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John Berry leaving Connecticut to be editor of The Trentonian

25 Jun

After two years as editor of The Register Citizen in Torrington and The Middletown Press, John Berry is leaving Connecticut to become editor of The Trentonian, a larger Digital First Media sister daily newspaper in New Jersey.

John Berry

John Berry

John recruited a new team of editors and reporters and focused heavily on training and professional development in his time as editor. Reporters he hired and helped develop have gone on to work at The Guardian, the New Haven Register and Connecticut Magazine.

Under John’s leadership, The Register Citizen brought two major issues facing the city of Torrington to light through dogged reporting and commentary. Last year, the newspaper exposed the social media bullying of two 13-year-old rape victims, and other sexual assault cases involving numerous Torrington High School football players. It won Digital First Media’s annual Public Service Award, and helped earn Journalist of the Year honors for Jessica Glenza, the lead reporter on the story. Over the past year, The Register Citizen brought to light an epidemic of heroin overdose deaths in Torrington. Digital First Media honored reporters Isaac Avliucea and Esteban Hernandez for the strength of that reporting last fall.

John’s promotion to the Trentonian will take him back to his native Philadelphia area, where he served as online editor of Digital First Media’s Times Herald in Norristown, Pennsylvania, prior to moving to Connecticut. He is a Temple University graduate who started his career as a photographer at the Times Herald.

Digital First’s Connecticut newsrooms honored with SPJ awards

23 May

Reporters, photographers and editors at The New Haven Register, The Register Citizen, The Middletown Press and Connecticut Magazine were honored with 66 awards Thursday night at the annual Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists awards banquet.

The New Haven Register's Mara Lavitt won first place for Best Sports Photo for this shot from a high school swim championship.

The New Haven Register’s Mara Lavitt won first place for Best Sports Photo for this shot from a high school swim championship.

Recognition ranged from photo, video and interactive graphics to investigative and in-depth reporting, feature and sports writing, opinion columns and editorials.

The New Haven Register’s photography staff won seven awards, including 1st place for Best Video Storytelling and Best Photo Layout for Peter Hvizdak’s feature on “dancing Marine” Roman Baca and last year’s plane crash in East Haven. Mara Lavitt won 1st place for Best Sports Photo and 3rd place for Best News Photo for her coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. Peter Casolino won 2nd place for Best Photo Layout and two 3rd place awards for Best Sports Photo and Best Feature Photo.

Mark Zaretsky won 1st place for Best Business Reporting for a feature he wrote on Connecticut’s seaweed industry. The New Haven Register also won 1st place for Best Headline, Al Santangelo’s “From jail to Yale,” and for page one layout, for coverage of the East Haven plane crash.

The Register Citizen’s won five 1st place awards – for Video Storytelling (Shako Liu), Sports Reporting (Peter Wallace), General Reporting Series (Kate Hartman), Editorial Writing (Matt DeRienzo) and Photo Layout (John Berry).

Liu picked up another Video Storytelling award in a weekly category, one of five 1st place honors for the Litchfield County Times. Others were for General Column, Feature Story and General Reporting, all by Kathryn Boughton, and Feature Photo, by Laurie Gaboardi.

The New Haven Register won 1st place for Best Front Page Layout for this cover designed by Martin O'Sullivan and Ben Doody.

The New Haven Register won 1st place for Best Front Page Layout for this cover designed by Martin O’Sullivan and Ben Doody.

Connecticut Magazine won 18 awards in the SPJ’s magazine category, including nine 1st place awards. Jennifer Swift won for Best Informational Graphic and Best Interactive Graphic for her collaborations with Stacey Slimak Shea and Ben Doody on Connecticut’s campaign finance laws and the balance of political power in the state’s 169 towns.

Swift also won 2nd place awards for General Reporting and In-Depth reporting for her Connecticut Magazine stories on campaign finance and Connecticut’s car tax system and a 3rd place award for Best Interactive Graphic for a map explaining car taxes. She won 3rd place in the over 40,000 circulation daily newspaper division in an extremely competitive General Reporting category for her expose on misconduct in the East Haven police department.

Other Connecticut Magazine awards included 1st place for Best Investigative Story (Chris Hoffman), Best General Reporting (Pat Grandjean), Best In-Depth Reporting (Alan Bisbort), Best Sports Feature (Terese Karmel), Best General Column (Larry Bloom), Best Opinion Column (Charley Monagan) and Best Reporting Series (Pat Grandjean).

See the full list of award winners here.

A flow chart on how to skirt Connecticut campaign finance laws won SPJ's award for Best Informational Graphic for Connecticut Magazine.

A flow chart on how to skirt Connecticut campaign finance laws won SPJ’s award for Best Informational Graphic for Connecticut Magazine.

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.

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