Sakren’s work on display in Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe

By Jenny Golfin, Register CitizenMarchArtist

TORRINGTON >> New Preston native Paul Sakren is the March artist of the month at the Newsroom Cafe.

Sakren, who describes his art as have a cartoon feel, has 21 paintings on display, some have an abstract feeling, like in “Download 10,” or a cartoon feeling, like in “Download 3.” Sakren said he tries to evoke a feeling of being transported to another world in his painting and his landscape design. He is self-employed as a landscape gardener and designer.

Sakren has been painting for over 20 years, is “mostly self-taught” but he has taken various art courses at Northwestern Connecticut Community College. He typically paints with acrylics but says he’ll sometimes use oil or watercolor.

Read the full article on RegisterCitizen.com.

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Register Citizen collects nearly 1,000 items for homeless ‘compassion kits’

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A box of donated items at the Register Citizen which will be distributed as “Compassion Kits” to the homeless population around Torrington.

Reporter Jenny Golfin reflects below on the success of her collection of “Compassion Kits” to be distributed to the homeless population of Torrington. The drive wrapped up on Friday, Jan. 24 and collected 968 items, according to Golfin’s latest article on the drive.

The Register Citizen started a drive to collect items for “Compassion Kits” for the homeless on Dec. 23, ending on Jan. 24.

The idea for Compassion Kits came from a parenting blog post that reporter Jenny Golfin saw. A mother on the west coast had encountered a homeless person with her 8-year-old and the child wanted to do something to help the homeless person. The mom came up with the idea of a Compassion Kit which would contain “care” items like a hat, gloves, warm socks, hygiene items, etc. Continue reading

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Help us map Torrington holiday light displays!

Use the form below to help us map the holiday lights on display in the city. We’ll take your submissions (addresses and photos) and record the results on the map below. Photos will be featured in an online gallery as well as in print!

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Seeking nominations for the Register Citizen person of the year

The Register Citizen is accepting nominations for its annual Person of the Year award, recognizing an individual who has made a significant positive impact on Northwest Connecticut in 2013.

Last year, the newspaper recognized former state Sen. Andrew Roraback, who has since become a Superior Court judge. In 2011, three people were honored together, the co-founders of Torrington Downtown PartnersSteven Temkin, Steven Roth and David Bender.

To nominate someone, fill out the form below or share your thoughts in the comments section of this story.

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Jucevics is Newsroom Cafe’s artist of the month for December 2013

Jucevics

By Jenny Golfin, Register Citizen

TORRINGTON >> The Register Citizen’s December Artist of the Month is German-born Bernard Jucevics. Jucevics had previously displayed his works in the cafe in May 2012, but has created many new pieces in the time since his last visit.

Jucevics is a quiet man who enjoys and appreciates the beauty of nature, which is evident in the works on display for December. The walls of the Newsroom Cafe give the feeling of being in the woods, with all the green in his paintings.

When deciding what to paint Jucevics thinks of the countryside in Europe where he grew up.

“I love to surround myself with nature so I paint as a way to visualize where I would like to be – even if I am just sitting in my studio,” said Jucevics.

“My favorite aspect of painting is the sense of calm and creativity it brings to me,” said Jucevics. “I take comfort in the fact that the paintings bring joy to others.”

Jucevics started painting as a hobby after retiring from his job.

“I never expected my work to evolve into shows and sales. This has been such an unexpected blessing,” said Jucevics.

Read the full post.

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Reception for Jim Koplar, November Artist of the Month, is tonight!

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Come on down to the Register Citizen’s Newsroom Cafe, located at 59 Field St., for an artist reception for the November Artist of the Month, Jim Koplar. The reception will be from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring cheese, crackers, punch.

Here’s some of reporter Jenny Golfin’s information on Koplar from her latest article:

TORRINGTON >> The Register Citizen’s November Artist of the Month is city resident Jim Koplar.

Koplar’s paintings are a mixture of country images and then also the nautical as well as some portraits.

Koplar was drawing from his childhood but his painting didn’t become his focus until he enrolling in an adult education painting class in 1980. His art has progressed from there.

“I decided to pursue a degree in fine art and explored the art of painting at a much deeper level,” said Koplar.

