Westport Local Press launches with hopes of being a community platform

The Westport Local Press was created by Jamie Bairaktaris ’16 after the closure of WestportNow. The website aims to be a community platform for Westporters.

Graphic by Katie Simons '22

The Westport Local Press was created by Jamie Bairaktaris ’16 after the closure of WestportNow. The website aims to be a community platform for Westporters.

Katie Simons ’22 , Paper News Editor

Between working as an EMT, working at Saugatuck Sweets and an elementary school, Jamie Bairaktaris ’16 never envisioned having time, or an interest, to start a news website. However, a passion for photography and the closure of WestportNow led him to his newest adventure, The Westport Local Press.

Bairaktaris worked as one of the main photographers for WestportNow. However, the site closed after the passing of former First Selectman, editor and publisher, Gordon Joseloff. Bairaktaris felt that Westport had a void of an easy to read, community news platform that needed to be filled. 

“The Westport Local Press [is] somewhere where people can go see the pictures, have that visual stimulus, learn about what they’re looking at and not worry about having to pay for it,” Bairaktaris said. “The site belongs to the community just as much as it belongs to me.”

According to the website’s mission statement, they want to be a platform that is always there to support and inform the community.

“We’ll never miss a moment, because we’ll be sharing the moment with you,” the website states. “Our work will be focused on our community – remaining objective in practice and empathetic in nature.” 

Bairaktaris began taking photos in middle school and as his passion evolved, he decided to submit his photos to WestportNow. There, he was able to see how important community platforms are. 

WestportNow was a really beautiful thing in that it shared the bad news, it shared the news we needed to see. But it also shared subtext and shared the good things and I think that’s something we really need to show people.”

“WestportNow was a really beautiful thing in that it shared the bad news, it shared the news we needed to see,” Bairaktaris said. “But it also shared subtext and shared the good things and I think that’s something we really need to show people.”  

The website has a news section with town updates, articles, photographs, emails from Westport schools and Westport’s daily COVID-19 numbers. However, what makes the site unique is the “Good News” section, where the articles are filtered to only contain positive updates. 

“We get this sort of news fatigue where we’re so used to seeing bad things coming up, that we kind of need to sometimes be directed to another filter that shows just the good things […]there are still good things happening, we just have to look for them,” Bairaktaris said. “There’s so much good happening in town.”

Throughout the country, there has been a growing popularity of local news as opposed to national news. According to Pew Research Center, people who live in suburban towns, like Westport, are more likely to participate in local news. Whether that be reading local websites or contributing their own ideas, websites focused on community news have been growing steadily in communities like Westport.   

“It’s so important to be connected in your community and know what’s going on,” Annie Toohey ’22. “Having sites like [The Westport Local Press] are necessary to keeping Westport together as one unit.”