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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 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.


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 Follow him on Twitter @evanmlips.


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 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 Follow him on Twitter @tomrenner.

Torrington shows that media needs better language for statutory rape

31 Mar

How will Steubenville and Torrington affect a future victim’s decision to come forward?

That question, above everything else, weighs heavily on us as The Register Citizen continues to write about the rape victim bullying case that has sparked national outrage. Because without big changes in how police, school districts, parents and the media talk about rape, consent, relationships and sex, we’ve only made it worse.

Would you tell your parents or school guidance counselor or police that you’d been raped after reading on the front page of The Register Citizen that the last Torrington girl who did was called “whore” and “snitch” and blamed for ruining the lives of two popular football players?a1032113

Would you come forward if you flipped on CNN and heard about the tragedy of two young Steubenville men’s promising careers devastated by rape allegations against them and all about how much the victim had been drinking that night and what she’d been wearing?

Let’s hope that Steubenville was a wake-up call for media about buying into a “blame the victim” culture. That includes giving “equal time” or otherwise legitimizing “blame the victim” arguments. If a bystander, or a friend of the accused, or a friend of the victim, or a defense attorney, or God help us, a police chief, or school official, questions or minimizes rape based on what the victim was wearing, who she was hanging out with, what she’d had to drink or how many people she’d previously had sex with, the media has a duty to put it in proper perspective. Which is right up there with the Torrington High School students’ “whore” and “snitch” Tweets we published.

The only question before us in establishing guilt or innocence in a rape case is, “Did the accuser consent?” And consent has nothing to do with past behavior, wardrobe, the company you keep, or how much you had to drink. The media continues to legitimize the latter by treating the discussion as though it relates to mitigating factors in the crime instead of a glaring cultural attitude that helped contribute to and minimize it.

The Torrington case presents additional issues for the media.

A big part of the “blame the victim” dynamic in Torrington relates to statutory rape, and we need better language to refer to it.

A large number of Torrington High School students believe that statutory rape (in this case, two 13-year-old girls having sex with two 18-year-old high school seniors) is not “real rape.”

Local police have referred to the case as “consensual,” and “just a matter of age difference,” and “not forcible.”

Many Torrington young people have minimized the seriousness of statutory rape.

Many Torrington young people have minimized the seriousness of statutory rape.

We see this language as inappropriate, and harmful, and are struggling with a better way to refer to the details of the case.

The statutory rape law exists because a 13-year-old is a child, and an 18-year-old is a man. A 13-year-old can’t “consent,” period. There is an inherent power imbalance that kids fail to recognize.

In fact, if the allegations against Torrington football players are true (and only two questions really need to be answered – was there sexual contact, and how old are you?), it, in fact, was not “consensual.” It was not “just a matter of age difference.” It was “forcible.” Not consensual because they are children and don’t know what they are doing. Not “just a matter of age difference” because “just” and “rape” should not appear in the same sentence – it is so much more damaging than those words would imply. And “forcible” because of the power, status and manipulation that an adult holds over a child.

So much is at stake in how our communities respond to Steubenville and Torrington. And the very language the media uses to talk about it is crucial to that response.

Why The Register Citizen exposed the identity of student bullies

21 Mar

Due to some excellent journalism by Register Citizen reporter Jessica Glenza, Torrington, Connecticut, has become notorious across the country over the past 24 hours for a scandal involving its high school football team and widespread bullying of 13-year-old girls two 18-year-old players are accused of raping.front

While most of the outrage has been focused on the players, their bullying friends and a school district that has been slow to react to bad behavior by athletes and harassment of victims, the newspaper has been criticized by some for identifying underage students who bullied and subjecting them to national ridicule.

On its website and on the front page of its print edition, The Register Citizen printed screen shots from Twitter on Wednesday morning of Torrington athletes and other students calling a 13-year-old rape victim a “whore” and “snitch” and blaming her for “ruining the lives” of the two players.

We did not blur out the Twitter handles or profile photos of the students doing the bullying, which effectively identified them.

The result, undoubtedly, was intense embarrassment to the teens involved and their families. They said some really disgusting things, and thousands of people from all over the country and world expressed outrage as the story was published prominently in news outlets including the New York Times, New York Daily News, Washington Post, Daily Mail of London and on national blogs such as Jezebel, The Daily Dot and Think Progress, among many others.

Every Connecticut TV station and even a camera crew from CNN was in Torrington Wednesday to cover the story as parallels were drawn to the horrible case in Steubenville, Ohio, where a girl was raped by multiple football players at a party, followed by social media taunting of the victim and a significant number of students and townspeople engaging in a “blame the victim” reaction to their arrest.

