Archive | Middletown Press RSS feed for this section

Connecticut police move toward transparency after Sunshine Week investigation

4 Apr

As cynical journalists often frustrated by stonewalling and secretive government officials, we were expecting the worst when we decided to send a reporter to every police department and state police troop in Connecticut  (103 of them) this spring to test compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.FOIA

And the results were pretty bad in a bunch of cases. The New Haven Police Department public information officer telling a reporter that “we keep secrets here” on that department’s way to an “F” grade sparked outrage from citizens of New Haven and open government advocates across the country.

But departments such as South Windsor showed that they are very serious about complying with the law, embracing public access to information about arrests and police activity, and that they have trained their rank-and-file staff well on these principles. East Haven, one of the most-criticized police departments in the state over the past few years, received a good grade, showing that transparency is a key part of its efforts to reform under federal Justice Department oversight.

Most encouraging has been the response since the New Haven Register, The Middletown Press and The Register Citizen published the results of our project, and other media outlets, including TV stations, the Associated Press, the New Britain Herald and the Hartford Courant, ran their own stories or editorials about it.

Here’s some of the results tracked by Michelle Tuccitto Sullo and Viktoria Sundqvist, who led this project for us:

  • Several departments who received an “A-” or “B” grade vowed to get an “A” if we do a similar test in the future.
  • The state’s Freedom of Information Commission fielded a spate of calls from local police chiefs requesting special training on compliance with the law after they received less-than-perfect grades.
  • The Norwalk Police Department immediately started posting arrest log information online to improve public access.
  • The Middletown Police Department, which received a pretty good grade of “A-,” sent a memo to all police department employees reminding them of best practices.
  • The West Haven Police Department promised to investigate why a reporter was denied access to information, and plans to train staff. State Police promised a similar investigation of why that happened at Troop G when we visited.
  • Westport police announced that it would be making arrest log information available for public access 24-7 in the lobby of its statoin.
  • New Britain police leadership reminded staff that the press and public should not be denied access to arrest log information.
  • And in New Haven, where a reporter was told, “You’ll never get blotter from us, we are just too damn busy,” and “It is not public information; these are arrests, not convictions,” the department has reversed itself, and now has an arrest log available for public access.

Cassandra Day named Middletown Press managing editor

21 Feb

Cassandra Day will return to The Middletown Press on Monday as its new managing editor.

Cassandra Day

Cassandra Day

Day was features editor of the Press for 13 years prior to serving as editor of Middletown Patch for the past three years. She is a resident of Middletown and an active school and community volunteer in the city, including serving as a member and chairman of the Middletown Arts Commission.

Her work has been recognized by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists numerous times over the course of her career, which has included freelance reporting for the West Hartford News and New Britain Herald, her previous stint at the Press, her work at Patch and a tenure as listings editor for the Hartford Advocate.

She holds a degree in English and journalism from Central Connecticut State University.

Day can be reached at cday@middletownpress.com. Follow her on Twitter at @cassandrasdis.

New Haven Register print redesign coming June 11

4 Jun

UntitledThe New Haven Register will unveil a new design for its print edition on Tuesday, June 11. It will include a new front page “flag,” a more modern typeface throughout, and easier and more consistent navigation through the different sections of the newspaper.

The new design will also include an at-a-glance digest on page A2 each day of some of the most interesting news from around the world.

It follows and matches redesigns launched last fall for two sister daily newspapers in Connecticut, The Middletown Press and The Register Citizen of Torrington. The  look was crafted by designers at the San Jose Mercury News.

The last major print redesign of the New Haven Register was 10 years ago, in April 2003.

A redesign of the New Haven Register’s website will come soon after the print redesign. It is tentatively scheduled for late July.

Digital First Media staff win 87 Connecticut SPJ awards

24 May

The New Haven Register was recognized with the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award Thursday night.

