It used to be the Hartford Courant was the dominant media force in Connecticut and then there was everyone else. No more. The Courant is now a splinter of its former self, like so many newspaper outlets around the country, as its parent Tribune Co. www.tribune.com emerges from bankruptcy with a plan to recast itself as a television makeover while potentially selling off its print publications. As the Courant fades, Hearst Newspapers, parent of the Connecticut Post, has positioned itself as a relevant media player in the state.
The Courant, historically featured the most efficient journalists in the state, solid news gathering combined with strong writing. Over the past decade many scribes were dispatched to the unemployment lines as advertising losses forced layoffs. Some scribes reinvented themselves or managed to find work at other publications. The massacre in Newton is just one example of the Courant no longer having the horses to saturate a story with an army of journalists.
The bloodiest gun assault on school children in U.S. history occurred in Newton in Hearst territory. There was a time, with that kind of high-profile story, the Courant would say make way boys, we’re here: L’Ambiance Plaza collapse in Bridgeport, Mianus River Bridge collapse in Greenwich, public corruption cases, exclusive interviews, enterprise stories–the Courant dominated. The Hearst coverage of Sandy Hook was more comprehensive than the Courant’s. The Courant still has top-notch journalists such as Ed Mahony, Dave Altimari and others, whose work on the shootings was outstanding.
Hearst owns four daily newspapers in southern Connecticut as well as a bunch of weeklies. The Greenwich Time, The Advocate in Stamford, Connecticut Post and Danbury News-Times all are Hearst publications sharing regional stories, front page designs with the dailies printed in downtown Bridgeport. If something big happens in its southern Connecticut circulation area Hearst can deploy journalists to the task. Of course, if you talk to the scribes individually about local coverage they will privately lament cutbacks, meow about vacant newsrooms, they don’t do this right or that. It’s the nature of the beast in an unappreciated world.
If you think Mayor Bill Finch’s administration is tight lipped about things, Connecticut Post reporters by comparison are clams sunk deep into the Long Island Sound mud. Journalists report the news, they don’t like being it. “We can’t talk to you about what goes on here,” yadda, yadda.
The person tasked with overall editorial supervision of Hearst Connecticut papers is Barbara Roessner, former managing editor of the Hartford Courant who was part of a team that won a Pultizer.
Coverage improvements are underway at the Post. Hopefully, it will last. Journalists do important work. Without them, it’s like ringing the dinner bell for sneaky pols.