Judith PfefferNew Editor Judith Pfeffer

Bob SpragueBob Sprague

During another slow slog home from working in Southborough, driving the Mass Pike, “a light bulb went on in my head,” says longtime Arlington resident Bob Sprague. 

It was 2006, midway through a two-year tenure as print and online copy editor of Network World

That bright idea spurred by a book about citizen journalism led to YourArlington -- 17 years later the last, best hope for residents to read the news about their town.

In July 2023, having established the site as a nonprofit with wide community involvement, he is stepping back from day-to-day duties, as YourArlington continues under Judith Pfeffer, the new editor.

Looking back, forward

How did the site come to be, and what can readers expect now?

In 2006, Sprague read the nonfiction book We the Media, which describes the impact of the internet on 21st-century news as local people become citizen journalists, often exclusively online. Such publications, commonly locally based, are sometimes small businesses, while many others, increasingly, are nonprofit organizations. 

Its author, Dan Gillmor, is founder/director of the Center for Citizen Media, a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, and an in-demand author and speaker.

Pondering the merits of this intriguing concept of community online journalism, Sprague thought, in essence: 

I could do that.

I should do that.

I will do that.

And so he did.

Background for vision

Sprague, with his decades of experience as a reporter and editor on small newspapers in his native Pennsylvania and later at the Boston Herald and Boston Globe, had the chops to create something worth reading.

The result was YourArlington, a name chosen because he wanted fellow Arlingtonians to see their activities, their opinions and the news they need to know all reflected on its website.

An early adopter of internet software -- he started the town's website in 1998 -- Sprague created and maintained YourArlington for its first five years, pretty much single-handedly, while still working full time.

In 2011, leaving paid employment, and for the next decade, he continued to refine and improve the website, aided by his journalist wife, Marjorie Howard, and, later, a few freelance writers. Notable is Susan Gilbert, who started in 2015 and can claim seniority. Other writers have been Arlington High School interns, Northeastern University students and local residents.

No pay

YourArlington has been a passion project, a labor of love and an act of public service,  as Sprague has taken no pay. The operation never took in much money through advertising or other means. And that was OK with the founder. What did matter was that YourArlington should continue to inform the roughly 46,000 residents about everything from the latest town decisions and local business functions to arts events and community activities.

In 2021, with the pandemic raging and Sprague fretting about how the site would continue, he transformed YourArlington into an official (501)(c)3 nonprofit. He reached out to the community to form a board of directors. Sprague is president – and will remain so. Other board members are Annie LaCourt, Kim Haase, Jim Concannon, Susan Webber and Susan Stamps. Another 21 people are advisory-board members; freelance writers also often attend the monthly meetings.

Nonprofit advantages, new editors

It might initially seem counterintuitive, but a registered nonprofit -- because it can seek tax-deductible donations and other funding such as grants -- often can establish a firmer financial foundation than a mom-and-pop business based on advertising.

As such, YourArlington can receive – and continues to undeniably need – contributions from individuals, families, businesses and foundations. This is even more crucial now because of the most recent step in the website’s evolution -- to primarily paid editorial workers.

As Sprague pulls back from daily editorial functions, the title of editor goes to the former assistant editor, Judith Pfeffer.

She began with YourArlington as an occasional contributor in early 2019. In July 2020, she began covering the Arlington School Committee and in spring 2023 the Minuteman School Committee. She received the title of assistant editor in January 2023.

Earlier in her career, she was a reporter and editor on small magazines and newspapers in her native Southern California and later performed public-relations work. She has taught communications (journalism and marketing) on both coasts, including most recently at Emerson College in Boston.

To facilitate a smooth transition, she depends on the assistant to the editor, Brynn O’Connor, a recent Emerson graduate who also works in Boston in television news, as well as volunteer and board secretary Haase. In addition, Pfeffer knows that YourArlington could not function as it does without restaurant reviewer Frederick Kalil, plus Gilbert and her fellow freelance writers Tony Moschetto, Jake Bentzinger and Alex Svenson.

Mission remains

Looking ahead, the website’s mission remains the same: "YourArlington is a local news organization that publishes facts and opinions about Arlington, Mass. We aspire to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness. Our aim is to bolster an engaged citizenry and so strengthen our community and democracy." 

As per its “About” page, the site will continue to function under the model of mainstream journalism: factual reporting, honest opinion and overall fair play. News releases, story ideas and tips should continue to be sent to the same email address as before: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Looking ahead, the board plans to have a table at Town Day in late September -- and a major fund-raiser is in the works for later in the autumn.

None of this would be possible without community support, including underwriters Judy Weinberg and Ezekiel Wheeler as well as staunch supporters Ted Peluso and Gilbert, the longtime writer who contributed $10,000 last year.

May 11, 2022: Firsthand perspective: What has happened to your local newspaper? You can help


This extended news announcement was published Sunday, July 2, 2023, based on information from Bob Sprague and Judith Pfeffer. The public can continue to email news and opinion to be considered for publication to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here.YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible.