The Journalism Department at St. Michael’s College serves as the home of the Vermont Press Association. The VPA represents the interests of the 11 daily and about four dozen non-daily printed newspapers circulating in Vermont. Its roots come from the Vermont Publishers, Editors & Printers Association founded in 1867.
Revamped in the late 1940s, the VPA continues to provide its members with opportunities to hear national journalists, state leaders and other key figures as speakers, to meet with their newspaper colleagues from across the state and to work together to improve the quality of journalism in Vermont.
The VPA sponsors an annual writing and photography contest to honor the best work among Vermont’s top journalists.
The association also offers both professional and educational sessions. During political seasons debates are often sponsored by the VPA.
Students are welcome to attend VPA-sponsored events for free or at reduced rates.
The Vermont Press Association has joined forces with various groups to co-sponsor events. The groups include: Investigative Reporters and Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, the New England First Amendment Coalition, New England Press Association, New England Newspaper Association, New Hampshire Press Association, Vermont Bar Association, Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Vermont Ethics Network and the Snelling Center for Government.
The VPA monitors state legislation and works to provide a positive influence on key bills. The legislature also has called upon the VPA’s expertise to improve proposed legislative issues, including on open records and right-to-know laws.
The association also has been successful in fighting multiple attempts to add proposed state taxes on advertising in newspapers and other media outlets. The VPA also successfully blocked an effort to eliminate hospital or health care advertising.
VPA testimony also helped kill a bill that would have allowed the state to keep some documents, including birth and death records, secretfor 50 years. Testimony also has been successful in defeating a so-called “Veggie Libel” Bill (product disparagement) before it was made international news by Oprah. VPA membership is open to all working, aspiring and retired journalists. Dues for regular or active members are assessed against newspapers, depending on print circulation. Associate memberships are open to those in related work, but do not publish a daily or non-daily newspaper. This would include wire services, freelance writers or photographers, teachers and advisers for journalism programs at colleges and high schools. The VPA also offers Sustaining Memberships for any person, firm, corporation or organization that supplies machinery, paper, type, supplies or services to Vermont newspapers. Also individuals and businesses interested in the long-term welfare of newspapers and the First Amendment and who are not eligible in any other category may be members. There are also Honorary and Lifetime Memberships available under the VPA Constitution.
Only regular or active members are eligible to vote and each newspaper is authorized one vote through the publisher.
The VPA appointed its first executive director in 1987 with the naming of Mike Donoghue, a veteran journalist with the Burlington Free Press and a longtime adjunct professor in the St. Michael’s College Journalism Department. The Executive Director is expected to oversee the daily operation of the VPA Central Office.
It was partly because of Donoghue’s passion for journalism that in 1983 he was elected president of the Vermont Press Association—believed to be the first reporter in Northeastern United States (and possibly the nation) ever elected to head a state press association.
During Donoghue’s presidency the VPA found a permanent home at St. Michael’s College. The VPA helps provide leads to St. Michael’s students about scholarships, internships, jobs, awards and training programs.
Also while VPA president, Donoghue helped lead the statewide fight—and was later honored—for helping get cameras and recording devices into state courtrooms starting in the mid-1980s.