Dan Kennedy envisioned a massive book project, a big-picture investigation into current issues facing journalism and media. Instead he found everything he needed in New Haven, Conn., inside the small but productive office of the New Haven Independent.
In The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), Kennedy, assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University, researches models of journalism that engage public conversation while producing indispensable local news coverage. Although Kennedy’s work includes insight into numerous organizations, the book focuses primarily on the Independent, a non-profit institution in the historical town of New Haven that includes the New Haven Register, a publication that dates back more than two centuries
Through interviews and research, Kennedy shows that local journalism in the 21st Century can survive and thrive so long as those within an organization are willing to put in the work and develop an understanding of the new tenets of journalism: social engagement, deep community focus, and evolving revenue models
“What you want is sustainability,” Kennedy says. “On the other hand, the New Haven Register traces its roots to Benjamin Franklin in the 1760s. I don’t think that anybody is going to achieve that kind of sustainability anymore, and I’m not even sure it’s desirable. I think we’re going to see things come and go.”
The Wired City is food for the civic minded and news junkies alike. It’s an important work that begins a sketch of what local journalism can and should be.