Valley Independent Sentinel (Online Journalism Project)
158 Main St.
Suite 305
Ansonia CT 06401
Contact Information
Address 158 Main St.
Suite 305
Ansonia, CT 06401-
Telephone (203) 446-2335 x
Fax 888-4779403
E-mail valleyindependentsentinel@gmail.com
Web and Social Media
Mission
To promote civic engagement and to build stronger, better informed communities through high-quality local journalism in the lower Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut.
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 2006
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Paul Bass
Board Chair Norma Rodriguez Reyes
Board Chair Company Affiliation La Voz Hispana
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses Bar Graph - All Years
Statements
Mission To promote civic engagement and to build stronger, better informed communities through high-quality local journalism in the lower Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut.
Background
The Online Journalism Project -- the Valley Indy's nonprofit parent -- began in 2005 with the idea of reviving local reporting and using new media tools to involve the community more directly in the process than ever before.
 
It has been exciting to see how that can work and to help design a national model.
 
The New Haven Independent was one of the two first not-for-profit professional local online-online news sites in the country; now many others are following.
 
ValleyIndy.org was created to bring New Haven-style hyperlocal, high-quality journalism to the news-starved communities of Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton.
 
The editor, who kicked off the site in 2009, lives in Derby. The reporter lives in Shelton.
Impact
  IMPACT
 
1. The City of Derby, as part of its State-mandated update to its Plan of Conservation and Development, issued a "Public Engagement Report" in May 2015.
The report included the results of a poll conducted to learn where citizens received local news and information.
The Valley Indy was cited as the top source by more than 50 percent of the respondents.
More people cited the Valley Indy than the combined totals of the City's website, The Connecticut Post and The New Haven Register.
2. According to Google Analytics, ValleyIndy.org saw 57,000 "users" (a Google term) in August 2016. That is a 21 percent increase from August 2014.
3. In 2016, the Valley Indy was the only media outlet to extensively cover a charter change vote that went to voters in Derby in November.
In addition to traditional text-based stories, the Valley Indy hosted a five-person roundtable discussion on the issue with a combination of elected and appointed officials.
More than 4,000 people listened to the debate, which lasted about an hour.
The impact here cannot be understated. If not for the Valley Indy, thousands of people would have walked into the voting booth with no information on a rather controversial issue.
This type of coverage -- a blend of the old and the new -- had never been attempted in the lower Valley before.
4. In 2015, the Valley Indy hosted live, in-house debates between the candidates for mayor in Derby, the first time a debate had been held in Derby in a decade.
The Valley Indy also hosted a debate between the two candidates running for mayor in Ansonia.
In 2016, the Valley Indy hosted six separate, one-hour podcast interviews with six candidates for State office.
 
5. In 2016, the Valley Indy hosted a 36-live stream video from its office in Ansonia to publicize "The Great Give."
More than a dozen nonprofit leaders stopped by the office for 30 minutes each to talk about the impact their nonprofit organization has on the people of the Valley each and every day.
The Valley Indy's efforts were noticed by The Connecticut Post, the HAN online television network, The New Haven Register, and WICC-AM radio.
 
GOALS: 
 
1. The Valley Indy intends to host a public mayoral or first selectman debate in one of the lower Valley towns in 2017.
2. The Valley Indy intends to host live video podcasts to greatly increase the number of people we reach each week.
3. Data -- The Valley Indy intends to compile a public record of salary and contract information for our towns and school districts.
Needs
The harsh reality is that the traditional business model to support local news is dead, especially in the lower Naugatuck Valley.
 
The money that once went to advertisements in the local press now go to Facebook, Pandora, Craig's List and direct mailers. 
 
It started in the 1990s, when the Evening Sentinel was killed. Then the Valley lost its radio station, then its local cable channel.
 
It hasn't stopped. Three for-profit local print newspapers have stopped printing since 2009.
 
AOL Patch, a local online news venture backed by millions of corporate dollars, failed.
 
The Valley Indy, which relies on grant money and reader donations, is the ONLY daily publication based in the Valley covering the Valley.
 
Our greatest challenge is securing the funding to continue. Our annual operating budget is roughly $150,000.
That dollar amount includes two salaries and medical benefits, plus money to keep the lights on.
 
We're a bare bones news operation. How many media outlets use a fridge purchased from a college kid off a street in New Haven?
 
We have more than 30 awards -- but we don't enter contests every year, because we're frugal.
 
But the fact is, your support is needed to keep local news alive. 
CEO Statement
Running OJP has revived my faith in local journalism and public discourse. I've had to learn the importance of taking a stronger hand to moderating comments from readers than I'd originally envisioned. That has paid off. It's a lot of work, but it has brought many different perspectives into the mix, and kept the tone civil.
 
(From Paul Bass, of the Online Journalism Project)
Board Chair Statement
From the Online Journalism Project, the Valley Independent Sentinel's nonprofit parent:
 
 
Our ongoing challenge has been building a sustainable funding base. Sunday e-mail newsletter focusing on culture.
We have done that in part by seeking donors open to longer-term commitments. In that way we have built a base that covers approximately half of our annual expenses.
 
We have separately addressed this challenge by developing an arts beat that has attracted a separate institutional base, in part through a flyer "billboard" and a Sunday e-mail newsletter focusing on culture.
 
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Public & Societal Benefit / Citizen Participation
Secondary Organization Category Education /
Areas Served
Ansonia
Derby
Seymour
Shelton
The Online Journalism Project -- the Valley Indy's nonprofit parent -- started in New Haven, then Branford, then expanded to the lower Naugatuck Valley (Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton) in 2009 with the launch of ValleyIndy.org.
Programs
Description
The Valley Independent Sentinel is a nonprofit newspaper covering the lower Naugatuck Valley. 
 
