MV Times welcomes new leadership

Longtime owners and publishers are stepping down in the New Year.

Charlie Sennott. left, and Steve Bernier are the new leadership taking over the Martha's Vineyard Times, announced on Tuesday. —MV Times

The ownership of the Martha’s Vineyard Times is changing hands.

Longtime publishers and owners Peter and Barbara Oberfest are selling the Island news organization to Steve Bernier, West Tisbury resident and longtime owner of Cronig’s Market, who is well-known for his community service and quiet support for philanthropic causes.

The sale is expected to be finalized on Sunday.

Joining Bernier as acting publisher will be Charles Sennott, Chilmark resident, a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in local and international news, and a track record as a leader in new business models for journalism.

Peter Oberfest, in an emotional announcement on Tuesday, told staff that the paper is ready for new energy, and that they are ready to step down. The Vineyard Haven residents originally bought into the paper in 1994, and then became full-time owners two decades later.

“We’ve had a great run, learned a lot, and met great people. We deeply appreciate our staff, our readers, our advertisers, and our critics,” Peter Oberfest said in a note to readers.

“This is astoundingly good news for all Islanders,” Oberfest said of Bernier coming on as the new owner. He said that Bernier understands The Times’ mission of serving the community. And just as important, he is a businessman who has worked and made his living on the Island. He said that Bernier understands that the paper will need to rely on philanthropy to continue to exist.

Bernier was a quiet benefactor of The Times during the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic. “He basically bankrolled us during the pandemic to keep us going forward,” Oberfest said. “And I didn’t know him from Adam.”

In a meeting with Times staff on Tuesday, Bernier said that he has been impressed by the ability of the news organization to cover the Vineyard. He noted the important role that The Times plays in the community, saying that without it, some news stories would not have come to light, such as the details surrounding the Sankaty incident reported by Times staff recently. 

Bernier also noted that he wouldn’t be implementing radical changes, saying that not one employee would be laid off as a result of the sale. And he said that he is encouraged about the future of the organization.

“I know the Island well enough that we are not going to fail,” Bernier told Times staff. “We are going to make things better for this community.”

Bernier called on Sennott, who for the past 18 months has volunteered as an adviser to The Times along with a handful of veteran journalists connected to the Island, to step into the role of acting publisher. Sennott said he accepted because he and Bernier share a desire to sustain The Times’ tradition of service to an increasingly diverse year-round community that is growing rapidly and facing new challenges, from a housing shortage to the impacts of climate change. 

“I’m inspired by Steve’s commitment to community service, and the idea that The MV Times can be sustained and eventually thrive by pulling the community together to work toward finding solutions to our challenges while celebrating the Island’s unique cultural and historical vibrance,” Sennott added.

Joining the news organization with decades in the field as an award-winning reporter, Sennott is also an innovative social entrepreneur. He was the Middle East Bureau Chief for the Boston Globe during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was co-founder of GlobalPost, an online international news organization that was acquired by GBH in Boston. But Sennott said he started his career in local journalism.

Sennott is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Boston-based GroundTruth Project, which launched in 2014 as a nonprofit journalism organization that supports the next generation of journalists in under-covered communities across the U.S. and around the world. In 2017, GroundTruth launched Report for America, a service program that has since placed more than 600 reporters in 300 newsrooms across all 50 states to serve the communities where they live.

Sennott, who will stay in his position at GroundTruth while contributing part-time to The Times, said, “An incredible moment in history for this news organization is being written right now, and I’m proud to have a chance to help guide the MV Times into its next chapter.”

On Tuesday, the news came with a mix of emotions for MV Times staff.

“While I am very much looking forward to the new energy that will come with Charlie and Steve, I am forever grateful to the Oberfests for the opportunities they’ve given me and for their friendship and guidance,” managing editor Connie Berry said. “I’m excited to get to work!”


  1. Does this mean that the MVT will bring it’s Liberal stance closer to the Conservative soul of the Island?

    • What would really be great is to end these online comments and return to letters to the editor which would end this endless jerk response.

  2. What a great move.
    And all thanks to Peter and Barbara for their years of commitment and service to our Island community.
    The best of good wishes to Steve Bernier, who will surely continue his own dedication to our community.

