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Winchester News Board of Directors President Tara Hughes, center, and Advisory Board member Shukong Ou greet residents at Town Day. WINCHESTER NEWS FILE PHOTO

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A year ago today, on May 3, Winchester News began publishing. Several residents have wondered about our backstory, so here it is. 

In 2022, Winchester Town Meeting created a communications study committee whose task was to advise the town on how to communicate with residents, given the sad decline of the Winchester Star. When the committee work was done and a report sent to Town Meeting, committee member Betsy Wall and your reporter read a Boston Globe article about independent newspapers started in Marblehead, and decided to set up our own paper.

Several members of the committee agreed to join us, although two had to resign, Jennifer Haefeli because she no longer had the time, and Wall because she took a job with the Commonwealth — separation of politicians from news sources is a vitally important part of a free press.

But Casey Bauer, Tara Hughes and Shukong Ou stayed, and we were off and running. Tara is an attorney and got us incorporated, we appointed a board of directors and an advisory board. Tara even resigned from Town Meeting in order to be separate from government. 

Winchester News Board member Joyce Westner speaks to residents at the Farmers Market. WINCHESTER NEWS FILE PHOTO

We were lucky enough to have offers to help from Emily Costello, who’s a full-time journalist employed at The Conversation, which readers might want to subscribe to (it’s free), and also from Peter Casey, the retired WBZ-radio news director (also a handyman!). 

We recruited Alison Swallow as our treasurer and we joined the Institute of Non-profit News (INN), which is our fiscal sponsor until we get our 501(c)(3). Meanwhile, we’ve grown our subscriber base, thank you, and we now have over 1,600, plus nearly 250 donors who’ve enabled us to hire part-time news editor Nell Escobar Coakley, a 30-year veteran journalist.  We also hired two freelancers, Will Dowd and Chris Stevens.

Our first article was brief with little formatting and was about Spring Town Meeting and it wasn’t until June that we started publishing editions with multiple stories and also with photos. Shukong is our technical expert and he replaced our original format on Google sites with a much more robust platform. 

And we’ve been lucky enough to have residents write articles for us, including Reed Pugh about gardening, Rachel Whitehouse about environmental news, Ron Latanision about the Jenks science and technology talks, and Charlene Band who wrote about the young man selling his hand-made fish lures at Fells Hardware and Cameron Hopkinson, a student writer from Winchester High School.   

If you’d like to wish Winchester News a happy birthday, please consider supporting us with a monthly donation. We’re hoping to hire our editor full time. 

Winchester News is a non-profit organization supported by our community. If you appreciate having local Winchester news, please donate to support our work, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

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