Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon of Connecticut was there. So was New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. So were about 150 other friends of the New Haven Independent as the non-profit news site celebrated its fifth anniversary on Wednesday evening.
“It’s a powerful idea, which is that out-of-town corporations that could care less about us no longer own our news. They no longer control our news. We the people control the news,” Independent founder and editor Paul Bass told the crowd. (Click to hear Bass address the crowd.)
The party was held in the third-floor offices of La Voz Hispana de Connecticut, a Spanish-language newspaper where the Independent has use of a spare room. Bass was introduced by Norma Rodriguez-Reyes, publisher of La Voz, who also chairs the board of the Online Journalism Project, which publishes the Independent.
“At La Voz Hispana we’re very proud to have the New Haven Independent here with us, and we want to wish cien años — 100 years more,” Rodriguez-Reyes said, standing on a chair and holding aloft a glass of wine.
One of the goals was to unveil a voluntary subscription system that Bass hopes will make the Independent less dependent on foundation grants. Readers are being asked to pay $10 or $18 a month. As it turned out, though, money barely got a mention.
“We didn’t want people feeling like we got them in there, and then we were going to hit them up,” Bass told me afterwards, adding that many of the folks who showed up were already financial backers.
Was the party what Bass had expected?
“I guess,” he said. “Sorry, what am I supposed to say? Norma loves to throw parties. I hate parties.”