It honors work by Michelle Tuccitto Sullo in exposing inadequate police response to reports of missing adults and profiles of missing adult cases by Brian McCready and Ann DeMatteo. The effort also included creation of a blog and “Missing in Connecticut” Facebook page that continues to spread alerts and information about the missing and connect their families with resources. It helped lead to the creation of a special unit of the Connecticut State Police dedicated to missing persons cases.

Ann DeMatteo and Michelle Tuccitto Sullo

Ann DeMatteo and Michelle Tuccitto Sullo

The public service award was especially meaningful to Register staff as a tribute to DeMatteo, who died Sunday after a battle with cancer.

It was one of 87 awards won by Digital First Media staff, including 37 first place honors, in the Connecticut SPJ’s 2012 Excellence in Journalism Awards. That’s up from 65 awards and 27 first place honors last year, and 56 awards, with 20 in first place, the previous year.

The New Haven Register won 32 awards, followed by Connecticut Magazine with 18, The Middletown Press, 12, the Litchfield County Times, 10, and The Register Citizen, 5. Passport Magazine and Digital First Media weeklies the West Hartford News, Shoreline Times, Simsbury News and Westport Minuteman were also honored.

This year’s contest included special categories for coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on Connecticut and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Digital First Media, which put more than 100 journalists from Connecticut and its sister papers in other states on the Sandy Hook story, was recognized for spot news reporting, general news reporting, page layout and photography in the Sandy Hook category.

The New Haven Register also won first place for Best Interactive Graphic for a directory its data team put together highlighting the stories of the 26 Sandy Hook victims. An interactive graphic the data team helped The Middletown Press’s Viktoria Sundqvist put together on statewide school superintendent salaries also won a first place award.

The New Haven Register’s Jim Shelton and Peter Hvizdak were honored with first place awards for Best Feature Series and Best Video Storytelling, respectively, for their year-long look at the life of Roman Baca, an Iraq war veteran using ballet to help his fellow soldiers adjust to civilian life and tell the story of what they’d been through.It was part of a company-wide project about veterans’ return from war called “American Homecomings.”

A full list of DFM’s awards follows:

New Haven Register

Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award, Michelle Tuccitto Sullo, Brian McCready and Ann DeMatteo

1st Place, Editorial, Charles Kochakian

1st Place, Hurricane Sandy Page One Layout, Mheegan Rollins

1st Place, Interactive Graphic, DFM staff (Newtown victims)

1st Place, Video Storytelling, Peter Hvizdak (American Homecomings)

1st Place, Feature Series, Jim Shelton (American Homecomings)

1st Place, Newtown Shooting News Photo, Peter Hvizdak

1st Place, Newtown Shooting Non-Page One Layout, NHR Staff

1st Place, Feature Photo, Peter Casolino

1st Place, Photo Layout, Mary Albl

2nd Place, Photo Layout, Melanie Stengel

2nd Place, Feature Photo, Arnold Gold

2nd Place, Newtown Shooting News Photo, Arnold Gold

2nd Place, General Column, Michael Bellmore

2nd Place, Opinion Column, Randall Beach

2nd Place, Newtown Shooting General Reporting, Jim Shelton

2nd Place, Feature Photo, Melanie Stengel

2nd Place, Sports Photo, Peter Casolino

2nd Place, Feature, Susan Misur

2nd Place, In-Depth Series, Susan Misur, Mark Zaretsky and Jennifer Swift

2nd Place, Spot News, Mark Zaretsky and Susan Misur

2nd Place, Sports Feature, Chris Hunn

Honorable Mention, Sports Feature, Chip Malafronte

Honorable Mention, Sports Photo, Peter Hvizdak

Honorable Mention, Feature Photo, Peter Casolino

Honorable Mention, Hurricane Sandy News Photo, Peter Casolino

Honorable Mention, Newtown Shooting Spot News, Jason Fields and DFM staff

Honorable Mention, Arts & Entertainment, Donna Doherty

Honorable Mention, General Reporting Series, Mark Zaretsky, Jennifer Swift, Susan Misur, Rich Scinto, Luther Turmelle and Pam McLoughlin

