Cecilia Smith Creates a Patch of Media

By Kevin Cassidy - 10/04
More by Kevin Cassidy

NEIRAD enilno edition

Darien is already home to two healthy weekly papers. The Darien Times and the Darien News Review, which both vie for readers in a crowded media marketplace. Now that space has gotten even a little more competitive with the launch of the Darien Patch

This past August the Darien Patch went live. The online site isn’t a traditional newspaper or even a magazine. It is 21st century journalism at its finest. The Darien Patch is a hyper-local site that covers all the big stories and minutiae that Darien readers want to know.

This is a totally online newspaper run by a Class of 2004 DHS alumni Cecelia Smith. Yet, Ms Smith actually started far from Darien. She was born in London but then moved here when she was eight years old. Ms Smith then went on to NYU where she graduated in May 2009. A short three months later she was named editor of the Darien Patch.

The site is updated daily to cover all of the town’s top stories.  As the editor she is a very busy woman keeping the site populated with fresh content.  Ms Smith always finds herself either reporting, managing, editing, and interviewing.   Ms Smith is able to edit the Darien Patch from her Darien home.  Ms Smith explained she “works out of the same bedroom where she did her high school work”.  Ms Smith also talked about how she is always on the go, whether she is looking for the next big story or getting that important interview.  She says “no story is too small to cover”.

Ms Smith’s career began during her time with Neirad.  She explained how she “started out taking it because she needed an elective” and as one can assume she was quickly able to work her way up to the role of the “entertainment editor”.  Although this is not when Ms. Smith made her decision to make journalism her career it was definitely the first step.

English teacher Francis Janosco was the faculty adviser during Ms Smith’s Neirad tenure.  She was a member of Neirad when there were far fewer members on the staff. Mr Janosco’s remembers Ms Smith’s drive.  “She was an energetic and effervescent student,” Mr. Janosco said.

Ms. Smith decided she definitely wanted to go into the news business after taking a class called “Reporting the Art” at NYU.  Little did Ms Smith know she would be the editor of an up-and-coming online paper. 

Ms Smith enjoys coving politics as well as investigative pieces.  She “loves the challenge of the investigative stories”.  This former Neirad staffer quickly established a name for her and the Darien Patch when she broke the news last October on town first selectman independent candidate Chris Noe’s criminal background. She unearthed details that included time Mr Noe served in a Connecticut state prison for shooting a man in 1983. Mr Noe was later defeated in the November election. (Click here to read more on Ms Smith’s investigation http://darien.patch.com/articles/noe-says-criminal-record-shouldnt-affect-race ) 

In fact, Ms Smith is often far ahead of her more seasoned competitors on the breaking news on a consistent basis. The Darien Patch beat the local papers on breaking weather coverage when a snowstorm hit on Feb 26 and then again when a late storm hit on March 13. 

Although the Darien Patch has just started up a few months ago it has proven to be a great news source that is often first on the scene.  To see a Neirad alumni move up to be on the cutting edge of new media is pretty amazing accomplishment in one of the toughest times journalism has ever faced.