There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it.
Ethan Fry, a great reporter and good friend, is no longer with The Valley Indy.
We did not raise enough money to cover his salary for 2019, according to Paul Bass, the executive director of the Online Journalism Project, the nonprofit that gave us life in 2009 and plays a key role in keeping us afloat.
I’m proud of the stories Ethan wrote here over the years, especially stories involving Ansonia’s school funding battles. He was constantly wrongly accused of bias by both sides of the issue, proof positive that he was doing a good job.
It’s not pleasant to have local leaders on your back, but Ethan believes the press has an obligation beyond regurgitating talking points from press releases, and he covered the news accordingly.
He also carries around copies of “War and Peace” (or some equivalent) to peruse when he has downtime. He’s a smart guy.
Ethan carried this site for a year, at least. I’ve relied on him to produce a solid story a day while I tried to manage editing duties and leaving every day to pick up my kids at school. Night meetings have become a rarity for me, because I’m not available until 6:45 p.m.
I want to publicly thank Ethan for his dedication and for doing the bulk of the work here.
This news wasn’t a complete shock to us. The Valley Indy has trouble raising money locally beyond The Valley Community Foundation and The Katharine Matthies Foundation (massive thank you’s to both).
I’m not a salesman and our pitch isn’t exactly easy for businesses to swallow in the Facebook age: you won’t reach 1 million people if you advertise with us, but you’ll be supporting an organization that believes informed communities are stronger communities.
You may have seen me complain about this on social media recently after I’ve received requests from a group or person to essentially run a free ad.
So we rely heavily on foundations, readers, and the Online Journalism Project.
Paul had been telling us for awhile that 2019 was going to be tough for The Valley Indy, and it’s happening, despite his best efforts to keep it from happening.
As you’ve probably heard, local journalism as a whole isn’t exactly making people rich. Papers and reporters have been dropping like flies for more than a decade in the Naugatuck Valley, which is why we continue to exist as a nonprofit. It makes sense, given the over-flowing graveyard of local, for-profit papers.
But Ethan’s departure still very much stinks, and I’m getting angry as I type.
What does Ethan’s departure mean for The Valley Indy going forward?
Well, nothing good that I see, but keep in mind I’m in a bad mood.
Ethan covered Ansonia. I covered Derby. I won’t be able to give the same level of coverage Ethan gave to Ansonia, but I’ll try to figure it out as I go.
We’re I’m here for the next two years, at least.
(Oh, you can help me by not sending PDFs. They take too long to get on the site. Plain text emails with a jpg photo, people! Quick and easy.)
In the meantime, if anyone out there has a rich uncle or aunt who still values local news and its role in our democracy, click this link.