front porch flimflam
Flimflam /ˈflɪm.flæm/: n. Talk that intends to deceive ... v. To swindle or dupe
Ideally, this page would be a list of news stories that have covered Front Porch Flimflam's effort to the tell this story about Front Porch Forum. Ideally.
But Front Porch Flimflam is a living, breathing effort, and there's little to no control over what happens as we continue our outreach.
And so, for now at least, this page highlights the response of two prominent, award-winning statewide news outlets -- VTDigger and Seven Days -- to Front Porch Flimflam's story, and our efforts to tell it.
Or more accurately, perhaps, this page highlights those two Vermont outlets' participation in trying to keep this story from being told, for reasons that are not clear but are certainly able to be guessed.
Here's just one: Front Porch Forum co-founders Michael and Valerie Wood-Lewis are known to be donors to both VTDigger and Seven Days.
Independent news sources only looking to provide transparency, report facts, and hold people accountable? "News in pursuit of truth" and "Vermont's independent voice"? Or simply just part of a mutual admiration (protection) society doing its part to keep up appearances here in small, close-knit Vermont?
[Update January 3, 2023: A new Commentary was submitted to VTDigger, telling a story of the housing crisis in Vermont and mentioning FPF's role in the crisis. A Letter to the Editor was submitted to Seven Days, mentioning the same unchecked role of FPF in affecting the lives of Vermonters. A press release was also sent to news outlets around Vermont]
On Oct. 24, 2022, Kristian submitted a Commentary to VTDigger. He'd submitted, and had accepted, multiple commentaries in the past, never having one turned away. That Oct. 24 Commentary was also a post on Front Porch Forum. Due to election season, VTDigger understandably pushed the publication of that Commentary until after Nov. 2. It was published on Nov. 7, just a few days after FPF had terminated Kristian and Deborah's accounts (which was one week after the Oct. 24 FPF post, and five days after a separate, unrelated FPF post on Oct. 26).
Front Porch Flimflam was launched in early November. On Nov. 10, Kristian submitted a Commentary about the experience to VTDigger. It was rejected, the first time VTDigger had taken that step. On Nov. 15, Kristian submitted a revised Commentary, to remove VTDigger's stated obstacles to publishing the first version. The revised version was ignored. On Dec. 6, Kristian made his third attempt. This new Commentary concerned VTDigger, FrontPorchFlimflam.com, Front Porch Forum, and Northeast Wilderness Trust. It talks about FPF's Michael Wood-Lewis, of course, but also FPF's Jason Van Driesche, author and ecologist George Wuerthner, and Northeast Wilderness Trust's Tom Butler.
Visit this page to read the submitted Commentaries and the entire communication thread concerning what happened from Nov. 10 through an email sent to VTDigger on Dec. 13 -- an email that included editor in chief Paul Heintz, managing editor Maggie Cassidy, senior editor Tom Kearney, VTDigger founder Anne Galloway, executive director Jim Welch, and board president John Reilly.
That Dec. 13 email was sent after VTDigger had rejected a paid press release (without any explanation provided -- only by issuing a refund was it clear), something which did not follow past experience. This rejection was also after VTDigger began rejecting Kristian's unrelated LTE submissions, which also had not happened before.
Read the full communication thread with VTDigger, and decide for yourself why it refuses to allow Front Porch Flimflam to tell its story via its LTE or Commentary or Press Release sections, and then perhaps wonder why VTDigger also won't cover this news story.
On or about Nov. 16, 2022, Kristian submitted an LTE based on a Seven Days story that highlighted the use of Front Porch Forum for a student's civic-engagement project. Neither Kristian nor Deborah had ever submitted anything to Seven Days for publication before. On Nov. 27, Kristian heard from Seven Days publisher Paula Routly, and was told the LTE would be published in the next issue.
This led to a conversation about Seven Days' policies about posting LTEs. The end result of that conversation, as offered by Paula Routly, was that Seven Days would publish Kristian's LTE, and if there was a reason (based on a different Seven Days story that was likely to happen) to publish a separate LTE shortly thereafter, then Deborah could submit an LTE for publication. Said Paula Routly: "She is entitled to her own opinion!"
Such a reason for Deborah to submit an LTE presented itself on Dec. 2, when Seven Days ran a story about Burlington's South District City Council race. This race had been entered by Front Porch Forum executive Jason Van Driesche. There were things to say about this, which Deborah did. Paula Routly knew this would be coming once that story had appeared in Seven Days, and this is what she had based her promise on -- also telling Kristian then, "And rest assured: I hear you regarding FPF. Thanks for taking the time to make your case! Best, Paula"
Paula Routly confirmed receipt of Deborah's LTE on Dec. 3, saying, "I got Deborah’s letter! Thank you!" Deborah emailed Paula twice with brief corrections, and never received a reply.
What happened after that part of the conversation ended is hard to believe, or understand.
Read the full communication thread with Seven Days publisher Paula Routly, and decide for yourself why Seven Days refuses to allow Front Porch Flimflam to tell its story via its LTE section, and then perhaps wonder why Seven Days also won't cover this news story.