With Crevier’s Retirement, Voket To Lead ‘The Newtown Bee’
The Newtown Bee’s steady presence in town, since the Smith family took over in 1881, can be traced to its editorial leadership.
Through the years, the position was held by Smiths — including current Bee Publishing Company Publisher R. Scudder Smith — and only two non-family members. Now, with the current editor’s retirement, a new leader will continue the paper’s reliable community coverage.
As June transitions to July, the position of editor will transition from Nancy K. Crevier, who is retiring — to Associate Editor John Voket, who will assume that leadership role on the 17th year anniversary of his hiring in 2004.
Crevier’s First ‘Bee’ Byline
Crevier started at The Newtown Bee in January 2005 primarily as a features reporter, and working at the paper allowed her to “really get to know Newtown.”
From social issues, to personalities, to history and more, her beat helped fill the pages of The Newtown Bee. She created and has continued the popular “Nourishments” food column that appeared semi-regularly; and a look at vaping as it came on the scene earned her a third place award for reporting on social issues at the 2014 New England Newspapers & Press Association competition. In 2016, the Rotary Club of Newtown honored her with a Paul Harris Fellow Recognition award for her stories featuring the club’s Gift of Life program.
She reflected recently, “Upon the retirement of longtime Editor Curtiss Clark in 2016, Publisher R. Scudder Smith asked me to accept the position of editor of The Newtown Bee, acknowledging that the value of my life experiences and enjoyment of working with people, as well as familiarity with the town were characteristics he sought in Bee leadership. To be chosen as the next voice of this historic paper and to be the first female editor of The Newtown Bee has been an honor.”
So, Crevier moved from a corner desk to the editor’s office, roughly 15 feet away.
Smith and his wife, Helen, both reflected recently on Crevier’s time as editor. She had “great knowledge of Newtown” and “she fit right in”; she transitioned well to the position, and “she was good,” Smith shared.
“Nancy stepped in and did a beautiful job,” Helen Smith said.
Smith remembers talking with Clark before he retired about who should take his office and asking, “Why look any further?” after learning Crevier had penned some editorials.
A quick scan of the paper’s archives pulled up what could have been her first story as features reporter, published in the January 20, 2005, print edition, “Barely Room At The Inn, 600 To Attend Tercentennial Ball.” She began the story with, “‘Dancing cheek to cheek’ may be more than just a line from a song if you are one of the lucky 600 who RSVP’d to the Tercentennial Ball by January 8.” In retrospect, it is an apt first line for her long writing career at the paper. Many may not know how cheeky Crevier’s writing can be, but Mountain, The Newtown Bee’s roving cat columnist who utilizes Crevier’s fingers to pen “The Top Of The Mountain” weekly, certainly knows. (Yes: Mountain is a cat who writes for the paper. He was a real cat... We swear.)
Crevier graduated cum laude from Bemidji State University in Minnesota in 1978, majoring in German. Studying foreign language proved an asset through her lifetime, dovetailing with her longtime love of the written language.
Just prior to her employment with The Newtown Bee, Crevier was an educational assistant in the reading department of Reed Intermediate School; she also worked at Burr Farm in Brookfield (now Shakespeare’s Garden), where she worked with annuals and perennials under the guidance of owner Garry Ober. As Crevier recently shared, before she, her husband, and two children — now 32 and 29 — lived in Newtown, “We lived in the small town of Andover, Conn., where I was a full-time mom (and where I honed my “MOM VOICE”) and part-time caterer and food writer — drawing on my pre-children life of co-owning one of Hartford’s most popular natural foods restaurants in the late 1970s to mid-1980s, The Garden of Eating. My partner and I gained valuable insight into business and managing personalities, all of which came back as strengths I could draw on in future employment situations.”
Now, Newtown is the only place she has lived as an adult that she can say feels like her “hometown.”
On being the paper’s first female editor, Crevier said, “It was a big step forward. Segueing from fact-based reporting to the weekly Editorial Ink Drops opinion piece was a challenge, but one I was happy to take on.”
Being editor, she said, has been an “honor,” and working at the paper has been a highlight in her life.
Voket Begins At ‘The Bee’
Voket only preceded Crevier’s start at The Newtown Bee by a matter of months. His byline first appeared in the July 8, 2004, print edition of The Newtown Bee, according to online archives. His first stories were, “Firm Picked For Fairfield Hills Wastewater Management,” “Waste Disposal Agreement Fixes Fees: Some Trash May Head To Landfills,” and “Senior Center Launching State’s Third ‘Yellow Dot’ Safety Program.”
Throughout their respective tenures, Voket and Crevier worked together often, regarding one another as friends as well as professional colleagues.
“John is devoted to the art of journalism and has been a dedicated staff member and Associate Editor of The Newtown Bee,” Crevier said. “His familiarity with Newtown and the people of Newtown will be a benefit as he assumes the leadership role at the paper. I have no doubt that his ability to pivot as needed will mean that residents can count on his guiding the paper to its best efforts every week. His advancement to the position of editor speaks to the confidence the publisher places in his talents.”
