The owner of the Portland Press Herald and another investor are buying two Vermont newspapers.

Reade Brower and Chip Harris have entered into an agreement to buy the Rutland Herald, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and affiliated print and online publications from the Herald Association, which is owned by the Mitchell family. That family has owned the two publications for decades.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Mitchell family has owned the Rutland paper since 1947 and the Barre-Montpelier publication since 1964, in partnership with another family until 1986. The company also publishes two free weekly papers and six websites.

John Mitchell, chairman and president of the Herald Association, said family ownership of the publications has been difficult in recent years and the family has always seen the newspapers as a privately-owned trust for the public.

“In Reade (Brower), we believe we have found a steward for the newspapers who has both the entrepreneurial spirit and record that is crucial and the community focus and commitment to journalism that has been at the core of our mission for decades,” Mitchell said. “The simple truth is that as a family, we felt that if we were unable to continue that mission, we needed to find someone who could.”


Brower is the principal owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and the Coastal Journal in Bath and owns the, and websites. He is also the owner of Alliance Press, a commercial printing company in Brunswick.

Although newspapers have struggled with profitability as readers’ habits have changed over the last two decades, Brower said he believes in the mission of newspapers to safeguard democracy and reflect their communities. If managed properly, he said, they can be solid business investments as well. Brower said he determined the Vermont publications are an integral part of their communities and financially sustainable.

“That means they are viable,” he said.

Part of his calculation included a modest return on investment, unlike the 20 percent returns often demanded by media conglomerates.

“I don’t believe the way to prosperity is through slashing and burning,” he said. “A sustainable model is created by reallocating resources and making the product stronger.”

The papers’ top editor, Rob Mitchell, told the Burlington Free Press earlier this week that the papers were having a difficult time. They had fallen behind on paying bills and some employees’ paychecks recently bounced. But by Monday afternoon, all employees had been paid, he said.


“My greater fear in all of this is that it would all come to an end,” Mitchell told the Free Press on Thursday. “We have managed to find a way forward, which is a great relief.”

Brower also publishes four midcoast weeklies – The Free Press in Rockland, The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal in Belfast.

Harris co-founded Upper Valley Press, Inc. in North Haverhill, New Hampshire. The company prints newspapers and advertising inserts and operates a direct mail company in eastern Vermont and central New Hampshire. Prior to starting Upper Valley, he was a vice president at Prentiss Court Advertising in Greenville, South Carolina; a reporter and bureau chief with the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch; and a reporter with the Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram and Gazette.

Business Editor Carol Coultas contributed to this report.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.