A Loss To Town: WestportNow To Close

When Gordon Joseloff started WestportNow in March 2003, it was special.

Few communities had a local, online news site — let alone one written and edited by a professional journalist who had reported from hot spots and major cities all over the world.

When Gordon Joseloff died earlier this month, WestportNow was still special. Over the past 18 years, countless community news sites came and went. But WestportNow was still there.

For over 6,400 days it has provided news, photos, obituaries and more. Features like upcoming teardowns and business openings made it a go-to source for thousands of loyal readers.

At the end of the month though, Westport will lose this unique source. Joseloff’s children, Anna-Liisa Nixon and Ben Joseloff, announced today that at the end of the month, WestportNow will cease publication.

They said:

WestportNow was more than a job to our father. It was the natural culmination of two of his life-long passions: journalism and Westport.

Like many small business owners, he devoted nearly every waking hour to its success. WestportNow would never have had such a remarkable run without the contributions of many talented individuals, but Gordon Joseloff was the heart and soul of the newsroom’s 24/7 operations.

Our father passed away last week following a 3-year battle with a rare blood cancer. Continuing to provide the level of coverage WestportNow readers expect and deserve without his leadership would be challenging. For this reason, WestportNow will cease publication at the end of the month….

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. None of this would have been possible without you.

Westport is an incredible community. Thank you for allowing WestportNow to tell its stories.

Fortunately, all WestportNow content will remain accessible, online.

Today is a sad day for local journalism. Since 2009, WestportNow and “06880” have been friendly competitors — and friends.

Gordon Joseloff. Photographer Lynn Untermeyer Miller is a longtime WestportNow contributor.

I have picked up plenty of story ideas from them (and vice versa). From time to time, Gordon let me know about a piece that was not right for WestportNow, but might work on my site. I did the same.

It’s safe to say that without WestportNow leading the way, there would be no “06880.”

It’s also safe to say that without WestportNow, countless readers — here and around the globe — would know a lot less about their town. They’d feel a lot less connected to the goings-on in Town Hall, the library, the arts, the store opening up downtown and the house being torn down next door.

For 18 years, Gordon Joseloff set the bar high. I can’t imagine a local news site anywhere that lasted as long as his, with as much material, in so broad a way.

Next month, the Westport journalism scene will lose a major player. I’m thankful for what we’ve had for nearly 2 decades.

And I’m glad that archive will still be online. It will be as invaluable in the years ahead as it has been since 2003.

34 responses to “A Loss To Town: WestportNow To Close

  1. This is very sad to read. WestportNow was a fabulous resource for many things that were Westport centric.

  2. Matthew Mandell

    This is a great loss to the town. We need a news outlet, and this one was one of the best.

    WHO WOULD LIKE TO TAKE IT OVER? Can we put together a group to do it? Westport is filled with journalists, is there someone interested?

    I’d be happy to help out in some manner.

    • I would be happy help work with westportnow- i can handle editing, creating and planning the calendar and handling all the writing and coverage of wellness, food, restaurants etc. AS long as it has funding and folks who care, this can be done.

  3. Oh My. So sad. Where will we go for Westport Obits? Thanks for this information.

  4. The loss of Gordan and now his wonderful news site is tragic. He left a remarkable legacy through both his persona and his work for which his family can be justifiably very proud. Ken Bernhard

  5. I have been reading Westport Now since its inception and Gordon has done something wonderful that we will all miss. Now, Dan, I would like to see you take over the reigns with a great staff. You are the natural inheritor of this great site.

  6. Diane E Yormark

    As an S.I. Newhouse grad from Syracuse University, I learned early on that a journalist’s mantra was “protect the written word.” This refers to on-line reporting as well. It is especially sad this comes at a time when truth is tossed aside for sensationalism. My deepest condolences go out to Mr. Joseloff’s family and to all of us for this significant loss. Diane Unger-Yormark

  7. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    The crowdsourcing idea is a great one. I guess the first question would be whether or not it has a balance sheet to support itself or if it would need an executive editor. I can think of many people who regularly post to 06880 that could do a great job.

  8. This is sad news indeed. Gordon, his staff and all of his many contributors created something truly dynamic and important for all Westporters. It is where we, as a community, turned for much of our local news. Its steady presence and solid reporting helped make us the community that we are. Thank you Gordon for such a gift these many years. Your voice and your WestportNow will be greatly missed.

    Dan, please stay healthy and safe in this era of Covid! We need you and 06880 more than ever now!

  9. I agree with Michele. For those of us who are no longer Westport residents, one of WestportNow’s most valuable services was its obituaries. I’m grateful to have had access to them for all these years!

  10. Mary Schmerker

    As Diane Yormark quoted, “protect the written word” even if it is digitalized. Actually digitalized might be best. I am dealing with some personal history reading faded ink on crumbling paper. I am no longer a Westport resident but recognize the importance accurate reporting. Westport is gifted with talent. Hopefully Westport Now can be saved. Dan would be a good candidate to take over.

  11. Larry Perlstein

    I agree that we should find a way to save WestportNow. I can’t take on a full-time job but I’d be willing to provide website and editing skills part-time from home! Dan, maybe you should really consider taking on the Editor-in-Chief role!

  12. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    I don’t presume to speak for Dan but he is already contributing to Westport in so many ways and with excellence at all. For him to take on WN might come at the expense of other endeavors.

    I’m not sure what the financial status of WN is but perhaps there are win/win alternatives to shutting it down. Certainly Westport has the talent base. I wish I had never left town but it is what it is.

  13. RIP Gordon. I’ve been reading Westportnow since the beginning, even when I lived in NYC (coincidentally living next to a Newhouse), I would still come back to it daily. Thank you for all that you did.

