Who Will Save Vermont Life?
The Vermont state government is "exploring options" regarding the future of the 71-year-old magazine.
Updated on Sept. 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm.
In New England, one of America’s most beloved and longest running regional magazines faces an uncertain future.
Quarterly lifestyle magazine Vermont Life has been put up for sale by the the state of Vermont, which has published it since 1946 but no longer wishes to incur the costs of its continued production in a difficult financial environment.
The magazine earned a little under $1.17 million in operating revenue last year, according to a state filing, mostly from subscriptions but with significant portions from advertising and sales of products like calendars. State lawmakers say it slips about $400,000 deeper into the red each year, while proponents argue that it helps generate valuable unseen revenue through tourism.
If the average subscriber is paying the standard $10 annual price, the filing would indicate that the magazine has around 48,000 paying subscribers.
Originally intended as a marketing tool for the state tourism department, Vermont Life‘s profile extends far beyond its home state, where it has become known for its use of photography and its coverage of Vermont’s farming, dining, and craft beer scenes, arts, business, and outdoor recreation.
The push to sell off the property has bipartisan support in the state legislature, where lawmakers in both houses have expressed concerns over the magazine’s contributions to budget deficits. Longtime editor Mary Hegarty Nowlan resigned in May as the magazine’s future became the subject of public speculation by Governor Phil Scott and state lawmakers. Wendy Knight, who filed the request for proposals, was appointed the new commissioner of Vermont’s tourism and marketing department in March.
The state says it will also entertain proposals for licensing arrangements or partnership agreements to determine the future of Vermont Life. Bids are due by November 11th.
As for potential suitors, there is at least one. Paula Routly, owner of the Green Mountain State’s primary alt-weekly, Seven Days, told Vermont Public Radio in June that it would be “an honor to keep Vermont Life going.”
Update/correction: This article originally ran with the subheading, “The Vermont state government puts the quarterly magazine up for sale after 71 years,” but the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing maintains that such a decision has not yet been made, providing Folio: the following statement:
The State has not made a decision to sell Vermont Life. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued the RFP on Monday, September 11, 2017 to explore options for Vermont Life as required by the legislature. Those options include sale, licensing agreement, partnership and other proposals as appropriate.