Honorable Mention, In-Depth Reporting, Michelle Tuccitto Sullo and Pam McLoughlin

Honorable Mention, In-Depth Series, Michelle Tuccitto Sullo, Brian McCready and Ann DeMatteo

Honorable Mention, Sports News, Mary Albl

Register Citizen

1st Place, Opinion Column, Andy Thibault

2nd Place, Opinion Column, Andy Thibault

Honorable Mention, Editorial, Matt DeRienzo

Honorable Mention, Feature, Andy Thibault

Honorable Mention, Sports Column, Andy Thibault

Middletown Press

1st Place, Interactive Graphic, Viktoria Sundqvist, Peggy Bustamante, Vaughn Hagerty, Nelson Hsu

1st Place, Newtown Shooting General Reporting, Viktoria Sundqvist

1st Place, News Photo, Catherine Avalone

1st Place, Sports Photo, Catherine Avalone

1st Place, Investigative Series, Viktoria Sundqvist

1st Place, Sports Feature, Joe Pelletier

1st Place, Sports News, Joe Pelletier

2nd Place, Feature Photo, Catherine Avalone

2nd Place, Feature, Viktoria Sundqvist

2nd Place, Sports Column, Joe Pelletier

Honorable Mention, Feature Photo, Catherine Avalone

Honorable Mention, News Photo, Catherine Avalone

Connecticut Magazine 

1st Place, General Column, Larry Bloom

1st Place, Opinion Column, Charley Monagan

1st Place, Editorial, Charley Monagan

1st Place, Hurricane Sandy Non-Page One Layout, Greg Harmel

1st Place, Non-Page One Layout, Stacey Slimak Shea

1st Place, Newtown Shooting General Reporting, Ian Eller

1st Place, Photo Layout, Richard Feeda

1st Place, Arts & Entertainment, Patricia Grandjean

1st Place, Business, Tom Connor

1st Place, Feature, Alan Bisbort

1st Place, In-Depth Reporting, Tom Connor

1st Place, Sports Feature, David Holahan

2nd Place, Arts & Entertainment, Charley Monagan

2nd Place, Non-Page One Layout, Carol Petro

2nd Place, General Column, Cathy Ross

2nd Place, General Reporting, Tom Connor

Honorable Mention, General Reporting, Alan Bisbort

Honorable Mention, Feature, Patricia Grandjean

Litchfield County Times

1st Place, Op-Ed Column, Andy Thibault

1st Place, Business, Daniela Forte

1st Place, Feature, Kathryn Boughton

1st Place, Investigative Series, Jack Coraggio and Andy Thibault

1st Place, In-Depth Series, Daniela Forte and Andy Thibault

2nd Place, In-Depth Series, Jack Coraggio and Andy Thibault

2nd Place, Op-Ed Column, Edwin Matthews

2nd Place, Arts & Entertainment, Kathryn Boughton

Honorable Mention, Feature, Kathryn Boughton

Honorable Mention, In-Depth Series, Jack Coraggio and Doug Clement

Passport Magazine

2nd Place, Business, Jason Torsiello

2nd Place, Feature, Scot Allyn

Honorable Mention, Feature Photo, Laurie Gaboardi

West Hartford News

Honorable Mention, Video Storytelling, Kathleen Schassler

Honorable Mention, In-Depth Reporting, Kathleen Schassler

Shoreline Times

1st Place, Sports Column, Jimmy Zanor

1st Place, Sports News, Jimmy Zanor

2nd Place, Sports Column, Jimmy Zanor

Westport Minuteman

2nd Place, Sports Feature, Mary Albl

The Simsbury News

2nd Place, Feature Photo, Jacqueline Bennett

Robert Michelin, Michael Lyle join JRC Connecticut newsroom staff

9 Apr

Two Quinnipiac University graduates have joined Journal Register Co.’s newsroom staff in Connecticut.

