Connecticut Newspaper Plies the Commentariat With Muffins

The Register-Citizen of Torrington, Connecticut is tapping its readership to help focus its content, reports The New York Times. It’s part of a new digital strategy to make the The Register-Citizen‘s website “a magnet for all things local and thus an attractive place for advertisers, sponsors and others who can replace declining newspaper subscribers and advertisers.”

They’ve made the newsroom and daily story conferences totally public, even placing welcome sign outside the factory-turned-media headquarters that advertises muffins and coffee. When the Times was there, they were joined by a picturesque cast of characters: “a retiree moving to Florida, a public safety commissioner, a Democratic Town Committee member, and a Wal-Mart assistant store manager and intrepid blogger.”

The collaborative and community-driven local news strategy is led by John Paton, CEO of the Journal Register Company, which owns The Register Citizen and 17 other dailies.

So the idea of the cafe, public lounge and free Wi-Fi isn’t to make money on coffee. It’s to let the public see The Register-Citizen as its space. The same thought underlies the public meetings and open newsroom, the opening of the company’s archives, the public spaces for bloggers and the meeting room that will host courses on blogging and journalism, so residents can write and link to the site. The company put together an advisory board of the most enthusiastically pro-digital industry thinkers and actually listened to them.

It saddens us a little that the fastest way to make readers is to make bloggers, but at least there are muffins in it.

Check out 2010’s Biggest Media Launches (Such As They Are).>>

kstoeffel [at] observer.com | @kstoeffel Connecticut Newspaper Plies the Commentariat With Muffins