Koplar is inspired by his surroundings.

“Some time the mood leans toward nostalgic themes, other times I want to push my abilities and work in portraiture,” said Koplar.

Koplar is hoping that this showing at the Newsroom Cafe will bring his works to Torrington community. He also has a new studio at Whiting Mills in Winsted.

Read the full story on RegisterCitizen.com.

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What the Newsroom Cafe has taught us about improving local journalism

As it turns out, having coffee and pastries for sale ended up being one of the most minor changes to our newsroom over the past six months. The idea of turning our newsroom into a coffee shop got a lot of attention when The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe opened last December.

But it’s the principles of transparency and community engagement underlying our shift to an “open newsroom” that have really made an impact on our local journalism and relationship to the community. We set out to build a newsroom that reflected our company’s mission of transforming to a “Digital First” mindset.

We understood learned that “Digital First” really means “Reader First,” or “Community First.” The web has put readers (and customers of any business or organization or government, really) in charge. The web and social media give what used to be a captive audience for local newspapers a world of information sources at their fingertips, the power to be an information source themselves, and the ability to connect around common interests with friends, acquaintances, coworkers – and strangers –  from here or across the world. If we are not engaging, understanding and partnering with our audience, at some date in the too-near future we will go out of business. It’s as simple and stark as that.

We knew learned we couldn’t simply issue a vague invitation for readers to come down and talk to us and expect real engagement. So we set out to create a center of community offering the audience multiple ways and varying degrees of being involved with us hopefully centered around their needs and interests rather than ours.

And we learned that you can’t be “Digital First/Reader First/Community First/Customer First” without being open and transparent about the journalism process. How can you “engage” without establishing a baseline of trust with your audience?

So here’s what all of that has meant for us so far. We’re excited by what else it will mean in the next six months and coming years:

Coffee shop: Yes, we have leather couches, cafe tables, an outdoor courtyard with picnic tables and coffee and pastries for sale. The Newsroom Cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

No walls: There are no walls between the “cafe” and the newsroom, and readers are invited to find the reporter that writes about their community or area of interest – or editors – and talk about concerns, ideas, questions.

Open story meetings: We now hold our daily story meetings in public, at a conference room table at the edge of the cafe, and the community is invited to pull up a chair, listen in or participate. Video of the meetings is also live-streamed on RegisterCitizen.Com, and we use a live chat to allow readers to watch from home and type in a question or comment in real time. Those words are displayed on a large monitor above the conference table, so editors and readers can interact and respond to people tuning in from afar.

Public debate of internal policies: We learned that transparency means that, for example, our struggle over creating staff guidelines for moderation of story comments should be a discussion shared with and including the audience and story commenters themselves. And that internal policies that guide our journalism should, first of all, be written down if they exist as unwritten rules, and second, shared with the audience.

Managing Editor Emily M. Olson teaches a class to representatives from local nonprofit organizations, church and neighborhood groups on how to get their news covered by The Register Citizen.

Fixing story comments: Like many newspapers and other media outlets, we have struggled mightily with a “toxic” story commenting environment. Our local school superintendent even blamed his resignation on them. We have launched a new platform that will encourage – but not require – readers to use their real identity via Facebook, Twitter or other logins. And we feel the other key to improving this vital forum is more engagement in the story comments from the staff who are charged with moderating.

Digital first reporting: Digital first reporting increasingly means, for us, that the audience knows what we’re working on at the assignment stage or before (as in, the audience participating in the discussion that determines assignments). It means that we are publishing what we know, as soon as we know it, using whatever platforms are available to us, from SMS text messages and email alerts, to Facebook and Twitter, to our website. It should mean (we’re slowly getting there) that we use maps, timelines, charts, videos and slideshows to help tell the story, because it improves the story. And it should mean (we have a long way to go) that we are linking out to other sources of information all over the place to enhance the experience for our readers.

Crowdsourcing: What will lead to better journalism: relying on the experience and knowledge of our staff and a handful of “official sources,” or relying on the collective experience and knowledge of our entire audience? It rings especially true on complicated or far-reaching topics, and, of course, topics that relate to the wishes of or trends among the audience itself. We fall short, and are learning as we go, but our goal is to partner with the audience on everything we do.

