Ross Connelly is looking for someone to take over the operation of the Hardwick Gazette, the 127-year-old community newspaper that he has been in charge of for over 30 years. Last June he came up with a unique method to find the perfect person to hand over the keys to: an essay contest with an entrance fee of $175.
Connelly is 71, and until his wife died in 2011, ran the paper with her assistance. He was hoping to have already picked a winner by now, but instead is extending the deadline for a second time, until October 10th. His hope is to receive 700 essays for a total of $122,500. He has even received many donations of $175 which stated that they did not want to win the paper, only to help Connelly out.
To help meet his goal Connelly launched a crowd-sourcing campaign on Kickstarter as well.
The winner will need to have written a 700-word essay convincing Connelly that he/she believes in the “importance of a free press and believes that community journalism is key and necessary to democracy.”
The winner will receive ownership of the newspaper and the building it is in, equipment, website and all the materials needed to run the business. The newspaper is printed offsite at a press not owned by the Gazette.
“Rather than walking out the door and saying goodbye … I want the Gazette to continue,” said Connelly.