Category Archives: Media

Useless reporting in the Courant today

This is exactly the kind of news story that makes it nearly impossible for residents of West Hartford to make informed decisions. We’re told next to nothing about what’s in the budget and given only hints about what critics have to say. There are no details, no real explanation, no nothing for any of us to make any kind of decision about who’s right and who’s wrong.

I don’t really blame the reporter. It’s just the whole thing is so truncated and short that it’s utterly without value. The Courant treats this town as an afterthought even though most of its readers and advertisers are right here in West Hartford.

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Filed under Hartford Courant, Media, News, Newspapers, town council, Town government

Skatepark moves onto town agenda

It’s funny how things go these days. A skater dude creates a Facebook group advocating that West Hartford build a skatepark. I see it there and mention it on this little blog. A Courant reporter sees it here, calls the kid and the mayor, and shazzam! It’s suddenly on the the town’s agenda.

I guess that’s new age democracy, and a good thing.

In the paper today, Mayor Scott Slifka sounds reasonably supportive of the idea. “We are very much in support of the concept,” Slifka told the Courant. “[There are] a number of questions that they could help us address, and then, really, it’s probably more a matter of when and not if.”

There’s no site in mind yet, but I’m sure everyone agrees it should be reasonably central. Perhaps Fernridge Park is the right spot.

This was my favorite line in the Courant story, because it let me know this blog is making a tiny difference: “Several park advocates said their push for a place for skaters grew stronger after the town’s recent decision to build a miniature golf course at Buena Vista Golf Course. The miniature course, which could open in about a year, will become a large revenue generator for the town, Slifka said.”

Yeah, that’s me they’re talking about.

But it was a little disturbing to read that the mini-golf course is intended as a large profit center. Since when are towns focused on making money. If there’s really such a great business opportunity, then where’s the private sector on this one? Oh, wait. I know. The private sector has to buy land and pay taxes. Government can do it all on the cheap.

What’s next? A West Hartford-owned fill-up station? A town-run Taco Bell? A Starbucks franchise owned by taxpayers in front of town hall? It’s a dangerous road to go down, however noble the rationale.

In any case, let’s get this skatepark done. It’s a simple project, badly needed, and it shows a commitment by the town to our future leaders. Build it quickly and build it well.

Don’t let the politicians skate by on this one.

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Filed under Media, News, Parks, Recreation, Skatepark, Town government

Will the Courant become Connecticut Today?

I find it alarming that the Tribune Co. is selling two papers in Connecticut to Gannett, a newspaper company that embodies mediocrity as its mission statement. Its showcase paper is USA Today, which says it all.

Gannett is a newspaper chain driven by lust for profit, with executives vying with one another to see which of them can come up with the worst way to ensure that important news is delivered to the communities they supposedly cover. In Florida, for example, Gannett has turned many of its reporters at one paper into one-person web site updaters. They spend their days taking pictures of stupid events and writing little blurbs about them — all of which would be fine, I guess, as long as other reporters were still doing the Lord’s work of detailing what the titans of industry, the leaders of government and the rest of the power crowd were up to in town. But, of course, they ain’t. That’s just not done in Gannett towns.

There isn’t any reason to think the Courant itself will be sold to Gannett soon. But you have to worry that this terrible newsaper chain is going to own the Greenwich and Stamford papers. It’s oozing our way.

Between the Courant and Fairfield County are several newpapers that could also be in Gannett’s vision: the right-wing Waterbury Republican-American, the solid Meriden Record-Journal and the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport. The Journal Register Co., which is hardly better than Gannett, owns the New Haven Register, The Bristol Press, The New Britain Herald and even our own West Hartford News. The terrific Journal Inquirer on the other side of the river appears safe for the moment.

Gannett could swallow them all up. Newspapers as a whole are worth barely more than the paper they’re printed on these days, though I’m not sure why. They mostly make profits. They still have lots of readers. They have a future, though it may be online more than in print (and, yes, making money online is still a trick).

I don’t like a lot of things about the Courant, especially its lack of interest in covering the news in West Hartford, where a pretty hefty chunk of its readers live and work. But I hope to God that Gannett never gets its greedy paws on America’s oldest continually published paper.

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Filed under Media, News, Newspapers