Fact Checking: Before plans for The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe were on the drawing board, we launched a “Fact Check” box at the bottom of every story on RegisterCitizen.Com. Readers and sources can call or email an editor, of course, if they want a correction made, and often readers point out errors in the comment section beneath articles. “Fact Check” was a clear, prominent, public statement of accountability to our readers and sources. “Institutional media,” including small community papers such as ours, fails to realize sometimes that a reader does not necessarily assume that we are open to admitting errors and being corrected. In fact, some assume that we make errors on purpose, because of some secret agenda to twist a news story. And on a more practical level, we don’t realize how impossible it is for the average reader to even get a hold of a live person in a newsroom and get a response. In addition to the prominence and ease of submitting error reports, of course, what we do with those reports is of obvious importance. Launching the Fact Check program led us to create a formal corrections policy, post it on the web for readers, and to note corrections both at the bottom of the story in question and on an online corrections page. When the Washington Post launched a Fact Check program of its own earlier this year, we saw opportunity to improve what we were doing. Using a Google Docs form modeled after theirs, we’re now using Fact Check reports to build a database of error patterns and prospective sources/local experts to turn to in the future on stories that we’ve gotten wrong once.

Community Media Lab: In 2010, part of Journal Register Company’s “Digital First” strategy meant that each of its local newspapers established a “Community Media Lab” aimed at partnering with local bloggers and recruiting new ones. The difference between our approach and similar efforts in the past is that we do not seek to “own” or control their content. We are just linking to and helping promote the work bloggers are doing on topics or in neighborhoods that we don’t have the resources to cover. They get the “fire hose” of our audience traffic directed at their site, and we get to offer a more comprehensive package of local news and information to our readers via aggregation and curation of outside work. In many cases, we become collaborators … tipping each other off to and cooperating on important local news stories and features. At The Register Citizen, the Community Media Lab has a physical presence. We have four computer workstations in the Newsroom Cafe that local bloggers and citizen journalists can use. They are loaded with free “open source” word processing, picture and video editing, web design and blogging software to show that as long as they have the time to devote to it, there is virtually no cost barrier to blogging. The Register Citizen also has a full-time community engagement editor dedicated, in part, to working with and training local bloggers. And we regularly host classes in the Newsroom Cafe on “Blogging 101” and on topics related to writing, technology and journalism.

Partnerships: A new “news ecosystem” has emerged in Connecticut as laid-off newspaper people have emerged as journalism entrepreneurs and bloggers. Meanwhile, “mom and pop” hyperlocal sites and local bloggers have popped up to both fill voids left by reduced coverage by traditional media and to provide coverage that wasn’t even possible in the heyday of newsroom staffing. We have formal partnerships with CT Mirror, a nonprofit model news organization providing some of the best state government coverage Connecticut has seen in years, and CT Watchdog, a consumer advocacy site created by the former business editor of the Hartford Courant. In both cases, we swap headline links and we have the ability to use content from these online-only news operations in print. Beyond partnerships with other media – be it traditional or “citizen media” – we want the Newsroom Cafe itself to be a platform for partnership and collaboration. For example, read up on how the mission of libraries is changing. It seems like the work of newspapers and libraries is heading toward pretty similar realms. Why shouldn’t we be working on joint projects with libraries and historical societies? If the United Way needs to conduct a “community needs assessment,” doesn’t that fit with what we are trying to do as a journalism organization aiming to chronicle and put in context the health, needs and problems of our community?

Curation: The explosion of sources of information that exist today because of the web only increases the need for journalists to sift through and make sense of it. And so The Register Citizen created its first full-time “curator” position earlier this year. Jenny Golfin works an early morning to mid-afternoon shift and is charged with providing our readers with an overview and links to news that would be relevant to them outside of what our own staff produces. That can include local bloggers, hyperlocal and specialty websites and traditional “competitors” such as newspapers, radio and TV stations. It also includes curation of information shared by the audience itself, via social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. This is especially significant in breaking news situations where participants or neighbors are reacting. On a recent weekday, the most-read story on RegisterCitizen.Com (after the police blotter, of course, was a photo, two sentences and a link to a “mom and pop” hyperlocal site’s coverage of the dismantling of an historic local barn. In the old days, we would have assigned our own reporter to that story and duplicated the effort. Instead, we pointed our readers to their excellent coverage, and freed up our reporter to provide readers with more local coverage.

