The Valley Independent Sentinel

Starting Tuesday, Connecticut’s lower Naugatuck Valley will have a new, nonprofit option for local news – The Valley Independent Sentinel.

This new, online-only newspaper is being published by the not-for-profit Online Journalism Project that operates the Sentinel’s pioneering sister site, The New Haven Independent. New Haven’s Paul Bass is the executive director of the Online Journalism Project and editor of the New Haven Independent. The Sentinel is being funded by a two-year, $500,000 grant secured from the Knight Foundation by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the Valley Community Foundation.

The Sentinel employs two experienced Connecticut reporters – Eugene Driscoll, a Derby resident, and Jodie Mozdzer, a new Shelton resident. Driscoll is the site’s editor and Mozdzer a reporter. The site also will publish reports from freelance writers living within its coverage area of Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton.

To formally mark the site’s launch and to unveil its first “edition,” a short presentation and meet-and-greet is planned for 4 p.m. Tuesday at Ansonia City Hall, 253 Main St., Ansonia. Local community leaders, including Connecticut Appellate Court Chief Judge Joseph P. Flynn, Ansonia Mayor James T. Della Volpe, and others will make brief remarks.

The new site’s name comes from a marriage of the old and new: “Independent” is from the New Haven Independent, while “Sentinel” comes from The Evening Sentinel (aka the Ansonia Sentinel, the Valley Sentinel, and the Sentinel), a much-loved daily newspaper that covered the adjoining towns and cities of the lower Naugatuck Valley for more than 100 years until it was purchased from local ownership and closed in December 1992.

Driscoll is a former reporter and editor for the News-Times of Danbury. He was the paper’s first online editor and was named News-Times employee of the year in 2006. Mozdzer, a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, covered the Valley for the Republican-American. She also covered education at the Hartford Courant.

Reached today, Driscoll said that both he and Mozdzer (pronounced Mo-sure) have been busy meeting as many people and organizations as possible in their valley towns. Driscoll said that there appears to be a lot of interest already, as 160 people signed up for the site’s Twitter feed on the day he created the account. He said most of those people are residents in the site’s coverage area.

Aside from the New Haven and Valley sites, the Online Journalism Project’s network also includes CTNewsJunkie.com as its capital bureau. The organization is currently raising funds to launch a site covering the city of Hartford.