Smith said, “I think he will be good, because he knows a lot of people and he has a lot of good ideas,” adding that coming up with story ideas can be the hardest part of the job.
Voket’s vast number of stories published in The Newtown Bee since 2004 (according to the online archives, his bylined stories alone tally over 3,800) certainly speaks to the fact that generating story ideas has never been hard for him.
Smith also said Voket has a large circle of contacts who respect him. Helen Smith noted Voket’s “willingness,” when speaking about how he will serve as editor.
Like Crevier, Voket has worked in ranging fields. His start in newspapers, however, began in his childhood, delivering them.
When he applied for the position in 2004, Voket said he had been a community journalist at places like Hometown Publications in Trumbull and Shelton, and at The Naugatuck News serving Naugatuck, Prospect, and Beacon Falls where he managed staff, worked in an editor’s capacity, and handled myriad responsibilities including web design, content development, and overseeing print product development and re-design.
He has been a regular contributor and nationally published consumer columnist for National Relocation & Real Estate Magazine, RISMedia, South Norwalk, and has spent nearly 30 years as a Connecticut broadcaster, hosting and producing the award-winning syndicated public affairs program For The People, as well as providing voice talent and hosting his own show on WPLR-FM.
He initially sought to complete a theater design degree at Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colo., but after being asked to reestablish and publish the campus newspaper there in 1979, he eventually relocated and earned a journalism degree from West Los Angeles College in Culver, Calif.
After returning to his home state in 1987, he worked in other fields, including public relations, broadcast jobs, and as a professional DJ, musician, and entertainment consultant.
While driving through Newtown, he would purchase a copy of the paper to read the “On The Road... With Shannon Hicks” columns, and when he learned a position opened at The Newtown Bee at a time when he was looking for a new job, Voket applied.
As the archives prove, he began churning out stories. Among Voket’s favorite feature pursuits, which he hopes to continue, has been bringing celebrity voices to the paper, having interviewed hundreds of entertainment and music personalities including many Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe winners, and renowned talents too numerous to include.
When the paper’s staff positions were reconfigured shortly after he began working at the paper, Voket and Hicks were named as Associate Editors. That was when Voket took over managing special sections, including The Bee’s Health Monitor, its spring and fall Home & Garden supplement, and the more recent For Better Health product, as well as overseeing the paper’s Health and Business sections.
Since Newtown is “a massive town with a lot of people,” Voket took advantage of the opportunity to meet and work closely with talented, dedicated, community-minded people who went on to become regular contacts and, sometimes, friends, Voket reflected. He says that meeting all of those people has been an “honor” and “blessing.”
His role at the paper will change, and his writing will now primarily be found in the paper’s front page editorial. Voket noted that his longstanding government beat, along with other news and feature coverage, will be handled by the newest Bee employee, the “highly capable” reporter Jim Taylor.
Delivering The News
When The Bee Publishing Company temporarily halted its presses in 2020 due to the global pandemic, it was Crevier and Voket who made sure the “paper” was there when the community needed it most — by maintaining as much community coverage as they could produce, sometimes being on site seven days a week when necessary to fulfill that commitment.
Voket said during the height of the pandemic, he and Crevier knew the presence of hyper-local reporting and information was important to the community “more than ever.”
Crevier said she and Voket “just came in” and “kept newtownbee.com alive.” They covered the COVID-19 pandemic and ways people were coping over the “very intense two months.”
When staff came back that June and the paper went back to print, “We were more than happy. And we were proud that The Newtown Bee did not fall by the wayside. The Newtown Bee was there when people really needed news,” said Crevier.
Voket said having a local news media organization is critically important “for the good news and bad news that it brings.
“I see it as a unifying entity in a community in a place where anybody or everybody can turn for experienced, vetted, hyper-local information about their own neighborhoods and their own hometown.”
Voket thanked the “countless” community members who ever contacted him or spoke with him for a story, and he thanked the Smith family for their trust and confidence.
His primary goal as editor will be reengaging community members and, by virtue of that, attracting more advertisers seeking those community members’ patronage.
“The Newtown Bee has always been here for the community,” stressed Crevier. The importance of journalism in the local community — along with other issues like gun control — has been a frequent topic covered by Crevier in her editorials.
“...I would really like people to know, even when they may disagree with a stance perhaps that I took in an editorial, that The Newtown Bee is open to stories, is open to confrontation, and is hoping the news we carry to them every week is valuable to them,” Crevier said.
Helen Smith also spoke about the importance of the local paper, reflecting that some have, in the past, been in awe of how many staff members work at The Newtown Bee.
“The reason we were allowed to do that was because of [R. Scudder Smith’s] creation of the antiques paper, providing us with all of that,” Helen Smith said. She added the support of businesses ensures the newspaper can continue to exist and be “a paper for all of its citizens.”
What is next for Crevier, Voket, and The Newtown Bee? Well, to paraphrase our cat columnist’s infamous sign-off, you will just have to... Read The Bee again.
Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.