Open Archives: The most popular feature of The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe, hands down, has been public access to 134 years of our newspaper archives. We invested in a new microfilm machine when we opened that not only prints to a laser printer, but also can scan articles in PDF format to be downloaded to a flash drive or emailed. The archives have been used by community members every single day since we opened last December.

Community Classroom: One of the biggest symbols of change for us with our new office was building a classroom right into the newsroom. From reporters, editors and advertising reps, right on up to the publisher, we have to learn a new mindset and a new set of skills to become a “digital first” company. And because we’ve stepped away from the reliance upon a single platform (print) into a future of unknowns, we have to be in the mode of continual learning. In a sense, we’ve invited the community on this journey with us. Each month we hold various classes and workshops on topics of technology, writing and journalism, all open to the public and live-streamed on the web. At a series of classes on the Freedom of Information Act, for example, members of our staff were sitting in our classroom alongside local bloggers, residents and even local public officials.

Community Meeting Space: We’ve made our classroom, which has video conferencing capabilities via a good web cam, large flat-screen monitor and Skype, along with a small conference room and our cafe area (which holds more people), available free of charge for use by community groups. This – along with our own scheduled classes and workshops – has brought a steady stream of new people into our newsroom, exposing them to the behind-the-scenes effort behind The Register Citizen for the first time, and introducing us to new sources.

A new kind of editorial board meeting: A funny thing happened after we moved into the “open newsroom” last December. We stopped having “editorial board meetings,” at least in the traditional sense where an outside organization or politician meets behind closed doors with a committee of editors, reporters and the publisher. We were still getting requests, but when we did, we made sure the industry association or special interest in question knew how we do things now. We’ll meet with you, but it will be in public, our readers will be invited to attend and participate, and we’ll be live-streaming it on the web. For the most part, after that became clear, the party requesting the editorial board meeting said “No thanks.” Others, including Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, embraced it, and the public’s involvement, by all accounts, improved and advanced the discussion. An exciting opportunity has emerged for us to create a new kind of editorial board process.

Free wifi:Free wifi is at a premium in Torrington. There’s McDonald’s, or Panera Bread way up on the other side of town. We offer free, reliable, no-password wifi in a comfortable coffee shop-style environment where customers aren’t even required to buy anything in order to hang out and work. It’s been a big draw with students and young professionals in particular.

Jessica Bartlet, a Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe "Artist of the Month," hangs one of her paintings.

Artist of the Month: Torrington is an old New England mill town whose heavy manufacturing base literally made the parts that went into the machines that built the Industrial Revolution. Those mills are gone, and arts and culture is seen as one niche that could help fill the void in the local economy. The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe is supporting a growing community of artists by providing exhibition space. Each “Artist of the Month” is featured in a Register Citizen article to kick off the display of their work in our space. And it’s potentially a minor new revenue stream. Earlier this year, we earned our first commission from selling a piece of artwork we had displayed.

Used book sale: A frequent complaint in discussions of downtown revitalization and economic development in Torrington is the fact the city doesn’t have a bookstore of any kind. So a natural fit with the vibe of The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe is a corner devoted to a used book sale. Proceeds benefit our Newspapers in Education program.

Shovel brigade: Community engagement for The Register Citizen has included efforts to connect our readers with each other around common interests or needs. One example was an idea that we borrowed from our sister paper, The Middletown Press. Northwest Connecticut had record snowfall in the winter of 2011, to the point where elderly residents were shut in and roofs were collapsing. The Register Citizen organized a “shovel brigade” in which able-bodied readers (or those with snow blowers) registered their names and availability with us. Readers who needed help registered also, or were referred by local agencies, and we paired them up.

Earthquake help: When a major earthquake hit Japan earlier this year, a number of people in our coverage area scrambled to find information on the well-being of friends and families in that country. We invited the public into The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe as a resource center for this, offering free Internet access and reporter assistance in searching missing person databases set up after the quake, and a comfortable place to watch the live coverage of the quake on cable news channels.