  3. This is a great moment for the community. Thanks, Steve, for stepping up, as you have so many times, in ways that are sometimes well-known and sometimes not. And congratulations to you, Peter and Barbara, for shepherding this essential institution through some hard times and securing its legacy and continued service to us all with this transition.

  4. Thank you Steve for all you’ve done to recognize the importance of keeping this newspaper going!
    To you, Barbara and Peter, we know what it has taken and we are grateful you didn’t give up, ever!

  5. Many, many thanks to the Oberfests for their reliable, steady stewardship of the Times all these years. And thank you to Steve and Charlie for stepping up at a critical time. We should all feel confident the community’s reporting will continue unabated and in just as reliable and courageous hands. Congratulations to all!

  6. Super pleased that Charlie Sennott and Steve Bernier have teamed up in this way. I’ve known and appreciated Steve’s commitment to this community for years, but I only know Charlie because of his regular appearances as a guest on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio show where he’s become must-listening for me for his insights into journalism, international and local, in this day and age. I had no idea he had an island connection. Congratulations, Steve and Charlie

  7. For me, this moment belongs to Peter and Barbara who have worked tirelessly for this island.
    I have a profound appreciation for their years of service. We have been so fortunate to have their stewardship. I have always turned to the Times to learn the who, what, when, where and how of local news.

    I also applaud Steve and hope the road ahead continues and deepens this jouirnalism.
    Steve has a big heart and his quiet generosity has touched every corner of our community.

    • It is not good stewardship if a newspaper is losing money and only sustained with philanthropy. Unless one’s stated aim is to lose money.

      • Is Andrew opposed to philanthropy?
        The only good news is for profit news?
        Fox news is very profitable.
        Even with it’s substantial court loses.

    • As a (possibly former) liberal myself, I agree with John Axel that the liberal lefty left is scary. I used to agree wholehearted with much of the platform, but now I question everything– The liberal left is undeniably antisemitic, having had this problem for a long time now. It’s become more out in the open and far worse since Hamas invaded Israel. I have objected to the supposedly acceptable antisemitic tropes that this newspaper allows from the liberal left, and not only in the recent anti-israel liberal left view. And not just in comments, so eliminating the comment feature won’t stop it. I’ve seen it, slanted toward anti-Israel/anti-Zionist viewpoints, in news articles, headlines, the High School View, letters to the editor, and even in a despicable guest op-ed written. It’s a virus that can’t be stopped.

      Let’s hope the new ownership will be more mindful of what they’re condoning and therefore encouraging when it comes to the undeniable antisemitism of the liberal left.

      • Hess. Philanthropy is great but a for profit enterprise should not rely on gifts and donations. I was posting about the word “”stewardship”. Do you love to misrepresent

      • Re “Let’s hope the new ownership will be more mindful of what they’re condoning”

        Let’s hope they don’t condone genocide and confuse that very clear-cut issue with presumed bias against all Jewish people (basically nonexistent on Martha’s Vineyard) .

        I eagerly await a comment accusing me of being a “Trump supporter”!!

    • The MVT has long been at the political center of the Island. It will continue to annoy the very limited Far Right fringe, they are very scary people, you wonder why they stay where there are so few of their kind.

  8. Congrats to Charlie and Steve!! I use to write the Oak Bluffs Town Column many moons ago. Good luck you will both do well! Great news!

  9. What an incredible “feel good” story for the MV Times and the Vineyard community! Thank you Barbara and Peter… for your stewardship, you made a great team! Congratulations to Steve and Charlie!

  10. This is welcome news! Thanks to the Oberfests for their long stewardship and vision. Really looking forward to this exciting next chapter and grateful that the Times will continue its traditional close focus on what is happening here.

  11. I agree wholeheartedly that this is a great news story!! Congratulations to Steve on commencing his new career, or next chapter, and to Charlie for being there to help him. And of course thanks to the Oberfests for their many years of dedication to the MV Times. It’s very important that the Island has more than one weekly newspaper. We need diverse reporting on the diversity of the population here. Thanks again!

