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December 27, 2022

‘News vacuum’: Nader launches The Winsted Citizen in his hometown

Contributed Journalist Andy Thibault, left, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Former presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader plans to address the scarcity of news in Winsted and five surrounding towns by launching a weekly newspaper.

At a time when newspapers are cutting back and closing at a rate of two per week, according to Poynter, Nader believes there is pent-up demand for news reporting in this pocket of Litchfield County – and plenty of stories to be written.

The news industry has been struggling for decades as publishers have lost advertising revenue and paid print subscriptions have dwindled. While corporate monoliths have stripped many newspapers to the bone to increase profits, Nader said, he believes a newspaper can be self-sustaining if readers support it.

“When the institution itself can't make it … then it falls on the community leaders to take up the challenge,” Nader said Tuesday morning.

The pilot edition of The Winsted Citizen is slated for publication in early 2023. It will cover Winsted, Hartland, Riverton, Colebrook, Norfolk and New Hartford. It will be based in an office on Main Street in Winsted.

Nader, a Winsted native, sees the area as a “news vacuum.” Residents don’t know what’s going on in local government and schools, and there's a dearth of information about local issues.

“They don't know what's going on in the budget unless they go to the budget town meetings,” Nader said. “You can't read about it. That's pretty severe.”

Nader has selected veteran journalist Andy Thibault to serve as editor and publisher. Thibault was a research consultant for the HBO documentary series “Allen v. Farrow,” and now teaches journalism and communication at the University of New Haven.

Nader said Thibault and his team will produce a newspaper that not only covers the news, but probes into it – what he calls “second-level” reporting.

Nader will gauge interest from the community based on the pilot. The newspaper will operate as a nonprofit organization, generating revenue from three sources: advertising, subscriptions and donations. 

Although it will also have an online presence, Nader said the print edition will be the most important because it has the potential to reach more people. A single printed newspaper can be read by multiple people in a household, people waiting in store checkout lines and patients in a doctor’s office.

“It will be distributed to most of the households by hand, in print, and stacked up in certain retail stores,” Nader said. “And then we'll see what the response is because it'll be vigorously eliciting a response.”

Nader is optimistic that donations will be a significant revenue source.

“You’ve got people in Norfolk who could support the whole thing themselves,” he said.

The return of a newspaper to Winsted harkens back to a time when the area was a busy market for news. The Winsted Evening Citizen was a daily newspaper whose office was heavily damaged during the Flood of 1955. The newspaper continued on and merged with the Torrington Register on Jan. 3, 1984 to become The Register Citizen.

Nader recalls delivering newspapers for The Winsted Evening News when he was a kid. Its successor, The Winsted Voice, closed about 20 years ago.

Nader and Thibault plan to announce the newspaper during a meeting of the Rotary Club of The Torrington and Winsted Areas on Jan. 3, 2023.
Nader has also started a pilot project in Washington, D.C., called Capitol Hill Citizen, which launched in 2022 and is distributed nationally, only in print. The motto is: “Democracy Dies in Broad Daylight.”

Thibault is recruiting staff for The Winsted Citizen. Anyone who would like to contribute may contact him at

“If it’s important to you, it’s important to us,” Thibault said. “You can tell the health of the community by the health of its newspaper. We are here to serve a useful purpose for readers, educators, workers, businesses and the community at large.”

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