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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.

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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.

Shahid Abdul-Karim named community engagement editor at New Haven Register

21 Feb

I’m pleased to announce that Shahid Abdul-Karim has been promoted to the position of community engagement editor at the New Haven Register. In that role, he will focus on involving the community at every step of the process of local journalism, including outreach and partnerships with community organizations and readers.

Shahid Abdul-Karim

Shahid Abdul-Karim

Shahid joined the Register in June 2012 and has distinguished himself as a member the city reporting staff.

He is a 2006 graduate of Springfield (Mass.) College with a bachelor’s degree in human services. Since 1999, he has been a staff reporter for the Muslim Journal and in 2009 was selected to its board of directors.

Shahid succeeds Ed Stannard, who helped inaugurate the community engagement editor role at the New Haven Register in 2011. Ed, a former metro editor and Sunday editor in his 22 years with the Register, wanted to move back to a more direct role in news coverage at the paper and has taken on a senior reporting role that has already been integral to our coverage of mental health issues and other matters in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

Email Shahid at sabdul-karim@nhregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @shahid_akarim.