The staff of The Waterbury Observer is largely a family affair with Publisher and Editor John Murray, left, and his daughter, Chelsea Murray Kaneb, right, forming the backbone of the newspaper. Additional help is provided by Maureen Griffin in marketing and graphic design, Geraldo Reyes Jr. works on special projects, writes a column, and assists Murray in distributing the newspaper, and Fernando Cerdena contributes with columns and marketing.
Publisher and Editor – John Murray
After graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1981, Murray worked for six years as a commercial salmon fisherman in Ketchikan, Alaska. The seasonal job lasted four months and filled Murray’s pocket with enough cash so he could travel and explore the world. During his twenties he spent two winters in Europe, wandered through India, Nepal and East Africa, and most significantly, hitchhiked 40,000 across North America, where he learned to connect, listen and learn from people living in the shadows of American society.
The travel experiences triggered Murray’s career in journalism, which began by shooting dramatic images from Southeast Alaska. Returning East, Murray worked at the Litchfield Enquirer, the oldest weekly newspaper in Connecticut, from 1987 to 1989, and then the Register-Citizen in Torrington, Connecticut, where he was the chief photographer from 1989 to 1993.
Murray joined Marty Begnal, a fellow Register-Citizen journalist, in co-founding The Waterbury Observer in October 1993. Begnal left the Observer in 1996 to pursue other interests, and Murray continued on alone. In the past 30 years the Observer has won numerous awards from the New England Press Association and from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for feature stories, photography, columns and investigative journalism.
In April 2007 Murray was featured on NBC Dateline for his coverage of a controversial rape case that occurred in Waterbury in 1993. Murray’s coverage helped trigger a two-hour NBC special highlighting Donna Palomba’s courageous battle against sexual assault, police corruption and media insensitivity. The story was re-filmed in January 2022 when NBC Dateline aired two-hour special updating ongoing twists in the case.
In addition, Murray’s coverage of the bizarre disappearance of Billy Smolinski was honored as one of the top investigative stories in New England, and triggered federal legislation, “Billy’s Law” was signed by President Joe Biden in December 2022 and changes the way police officers respond to the report of a missing adult. Murray’s work has appeared in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times. Murray can be reached at 203-754-4238 or at email@example.com
Sales and Marketing and Travel Editor – Chelsea Murray Kaneb
Chelsea Murray Kaneb literally grew up inside a newsroom. When she was five years old the Observer was launched in the dining room of her father’s home. Eighteen months later the newsroom moved into her living room when the Observer expanded to five employees.
Chelsea has experienced every facet of the newspaper business. She began writing youth columns at the Observer when she was 11 years old. Chelsea won first place in the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists 2002 competition for a column she wrote about a 14 year old dying of cancer. Her column was chosen over 35 entries submitted by seasoned, professional journalists. Chelsea was 14 years old.
Chelsea has written a hundred columns and written feature stories about activist Julia Butterfly Hill, writer Elizabeth Gilbert, and the UConn womens basketball team. In addition to writing, Chelsea is an excellent photographer and an enthusiastic salesperson.
After graduating from Marist College in 2010 with a degree in International Communications, Chelsea returned to Connecticut to accept a position as the Observer’s free-wheeling travel editor. She has travelled extensively throughout the world, including Guatemala, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia and India.
In 2013 Chelsea volunteered on a Heifer Farm in Massachusetts, and met her future husband, Michael Kaneb. After leaving the farm in August 2013 they explored Europe for five month before settling in Northwest Connecticut, where they now live with their todler, Zoe, and frisky pup, Tashi.
Chelsea can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Murray breaking down barriers at the Tibetan Village in McLoud Ganj, India.