I went to the Torrington Register Citizen this week so the newspaper could do a story on me and my latest project featuring Connecticut female firefighters. However, here I am today  doing a story on the paper. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. I guess I still have that reporter blood  in me.

First, as a disclaimer, I need to be upfront and tell you that I have deep roots with the newspaper. Growing-up in the sticks, the paper was one my family read. In high school, the newspaper covered my volleyball and basketball games at The Gilbert School. (It turns out former Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy was one of those reporters from the paper covering my games. That’s a story for another day)  Regardless of my connections with the paper, I was blown-away by the Torrington Register Citizen of today and how that paper is doing what no other paper is: opening-up its newsroom and archives to the public, FREE OF CHARGE!

The Newsroom Cafe  is located in THE NEWSROOM! It’s the first thing I saw when I walked into the large newsroom with a modern yet rustic feel. The next thing I saw was a man looking through microfilm at a viewing station. He was not a reporter or an editor. He didn’t work in sales. No, this man, was just a man from town doing research on an old basketball league from the 1980’s. Instead of spending hours digging up film at the library, he came straight to the source.  Brilliant! Imagine if other newspapers did the same?

When the only bookstore in town closed, the Register Citizen opened up one in its building. It’s small but it’s still a place where people can go to buy a book for a dollar or two.

The Torrington Register Citizen  also offers FREE classes to the public in its large community classroom, also located at the newspaper.  Editor Rick Thomason says the most popular class is genealogy and how to research your family tree. (one of the most popular uses for the microfilm library) The paper offered other classes too including how to make a household budget, fight bullying, Twitter, and Facebook (just to name a few)! What an amazing concept. Managers at the paper aren’t just talking the talk, they’re walking the walk.

As a former reporter, I can’t tell you how many times I heard managers say they wanted to be involved more  in the community. Well, former managers (names not included) here’s a real tangible way to do just that!

At a time when newspapers are struggling to survive, The Torrington Register Citizen was a breath of fresh air. I think in order to survive, newspapers have to go back to what they used to be, hyper-local.

At the Register Citizen, Editors aren’t just attending community meetings, they’re the ones holding them! applause! standing ovation! applause!

As for me and my story, it will be in tomorrow’s (SUNDAY’s) paper and also available on-line. (along with a few of my photographs!) I’m so excited.

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