    That said, I would love to see someone take it over. I would be happy to handle the domain and hosting the website. I just don’t have the journalistic capabilities, even though I am a Syracuse graduate, I was not in the SI Newhouse school.

  14. Michael Calise

    A huge loss for all of us. Westport Now (along with 06880) was a daily insight into our Town. The worst though is of some on-line news chain trying to barge in with useless content. Dan keep up your brilliant and invaluable work. Now, we need you more than ever.

  15. There seem to be quite a few people willing to help, it’s a great idea. I, too, don’t have journalistic experience, but would help part time from a financial perspective (if there is such a thing). It’d be such a shame to lose this wonderful site.

  16. Thought/suggestion – maybe transfer WN to operate under Staples HS journalism/paper club with oversight by one of the teachers/parents/volunteer. It will provide students with broader real time journalism experience while contributing to the community.

    The students will appoint the editor (or co-editors) each year and they will have the opportunity to expand on the content; keep the core information that was traditionally provided by WN but also include additional pieces that they find suitable to the platform. Students will have the opportunity to reach a large audience on topics that are not related to school.

  17. Condolences to the Joseloff family. WestportNow is my go-to place for its Westport Calendar, Teardowns of the Day, openings and closings, and many other Westport-centric issues. I will miss it. Westport Patch and Westport News do not do the job because they include other towns. Dan’s 06880 is needed now more than ever. It is newsworthy, quirky, fun, and sometimes controversial. We need an online newspaper that provides what WestportNow did, and focuses on Westport only.

  18. There is no substitute for the two ingredients Gordon had – a love
    of Westport and award-winning journalism! westport.now cannot
    be duplicated! It is, was an original! Just as Dan’s site is so special!

  19. A different view. One thing I DID NOT like about WestportNow when I lived there, was the concept of Teardown of the Day, making something “fun” about destroying peoples’ homes, all this to feed a greedy real-estate market.

  20. It would be great if a group wanted to take over the reins at WestportNow, but in the meantime, this provides a great reminder to donate again to 06880! Dan, you’ve provided a remarkable service to this town and we are very grateful! I encourage everyone else to keep doing the same!😊

  21. RiP to an extraordinary man. Surely something like this can continue in some format especially if Westporters are involved- we can do anything. Dan you are the natural choice to get as involved with it as much as you want. We need this bad. Sad day.

  22. What a tremendous loss for the community—especially in this era of dwindling local news coverage along with the trends in recent years of so much disinformation being generated.

  23. For those of us who have been looking for new models for local journalism in this era of swiftly declining legacy media, Gordon and WestportNow have been enormous beacons of inspiration. WestpotNow was one of the very first independent local web sites and set a standard for the rest of us.

    In the mid-2000s, I even started a company, Backfence, to build and operate “hyperlocal” news sites in several communities in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco. To say we stole the idea from Gordon and WestportNow would only be a slight exaggeration. Despite venture capital backing, Backfence failed–which is just further evidence of the miracles that Gordon wrought in sustaining Westport Now for nearly two decades.

    R.I.P. to my friend and local journalism compatriot Gordon Joseloff; I sincerely hope that some way can be found for the community to step up to keep WestportNow from passing with him.

  24. Thank you, Dan, for this post & forum … I, too, would be happy to lend my expertise wherever it might help …

    As a busy freelance journalist in Westport & Fairfield County for many years — and a Westport native — I have strong feelings about the importance of local coverage. I’ve often thought it would be brilliant to create a nonprofit model (perhaps like CT Mirror) that could have links to a town’s governmental operations, but in a way where objectivity and freedom to write the truth without censorship were insured …

    The role journalism plays in the symbiotic habitat of a healthy community is terrifically important — people don’t even realize it — and a great town like Westport deserves as much …

  25. Sal Liccione RTM District 9

    I agree with Jared we need to do that for our town it a great loss for our town and the state it will be missed

  26. Constance Chien

    I am deeply saddened by this! These boilerplate “local” news websites (Patch and the like) can’t hold a candle to WestportNow. And don’t get me started on Moffly Media. I’ve been a loyal reader of WestportNow for 15 years and it has always been so reliable, relatable, and down-to-earth. Loved the teardown of the day posts, the obituaries. The up-to-date emergency posts. What are we going to do??

  27. Love this -> Thought/suggestion – maybe transfer WN to operate under Staples HS journalism/paper club with oversight by one of the teachers/parents/volunteer. It will provide students with broader real time journalism experience while contributing to the community.

    If Dan is too busy to man the helm, with backing and assurances of salary, then I think maybe the suggestion of a school journalism project is a fitting legacy. But to be clear, my first vote is for Dan!

  28. Continuing Gordon’s work and passion will take a team of like minded community supporters, journalists and doers with operational experience and financial acumen. If there is a group of like minded citizens who want to keep WestportNow going beyond month end, please let me know. Our community thrives when we are informed and engaged.

  29. Dan — a thought — would it be possible to have some of the most popular WestportNow features in 06880? Such as Teardown of the Day, Obits, Board of Ed releases? Maybe they could be done at little or no cost. I don’t think we need many sunrise/sunset shots — we’ve seen enough of those.

    • Hi Bobbie,

      Great questions. And if I can find a way to stretch more hours into the day — beyond the 6 to 8 hours a day I already spend on “06880,” along with my “real” jobs — maybe!

  30. Donald Bergmann

    I do not know the many writers who contributed to Westport Now, but do know Jarret Liotta. Jarret’s words reflect an appreciation and respect for written journalism and his writings over so many years reflect both great commitment and expertise. May all those who wrote for Westport Now find a new home or at least a new stopping place on their paths in the world of journalism.
    Don Bergmann