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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.

Connecticut journalism wins in annual Digital First Media contest

27 Mar
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy inspect the scene of a plane crash into two homes in East Haven last year. The New Haven Register's coverage of the cash is being honored with a companywide journalism award by Digital First Media. (Peter Hvizdak photo)

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy inspect the scene of a plane crash into two homes in East Haven last year. The New Haven Register’s coverage of the cash is being honored with a companywide journalism award by Digital First Media. (Peter Hvizdak photo)

The New Haven Register and The Register Citizen of Torrington have won two awards each in Digital First Media‘s annual companywide journalism contest.

The Register Citizen beat out much larger sister publications, including the Denver Post, to win DFM’s annual Public Service award for its coverage of the social media bullying of two 13-year-old rape victims in Torrington last year.

Jessica Glenza, the reporter involved in that coverage, won DFM’s Journalist of the Year for small dailies.

The New Haven Register won Best Live Coverage for its response to a plane crash in East Haven last year that killed four people.

New Haven Register Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim won DFM’s Special Contribution award for his work in improving and providing better context to the newspaper’s coverage of inner-city violence in New Haven.

UConn, sex assault, politics and the media’s duty to call a lie a lie

22 Feb

If politicians can with indignation and a straight face say that black is white, and white is black, what is truth, and what becomes of an informed democracy? The fail-safe, one would like to believe, is good journalism. But the lies have become more brazen, and the liars have realized they can build their own alternate reality narrative, and take it directly to the people. Reporting that is slightly to the fact checking-side of “he said, she said” isn’t enough to inform the public about the depths of that kind of manipulation.

On Friday, The Register Citizen covered a press conference by Mark Lauretano, a former state trooper who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent 64th District state Rep. Roberta Willis (D-Salisbury). Our headline parroted Lauretano’s accusation that Willis was “responsible” for the University of Connecticut failing to properly investigate and respond to sexual assaults on campus.

Acting as though he and his party were on the forefront of confronting this issue, Lauretano held up a book about the problem of sexual assault in this country. He blasted Willis for questioning during a public hearing on the UConn sex assault issue why celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred was in attendance, and said that as chairwoman of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee she was responsible for not doing something previously about the problem.

State representative candidate Mark Lauretano, right, with gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti Feb. 21 in Torrington.

State representative candidate Mark Lauretano, right, with gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti Feb. 21 in Torrington.

Lauretano did not mention Willis’s long track record of advocacy for tougher laws and enforcement of existing laws against sexual assault, including specifically on college campuses.

He did not mention his own complete lack of public record on speaking out about the issue, or that of the group of (all) Republican men assembled with him at his press conference, including people who would repeal Roe vs. Wade and strip women of reproductive rights.

He blasted the idea of “new laws” to address the problem, saying that training of UConn police is what’s needed. Rep. Willis is the sponsor of legislation that actually would do something about sex assaults on campus, and she has proposed it in past years, too, before the UConn issue exploded into the media.

So we ran a headline allowing someone who has no public record of raising his voice to do anything  about sexual assault or rape culture in this state, and who actually opposes legislation to address it, to accuse a longtime leading voice against it of being responsible for the sex assault problem at UConn, when she’s actually been one of the few legislators calling attention to and fighting it.

P.S. – Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us how brazen Mark Lauretano could be in saying outrageous things considering the company he keeps. Front and center at his press conference, and mugging for the camera with him, was Joe Visconti, an also-ran candidate for the Republican nomination for governor this year who says things like this:

Update: Roberta Willis receives the 2014 Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

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.

Owen Canfield back to writing after long recovery from car crash

26 May

We’re excited to have Owen Canfield’s weekly column back in The Register Citizen today after a more than eight-month absence.

Owen Canfield

Owen Canfield

The legendary Litchfield County journalist, author and former Hartford Courant sports editor was in a serious car accident on Sept. 13 on his way back from picking up a friend at Bradley International Airport. He suffered a broken leg, broken elbow and punctured lung.

Recovery took longer than he expected or wanted, but he was eager to start writing again, and we’re thrilled to have him back.

Owen started writing a Sunday column, profiling local people and slices of life, for The Register Citizen on Sept. 14, 2008, as some post-retirement writing he was doing for the Courant wound down. It was a homecoming of sorts. He had started his career at the Torrington Register 50 years ago, before leaving for a job at the Courant in 1965.

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

Albert Yuravich named director of New Haven Register design center

6 May

Albert Yuravich has joined Digital First Media’s newsroom staff in Connecticut as director of a new regional page design center based at the New Haven Register.

Albie Yuravich

Albie Yuravich

Yuravich led the newsroom of the Greenwich Time over the past few years as managing editor, and also assisted with a redesign of all of Hearst’s daily newspapers in Connecticut in 2012.

He follows Ben Doody and Tom Cleary in making the jump from Hearst Connecticut to Digital First. Doody was Hearst’s digital news editor and is now managing editor of DFM’s Connecticut group. Cleary was a breaking news reporter at the Connecticut Post and is now co-managing editor of DFM’s Register Citizen in Torrington.

But it’s also a homecoming for Yuravich, who was city editor of The Register Citizen from 2004 to 2008, where he won first place national awards for front page design and breaking news coverage from Suburban Newspapers of America.

Yuravich started his career in 2002 as a sports reporter and copy editor for the Waterbury Republican-American.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Boston College.

In his new job, Yuravich is overseeing a design center that will handle page design for Digital First Media’s newspapers in the region. One of his first tasks will be to help lead the New Haven Register through an upcoming print redesign and conversion to a new content management system.

Email Yuravich at ayuravich@nhregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @albertyuravich.

Esteban Hernandez, Evan Lips, Tom Renner join DFM Connecticut newsroom

22 Apr

Esteban Hernandez, Evan Lips and Tom Renner have joined the newsroom staff of Digital First Media in Connecticut.

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Evan Lips

Hernandez and Lips have been hired as staff reporters at The Register Citizen in Torrington and the New Haven Register, respectively. Renner has been hired as a deputy sports editor in New Haven.

Lips, a Connecticut native, previously worked as a reporter at a DFM sister paper, the Lowell Sun in Massachusetts. He got to know the New Haven newsroom in December when he was part of a team of DFM journalists who came to help the Register cover the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Within hours on his first day as a Register reporter on April 15, he was sent in the other direction as part of a DFM team headed to Massachusetts to cover the bombing of the Boston Marathon. His first week was spent working with his former Lowell colleagues and a team from New Haven that fed news of the bombing’s aftermath to Digital First Media’s 75 daily newspapers across the country.

Lips holds a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon University and a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University. He will cover East Haven for the Register. Email him at elips@nhregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @evanmlips.

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Esteban Hernandez

Hernandez also worked for a DFM sister paper, as an intern at the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, before relocating to Connecticut to work at The Register Citizen.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he worked as an editor on the staff of the CU Independent. Email him at ehernandez@registercitizen.com. Follow him on Twitter @estebanHRZ.

Renner starts work today as deputy sports editor at the New Haven Register.

He has worked the past three years as Fairfield County sports editor for the online local news site The Daily Voice, formerly known as Main Street Connect.

Previously, he worked for 22 years at the Stamford Advocate, leaving in 2009 as sports editor.

Tom Renner

Tom Renner

Renner holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Temple University and has won numerous awards for sports writing, page design and overall sports section leadership from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, New England Press Association and Associated Press Sports Editors.

Email him at trenner@nhregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @tomrenner.

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