Like many companies, ours has a probably-wise-but-at-time-frustrating policy of not providing detailed references, good or bad, on former employees. So I’m going to say some good things about Jessica Glenza while she still works for us.
Jessica’s last day as a reporter for The Register Citizen in Torrington is tomorrow. Family commitments are taking her to Straus News, a group of weekly newspapers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where she has accepted an investigative reporting job.
Soon after joining us in February, Jessica broke one of the most significant stories The Register Citizen has covered or has been written about Torrington in recent memory. She uncovered widespread social media bullying of two 13-year-old girls raped by a group of 18-year-old Torrington High School football players.
Subsequent reporting by Jessica over the course of the year has brought to light a total of seven players associated with the Torrington High School football team who have been charged with rape in a number of different cases, a culture of bullying in the school district and a pattern of inattention and inaction by school district officials.
Jessica’s initial story became national news within hours. We were proud of the work she and Register Citizen editors John Berry, Tom Cleary and Tom Caprood did on this story because of the significance of what was uncovered, but also because the reporting was rock-solid. We braced for “shoot the messenger” criticism from local school officials, but there was little to none about the facts of the story, because the reporting was accurate, thorough, careful, measured.
That didn’t stop some local sources from shutting Jessica out due to anger that the story was reported in the first place. She kept digging, kept beating other local and national media, and kept moving the story forward as the details and revelations got worse and worse.
Meanwhile in her relatively brief career at The Register Citizen, she’s broken stories about questionable spending decisions in the Torrington School District (here, here and here, for examples) and produced some gems in her coverage of local courts, including this piece on a man who has received a $129,000-a-year state taxpayer-funded salary while a murder case against him has dragged out for more than 13 years.
Straus News is lucky to have Jessica Glenza, recruiters out there should keep an eye on her career, and those of us who at times worry about whether good journalism will carry on with the next generation of reporters can take heart in the example she sets.
Public officials with bad stuff to hide are going to be happy about Jessica’s departure from The Register Citizen. That’s a pretty powerful testament to the kind of journalist she has become.
UPDATE (Dec. 11, 2013): I’m psyched to update this post with news that Jessica is back working for our company, as a producer in our “Thunderdome” national news office in Manhattan.
UPDATE (April 17, 2014): Digital First Media names Jessica “Journalist of the Year” due to her work in Torrington.