  12. Congratulations Steve & Charlie! This is an exciting new chapter for the Times and the community. Wishing you all the best!

  13. I worked with Charlie Sennott at The Boston Globe in the ‘90s, and we’ve been friends ever since. I remember working late one night on an investigative project he’d done, that I was helping design as a special section. Over pizza, we talked about our former jobs, and he mentioned a story he broke in New York City years earlier. I asked if he’d been on NPR’s Fresh Air to discuss it, and he had. “That was YOU???” I’d been so riveted by that interview, I had to pull my car off the road and listen until it was finished. Charlie is the real deal, and the Times is lucky to have him. Kudos to the Oberfests for their stewardship, and to Steve Bernier for his investment in journalism on the island.

    • Charlie Sennott will be a great addition to our island newspaper- his clear and no-nonsense discussions on NPR have held me captive to my car radio for years and I look forward to hs contributions to the Times. Excellent choice Steve!

  14. This is just such wonderful news. Thank you Steve, you always have done so much for the community. The Oberfest’s deserve a lovely retirement from the good work they did maintaining our community paper.

  15. Very, very glad to see a recovered Steve Bernier!

    Will prices of subsciptions and ads now be doubled for those off-islanders perceived has having “trust funds”? Will subscribers have to name employers and bank account balances to get the old prices? Wink-wink, but congrats to all and happy retirement to the Oberfests.

  16. Yeah for Steve Bernier!!!!! I hope he brings his common sense to the Times as he has done to so many other of his pursuits. May his practical approach to life spread to the pages of our common man’s paper.

  17. Steve has been one of my best friends (and my husband Herb’s when he was alive) for over 40 years and I am very proud of all he has done for the island and me .. God bless you on your new journey

  18. One more time Steve is stepping up and doing something extraordinary for the island. It’s rarely about him and more often about the place he loves so much.

  19. Let’s hope the longstanding liberal bias promoted by this paper will soften and encourage a healthier diversity of thought/opinion. As we have seen on our college campuses across the country, a strict liberal ideology isn’t healthy and promotes unhealthy policies

    • As we have seen on Fox News, Newsmax and OAN, a strict right wing ideology isn’t healthy and promotes unhealthy policies.

      • Why immediately jump to ”right wing”. A little conservatism world view is in order here. What is right wing anyway? Is smaller government right wing? Is lowering the debt right wing? Is controlling our borders better right wing? Is supporting Israel right wing? Is same sex marriage right wing or simply a conservative value?

    • Virtually all Newspapers in the US are liberal except perhaps WSJ but even that paper is collapsing a bit.

      • Same liberal bias from every television news outlet, college campus, Hollywood celebrity, tech mogul, big city politician etc. Very frustrating situation considering the mess we’re in these days. One day soon, Atlas WILL shrug!

  20. Shivers of delight for Peter and Barbara as news arrived of the sale of the MV Times. The Oberfests are two of the finest kind among us. Their responsible stewardship of the paper through good times and daunting trials was heroic. Their quiet intelligence, humanity, and stamina benefited the Vineyard community as a whole. Thank you, Steve, for stepping up. It’s what he does! Charlie sounds terrific. Glad he’s on board. Best to all involved.

  21. Congratulations to Peter, Barbara, Steve and Charlie. Keep on keepin’ on! The future is better, for choices made here.

  22. This is great news for the Island. Being able to carry-on Community journalism is a great thing. I have been doing MV Community journalism for 26 years and making it work. A “hat tip” to the Oberfests for their longstanding record of shepherding us the Island news for decades. I worked for Steve Bernier many moons ago, and he’s a ‘righteous dude.’
    Congrats to all.

    • The paper represents a sizeable portion of residents and summer celebrities. The island used to be red but I’m not sure these days. The Times follows the liberal MSM playbook fairly well and any dissent is quickly challenged by the usual suspects in this section.

      • True, but in order for it to quickly challenged by the usual subjects, that means that the editors are posting your comments.

  23. Thrilled that the Oberfest’s have done so much and given so much to the island over many years. running a community newspaper is not easy these days. And very glad Steve and Charlie are picking up the reins in hopes of keeping the paper community focused and based…..Thank you…Gerald

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