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November 20, 2023

Winsted Citizen ceases operations after 9 editions; board considering legal options

Contributed The Winsted Citizen's first edition in February 2023.

The Winsted Citizen has ceased operations of its monthly newspaper based in the Litchfield County town of Winsted, about 26 miles from Hartford.

The Winsted Citizen produced nine editions, starting in February, with seed money from consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who grew up in Winsted and delivered its long-defunct daily newspaper when he was a boy.

Nader launched the newspaper with Editor and Publisher Andy Thibault, a veteran journalist, amid strong support and enthusiasm from the local community.

Nader’s funding evaporated after the first issue was published. According to a staff memo, “the paper continued to run an untenable deficit,” despite increases in both circulation and advertising revenue.

Many staff members became donors of services rather than wage earners, he added.

“We beat the Grim Reaper every month for most of the year,” Thibault said in the memo. “Our best month financially resulted in our lowest deficit. Now, our quest regrettably has become the impossible dream.” 

Andy Thibault and his dog, 'Billie.'

The Winsted Citizen operated under the umbrella of the nonprofit Connecticut News Consortium. 

On Monday morning, Thibault said the Connecticut News Consortium board voted to shut down the newspaper and is consulting with its attorney to determine next steps.

The newspaper’s motto was: “If it’s important to you, it’s important to us.” 

Thibault recruited local and international journalists, including Reynaldo Cruz Diaz, a sports writer and photographer from Cuba, and former Hartford Courant cartoonist, Bob Englehart.

The broadsheet newspaper featured contributions from writers and poets, and a restaurant review by former New York Times restaurant critic Rand Richards Cooper. 

Thibault mentored several budding journalists under The Winsted Citizen's banner and broke a story about Connecticut State Police delays in processing evidence in rape cases.

The town’s last locally-based weekly paper, the Winsted Journal, began in 1996 before being shut down in 2017, unable to make enough money to support itself, according to the Associated Press.

Thibault thanked readers, advertisers and donors for helping to keep The Winsted Citizen alive. 

“It was worth it,” Thibault said in the memo. “Our legacy is manifested in all those who contributed and who will continue their work via other venues.”

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