I want to call your attention to an interesting new project that’s in the works: North Suburban News, a nonprofit website that will cover eight communities north of Boston.
The journalist behind this project is Dan Marra, an alumnus of Patch and other local news organizations. I recently had a chance to meet with Dan and discuss his ideas, and I’ve agreed to serve on his volunteer advisory board. He’s also getting some advice and help from Paul Bass, the founder and editor of the New Haven Independent, one of the country’s leading nonprofit local news organizations.
North Suburban News will serve Malden, Melrose, Medford, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester and Woburn. There are existing newspapers in all of those communities, weeklies as well as the Daily Times Chronicle of Woburn, where I worked from 1979 to ’89, and the The Wakefield Daily Item. It’s my hope that North Suburban News will complement rather than compete with these papers — all of which are doing good work, all of which are understaffed.
Dan has started a Go Fund Me campaign, which you can learn about here. I’m republishing his mission statement below:
Community journalism is where I have spent most of my career. It’s where journalists can have the biggest impact. Journalists and the news organizations they work for are the eyes and ears of the community. They are the watchdogs that keep the community flourishing, they are the ones that hold elected officials accountable, and they are the ones tasked with reporting the news.
It is why I’m working to start a different news organization, one that focuses on the key aspects of our region — community news, education, local politics, and housing and development. It’s where we won’t just report the news, but research it. Where we will ensure that our residents are informed of the issues that are affecting the region.
This nonprofit entity will focus on the communities of Malden, Melrose, Medford, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester and Woburn, and will rely on donations and sponsorships from the community to produce impactful stories that will educate, inform and inspire our readers.
In this initial round of fundraising we are looking to raise enough money to launch the site, pay freelancers to help cover stories and market our articles on social media in order to get the word out about this news organization. Send me an email and let me know what you think: dmarra at northsuburbannews dot org.
The North Suburban News advisory board includes:
• Caren Connelly is the Executive Director of the Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence (WFEE), which supports innovation and excellence in the Winchester Public Schools. Prior to moving into a career in non-profit management, Caren was a journalist for 20 years, working as an investigative reporter and, most recently as an executive producer at WBZ-TV.
• Anthony Guardia is a graduate of Suffolk University and Suffolk University Law School. He has devoted his professional career to public service and working with local non-profits. He was the Chairman of the Wakefield School Committee at age 23 and is known for his outspoken advocacy for equity in state aid and various local initiatives. His experience in non-profit development started at HomeStart, a non-profit in Greater Boston devoted to ending and preventing homelessness. His successful efforts allowed HomeStart to expand services to new populations such as veterans. Anthony’s efforts have led to an expansion of programs, capital improvements, and new initiatives. Anthony lives in Wakefield with his wife, Theresa.
• Dan Kennedy, a Medford resident, is an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a commentator on WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press.” His most recent book is “The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century.” His previous book, “The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age,” explores new forms of local online journalism.
• Dan Marra, a Wakefield resident and publisher of North Suburban News, has spent his entire career working in some capacity in community journalism. He started at weekly newspapers covering the Bronx, before moving to a Gannett-owned newspaper in Westchester County, New York. When he moved to the Boston-region, he became an editor at Patch.com. He is a lifelong advocate for community news and understands the affect a strong community news organization has on a region. You can reach him at dmarra at northsuburbannews dot org.
• Mark Micheli is a multimedia journalist, editor, documentarian and adjunct professor at Emerson College. He is co-founder of Reel Partners Media where he creates short-form videos for media companies, other businesses and non-profits. He worked as the news editor at Boston.com; a reporter at the Boston Business Journal; managing editor of Providence Business News; and as an online editor at several innovative internet companies including Lycos, AT&T New Media Services and AOL’s Patch.com.
• Meredith Pizzi is the Founder and Executive Director of Roman Music Therapy Services, a music therapy agency serving children and adults with social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and educational needs, located in Wakefield. She also co-founded Raising Harmony: Music Therapy for Young Children, an organization that provides training to music therapists, parents and early childhood professionals on the use of music therapy strategies and tools with young children. Meredith is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce and her organization partners with many local for-profit, non-profit and government’s agencies. Meredith has a a Masters in Public Administration from Suffolk University.