The Citizen is an independent source of news for the people of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Our goal is to tell the important and interesting stories that are otherwise un- or under-covered in our community. We will report aggressively and fairly on behalf of everyone who lives here, and will not place any content behind a paywall. The Citizen is funded by local advertisers and readers who support its mission.

When trying to name this journalistic venture, we wanted something that would underscore our focus on in-depth coverage of local policy, social and cultural issues. We also wanted an inclusive term that does Harrisonburg justice as a growing, evolving and increasingly diverse community – even if we all don’t know each other well yet.

The word citizen has various connotations. Some think it refers only to those with legal paperwork showing they were born in or naturalized to a particular place. A broader definition, though, refers to all inhabitants of a particular place. We embrace the latter understanding in choosing the name The Citizen, to represent all people who live in and around Harrisonburg. We also believe that citizenship comes with inherent responsibilities: getting to know our neighbors, sharing ideas and participating to the fullest extent we can in the democratic process. All of that starts with being informed. And we hope that’s where The Citizen comes in.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being informed.

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Who we are

Andrew Jenner, co-founder and co-editor – Andrew has spent most of his career as a journalist in the Shenandoah Valley, working as a freelancer for the past decade. He has covered many things for many media outlets, including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Roads & Kingdoms, Discover and WMRA. He returned home to Harrisonburg in 2018, after three years living and writing in Brazil.

Ryan Alessi, co-founder and co-editor – Ryan mostly focused on covering state politics and government in Virginia’s former county of Kentucky from 2003 – 2014. Before that, he was a reporter for the now-defunct Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C. In 2016, he followed his wife to Harrisonburg, where he teaches journalism and media classes at James Madison University.


Contact us

For story tips, “Perspective” piece submissions and other inquiries, please contact us at: harrisonburgcitizen@gmail.com.