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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.