OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT — Founded in 2003 by veteran publisher Jack Turner and now headed by news editor Olwen Logan, LymeLine had the humble beginnings one might expect for a site that covers two towns (Lyme and Old Lyme) with a combined population of fewer than 10,000. When Turner first decided to venture into the world of online journalism, paperless news had yet to catch on in small town Connecticut. “We updated daily, but [traffic] was very slow. Nobody went to the Internet for their local news,” says Logan.
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When the site was in its infancy, Turner recruited Olwen to write and report while he acted as editor and publisher. Since that time, LymeLine has gone from eighty-four views during its first month of existence to now averaging over 1,500 per day. “Readership has gone up tremendously this year. We almost reached 2,000 visits daily in March and last month we generated a record 263,229 pageviews,” Logan told CJR.
After Turner’s death in April 2005 at the age of seventy-four, Logan and her husband Nigel, each of whom had partial ownership stakes in the site, decided to buy Turner’s stake from his widow. They officially took over in 2005 and since then have continued to grow the site, eventually forming an LLC called Shoreline Web News which publishes LymeLine, OldSaybrookNow.com (covering Old Saybrook, a town of about 10,500 residents not far from Lyme), and ValleyNewsNow.com (which covers the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex).
LymeLine competes against several local weekly papers, as well as regional paper The Day and its online local news project Zip06, which allows readers to filter news for a specific town in southeastern Connecticut. Although hyperlocal giant Patch has launched more than fifty sites in Connecticut, LymeLine’s coverage area has thus far been spared. Many residents of Lyme, Old Lyme, and other neighboring towns still count on LymeLine to deliver local news such as town meetings, arts and culture, sports, politics, and transportation. The site also acts as a community calendar. According to Logan, residents expect to see LymeLine at town events and grow concerned if they are not present. (“Just seconds before you called, someone called in to complain that we hadn’t got the time for the high school basketball game!”)
One story that exemplifies LymeLine’s place as a hyperlocal news source was about a memorial ceremony held by the classmates of an eleven-year-old girl who died of a brain tumor. LymeLine was the only press to cover the event. “It was very special. Everyone gathered on the beach, released their balloons, and we photographed the whole thing,” said Logan.
LymeLine’s staff consists of Logan, who is the site’s news editor, and Logan’s husband Nigel, the site’s staff reporter. Logan and her husband do not pay themselves a salary, and Logan works a day job as the director of marketing and public relations at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. Behind the husband and wife team stand a group of volunteers, professional writers, occasional freelancers, and even high school interns. LymeLine’s writers cover everything from championship girls softballs teams to lists of endless summer events going on in town. Logan brags of one student that wrote for LymeLine and went on to receive a full ride to Ithaca College on a journalism scholarship.
LymeLine is a for-profit site, gathering income from a number of local ads. Last year, LymeLine’s sales income was $30,000. Logan and her husband sell the ads themselves, with occasional help from contract salespeople. Current ad rates can be found here, but Logan plans to implement new rates. The ads run in a column on the right side of the page, and the new rates will range from $500 per month for the top-most ad to $200 per month for ads given a rotating space on the site.
Raised in London, Logan decided to follow her great-grandfather—Alfred Ewen “A.E.” Fletcher, editor at one time of English newspaper The Daily Chronicle, and enter the world of journalism. Before she started at LymeLine, Logan was a senior financial manager at Kimberly-Clark. After having her first child, she left Kimberly-Clark to start her own public relations consultancy. Once she moved to Connecticut with husband, she started as a staff writer for the now-defunct Main Street News in Essex.
Margins can be tight in the world of online news, but Logan has no regrets about going into business for herself. Whenever she’s approached by larger online publishers like Main Street Connect about coming under their umbrella, Logan has a standard response: “I’ll just keep doing my thing.”
City: Old Lyme
Principal Staff: Olwen Logan, editor; Nigel Logan, staff reporter.
Affiliations: Business: Shoreline Web News LLC; Google AdSense; Independent Media Network LLC.
CMS: Custom System