By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Winsted Citizen, launched amid a dispute with Ralph Nader, will close its doors

Andy Thibault and Billie Holiday

Update: The Citizen has been acquired by American Business Media and will continue to publish. See our latest here.

Connecticut’s Winsted Citizen, launched last February with funding by the consumer advocate Ralph Nader, is shutting down. The Citizen got off to a rocky start over a dispute with Nader over how much money he had actually pledged. But the editor and publisher of the paper, Andy Thibault, told Ellen Clegg and me on the “What Works” podcast last June that he and Nader had reached an understanding and were working cooperatively.

Andrew Larson reports in the Hartford Business Journal that the Citizen was able to produce nine monthly editions before shutting down. Even though Thibault said the deficits were shrinking over time thanks to reader support, the ongoing losses became unsustainable.

In a statement that Thibault sent to Ellen and me, he said, “We beat the Grim Reaper every month for most of the year. Our best month financially resulted in our lowest deficit. Now, our quest regrettably has become the impossible dream. It sure was great — despite numerous stumbles, obstacles and heartaches — while it lasted.”

Best wishes to Thibault and his staff on whatever comes next.

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  1. Unfortunately, this was entirely predictable. The bottom line is — and I know this from working with him — Ralph Nader cannot be trusted on matters of finance. He is a cheapskate who knows almost nothing about business and markets. Worst of all, he did not keep the promise of funding he made to the founding staff members of the Citizen, especially Andy Thibault.

  2. Paul Bass

    Great people involved, noble quest, good articles. My take is that from the start the project was based on a flawed business model — bringing back local reporting the exact way it used to look and work at a frozen model in time (print, local ad and subscriber funding, weekly or monthly deadlines) rather than reviving goals and a basic mission (smart, thoughtful, grassroots-connected public-interest local reporting and debate) in a form that responds to how the world works in this century. I hope that’s not unfair. I know that different models can work in different places and there’s still so much room to invent new models. I salute everyone involved; the joint mission and hard work are what mattered, not the inevitable arguing that takes place when assumptions behind a business model don’t pan out. We can still have community connected high-quality local reporting. It may not land on your doorstep every Wednesday full of local ads.

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