Gary Lishnoff's eyes lit up when Jane Bryant Quinn arrived at Norwalk Community College to be a guest speaker at his Lifetime Learners presentation Thursday. Lishnoff, head of the senior citizens group, has been a fan for years, and it was a special treat that the personal finance writer agreed to do a presentation on local news.

"These days, people are not willing to pay for something they can get for free," said Quinn, editorial director of Norwalk-based Main Street Connect. She said the goal of Main Street Connect is to provide high-quality community news at no cost to the reader.

Quinn discussed the decline of print news, the rise of digital media and her decision to transform herself from personal finance expert to community news publisher. Quinn's columns on personal finance are still found in countless publications, but Thursday's discussion was all about local news.

"Everybody in the room is totally disappointed in what has happened to our newspapers," Lishnoff said. "The [local] papers have deteriorated over the years and we have no idea what is happening locally."

Quinn said the demise of the local newspaper in Poquag, N.Y., where she lives, was one of the events that inspired her and her husband, Main Street Connect CEO and co-founder Carll Tucker, to start a network of digital community newspapers.  From this idea came the beginnings of Main Street Connect, publishers of this news site and its nine sister sites.

"Everyone was impressed, and everyone in the room will start going to the sites each day. It's so convenient, and it's free," Lishnoff said. "She was just flawless in going through her speech. We could've sat there for hours."

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