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

Tag: Belmont Voice

Bob Sprague tell us about his 17 years at the helm of yourArlington

Bob Sprague at his recent retirement party, which doubled as a fundraiser for yourArlington

On the latest “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Bob Sprague, a pioneer in hyperlocal journalism and the founder of yourArlington, a nonprofit news project that covers Arlington, Massachusetts. Bob, who has lived in Arlington since 1989, was not only the founder — he was the editor of the website until July 1 of this year, when he retired. The new editor is Judith Pfeffer.

Bob was an Arlington Town Meeting member in 2006-09, and was also a journalist. He has been a reporter and an editor at The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, among other publications. He launched the town’s website in 1998, but also recognized a need for an independent, nonpartisan source of information. In 2006, he launched yourArlington.

I’ve got a Quick Take on the latest report on the state of local news by Penelope Muse Abernathy, who’s now at the Medill School at Northwestern University. The report has a lot of bad news, some good news, and some interesting information from The Boston Globe and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which is one of the news outlets that we profile in our forthcoming book, “What Works in Community News.”

Ellen talks about another Massachusetts local startup, The Belmont Voice. The nonprofit Voice has an impressive roster of advisers from the print and digital world — and is, along with the Belmontonian, one of two independent sources of community journalism in the town.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

Correction: Bob contacted us to let us know that a recent town proclamation honoring his service misstated the time when he was a member of Arlington’s Town Meeting — and that it overlapped with his early years of publishing yourArlington. “I did find it difficult to be a TM rep and report about Town Meeting,” he says.

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The Belmont Voice makes its debut, giving the town two independent news outlets

Belmont Town Hall. 2017 photo in the public domain.

The Belmont Voice began publishing earlier this month, making Belmont one of a tiny handful of Massachusetts communities with more than one independent source of news. The Voice, a print and digital nonprofit launched by some high-powered volunteers, is edited by veteran journalist Jesse Floyd. The weekly print edition is being mailed for free to every business and home in Belmont — an expensive proposition, but one that could prove attractive to advertisers.

The town is also home to the Belmontonian, a digital site whose editor and publisher, Franklin B. Tucker, is also a longtime journalist.

I’m pretty sure that Gannett’s Belmont Citizen-Herald still has a print edition, but local news was dropped in favor of regional coverage nearly two years ago. Its Facebook page features a front from 2014.

For our complete list of independent local news organizations in Massachusetts, please click here.

Correction: Updated to correct the name of the Belmontonian.

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