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Denise Civiletti

RiverheadLOCAL publisher named to board of national news group

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RiverheadLOCAL.com publisher and editor Denise Civiletti of Riverhead, N.Y., has been named to the board of directors of Local Independent Online News Publishers, a national network dedicated to fostering the viability and excellence of locally focused, independent online news organizations.

LION Publishers is the only nationwide group representing the publishers and editors of local, independent, online-only news organizations who are successfully creating the future of reporting: locally owned and operated digital news outlets that directly serve their communities.

“Denise is recognized as an online news leader and innovator in business, technology and communication,” LION Publishers board chairman Dylan Smith said, announcing Civiletti’s appointment to the organization’s board of directors this week.

“The news website she’s built with her husband, Peter Blasl, for the community of Riverhead, N.Y., on Long Island, is a fine example of how the rich heritage of local journalism is honored in the digital age,” Smith said.

RiverheadLOCAL.com is a digital news startup launched in January 2010, covering news, sports and events in Riverhead and the surrounding area on the eastern end of Long Island. The site’s coverage area is a community of about 35,000 people. Today, the site attracts a monthly average of more than 46,000 unique visitors and has an average of more than 230,000 pageviews per month.

“We filled a void not only in local online news here, but also in meeting the needs of local small businesses to reach their customers where they spend their time and get their information, and that’s online,” Civiletti says of the success of RiverheadLOCAL, which is supported by solely by advertising revenue. “Our success is built on our intimate knowledge of and love for our community and community journalism. We aren’t out-of-towners here to mine dollars. We’re here to serve and make a difference in our hometown community — in its civic and community life as well as its economic vitality.”

Civiletti, an award-winning journalist, is the former co-publisher and executive editor of a four-paper group of weekly newspapers on the East End of the island. A lawyer, Civiletti switched careers at age 42.

“I found my passion and never looked back,” she says.

“I’m delighted to help guide the growth and development of LION Publishers and the digital community news industry,” Civiletti said. “There is no question that the digital delivery of local news is the present and future of community journalism. We need to make sure it grows as a viable, sustainable locally based industry.”

Civiletti is serving as a business coach for the Community Journalism Executive Training workshop to be held next month at Montclair State University. She is a presenter at next week’s CUNY Graduate School of Journalism “The Scoop on Revenue” workshop and has been a guest lecturer at the Stony Brook University School of Journalism.

LION Publishers was organized and incorporated in 2012, with support from the Patterson Foundation. It is an outgrowth of a a working group that first met at the 2011 Block by Block Community News Summit in Chicago, which the RiverheadLOCAL publisher attended.