A publication Monday through Friday covering news in Connecticut’s lower Naugatuck Valley — and just the lower Naugatuck Valley.
It’s not an original idea, yet it has been almost 20 years since the Valley had a daily news organization to call its own.
“The Christmas Eve massacre,” as it is called here, was the night a newspaper chain in the 1990s shuttered the beloved Evening Sentinel, a daily afternoon paper that had covered the Valley for more than a century.
Now there’s us — the Valley Independent Sentinel — a non-profit, online-only news site dedicated to Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton.
We launched on June 22, 2009.
We’re brought to you thanks to the efforts of the Valley Community Foundation and the Online Journalism Project. The two groups joined forces with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to secure a $500,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.
That grant kept this non-profit site running for two years.
More recently, we secured a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation and two $15,000 grants from the Katharine Matthies Foundation.
We’ve also been assisted by donations from readers, for which we are extremely grateful.
Going forward, the site will look for more grant money — and, we hope, collect tax-deductible contributions from people who want to know what’s happening in the lower Valley.
The Valley Independent Sentinel has two full-time staffers. The publication has won 15 awards from the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists since 2009.
Eugene Driscoll, the editor, lives in Derby with his wife, Autumn, a photojournalist.
Between 2003 and 2008, Driscoll received nine reporting awards from the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (CT SPJ) for his work at The News-Times of Danbury.
Driscoll was the first online editor in the history of The News-Times. He was named the paper’s employee of the year in 2006.
In 2008, when he won first place — and honorable mention — for Web-based, breaking news coverage.
Also in 2008, the CT SPJ awarded NewsTimes.com first place for general excellence.
Staff writer Ethan Fry, a Shelton resident, began his journalism career at The Journal-Inquirer of Manchester, Conn., where he reported on a variety of public safety and legal issues, including the execution of Michael Ross, the first man put to death by the state in more than four decades.
Fry worked more recently at The News-Times of Danbury, Conn., as a reporter and copy editor. There, he led a team of reporters in the production of a package of stories, “The rise and fall of Danbury’s trash czar,” which won a first place award for general reporting in a series from the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Fry is a 2004 graduate of Fairfield University, where he edited the independent student newspaper, The Mirror.
Jodie Mozdzer, a former reporter with The Republican-American and The Hartford Courant, launched the site with Driscoll in 2009.
In July 2012, shortly after taking home a first place win from the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting, Mozdzer left the Valley Indy to accept a full-time teaching position at Southern Connecticut State University.
She is teaching new media journalism, of course.
The Valley Indy In The News
“Extra! Extra! Valley Caught Up In Web Of News“ (Rick Green, Hartford Courant)
“All The News In Fits Of Print“ (Diani Li, Christopher Peak, Yale Daily News)
“Introducing The Valley Independent Sentinel“ (Doug Hardy, CT News Junkie)
“It Won’t Line A Birdcage, But It’s Still News“ (Peter Applebome, The New York Times)
“How Hyperlocal Sites Handle ‘Micro-News’ In Their Communities“ (Anna Tarkov, Poynter)
“Hyperlocals: Use Facebook Like The Rest Of The Planet“ (Eugene Driscoll, guest column, Street Fight)
“The New Haven Independent“ (Columbia Journalism Review’s Guide To Online Startups)
“Six Strategies for Encouraging User Contributions on Hyperlocal Sites“ (Stephanie Miles, Street Fight)