Andy Thibault and Billie Holiday delivering The Winsted Citizen

On this week’s podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Andy Thibault, editor and publisher of The Winsted Citizen in Connecticut. The Citizen is a monthly print newspaper serving Litchfield County and the surrounding area. The paper’s digital presence is minimal, although it does publish The Winsted Citizen Blog. But that’s about to change, Thibault says. He’s going digital.

Starting a news organization is never easy, but the Citizen hit a brief speed bump. A speed bump named Ralph Nader, a native of Winsted who was initially the prime mover behind the paper but who got caught up in a dispute over how much financial support he was going to provide. According to Andy, he and Nader are now working together cooperatively and everything is moving ahead just fine.

Jack Walsh, a graduate student in Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, joins us to talk about his recent profile of the Chelsea Record,  a 150-year-old weekly paper in the small city of Chelsea, Massachusetts. You can find Jack’s story on the What Works website and read his newsletter, Local News Matters, on Substack.

I’ve got a Quick Take on Gannett. Recently, many union journalists at Gannett staged a one-day strike over layoffs and cutbacks in benefits. Yet there are some interesting moves being made at the top of the company as well, with two news leaders being added to the senior executive team. Is the chain actually looking to bulk up its journalism?

Ellen discusses a recent poll about local news and accountability journalism. Surprisingly few Americans believe that local news media hold public officials accountable, according to a national poll commissioned by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. This shows the devastating impact of the hollowing out of community news. And it calls into question whether local journalism is fulfilling one of its primary missions.

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