A local Cub Scout pack stopped to pose for a photo on a visit to The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe.

Cooling center: The extreme weather continued in the summer of 2011, and during several humid, high-90-degree days, The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe opened as a “cooling center” for elderly and poor-health residents who lacked air conditioning. When Hurricane Irene hit Connecticut, and many in the region were without electricity or Internet access for nearly a week, The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe still had power and was a resource for people who needed to check email and charge up laptops.

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Making the newsroom a center of community

The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe hosted an opening reception for our first Artist of the Month, Jessica Bartlet, in January.

It’s been almost two months since The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe opened at 59 Field Street, and we’re settling into the new routine of having a completely “open” newsroom.

The heartbeat of the new culture and atmosphere our new offices have created is not so much the lack of barriers between the public and reporters and editors. It has been the steps we’ve taken to make The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe a hub of community activity.

The Cafe. The coffee shop portion of our newsroom has been used by retirees, students, job seekers working on their resumes, entrepreneurs plotting their next startup and even a women’s knitting circle. And we were pleased to have our first Artist of the Month exhibition there in January, featuring landscape paintings by Torrington resident Jessica Bartlet. A photography exhibit is going up for February, and we now have a long waiting list of local artists looking to participate.

The Library. One of the most popular parts of The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe has been our decision to open 134 years of newspaper archives to the public and invest in a modern microfilm machine. We provide free access, including the ability to make electronic and paper copies at no charge, to readers researching family lore or local history. After decades shut off from the public in a dusty back room at our old office, our Local News Library has been used every single day since we’ve been open at 59 Field Street.

Community Media Lab. Still in its infancy, our Community Media Lab provides computer workstations with open source software to local bloggers and citizen journalists. Community Engagement Editor Kaitlyn Yeager has already offered several “Blogging 101” classes to residents interested in participating, and we’ll soon be publishing a daily roundup of news on RegisterCitizen.Com highlighting and linking to the best reporting by our blogging and independent journalism website partners.

Andy Thibault, left, and Jan Smolinski lead a class on the Freedom of Information Act at The Register Citizen's new Community Journalism School at 59 Field Street in Torrington.

Community Journalism School. In addition to “Blogging 101,” our built-in newsroom classroom has hosted a workshop on the First Amendment with New Haven Register State Editor Helen Bennett Harvey; a multi-week course on the Freedom of Information Act led by investigative journalist Andy Thibault and featuring some amazing guest speakers; and a riveting class by Sunday Register Citizen columnist, author and former Hartford Courant Sports Editor Owen Canfield on the “Art of Storytelling.”

Each class has been offered free of charge, and broadcast live on RegisterCitizen.com. It has been common to see Register Citizen staff sitting side-by-side local residents, public officials and bloggers, learning together. Upcoming classroom events include a workshop on shooting video, a course on using social media to promote your business.

Community Meeting Space. The classroom, which has video conferencing capabilities and seats 15-25 people, and a small conference room, seating 10-12, are available free for use by community groups. And The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe has also been used as a meeting space to announce major community achievements, including the Torrington Downtown Partners’ recent purchase of an additional building in the heart of downtown. This Friday, U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy will use the cafe to launch his U.S. Senate campaign in Litchfield County and announce key local endorsements.

Open Newsroom. All of this community activity happens around a newsroom that is wide open to the public. Our daily story meetings take place at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, out in the open, with the public invited to sit in, listen and participate. They are also broadcast live on RegisterCitizen.Com. And beyond our daily meetings, the “open newsroom” has instilled a culture of transparency in our decision-making process about reporting the news.

Struggling with guidelines for staff last month for the moderation of online story comments, we posted our draft to the web and sought out feedback from readers via story comments and social media. Then we held a public meeting that drew residents and public officials in person and via live video stream and live chat on RegisterCitizen.Com.

A few short months into this, and the idea of going back to “the fortress” newsroom model seems out of the question. Knowing now the power of connecting with people in a physical office the way that the web connects people virtually, why would we ever choose to isolate ourselves from the knowledge and perspective our audience has to offer?

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Our first day in the Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe

Reporters, editors and members of the public participate in an "open" daily story meeting at The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe Dec. 13.

