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Tuesday, December 1 News

WestportNow to cease publication at end of November

WESTPORT — WestportNow, a town staple for information and community news, has announced it will cease publication at the end of November.

The announcement comes a week after WestportNow founder and former first selectman Gordon Joseloff died after battling a rare blood cancer for three years.

“WestportNow was more than a job to our father,” Anna-Liisa Nixon and Ben Joseloff, Joseloff’s children, said in a statement on WestportNow. “It was the natural culmination of two of his life-long passions: journalism and Westport.”

The site started in March 2003 and nearly 18 years later has become a pivotal source of information for Westporters.

“Some friends tell us it is the first website they check in the morning. Others tell us WestportNow is the last thing they read before bed,” Joseloff’s children said. “For some, it’s both.”

But they said continuing to provide the level of coverage WestportNow readers expect and deserve without their father’s leadership would be challenging.

“For this reason, WestportNow will cease publication at the end of the month,” Joseloff’s children said.

The news of the site ceasing publication struck a chord for residents and officials across town.

“I was sad to read this morning that WestportNow was planning to cease publication at the end of November,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said. “As I and others have noted it set the standard for internet based local journalism, and it had become a must-read on a daily basis for many Westporters.”

Marpe said the site reflected the journalism professionalism and commitment to the town that Joseloff constantly demonstrated.

Danielle Dobin, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said the end of WestportNow is a huge loss for Westport.

“Hyperlocal news sources like WestportNow play a critical role in keeping members of the public informed of what’s happening in town — especially with regard to local government,” Dobin said. “With it’s updates about commissions and the Board of Selectmen, news about the schools and our athletes, performances and academic competitions, and, of course, its beautiful sunset photos, WestportNow was a virtual community gathering place.”

Sal Liccione, a Representative Town Meeting member, shared similar sentiments.

“I feel it’s a loss to our community,” he said. “I’m devastated and disappointed.”

Liccione said the town or a group of residents should consider continuing the site.

“We don’t want to lose that great news source because we need more news sources in the town itself,” he said.

The loss of the site also impacted those in the WestportNow newsroom.

Dave Matlow, longtime photographer for WestportNow, said he first started submitting news photos to WestportNow in 2004. This role would continue and expand over the next 16 years until the decision to stop publication at the end of this month, he said.

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Matlow said over the many years he worked with Joseloff they came to be good friends and his death was a great loss to him. He said he will continue to miss Joseloff’s patient guidance and sincere friendship.

“Although I’m not a formally trained journalist I wanted to be one,” Matlow said. “What good luck it was to learn through Gordon, a very accomplished journalist who spent much of his news coverage career at CBS and United Press International.”

Joseloff’s children said all of WestportNow’s content will remain available on the website as a historical record of Westport from 2003 to 2020.

“We are deeply indebted to all WestportNow readers, contributors, and advertisers for making the site a trusted source of fact-based information for so many years,” they said. “None of this would have been possible without you.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

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