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The Wired City

Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age

Dan Kennedy

Publication Year: 2013

In The Wired City, Dan Kennedy tells the story of the New Haven Independent, a nonprofit community website in Connecticut that is at the leading edge of reinventing local journalism. Through close attention to city government, schools, and neighborhoods, and through an ongoing conversation with its readers, the Independent’s small staff of journalists has created a promising model of how to provide members of the public with the information they need in a self-governing society. Although the Independent is the principal subject of The Wired City, Kennedy examines a number of other online news projects as well, including nonprofit organizations such as Voice of San Diego and the Connecticut Mirror and for-profit ventures such as the Batavian, Baristanet, and CT News Junkie. Where legacy media such as major city newspapers are cutting back on coverage, entrepreneurs are now moving in to fill at least some of the vacuum. The Wired City includes the perspectives of journalists, activists, and civic leaders who are actively re-envisioning how journalism can be meaningful in a hyperconnected age of abundant news sources. Kennedy provides deeper context by analyzing the decline of the newspaper industry in recent years and, in the case of those sites choosing such a path, the uneasy relationship between nonprofit status and the First Amendment. At a time of pessimism over the future of journalism, The Wired City offers hope. What Kennedy documents is not the death of journalism but rather the uncertain and sometimes painful early stages of rebirth.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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pp. C-i

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ii-vii

Table of Contents

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pp. viii-xi

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Introduction: Apocalypse or Something Like it

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pp. 1-8

As the first decade of the twenty-first century drew to a close, it looked like the collapse of the newspaper business that media observers had been predicting for years was finally coming true. Three mighty forces came together in a wave that threatened to sweep away an industry whose pillars had long been rotting beneath it. Corporate debt and a profit-driven, ...

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1. Annie Le is Missing

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pp. 9-24

Paul Bass felt uneasy. It was a Friday—September 11, 2009. He was getting ready to leave the office for Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. And he was beginning to wonder if he had blown a big story.1
Two days before, Bass had received an e-mail from someone at Yale University telling him that a twenty-four-year-old graduate student named...

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2. The Outsider

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pp. 25-38

It was the afternoon of the New Haven Independent’s fifth-anniversary party. Paul Bass was wondering how many people would show up. The celebration, on a Wednesday in September 2010, would be competing with parent-teacher conferences at the city’s middle schools that evening. There was also a major Jewish event taking place at Yale. City Democrats ...

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3. Rebooting the Register

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pp. 39-53

Randall Beach walked into the coffee shop where I was waiting and stuck that day’s New Haven Register in front of my nose. A veteran reporter and columnist for the Register, Beach had asked that we meet at a spot near New Haven Superior Court, where he spends much of his working day. Thin, white-haired, and tieless, Randy Beach looked like a reporter. It...

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4. A Hotbed of Experimentation

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pp. 54-67

In a side room at the Mark Twain House in Hartford is a collection of artifacts related to Samuel Clemens’s involvement in the printing industry. The most unusual is a hulking mass of metal and wood from the 1880s called the Paige Compositor, which could set type 60 percent faster than the Linotype machines in use at the time. Clemens sunk a fortune into...

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5. Print Dollars and Digital Pennies

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pp. 68-81

The idea that a nonprofit organization can be more financially viable than a for-profit business may seem counterintuitive. Yet as the experience of CT News Junkie and the Connecticut Mirror suggests, technology—at least in these early years of online news—has turned the economics of journalism upside down. At News Junkie, Christine Stuart and Doug Hardy...

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6. From Here to Sustainability

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pp. 82-96

William Ginsberg is a Very Important Person in New Haven journalism. In the old days, that might have meant he was in charge of buying newspaper advertising for a major department store or a venture capitalist backing media businesses that he hoped would bring a nice return for his investors. But Ginsberg is neither of those things. Rather, he is the president...

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7. How to Win Readers and Influence Government

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pp. 97-112

Paul Bass walked into his office at La Voz on the afternoon of Thursday, March 3, 2011, called up the New Haven Register’s website on his iMac, and, after a few moments of reading, matter-of-factly announced: “We got fucked.”1 The reason for Bass’s displeasure was an article the Register had posted about the findings of an internal investigation at the police...

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8. The Care and Feeding of the “Former Audience”

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pp. 113-128

About two hundred people filed into the auditorium at the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in downtown New Haven on the evening of Tuesday, November 30, 2010. They had come to hear Diane Ravitch, an author and expert on public education, talk about the city’s nationally recognized effort to reform its schools. As they soon learned,...

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9. Race, Diversity, and a Bilingual Future

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pp. 129-144

The kids were starting to arrive at the Brennan-Rogers School, which serves some of New Haven’s most challenging students from kindergarten through eighth grade. It was half past eight on an overcast, late- March morning. Karen Lott, the principal, was patrolling the corridors of the Katherine Brennan building, which houses grades three and up....

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Epilogue: The Shape of News to Come

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pp. 145-152

One day in late May 2012, I was paging through Jim Romenesko’s media- news website when I came across a picture titled “Times-Picayune Photo Says It All.”1 The photograph had been taken at a meeting where employees of the New Orleans Times-Picayune were formally told that the print edition of their paper was being cut from seven days a week to three, that salaries...


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pp. 153-174


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pp. 175-180

About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 181-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781613762554
E-ISBN-10: 1613762550
Print-ISBN-13: 9781625340047
Print-ISBN-10: 1625340044

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 857214532
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Wired City

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Online journalism -- United States.
  • Electronic newspapers -- United States.
  • Journalism, Regional -- Connecticut -- New Haven.
  • New Haven independent.
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