Media Note: Student-Run Publication Launches in Winooski | Off Message

Media Note: Student-Run Publication Launches in Winooski


The Winooski News front page - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • The Winooski News front page
A new online publication run by a group of student reporters is seeking to peel back the layers of the Onion City.

The Winooski News, which sent out its first-ever newsletter Thursday morning, is a volunteer effort from students at the University of Vermont.

The publication aims to provide students real-world reporting experience and offer hyper-local coverage to a city without its own dedicated news source, said Richard Watts, director of UVM's Center for Research on Vermont, which oversees the school's minor in reporting and documentary storytelling.

"We know that local news actually helps people in communities become more engaged with what's going on around them," Watts said. "Part of having a vibrant community is having local news."

The Winooski publication is the latest effort of the Community News Service, a project from UVM's reporting minor that connects students with professional mentors. The news service collaborates with more than half a dozen local publications and recently helped launch the Waterbury Roundabout to fill the void left by the closure of the Waterbury Record.
Students will seek to fill a similar "news desert" in Winooski. The last outlet with a notable presence in the city was the Winooski Eagle, a community paper that published its first issue in the 1980s and continued on and off for more than two decades before its closure in 2005.

Watts said the new publication plans to publish content to its website and blast out a newsletter twice a month.

The debut issue includes stories about local parks, the city council and State Rep. Hal Colston's (D-Winooski) take on Vermont's racial justice efforts. The website also hosts a handful of short video interviews with local personalities, such as city manager Jessie Baker and Waking Windows co-organizer Nick Mavodones.

Students will likely find no shortage of material in Winooski. The densely populated city features a bustling downtown — at least in normal times — and is among the most diverse places in Vermont, with the state's only school district where most students are minorities.

Still, like any journalism venture, the Winooski News will need some support from its community — a fact Watts gently pointed out when asked whether there's anything else readers should know.

"The publication welcomes news tips," he said with a laugh.