They used free public wifi to surf the web on laptops and iPads. They shared stories about the Flood of 1955 while looking at an exhibit of photos from our archives. They looked up birth announcements and police blotter items from 1923 and 1974 on our microfilm machine. They updated their blogs in our Community Media Lab. They talked to reporters about stories that aren’t being reported. They told the publisher about missed deliveries and typos. They sat in on our daily story meeting.
And they drank 75 cups of coffee and ate 88 muffins, brownies, pastries and pieces of coffee cake.
The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe opened yesterday, and more than 100 people showed up for the first day, about as many people who visited the paper’s old newsroom in the previous year combined.
The Register Citizen moved its 105-year-old office on Water Street in Torrington to new space at 59 Field Street built around an “open newsroom” concept that invites the community to be part of the process of local journalism at every step of the process.
“True community engagement is the holy grail, but you can’t expect the audience to walk into or call your newsroom out of the blue and engage with reporters and editors,” said Publisher Matt DeRienzo. “So we wanted to build a space that was inviting and comfortable, that gave the community other reasons to be there, on their terms, and that provided a continuum of options for influencing and/or contributing to our local news coverage.”

One visitor excited by our exhibit on the Flood of 1955 came back later in the morning to show off old newspapers she had saved from that time period.

A big draw on the first day were 134 years of newspaper archives on microfilm, cleaned up, organized and put out for free public access.
Even bigger was an exhibit of photos from the Flood of 1955. All day long, visitors shared memories with each other of how old they were when the flood hit, and what their family had to do to survive. Meanwhile, on RegisterCitizen.Com, an interactive version of the exhibit allowed readers to click on a photo and have a Google map pop up to show where it was taken, and to scroll over intersections in Torrington and Winsted and see photos of what that neighborhood looked like in the days following the flood.
Other visitors yesterday pointed out where “their machine” was located when the space now occupied by the Newsroom Cafe was once a factory that made sewing machine needles. At one point, literally half the town worked at the old Torrington Company complex, a needle and ball bearing manufacturer whose business moved overseas more than 10 years ago.
Throughout the day, residents also took advantage of the Newsroom Cafe’s free public wifi, which is a scarcity in Torrington.

See video on The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe from Journal Register Company on Vimeo.

Bloggers who have partnered with The Register Citizen used the cafe’s “Community Media Lab” workstations to post updates, and asked about signing up for the free journalism and technology courses that will soon be offered in a Community Journalism School classroom built right into the newsroom.
Officials from several community groups inquired about The Register Citizen’s offer of the classroom – complete with video conferencing capabilities – as free community meeting space. Visiting state legislators talked about using the nearby conference room to hold public hours to meet with their constituents.
But just how much things had changed from Friday to Monday began to sink in when reporters and editors gathered for their daily news meeting at 4 p.m.
These meetings typically involve 8 to 10 reporters and editors, talking behind closed doors about news coverage priorities and problems.
For the first time yesterday, the daily story meeting was held at the “open newsroom” conference table at the edge of the Newsroom Cafe. Reporters and editors were joined by members of the public, including a World War II veteran, a public safety commissioner, a Democratic City Committee member, one of our Community Media Lab bloggers and one of the instructors in our soon-to-open Community Journalism School.
At the same time, more than 120 people were watching live video of the meeting on RegisterCitizen.Com, and contributing questions and input via a live online chat about it. Story tips and questions from the live chat and in-person public input added stories to our coverage list yesterday and influenced the direction of other stories.
http://player.vimeo.com/video/17802868

See video on The Register Citizen Open Newsroom – Archives from Journal Register Company on Vimeo.

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Register Citizen to move office, open Newsroom Cafe

TORRINGTON – The Register Citizen announced Wednesday morning that it is moving its offices to a new location in Torrington on Dec. 13 and launching a Newsroom Cafe, Community Media Lab, Community Journalism School and a Local News Library, free and open to the general public.

“When you first walk into our new space at 59 Field St., it will look like a cross between a coffee shop, library and newsroom,” said Publisher Matt DeRienzo. “We are issuing a permanent invitation for the community to be engaged and involved in how we report local news and information, at every step in the process.”