Robert Michelin

Robert Michelin

Robert Michelin has been hired as a member of the Breaking News Team at the New Haven Register, responsible for editing and producing local, state and national news coverage for JRC’s three daily newspaper websites and mobile platforms in Connecticut and managing social media accounts.

He was previously a high school sports reporter for the Star-Ledger and NJ.Com in New Jersey, and before that covered local news for The Daily Voice in Westchester County, N.Y.

Michelin graduated from Quinnipiac in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism.

At Quinnipiac, he was sports section editor for the Quad News. He also worked as an intern for the Torrington Titans Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League team in 2010, and as an election night correspondent for the Associated Press.

Michael Lyle Jr. has been hired as a staff reporter for The Middletown Press.

Michael Lyle Jr.

Michael Lyle Jr.

He was previously a reporter for WQUN radio in Hamden, a production assistant for ESPN Radio in Bristol and an overnight news anchor at WTIC radio in Farmington.

Lyle is a four-time winner with of Associated Press Broadcasters Awards for his work with WQUN.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac.

Michelin can be reached at rmichelin@nhregister.com.

Lyle can be reached at mlyle@middletownpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @Lyle308.

JRC Connecticut welcomes new reporters

26 Feb

Four new reporters have joined the staff of Journal Register Co. newspapers in Connecticut.

Ryan Flynn and Jessica Glenza have joined our newsroom at The Register Citizen in Torrington.

Alex Gecan has started work at The Middletown Press.

And Neal McNamara has joined the staff of the New Haven Register.

Ryan Flynn

Ryan Flynn

Flynn is a recent graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, where he served as sports editor of the Southern News. He also worked as an intern in the sports department of the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport.

He’ll be covering the Litchfield area for The Register Citizen and Litchfield County Times. Follow him on Twitter @RyFly12.

Glenza has worked for the past year and a half as a reporter for the Cortlandt Daily Voice in New York.

She is a summa cum laude graduate of the State University of New York in Purchase, where she received the Mike McKnickle Exellence in Journalism Award.

Jessica Glenza

Jessica Glenza

She’ll be covering Torrington schools and courts for The Register Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaGlenza.

Gecan worked most recently as web editor for Renaissance Publishing in Metairie, La. He is a former intern for The Trentonian in Trenton, N.J.

Alex Gecan

Alex Gecan

Gecan holds a bachelor’s degree in history and art from Tulane University in New Orleans and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he trained at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

He’ll be covering the city of Middletown for The Middletown Press. Follow him on Twitter @Stunati0201.

Neal McNamara

Neal McNamara

McNamara is a former New Haven Register reporter and editor who is returning after working as a reporter and editor in various parts of the country, including as a reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana, and Federal Way Mirror in Federal Way, Wash., as a news editor for City Pulse in Lansing, Mich., and as a content editor and marketing manager for ChefTools.Com in Seattle, Wash.

He is also a graduate of the State University of New York in Purchase. He is covering the city of Milford for the Register. Follow him on Twitter @Neal_McNamara.

