Bob Fredericks bleeds Bridgeport. He’s also unafraid to extract a pint of blood from wayward pols. This week he’s scheduled to return to the Connecticut Post, as managing editor, where he had previous stints as reporter and an editor. Fredericks is serving a life sentence in journalism. It’s what he knows and loves. His presence in the newsroom adds critical city knowledge base to corporate journalism’s dispassion to things local. He will fight for more local coverage. In time it will come. Don’t expect instant results.
Fredericks will need to figure out how best to deploy his peeps, assuming the corporate suits that set the newsroom budget allow him the latitude. Some journalists are only as good as the direction they are pointed, and Fredericks’ presence will help determine the right fit for the right scribe. The Post still has a nice foundation of scribes to educate readers about the things that go on in the state’s largest city. As we’ve debated here often, it’s incomprehensible the paper covering the state’s city has not one full-time scribe covering city hall. And that’s just the way the politicians like it. Journalists tend to have a sour disposition toward things, it’s the nature of the beast, and quietly Post reporters will tell you the sound of crickets is deafening in the newsroom, a product of cuts and spreading reporters thin and limited local news direction.
Fredericks might be able to increase the enthusiasm level. One thing’s for sure, he won’t allow anyone to mail it in. He has low tolerance for scribes who don’t do their homework. He’s neighborhood savvy. He’s supportive of the little peeps such as nonprofits, destination points, artists and musicians; but when it comes to power structures he’s like a little kid with matches and gasoline. Pols should keep a fire extinguisher handy.
“I want The Post to be a great local paper,” he wrote in an email to the Connecticut Post when the paper announced his hire a few weeks ago, “and that means a combination of aggressive investigative news, business and sports reporting with a good mix of thoughtful columns and interesting profiles and features about the places where we live and work.”
Fredericks was raised in the city’s East Side and has lived in Black Rock for more than 20 years. He graduated from Fairfield Prep in 1972 and Boston College in 1976. Good grief, Fredericks is pushing 60? Well, he’ll be a youthful 60.
Most recently Fredericks worked as a senior writer at the New York Post. He’ll enjoy a much shorter commute.
Something to watch: will Fredericks become a member of the The Connecticut Post Editorial Board? Editorial boards shape the opinion pages, independent of the newsroom, and endorse candidates for public office. Fredericks is suspicious about lending his name to opinions and sentences he doesn’t craft. Editorial board members must do that. It’s impossible for them to read and sign off on every editorial.
OIB has not spoken to Fredericks, a regular OIB reader, about his return to the Post other than greetings and salutations. It’s better to protect the innocent in a new venture.