The Newsroom Cafe will offer free public wifi Internet access, comfortable coffee house-style seating, Green Mountain Coffee and local baked goods for sale.

“With no walls, literally, between the Newsroom Cafe and The Register Citizen newsroom where reporters and editors work, the space is designed to invite readers into the process,” DeRienzo said. “We want readers to feel comfortable interacting, in person, with the reporters and editors who are making decisions about how to cover local issues they care about.”

The community will be encouraged to sit in on and participate, if they wish, in the newsroom’s daily story meetings, which will also be livestreamed at RegisterCitizen.Com, offering editors advice on how to cover stories, or pitching new story ideas.

The Register Citizen will be moving after more than 110 years in its offices at 190 Water St., a transition that DeRienzo said reflects a move from focus on print newspaper manufacturing to a “digital first” business model.

“Our digital audience at RegisterCitizen.Com is now significantly larger than our print audience, with online readership quadrupling over the past two years while our print circulation has remained flat,” he said. “That reflects a huge increase in audience overall, and we are engaged with that audience in an unprecedented way thanks to a digital-first, 24/7 news cycle and technological tools such as social media. Now we’ll have a physical space that reflects that engagement with the audience and encourages more of it.”

“This is an example of the physical manifestation of the changes Journal Register Company has been making under our Digital First business model. Bringing audience into the physical space and providing a welcoming area for readers and staff to interact will continue to foster greater engagement,” said John Paton, Chief Executive Officer of Journal Register Company, which owns The Register Citizen as well as other newspapers in Connecticut, including the Litchfield County Times and the New Haven Register. “The inclusion of the crowd – through our Community Media Labs and the community meeting space – provide additional voices to the coverage of our communities. This is what our readership wants and it is what we will deliver.”

The new office is set up as a place where the community can consume news, by grabbing a cup of coffee and muffin and sit in the Newsroom Cafe with a laptop or iPad and access The Register Citizen’s free public wifi.

But it has also been designed as a place where the community can contribute news. In addition to participating in newsroom meetings or informally talking with reporters and editors, the new Register Citizen office will have workstations available and staff on hand to assist readers with submitting press releases, local calendar announcements, neighborhood and family news.

Incorporated into the space will be a “Community Media Lab,” with workstations set up for use by local bloggers and citizen journalists. The Register Citizen has named a Digital Projects Editor, Kaitlyn Yeager, who will be training and working with existing bloggers and community members who wish to start blogging. In addition to using the resources of our newsroom, they will also have the opportunity to have free links to their writing from RegisterCitizen.Com.

“Our goal is to create a network of staff and citizen reporting down to a local neighborhood and niche interest level in Northwest Connecticut,” Yeager said. “If you feel there is a void of information available about your neighborhood, or the sport that your child is interested in, or your hobby, I am here to help you fill it.”

Yeager can be reached at 860-489-3121, ext. 345, at kyeager@registercitizen.com, or at Twitter.com/kmyeager.

The new office will include a “Community Journalism School,” where classes will be offered year-round for free or at a nominal cost to cover materials. Courses and workshops starting in January will include “Blogging 101,” “Introduction to Social Media,” “The Freedom of Information Act” and “Storytelling” with longtime Litchfield County journalist, author and Register Citizen columnist Owen Canfield.

And for the first time, The Register Citizen’s complete archives, including editions of the newspaper going back 120 years, and detailed index card files from the first half of the century chronicling the birth, death and notable accomplishments of local residents, will be open and accessible to the public. A new microfilm machine will allow the public and staff to find an article from 1895, or 1953, convert it to a PDF and email it to themselves or digitize it for web-based reporting and history projects.

The Register Citizen’s new offices at 59 Field St. in Torrington will be located in the former Torrington Company’s “Excelsior” building, in space between the Intergis software company and where the temporary Torrington City Hall was located earlier this year. Improvements to the space included the addition of a handicapped-access ramp at the main entrance to the office. Free parking for the public is abundant.

For more information about the new office, Newsroom Cafe, Community Media Lab, Community Journalism School and Local News Library, visit http://registercitizen.com/newsroomcafe. You can also follow updates on this project, as well as highlights of the work of local citizen journalists, at http://twitter.com/RCNewsroomCafe.

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