Protecting journalists is about protecting democracy, open government

15 Jan

Basic health and safety is something we should be able to take for granted arriving for work each day.
We expect no less for the reporters, photographers and editors who help us bring you the news each day.
So it is with great concern that we call attention to the assault of a young reporter outside the Middlesex County Courthouse in Middletown on Monday. She was there just trying to do her job – reporting on a bomb threat at a local school that sparked fear and chaos in the wake of the mass shooting last month in Newtown.
For that, she was shoved to the ground, from behind, and had to be taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Connecticut State Police have since arrested the father of the young man accused in the bomb threat case and charged him with assault.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time something like this has happened to a journalist in The Middletown Press. In fact, it happened earlier this year on that same sidewalk when someone shoved one of our photographers, grabbed her camera and spit on her. She was there to cover the case of a local man accused of stabbing alpacas at a local farm a sex assault trial.
It’s been a difficult and at times scary few months for our journalists in Connecticut. We were working around the clock, under makeshift conditions, and out in the darkness and rain to keep readers connected to emergency information during Hurricane Sandy.
And then we confronted something a million times worse in covering the Newtown shooting and the funeral after funeral that followed for victims who reminded us of our own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Our reporters and photographers press on in the face of insults, constant second-guessing and critique, and anger from those who do not want a light aimed at their situation.
The Journal News, a daily newspaper across the border in New York, recently hired security guards to protect its journalists from death threats in the wake of its decision to publish a list of all gun permit holders in its coverage area.
Media organizations are far from perfect, and much has been written questioning the wisdom and rationale behind that newspaper’s gun list. But we’d urge people who speak up for gun rights from a “keep government power in check” standpoint to reflect on our country’s most powerful weapon against unlimited government power. It’s the free flow of information about what the government is doing – the kind of work our journalists in Middletown do in covering the police and courts, and although arguably misguided in this case, the Journal News’ use of the Freedom of Information Act.
We applaud the Connecticut State Police for taking the assault on our reporter seriously on Monday and making an arrest. A crime was committed, of course, and they did their job to enforce the law. But they also recognized, implicitly, that reporter’s place alongside police, prosecutor, judge and defense attorney in the process of delivering justice and protecting the public’s interest.

A newspaper company comes together to cover Newtown

23 Dec

There will be a lot more to say – at some point – about what has been both the worst and best week of our careers in journalism. Our main concern right now is to make sure that the rest of the story of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and its aftermath is told. That’s going to take quite some time, and quite a bit more effort and resources. And to make sure that the people on our team, after nine days of interviewing witnesses to unspeakable horror and covering 6-year-olds’ funerals, are dealing with their own grief and trauma.

But I wanted to pause and take note of how remarkable it was for us to see our entire company come together to help us cover this story. More than 100 journalists have been involved in the New Haven Register’s Newtown coverage over the past week, including 55 reporters, 17 photographers and 10 main editors on the ground in Connecticut contributing to our coverage.702194314 A number of Register reporters and editors worked straight through from first word of the shooting Friday morning to the editing of the story about the final funeral eight days later.

Digital First Media sent 29 reporters and eight photographers from 17 different daily newspapers in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado and Connecticut, including a team of six from the Denver Post, six from the York Daily Record in Pennsylvania and five from the Lowell Sun in Massachusetts.

The company’s national news office, “Thunderdome,” sent five reporters, five editors, two web producers and a video specialist, and devoted more than a dozen others to help from afar on editing, web production, data and interactives.

And throughout, we had access, advice and assistance from company leaders who’d unfortunately done this before.

Jim McClure, editor of the York Daily Record and East Region editor for Digital First, organized the influx of support from out-of-town journalists for us and was on the ground in Connecticut drawing on his experience covering a 2001 machete attack on a Pennsylvania elementary school. Photographer Tom Kelly IV of the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., came with experience covering the Nickel Mines Amish elementary school shooting in 2006.

Helping at our makeshift newsroom just outside of Newtown this past week was Mike Topel, national editor at Digital First Media’s Thunderdome office in New York. He helped lead the AP’s coverage of Columbine in 1999.

706117785Frank Scandale, Digital First’s vice president of print production, helped lead the Denver Post’s Columbine coverage as metro editor. He offered advice from afar and then arrived in New Haven mid-week to help plan a special print edition encapsulating more than a week’s worth of coverage for the Sunday newspaper.

And we were also able to turn to Denver Post Editor Greg Moore, who led intense coverage of the Aurora movie theater shooting earlier this year, and Digital First Editor-in-Chief Jim Brady, who was leading WashingtonPost.Com during the Virginia Tech massacre.

