After 33 years, the Little City’s, “Vergennes Citizen” is back.
Not only is this quite literally “America’s smallest city paper,” but there are dozens of illustrations, and it’s all put together by one Addison County family.
The paper traces its roots back to the 1820s, and was later reacquired in 1980 by Edward Williams and Douglas Lazarus.
“My dad and his friend Ted came over from New York City, and they thought, ‘let’s do a really elevated newspaper, and let’s do illustrations of all the locals,'” said Matt Lazarus.
His father, Douglas, did drawings for the then weekly publication, including drawing designs for the advertising.
Three decades later, Douglas Lazarus is back at the drawing board, this time with his son, Matt.
“My son came back for a visit, fell in love with Vergennes, and then announced to me that he was going to uh, bring the paper back… so it was like, ‘Ok, God bless you, go ahead and give it a whirl!'” said Douglas Lazarus.
“And what I did is I got the rights from a guy in Rochester, and then off the strength of that, I mocked up a miniature copy, and then I got 33 Vergennes businesses to all kick in 33 dollars, because it was gone for 33 years, and it’s financed the first issue and the second issue,” said Matt Lazarus. T
The paper had a soft-launch on December 21, 2017, and Lazarus plans to eventually publish bi-weekly. “It has a claim at being America’s smallest city paper and America’s first crowd-funded city paper,” said Matt Lazarus.
The tiny paper has brought together Matt and his father, who together have taught each other a lot about the way each other’s generation thinks.
“It’s been a learning experience and a bonding experience.. and a challenge,” said Douglas Lazarus. “In Matt’s words, I’m becoming ‘woke’ to some of that stuff.”
Matt says he hopes the paper serves as an inspiration.
“Imagine if every small community had a small thing like this and they all could share stories and information and advertising…I’d like it to be successful enough that other people can say, ‘Yes, I can do that, too'” said Matt Lazarus.
There are copies around town, and cost just 50 cents.
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