It launched in 2009 and employs two people -- a reporter/editor, and a reporter.
 
The publication has won 34 awards from the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists since June 2009.
 
More than 5,000 people get their local news from the Valley Indy every day.
 
More than 13,000 people follow the publication on Facebook, where the Valley Indy hosts a community forum 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
 
Another 5,000 people keep track of headlines through the Valley Indy's Twitter feed.
 
More than 12,000 people downloaded the Valley Indy's podcast in 2016. 
 
In addition to being the lower Valley's most credible daily news source, the Valley Indy has organized two political debates and hosted two school budget webinars, all to better inform the Valley. 
 
The Online Journalism Project is the Valley Indy's nonprofit parent. 
 
The site is funded by foundation grants, readers, the Online Journalism Project and advertisers.
 
The Online Journalism Project also publishes the New Haven Independent and the Branford Eagle. 
 
The development of the Online Journalism Project was recently chronicled in the book "The Wired City," by Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy.
Population Served General/Unspecified / /
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Program Comments
CEO Comments
The Valley Indy's biggest challenge is producing in-depth stories with a staff of just two reporters -- and funding our small operation.
 
We are constantly fine-tuning the type of stories we cover to give readers a mix of what's happening in the lower Valley.
 
We also talk to our readers, mainly through Facebook, constantly.
 
Our readers act as our editors, essentially, telling us what they want to read.
CEO/Executive Director
Paul Bass
Term Start July 2005
Email pauljbass@gmail.com
Experience A reporter and editor in New Haven for over 30 years; co-author of Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, & The Redemption of a Killer (Basic Books 2006).
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 0
Staff Retention Rate 100%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 2
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 2
Female 0
Unspecified 0
Senior Staff
Title ValleyIndy.org editor
Experience/Biography Eugene Driscoll is the editor of ValleyIndy.org, a non-profit online
newspaper funded by grants from the Valley Community Foundation, The Knight Foundation and the Katharine Matthies Foundation.

Since launching in June 2009, the Valley Indy has won 27 awards from
the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

Prior to the Valley Indy, Eugene worked at The Patent Trader of Mount
Kisco, N.Y., The News-Times of Danbury and The Hartford Courant.

He lives in Derby with his wife, Autumn, a
photojournalist at the Connecticut Post, and their two children --
Jack, 4, and Emma, 1.
Title Reporter
Experience/Biography

Staff writer Ethan Fry, a Shelton resident, began his journalism career at The Journal-Inquirer of Manchester, Conn., where he reported on a variety of public safety and legal issues, including the execution of Michael Ross, the first man put to death by the state in more than four decades.

Fry worked more recently at The News-Times of Danbury as a reporter and copy editor. There, he led a team of reporters in the production of a package of stories, “The rise and fall of Danbury’s trash czar,” which won a first place award for general reporting in a series from the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Fry is a 2004 graduate of Fairfield University, where he edited the independent student newspaper, The Mirror.
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation No
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Collaborations
In the past, the Valley Indy teamed with a local weekly print publication and local schools to host political debates. In addition, the reporters appear regularly to discuss local news on WICC, a radio station in Bridgeport.
Comments
CEO Comments
Our biggest challenge is sustainability -- we are working hard on developing multiple-year commitments from major philanthropic donors, as well as a new radio station.
 
We seek several types of support: Corporate/institutional sponsorships; individual donor gifts; grants from foundations.
Board Chair
Norma Rodriguez Reyes
Company Affiliation La Voz Hispana
Term Jan 2016 to Dec 2017
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Paul Bass New Haven Independent
Michelle Chihara Writer
Gemma Joseph Lumpkin Education consultant
Jack Walsh United Way, Naugatuck Valley
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 2
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 2
Female 3
CEO Comments
Our biggest challenge is sustainability -- we are working hard on developing multiple-year commitments from major philanthropic donors, as well as a new radio station.(From the Online Journalism Project, the nonprofit parent that subsidizes the Valley Indy)
 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31 2017
Projected Revenue $150,000.00
Projected Expenses $150,000.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
Documents
IRS Letter of Exemption
OJP Letter
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$384,507$330,846$435,686
Administration Expense$63,265$59,667$55,599
Fundraising Expense$42,169$34,261$36,838
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.211.131.00
Program Expense/Total Expenses78%78%82%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue7%8%7%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$485,010$397,982$416,137
Current Assets$459,294$396,622$414,263
Long-Term Liabilities$60,277$605--
Current Liabilities$5,326$83,221$155,280
Total Net Assets$419,407$314,156$260,857
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountThe Seedling Foundation $140,000The Seedling Foundation $75,000The Valley Community Foundation $50,000
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountThe Valley Community Foundation $115,000The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven $50,000The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven $25,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountThe John S. and Samuel L. Knight Foundation $112,500The Valley Community Foundation $50,000The Katharine Matthies Foundation $10,000
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities86.244.772.67
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets12%0%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
Comments
Foundation Staff Comments

This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.

Address 158 Main St.
Suite 305
Ansonia, CT 06401
Primary Phone 203 446-2335
CEO/Executive Director Paul Bass
Board Chair Norma Rodriguez Reyes
Board Chair Company Affiliation La Voz Hispana

 

Related Information

Promote Civic Vitality

Greater New Haven’s vibrancy is linked to its communities’ support of its neighborhoods, public gardens and sports, as well as its commitment to the protection of its people and pets.