 

Connecticut’s sacred cows a target as new columnists debut this week

24 Sep

Susan Campbell will kick off a new daily lineup of featured news columnists when The Register Citizen and The Middletown Press unveil redesigned print editionson Wednesday. And no topic is off the table.

Susan Campbell (Photo by Chion Wolf/WNPR)

Campbell developed a strong reputation in her years as a reporter and columnist at the Hartford Courant for seeking to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” As a new weekly columnist for our daily newspapers in Torrington, Middletown and New Haven, she’ll have free rein to go after the things she feels are harming Connecticut politics and society and to celebrate some of the bright spots.

Her debut column tackles “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” and what she sees as the religious right’s increasingly militant attempt to enlist congregations in political activism.

Campbell will be followed on page 3 and online each day by similarly strong voices.

Norm Pattis (Photo by Arnold Gold/New Haven Register)

Always outspoken and frequently controversial Connecticut defense attorney Norm Pattis will write on Thursdays, and doesn’t hold back in his debut column about Antonin Scalia and his “originalism” philosophy of interpreting the Constitution, calling it an “ideological hoax.”

The work of Terry Cowgill, a familiar face to The Register Citizen’s readers in Northwest Connecticut, will be featured on Fridays.

Columns by Sarah Darer Littman, a novelist and former securities analyst, and Heath Fahle, policy director for the Yankee Institute and former executive director of the Connecticut Republican Party, will alternate on Saturdays.

Ann DeMatteo, newly named managing editor of The Middletown Press, who as a cancer survivor shares others’ stories of inspiration and overcoming adversity, will write on Sundays.

Susan Bigelow, a librarian, author and former operator of the CT Local Politics website, will write on Mondays.

And Andy Thibault, a former Hartford Courant and Register Citizen editor, Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission member and investigative reporter, will write on Tuesdays.

The addition of Cowgill, Littman, Fahle and Bigelow are part of an expansion of our partnership with CTNewsJunkie.Com. Since March, we’ve carried its excellent coverage of Connecticut state government and politics, and are happy to be extending that relationship now to their team of columnists.

‘Digital First’ puts some focus on improving print

23 Sep

The company that operates the New Haven Register, The Middletown Press and The Register Citizen in Torrington is called “Digital First Media,” but on Wednesday, it will unveil a significant investment in improving its newspapers’ print editions.

Our dailies in Middletown and Torrington have been redesigned to incorporate modern typography, better organization and pages that allow photography and advertising to stand out.

Bucking the trend, it will mean a net increase in page count in Middletown, and the addition of a number of new features at both papers.

This includes investment in a new seven-day lineup of featured Page 3 news columnists, including popular former Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell and controversial and thought-provoking Connecticut defense attorney Norm Pattis.

Digital First used in-house talent – Tiffany Grandstaff and Alex Fong of the San Jose Mercury News – to develop the redesign.

Former Bergen Record editor Frank Scandale, in a newly created position of vice president of print production, is spearheading the rollout of the new design across Digital First’s 74 daily newspapers. Torrington and Middletown were chosen to go first.

The company’s newly launched “Thunderdome” operation in New York is providing some national news and feature elements of our redesigned page lineup, freeing staff in Connecticut to expand local news content.

The new design will come to the New Haven Register early next year, as the process is expanded to accommodate larger dailies. Around the same time, we expect to unveil the company’s long-awaited new website design. It is also being developed in-house by staff at the Denver Post, which recently wowed the newspaper industry with a new iPad app design that will also soon be coming to our dailies in Connecticut.

While there is no denying the declining trend in print newspaper readership and advertising, we can do a better job serving the users of print who remain. If that slows the decline and provides us with a longer runway to a digital future, even better.

It’s also interesting to note that the last significant change in the design and content of the print edition of The Register Citizen or New Haven Register, for examples, took place before personal use of the Internet was commonplace.

We are long overdue for print editions that reflect their curative role and position in the 24-hour news cycle.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers