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Why we ran that photo of a New Haven man posing with stolen gun

10 Mar
(Photo by Peter Hvizdak - New Haven Register) During a photography portrait session with a New Haven Register photographer on Jan. 30, 2014, in New Haven, an African-American male of New Haven, a convicted felon in his late 20s, shows off a 9mm Smith & Wesson model 659 semi-automatic firearm that he says is stolen and which he says he uses for his personal protection.

(Photo by Peter Hvizdak – New Haven Register) During a photography portrait session with a New Haven Register photographer on Jan. 30, 2014, in New Haven, an African-American male of New Haven, a convicted felon in his late 20s, shows off a 9mm Smith & Wesson model 659 semi-automatic firearm that he says is stolen and which he says he uses for his personal protection.

A striking and sure-to-be-controversial photo leads the New Haven Register’s website and print edition front page this morning. “Joe,” an anonymous New Haven man, poses in a menacing, face-covering disguise with a handgun that he says is both stolen and against the law for him to possess since he is a convicted felon.

BiVl1a_CYAAVaRUThere were two major points of discussion among New Haven Register editors prior to publishing Shahid Abdul-Karim‘s story, which features an interview in which “Joe” (not his real name) talks about why illegal guns proliferate on the streets of New Haven from the perspective of someone who feels he needs to have one to defend himself.

1. We are generally uncomfortable with using anonymous sources, for a lot of reasons. What ulterior motives might be at play that anonymity would cover up? How do we confirm what they are saying is true?

2. Is the photo constructive in telling the story and conveying information and meaning to readers, or is it gratuitous “click bait” at best, and glorifying of some kind of tough guy violence mentality at worst?

We were comfortable with the first point because Shahid did the work to be confident that “Joe” is who he says he was. There was little to nothing to be gained by talking to us. Point by point, we checked out what he said to us (for example, that guns are sometimes stolen from National Guard armories) and ran counter-point from law enforcement and others. Most of all, we felt that anonymity was justified in this case because of how important, and rare, it is to hear from the kind of person no one ever hears from when urban violence and illegal guns are written about.

We were comfortable (for the most part) about the photo because it vividly conveyed the subject matter, and provided a telling contrast between the projection of strength young men make in arming themselves vs. the fear and desperation expressed in our interview with “Joe.”

Most of all, we hope the story will spark a dialogue about the issue. For context, see Rich Scinto‘s story on the toll that gun violence took in New Haven last year, and Brian Charles‘ story on the growing rate of income disparity and poverty in New Haven.

If you have questions or insight into the story or how we handled it, New Haven Register editors will be discussing it today at AskTheRegister.com. Please come join in the conversation.

Joe Amarante named Arts and Entertainment editor at New Haven Register

21 Feb

Joe Amarante, a 30-year veteran editor, reporter and columnist, has been named Arts and Entertainment Editor at the New Haven Register.

Joe Amarante

Joe Amarante

He succeeds Donna Doherty, who retired late last year after eight years in the position.

After graduating from the University of New Haven, Amarante started his career at the New Haven Journal-Courier in the 1970s. He has more than 28 years experience covering television, radio and other media, and is a former member of the Television Critics Association.

He was TV Editor at the New Haven Register for years, and most recently has served the paper as a general assignment reporter, columnist and editor. His column writing has been recognized with awards by SPJ, the New Haven Committee on Italian Migration and the Hamden Unitas Club. He is married to Sue and has four children.

Amarante can be reached at jamarante@21st-centurymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeammo.

First Ann DeMatteo intern named at New Haven Register

5 Dec

Adam Stuhlman has been named as the first participant in an annual paid internship program at the New Haven Register established in the memory of longtime editor and reporter Ann DeMatteo.

Adam Stuhlman

Adam Stuhlman

“Adam is looking to gain more experience to break into the field full-time,” said New Haven Register Managing Editor Mark Brackenbury. “He is just the kind of person Ann would have taken under her wing, so I think she would be pleased that he is joining us for the next couple of months.”

The program was announced earlier this year, after DeMatteo passed away at the age of 56 after a battle with cancer. DeMatteo worked for 34 years as a reporter, bureau chief and editor at the New Haven Register. She was named managing editor of its sister daily, The Middletown Press, in the fall of 2012.

For many years, DeMatteo ran the internship program at the New Haven Register, training dozens of future journalists.

Ann DeMatteo

Ann DeMatteo

Stuhlman is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has worked as a freelance reporter for the New Haven Register, CTNewsJunkie.com, the Middletown Press, the New Britain Herald and the Hartford Guardian.

He is also active with the Veterans Art Foundation, which uses art therapy to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Donna Doherty’s retirement dims spotlight on New Haven arts

25 Nov

Donna Doherty is retiring from the New Haven Register this week, on the day before Thanksgiving. We’re not sure what to do about it.

Donna Doherty

Donna Doherty

As arts editor since 2005, Donna has become an authority on a segment of life and culture that is hugely important to our community. We’re not sure how to replace her, because we know we won’t be able to match what she contributes to our newsroom. And if we’d been smarter about realizing what we had in Donna, we would have given her a team of minions to smartly explore the richness of the arts scene around Yale University, New Haven, the Shoreline and beyond.

The remarkable thing about Donna is that this role was just the latest diverse gig in the career of a Renaissance woman.

Decades ago, she was a sports reporter for the New Haven Register. She went on to serve as editor of Tennis magazine. She covered courts at one point. Here’s her account of covering the Black Panthers trial for the New Haven Register as a 20-year-old student at Northeastern University, and how the intensity of that assignment prompted her to go for a “change of pace” and try sports.

Our newspaper has been enriched greatly by Donna’s work, off and on, from the time she wrote as a student more than 40 years ago to her role covering the richness of the New Haven area arts scene. And we’ve been enriched to work beside her.

We’re making poverty a full-time reporting beat

8 Nov
BrianCharlesSM

Brian Charles

The gap between the country’s wealthiest and poorest is at its highest point in the past 100 years. The gap between white and minority Americans is far greater. For every $1 in assets held by the average white family, the average black family has 15 cents, and the average Hispanic family has 17 cents.

Poverty in Connecticut has a profound impact on education, health care, crime, housing and economic development. It looms over those issues. It’s why some aspects of them seem unsolvable.

At a recent conference at the UCLA School of Nursing, Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said that in terms of a child’s long-term health and well-being, “exposure to poverty in utero is more dangerous than exposure to cocaine.”

We’re making poverty a full-time reporting beat, and we’re excited to announce that Brian Charles will be joining our staff in that role on Monday.

Brian was recently named Journalist of the Year for Digital First Media‘s mid-sized daily newspapers, partly in recognition of his work investigating a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager for one of our sister newspapers, the Pasadena Star-News, in California.

He is a New York native who graduated from Purchase College with a bachelor’s degree in 2005 and Antioch University-Los Angeles in 2010 with a master’s degree in creative writing. During his time as a reporter in California, he was active as a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and as an executive committee member of the Black Journalists Association of Southern California.

Brian will be based at the New Haven Register, but we expect his work to have a statewide impact and also appear in The Middletown Press, The Register Citizen, Connecticut Magazine and other publications.

He can be reached at bcharles@nhregister.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jbriancharles.

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

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