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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.

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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.

JRC Connecticut newspapers win big in Local Media Association contest

28 Mar

Journal Register Company newspapers in Connecticut have won 33 awards in the 2011 editorial contest of the Local Media Association, formerly known as the Suburban Newspapers of America.

The New Haven Register was among the top daily newspaper winners with 15 awards, including 2nd place in the country for Best Sports Section and first place in the country for best reporting on local education.

The Litchfield County Times was among the top weekly newspaper winners in the country with 8 awards.

Journal Register Company beat out all other newspaper companies with 102 awards total.

Click here for the full list of awards.

Click here for a slide show of award-winning photos from our Connecticut staff.

The full list of winners from JRC Connecticut:

– 1st place, Best Coverage of Local Education, New Haven Register. Reporting by Abbe Smith.

– 1st place, Best Column Writing, New Haven Register. “Inspirations” column by Ann DeMatteo.

– 1st place, Best Headline, New Haven Register. “Pain in the Gas” by Mheegan Rollins.

– 1st place, Best Sports Photo, New Haven Register. “Yale football” by Arnold Gold.

– 1st place, Best Feature Photo, New Haven Register. “Essex Steam Train” by Peter Casolino.

– 2nd place, Best Sports Section, New Haven Register. Sports Editor Sean Barker and team.

– 2nd place, Best News Photo, New Haven Register. “Hurricane Irene” by William Kaempffer.

– 2nd place, Best Continuing Coverage, New Haven Register. “Interstate 95 project” by Ed Stannard.

– 2nd place, Best Feature Series, New Haven Register. “The Good Fight” by Jim Shelton.

– 3rd place, Best Headline, New Haven Register. “Hello, Good Buys” by Mheegan Rollins.

– 3rd place, Best Photojournalism, New Haven Register.  “Hurricane Irene, the Day After,” by Peter Casolino.

– 3rd place, Best Environmental Coverage, New Haven Register. “Zombie Dump” by Ann DeMatteo.

– Honorable Mention, Best News Photo, New Haven Register. “Bike Man in Snow” by Peter Hvizdak.

– Honorable Mention, Best Feature Photo, New Haven Register. “Snow Graphic” by Melanie Stengel.

– Honorable Mention, Best Feature, New  Haven Register. “When Politics Seeps into Breast Milk” by Sandi Shelton.

– 1st place, Best Special Section, The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT: Forging Tomorrow’s New England Experience)

– Honorable Mention, Best In-Depth Reporting, The Register Citizen

– 2nd place, Community Service Award, Middletown Press (Shovel Brigade)

– 2nd place, Best Wildcard Product, The Register Citizen (Every Town Has a Green)

– 2nd place, Best Arts and Entertainment Coverage, Middletown Press

– 1st place, Best Entertainment-Lifestyle Section, Litchfield County Times (Passport Magazine)

– 2nd place, Best Entertainment-Lifestyle Section, Litchfield County Times (LCT Magazine)

– 2nd place, Best Special Section, Litchfield County Times

– 2nd place, Best Opinion Column, Litchfield County Times

– 2nd place, Best Local Business Coverage, Litchfield County Times

– 2nd place, Best Sports Photo, Litchfield County Times

– 3rd place, Best Environmental Coverage, Litchfield County Times

– 3rd place, Best Editorial Writing, Litchfield County Times

– 2nd place, Best Sports Section, Housatonic Times

– 2nd place, Best Column Writing, Housatonic Times

– 3rd place, Best News Photo, Housatonic Times

– Honorable Mention, Best Entertainment-Lifestyle Section, Housatonic Times

– 2nd place, Best Editorial Writing, Westport Minuteman

In photos: Irene’s impact on Connecticut

31 Aug

Photo by Peter Casolino/New Haven Register

Photo by Peter Casolino/New Haven Register

Photo by Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register

Photo by Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register

Reader-Submitted Photo by Rebecca Humphrey/The Register Citizen

Photo by Melanie Stengel/New Haven Register

Photo by Cathy Avalone/Middletown Press

Photo by Peter Casolino/New Haven Register

Photo by Peter Casolino/New Haven Register

Photo by Peter Casolino/New Haven Register

Photo by Melanie Stengel/New Haven Register

Photo by Melanie Stengel/New Haven Register