Dartmouth resident starts up New Bedford news outlet

Mar 21, 2021

Citing concern over a lack of news coverage in New Bedford, a group of South Coast journalists hope to fill that void with the launch of a nonprofit news website called the New Bedford Light.

The digital publication, scheduled to be up sometime this spring, aims to inform the citizens of New Bedford and surrounding towns by providing in-depth journalism that incorporates voices from all of the city’s communities.

“It’s something that’s been in the works for a while,” said Steve Taylor, the founding publisher and current member of the Dartmouth Planning Board. “New Bedford is a missing link right now — we hope to change that.” 

Taylor, who spent 24 years working at the Boston Globe, said his publication will not seek out ad revenue, and will instead use corporate sponsorship and reader donations similar to public television and radio.

“We’re not going to have any paywall that stops people from reading,” he said.

Along with Taylor, the new nonprofit’s board also consists of several community members and journalists including Walter Robinson, a former reporter and editor from the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team during its investigation of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church.

“We don’t have a shortage of talent and experience,” Taylor said.

Leading the editorial team is former Hartford Courant managing editor Barbara Roessner. 

To stand out from the corporate-owned Standard Times, she said the initial editorial goal is to publish one in-depth story every week focusing on issues affecting the city’s diverse communities.

Possible topics she said will be covered include environment, health care, schools, economic development, the waterfront, and social justice in the city.

“So many issues are roiling in New Bedford that need depth for folks to understand them,” she added. “We’re not trying to disrupt any existing media — we want to add to what’s there.” 

Along with in-depth pieces, the Westport resident said she would like to try and incorporate more community voices, noting that many underrepresented groups don’t typically interact with legacy media outlets.

To try and get those communities to warm up to the new publication, Roessner said tens of thousands of surveys were sent out in four different languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole. 

“You constantly have to think about your communications in New Bedford,” she said.

Once New Bedford Light is up and running, Roessner intends to have the community get involved through videos, photos, and podcasts in various languages.

“I think it will pay off big time in terms of reflecting the community and making it part of us,” she said.

The founding editor added that as time goes on, she plans to host “journalist incubator” workshops that would teach basic journalism skills to members of the community.

“We have big plans,” Taylor said. “Now we have to deliver.”