Matt DeRienzo, vice president of news and digital content for Hearst Connecticut Media, who implemented paid digital content for the media giant’s properties, has been fired. He had served as chief editor for eight Connecticut dailies including the Connecticut Post. He was hired in October 2018.
Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent, reports “In a memo to staff announcing DeRienzo’s departure, group Publisher Mike DeLuca did not cite a reason. He announced that Canadian Wendy Metcalfe will move to Connecticut with her family in mid-November take over the top news executive post.”
“Wendy comes to us from the Brunswick News Inc. where she oversaw Editorial, Marketing, Circulation and Customer Service,” DeLuca wrote. Metcalfe has also served as assistant manager editor of the Toronto Star and editor-in-chief of the Toronto Sun.
DeRienzo supervised an editorial staff of roughly 200 covering all of the Hearst properties in the state. As a result, he was able to deploy staff to beef up enterprise stories such as Hearst’s coverage of absentee ballot irregularities.
He also built partnerships with other media outlets in the state including the Connecticut Mirror. One goal he talked about, but never realized broadly, was increasing staff coverage in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city.
DeRienzo was also a vocal critic of Joe Ganim’s mayoral administration that Ganim supporters maintain took on a personal tone particularly the May incident involving CT Post reporter Tara O’Neill who was handcuffed and briefly taken into custody by city police while covering a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of the death of 15-year-old Jayson Negron who was shot to death by a city officer following pursuit of a stolen vehicle.
A police phalanx ordered people off a Downtown street. O’Neill, a responsible reporter wearing identification, is heard saying on video “I’m on a public sidewalk” prior to being taken into custody. She was released shortly after. Police screwed up, but an apology did not come from Police Chief AJ Perez until last week.
DeRienzo wrote this on his Twitter feed:
5 months after arresting reporter @Tara_ONeill_, Bridgeport police release footage and a partial apology. It was a thinly veiled intimidation and retaliation against a journalist and news outlet that had written about abuses in the department.
If DeRienzo had evidence that a calculated retaliation against the reporter and publication was involved during a spot news event, it was never reported, yet he seemed to express more outrage regarding his reporter than the 12 protesters who were arrested. The charges were later dropped against all of them.
OIB has reached out to DeRienzo for comment.
Hearst Connecticut Media has the largest digital footprint in Connecticut including CT Post, Greenwich Time, Stamford Advocate, Norwalk Hour, Danbury News-Times, Middletown Press, Torrington Register and New Haven Register.
Here’s Hearst Media’s take on DeRienzo’s departure. Don’t ya love it? The Hearst spin is no different than the very politicians and corporations they barbecue for doing the same thing: reveal nothing, say nothing, never give up the point, put on a bright face. Why? Because we are the high and proper journalist watchdogs. Really? Who watches the watchdogs? Gee, DeRienzo “left the company.”
Sure he did. They rarely practice what they preach. Hey Wendy, welcome to Bridgeport!
Hearst Connecticut Media Group has named Wendy Metcalfe, a news executive in Canada, as vice president of content and editor-in-chief, overseeing Hearst’s eight daily newspapers along with numerous community weeklies, websites, Connecticut magazine and other specialty publications.
Metcalfe replaces Matt DeRienzo, who joined Hearst in 2018 and has left the company, Publisher Mike DeLuca said Monday in an email to the staff.
Metcalfe until very recently was at Brunswick News Inc., where she headed the news departments and also oversaw marketing, circulation and customer service. That group, which is privately owned, includes the daily news outlets in the three largest cities in the province of New Brunswick, which is along the border with Maine.
The largest of those papers, the Telegraph-Journal in St. John, in June won the Michener Award–considered the most prestigious award for public service journalism in Canada–for documenting staffing shortages on ambulances throughout New Brunswick.
Metcalfe previously was editor-in-chief of the Toronto Sun and assistant managing editor of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. She will move to Connecticut with her family.
“She was also recently named one of the top 10 leading women to watch in media across North America by Editor & Publisher,” DeLuca said in his note.
Metcalfe joins Hearst Connecticut Media weeks after the launch of the CTInsider websites featuring premium news, analysis and commentary. Hearst also recently published a series detailing nearly 100 cases of alleged sex abuse at Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States; uncovered absentee ballot improprieties in the contested Bridgeport Democratic primary election for mayor; and reported in detail on workplace harassment of women.