Why our small-town daily is adding a full-time curator

We’re adding a full-time curator position at The Register Citizen.

Jenny Golfin, whose duties have included morning shift web updating, social media management and reporting, will be devoted full-time to this new role. Her mission will be to provide our audience with links to breaking and comprehensive news and information relevant to their community and interests. Putting the reader first, she’ll link out to blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and even the work of our longest-standing “traditional” competitors, not just to content produced by our staff writers at The Register Citizen, or by sister Journal Register Company publications in Connecticut.

Why does a local paper our size need, and how does it justify, having a full-time curator on staff?

Well, 10 years ago, it was us, a competing daily newspaper a few towns to our south, a local radio station with a morning news report and the TV stations from Hartford and New Haven.

Scarcity of news sources. High demand for information. Let the good times roll.

Today, our audience turns to thousands of niche websites, blogs and online hyperlocal startups devoted to a single town, neighborhood or interest. Patch.com is arriving on the scene as big media (AOL)’s attempt to scale hyperlocal across a national footprint. The audience itself is now the biggest source of local information out there, equipped with mobile smart phones, free WordPress and Blogger accounts and YouTube logins.

And audience members’ connections to each other via Facebook, Twitter and other social media trump connections, if there are any, between audience member and legacy media brand.

In Torrington, we’ve established a Community Media Lab, partnering with local bloggers and niche online sites. Similar efforts across our sister publications have established a network of more than 1,000 citizen blogging partners across Journal Register Company.

We have computer workstations loaded with open-source blogging and video editing software in our open newsroom for citizen journalists and bloggers to use. We offer free classes and workshops in our newsroom classroom, including “Blogging 101” and how-to’s on social media, video production and journalism basics.

In December, we established a community engagement editor position, in part, to partner with and train bloggers and citizen journalists.

The curator position will help us share that work with our audience, and make sense of the exploding range of information sources out there. Jenny’s first assignment was to study the work of Andy Carvin, the NPR staffer who has provided some of the best coverage of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya over the past few months in a very non-traditional way. Carvin has used his Twitter feed to curate the Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and blog posts of eyewitnesses in real time.

She’ll use tools such as lists and hashtags on Twitter and Google Reader and Google Alerts to find and present content relevant to Northwest Connecticut communities and to niche interests including moms from Litchfield County, local and statewide politics and local arts and entertainment.

Another goal of our new curator position will be to make sure that our original content contains links out to referenced and additional information. Failing to link remains a big failure of traditional print media, and we aim to fix it on our sites.

About mattderienzo

Matt DeRienzo has worked in journalism for more than 25 years as a reporter, editor, publisher, director of news and journalism nonprofit executive director. As vice president of news at Hearst Connecticut, he led a newsroom of more than 175 people, instilling a culture of investigative reporting, and growing audience while launching a paid digital subscription model at six daily newspapers. While there, he oversaw a national investigation into sex abuse at Boys & Girls Clubs that was recently recognized with an Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) national award, as well as the New England First Amendment Coalition’s Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award. As the first full-time executive director of LION, a nonprofit supporting local independent online news organizations across the country, he started with an annual budget of $30,000 and helped bring in more than $2 million over three years from funders including the Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Democracy Fund, Inasmuch Foundation (Ethics & Excellence in Journalism), and Facebook, while tripling the organization’s membership. As a publisher, he was an early leader in reader and community engagement, launching North America’s first “newsroom café,” which opened a Connecticut daily newspaper’s doors to the public, and which was recognized with the Associated Press Managing Editors’ Innovator of the Year Award. As editor of the New Haven Register, he led a team of more than 100 journalists borrowed from around the country and on his own staff in covering the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School and its aftermath. During his tenure in New Haven, the Register also received the Robert C. McGruder Award for Leadership in Newsroom Diversity from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Most recently, he has done consulting work for Local Media Association on fundraising from foundations and individual giving in support of local news organizations. He co-managed the Facebook Journalism Project’s recent COVID-19 Relief grant program, which received more than 2,000 applications and is part of $25 million in funding Facebook has earmarked to help local news organizations through this crisis. He was a Sulzberger fellow at Columbia University in 2018, and has taught reporting, editing and multimedia journalism as an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven and Quinnipiac University. His column about the journalism industry has appeared in Editor & Publisher magazine since January 2016. He is a full-time single dad of two who has been active in Northwest Connecticut as a board member of the Susan B. Anthony Project, a domestic and sexual violence support and advocacy, and previously as a longtime United Way board member and two-time annual fund chairman.
This entry was posted in Andy Carvin, Curation, Journal Register Company, NPR, The Register Citizen. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Why our small-town daily is adding a full-time curator

  1. Pingback: Register Citizen - Matt DeRienzo - Curator - Andy Carvin - Local Media | LocalNewser

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  4. John Newby says:

    Very good approach! It is truly nice to see newspapers start to embrace the future. The old rules no longer apply, the new game will swallow up those not ready to conform to the speed and change we now experience.

  5. Pingback: Myrstad's Blog » Blog Archive » Content Curation – Growing Up and Coming of Age

  6. Pingback: Inside the engagement experiments at the Register-Citizen « joy mayer

  7. Pingback: The Newsroom Cafe’s first nine months … it’s not about the coffee | The Register Citizen Open Newsroom Project

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  9. Batts says:

    Uh . . . Not sure about what you are doing. Hope it’s enduring and useful in advancing improved reporting, writing and editing. Bon Voyage!!! Jim Batts, journalist, editor, writer. jhb4133@yahoo.com

  10. Octave Malta says:

    Seems like u guys are pretty succesful at that. 🙂

  11. Great weblog right here! Also your site a lot up fast! What web host are you using?
    Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink in your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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