in cash, millions in reserve and millions in restricted endowments. Why didn’t you just say, “We’re in good shape, we don’t need it, we’ll be fine, give it to someone worse off?” The board of directors are responsible for a non-profits direction and oversight. Is it reasonable to inquire if the board of directors reviewed and approved this list for the Legislative committee?

It’s fair to acknowledge that this merger would not be taking place without many hours of hard work and good planning by staff, board members and others. It’s truly a momentous achievement and worthy of our thanks. The programs you offer are high quality and very well produced. Many Vermonters hear your news and watch your programs. No one begrudges your success. As the largest non-profit media organization in Vermont, your preeminence is unrivaled. Being the biggest might bring additional demands for more leadership on behalf of your industry. We acknowledge VPR’s mission of being an essential and trusted independent voice for news and information. While still cognizant of this mission will you bring additional creative suggestions and ideas to help small, locally owned and operated media companies? Will you forge a closer partnership with the Vermont Press Association (VPA) and your fellow Vermont Broadcasters Association (VBA) members seeking collaborative new solutions to Vermont media’s plight? Could you bring together a diverse delegation of Vermont media and ask the Vermont House and Senate to hear the industry’s plight and their legislative survival suggestions? Perhaps you could ask them for the creation of a modest study group. Other states embrace a dog eat dog and an I got mine attitude. That’s not how Vermonters view the world. We extend a helping hand and voluntarily pitch in when times are tough helping those in need.

Your board members and employees said I raised good questions which is very much appreciated. After serving eight years in the Vermont House and Senate, I came to admire and respect Vermonters demand for full involvement in issues that are of interest to them. They want to explain problems, propose solutions, and be involved in the implementation of those solutions. Please count me with that group. Can we agree that this is the Vermont way to address concerns? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates our public airways encourages viewers to write directly to a stations’ management regarding broadcast service. This is my second approach to VPR and candidly during the first time I’m not sure my ideas were welcomed. Perhaps I was mistaken.

What formal roles might best permit loyal customers with concerns to be fully engaged as described above? Or would you prefer they advocate for change from outside the organization? Vermonters want the best for you and the on-going merger. I hope this letter is received in the spirit it was offered. I’m looking forward to further mutually beneficial conversations beginning at the March 17th meeting at 2:15 p.m.


Matt Krauss
Stowe, Vermont

Image courtesy of Public domain

10 thoughts on “Matt Krauss: An open letter to VPR/Vermont PBS board members

  1. I used to include VTdigger in my morning news with coffee. I finally realized that I didn’t need to be lectured and disappointed every day by 20 something writers fresh out of school or hired from some leftwing news organization. Since I have eliminated them all and deleted my fakebook account, my mornings are much better. I can’t remember the last 7 days paper that I picked up to read. When Dave Graham was on WDEV I shut that off. No Times Argus, WCAX or Fox 44 ever again. WSNO is now all crappy music so that’s gone too. VPR/PBS I never watch or listen to either. It is a mazing how those forces can bring you down. I’m liking my new days of freedom from the controllers and indoctrinators. Basically, I’ve cancelled them and it’s a great feeling.

    • Good comment. Add THE COMMONS (the Communist as locals call them) paper to the list. They are from highly liberal Brattleboro, a northern community of MA .They also censors comments.

  2. VPR/PBS monopoly is in competition with Seven Days/Vtdigger. There aren’t enough airwaves to support them all imho. And if you’ve read one – read em all. VPR and Vtdigger both publish the nonprofit mindnumbingly oh-so boring mass-marketed screeds carpetbombed to whoever will accept from the usual suspects – VT Democrat-connected Marxist apparatchicks. IOW – ther’s no real talent and has that Pravda-feel. Then we have the same boring bs regurgitated by print media with few exceptions – who need it or any of them?

    Problem is in order to legitimately receive 501c3 funds – and possibly other public sources – political action activity such as the customary election meddling is not allowed. There were a few ppl who either threatened to complain to IRS and perhaps did – or at least shook things up enough to cause a ripple of fear.

    Rather than give up the entire reason for existance – that is placing their boot on the scale of VT elections, easier to end comment sections which revealed a large amount of conservative voices upvoted with leftwing comments receiving pushback from conservatives?

    Could have outsourced entire comment platform to Disqus or other service but would have lost some control – couldn’t take the chance of conservative voices having a presence on their politically entrenched deeply corrupt ‘news’ sites.

    Since VPR/Vtdigger are simply cash-collecting cows – don’t think this affected donors who are more than happy to shut out opposing views from their very own bought and paid for exclusive cash-cow country club.

    First one that blinks with comment platform wins the prize – hopefully this would give the sockpuppets, trolls and contrairian collectivists gathered here a home of their own.

  3. Hey Throw in Vermont Digger and Seven Days, we’ll have complete state controlled media.

    Yes you too can have press completely controlled by the state, no longer does one have to be jealous of our socialist competitors, China, Russia, Cuba and Venezuela!

    Next stop, more complete control of vote counting! We too can strive to be the very best colony of the New World Order, oh the joy of Being the first colony, what special gifts and permissions will they be sending us?

    • They already have it, Dominion. We in VT use GEMS which originally was Diebold and then bought by Premiere election systems then spun off GEMS to ES&S that was required via an antitrust to sell off some of it’s software which was then acquired by Dominion.
      I know I shouldn’t use wikipedia for a reference but I’m lazy today and know it’s true.

      • I know, NH has the same and they have uncovered the fraud. Nobody wants to report it. Somebody has to be in charge of making the crime of election fraud……the machines, which are made to create election fraud can not do it themselves! Somebody has to program it. Thanks for letting peol,e know the specifics.

        • I heard that they made progress and intend on having Jovan (the QC code guy who said he could verify the paper folds, pen marking, paper origin and ink origin) as one of the ones to do the audit. I haven’t found the article yet that says it but I did see it on a vid somewhere that is usually right.

          Crossing my fingers that they find something valid there. Meanwhile AZ is busy shredding….

  4. I stopped using both of them as a source of information when they were clearly communist in 2016. I will never go back. ever.

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