Category Archives: Newspapers

Corporate polluter: The Hartford Courant

I felt sick this morning to find that the oh-so-sanctimonious Hartford Courant had seen fit to seal a square of plastic across a portion of its front page in order to attach yet another annoying ad, this time for a Berlin “active adult” development. Much as I hate front page ads like this — it sure proves how desperate newspapers are to make money — today’s is a new low. In recent months, they’ve put Post-It note ads, which are at least removeable, though still ridiculous.

But by sealing a piece of plastic onto the front page, they have effectively turned a paper that can be recycled safely and efficiently into one that harms the environment. It is short-sighted and the move of an awful corporate citizen to attach permanently these plastic squares to a newspaper. It’s an environmental travesty, a screw-you to every subscriber who cares about our planet.

I hope that every municipality and green group in Connecticut will speak out against this change before it becomes accepted practice.

Perhaps the Courant’s publisher might want to read its editorials sometimes. Live up to your own ideals, Courant, or the shut the hell up.

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Filed under Courant, Environment, Hartford Courant, Newspapers, recycling

“For a good time, call Jennifer”

It’s a little unsettling to see that Jennifer Abel, who introduced herself here as The Hartford Advocate’s new West Hartford reporter not long ago, is writing this week about doing phone sex for hard-up guys.

I suppose, though, that if Mayor Slifka calls her about some story, he can always hope she’ll be on the other job again, cooing softly at him and moaning rather than asking him hard questions.

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Filed under Hartford Advocate, Jennifer Abel, Newspapers

Hartford Courant and West Hartford

After Rick Green justly corrected me for taking an unfair shot at the Courant for missing a story that the paper did, in fact, report, I feel like it’s as good a time as any to explain my love-hate relationship with the paper.

What I love is its willingness to reach for greatness. It dares to tackle subjects such as mental illness in the ranks, the use of improper restraints across the world, the day-in-and-day-out experiences of a Connecticut-based unit in Iraq, the Rowland scandal, and more. That’s something easily overlooked in the frustration of the paper missing this or that local story. The Courant aims to do well on a larger playing field than the Hartford metropolitan area.

I also love lots of lesser things, from the comics to, well, Rick Green. I love its commitment to reasonableness, too.

What I hate is its blandness on too many stories, especially local ones. I hate the way it fails to dig into my town the same way it digs into Lisa Moody’s ethical lapses. I hate the paper’s choice of breadth over depth in its overall town coverage, choosing to give a smattering of news to many towns instead of doing a good job in fewer locales. (That’s why West Hartford is overlooked so much, despite the reality that it’s the core readership of the paper, the retail and subscriber lifeblood of the whole publication.)

I wish it was more transparent about its choices and more willing to raise hell.

And I hope that the new owners won’t keep gutting the damn paper. It’s shrinking before our eyes, week after week, month after month, year after year. It’s useless if it doesn’t have the news.

On balance, to be fair, I love the paper more than I hate it. That’s why I read it every day and usually carefully. I’m old-fashioned enough to find it uniquely satisfying to settle in with the paper and see what’s going on in my town, my state, my nation, and my world.

But thank God for the internet, which makes it possible to fill in all the gaps that the Courant — and any paper — inevitably can’t include.

I just wish the Courant thought West Hartford was worth more attention. I really do.

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Filed under Hartford Courant, journalism, newspaper, Newspapers

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

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