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Winsted Paper Folds, Merges With Lakeville Journal

News coverage for Norfolk to continue uninterrupted

 

By Colleen Gundlach

Before Lloyd Garrison and Rosanna Trestman breathed life into Norfolk Now 14 years ago, local news was circulated by out-of-town papers such as the Register-Citizen (formerly Winsted Evening Citizen) and The Lakeville Journal.  The Register-Citizen has long since forgone any in-depth coverage of Norfolk, but the staff of The Lakeville Journal has continued reporting the news of this town, most recently through The Winsted Journal.  With the folding of The Winsted Journal back into The Lakeville Journal this summer, many feared that weekly coverage of Norfolk news would cease altogether.  The Lakeville paper, however, with its long and storied history of serving the northwest corner of Connecticut, plans to continue to keep the public informed about what’s happening in Norfolk and the surrounding communities.

The Lakeville Journal has been an important part of journalism in the northwest corner since its first issue was published on Saturday, August 14, 1897, by owner Col Card. Over the years, there have been several different owners of the paper, but it never ceased publication, due in large part to the dedication of the people of Lakeville. During one period in the 1930s following the death of owner B.D. Jones, the paper was kept alive by Mrs. George Belcher (Dorothy) of Salisbury, who had learned to use the Linotype under Jones’s tutelage and kept the paper flowing until it was sold in 1940.

The paper had several owners during the next few decades, but when owner Robert A. Hatch wanted to sell it in 1995, a group of local investors headed by William E. Little, Jr. and A. Whitney Ellsworth banded together to ensure that the paper continue as a resource to the community.  This group of investors still owns the paper today, with Janet Manko serving as publisher and editor in chief and Cynthia Hochswender as executive editor.

The Journal has grown over the years and in the 1970s received national recognition for its coverage of the Peter Reilly trial.  When 18-year-old Reilly was convicted in 1973 of killing his mother, Barbara Gibbons, in Falls Village, The Journal was instrumental in bringing questionable state police actions to light, contributing strongly to Reilly’s defense and the eventual dismissal of all charges against him.  For this coverage, the paper was awarded the national John Peter Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press, the Golden Quill award of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, and the Horace Greeley award by the New England Press Association.

For many years, The Journal covered news stories outside of the Lakeville/Salisbury area, with a separate page for each town.  However, realizing the need for an independent community paper in Winsted, The Lakeville Journal introduced The Winsted Journal in 1996, with Norfolk resident June Peterson as editor. The Winsted paper grew under Peterson’s leadership and included coverage of Norfolk and Colebrook. Michael Marciano took over the editorial reins in 2000 and later passed them on to Shaw Israel Izikson, who was the editor when the paper stopped production in August and was rolled back into The Lakeville Journal. “This change is no reflection on the quality of work done at The Winsted Journal by Izikson and his staff,” says Manko. “They worked hard and long and produced a very good reflection of the Winsted community.” She cites lack of community support in the form of subscriptions and advertising as a key factor in the decision to fold the Winsted paper back into the Lakeville edition.  The transition was made as seamless as possible, with any subscriptions to The Winsted Journal automatically being rolled over into a Lakeville subscription.

Izikson, in fact, will continue on with The Lakeville Journal as the reporter who will be covering Winsted, Norfolk, Colebrook, Riverton and Barkhamsted. “He will be meeting with town leaders and will be seen frequently around these towns,” says Manko.

Months before the decision was taken to make a change in Winsted, both papers underwent a transformation in basic format, which has proven to be quite effective.  Hochswender explains, “Instead of having a page for each town, our stories are now being organized by topic, such as town government, the arts, etc.,” The benefit will be that everyone will be able to see what other towns are doing, instead of only reading the page that applies to their town.”

With these changes, Manko is looking for feedback. “We love to hear from the readers and welcome phone calls, emails and letters,” she says. “We need to know what’s important to the people who read our paper so that it continues to reflect the needs of the communities we serve.”

To reach Janet Manko, publisher, write to publisher@lakevillejournal.com.  To contact Cynthia Hochswender, executive editor, write to cynthiah@lakevillejournal.com.

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