Faced with a barrage of criticism (and hopefully, embarrassment and regret over what they’d said, although messages calling Register Citizen staff “snitches” and many unprintable names yesterday would indicate otherwise),  most of the students responsible for the bullying Tweets disabled their accounts quickly after the story broke Wednesday or had shifted them to “private” status.

Some accused us of subjecting these students to bullying themselves, while even those outraged at their actions sympathized over the issue of young people not understanding the ramifications of publicly posting stupid things online and the permanence of those mistakes.

a1032113We could have easily told the story, they suggested, by just “summarizing” the extent of the bullying, and quoting some of the awful things that what were said without identifying who said it.

Yes, we could have done it that way, and I’ll tell you right now, we wouldn’t be having this big local (and national) conversation about the problem.

By publishing the actual messages, we made this real in a way that writing a story about unnamed kids would not.

We gave the city, the state and the country a taste of how horrifying and uncomfortable it has been for two 13-year-old girls over the past month who can’t escape the bullying and the nasty comments whether they’re at school or online.

Vaguely summarizing this kind of bullying, identities protected, would have allowed the school district to continue to ignore the problem and the community to assume that it was “someone else’s kid.”

But the fact is that “good kids,” from “good homes,” honor roll students, athletes, male, female, participated in this stuff, and showed a fundamental and staggeringly dangerous misunderstanding about rape, consent and how to treat other people.

If we hadn’t identified the bullies, this would have been dismissed by the school district and the community as “just a few bad apples.” In fact, that’s exactly how Torrington High School Athletic Director Mike McKenna and School Superintendent Cheryl Kloczko tried to dismiss it right up until the night before Jessica’s story showed everyone that it was more than that.

And in an outrageous failure to understand the need for an urgent community conversation around this problem, Kloczko and Torrington Board of Education Chairman Ken Traub used “student confidentiality” as an excuse to remain silent on the topic yesterday.

We don’t have to be another Steubenville, in part because there are local journalists like Jessica Glenza and her editors at The Register Citizen who are drawing attention to the problem and refusing to be complicit in the school district’s attempts to withhold information as a shield for their own failure to act.

Tom Caprood joins Register Citizen as co-managing editor

4 Mar

Tom Caprood, online editor at The Record in Troy,  New York, for the past three years, starts work at The Register Citizen in Torrington today as co-managing editor.

Tom Caprood

Tom Caprood

At The Record, also a Journal Register Co. daily, Caprood led efforts to open the newspaper’s doors to the public. He partnered with local bloggers and invited readers to classes led by them.

That effort was in part inspired by The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe, an “open newsroom” experiment that Caprood will now help lead.

Prior to being promoted to online editor in Troy, he worked as a reporter at The Record for two and a half years.

Caprood is a 2007 graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany,  N.Y. He and his wife recently moved to Torrington.

At The Register Citizen he will share co-managing editor duties with Tom Cleary, who joined the staff earlier this year, under the leadership of John Berry, editor of The Register Citizen and Middletown Press.

Follow Tom Caprood on Twitter @tomcaprood.

JRC Connecticut welcomes new reporters

26 Feb

Four new reporters have joined the staff of Journal Register Co. newspapers in Connecticut.

Ryan Flynn and Jessica Glenza have joined our newsroom at The Register Citizen in Torrington.

Alex Gecan has started work at The Middletown Press.

And Neal McNamara has joined the staff of the New Haven Register.

Ryan Flynn

Ryan Flynn

Flynn is a recent graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, where he served as sports editor of the Southern News. He also worked as an intern in the sports department of the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport.

He’ll be covering the Litchfield area for The Register Citizen and Litchfield County Times. Follow him on Twitter @RyFly12.

Glenza has worked for the past year and a half as a reporter for the Cortlandt Daily Voice in New York.

She is a summa cum laude graduate of the State University of New York in Purchase, where she received the Mike McKnickle Exellence in Journalism Award.

Jessica Glenza

Jessica Glenza

She’ll be covering Torrington schools and courts for The Register Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaGlenza.

Gecan worked most recently as web editor for Renaissance Publishing in Metairie, La. He is a former intern for The Trentonian in Trenton, N.J.

Alex Gecan

Alex Gecan

Gecan holds a bachelor’s degree in history and art from Tulane University in New Orleans and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he trained at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

He’ll be covering the city of Middletown for The Middletown Press. Follow him on Twitter @Stunati0201.

Neal McNamara

Neal McNamara

McNamara is a former New Haven Register reporter and editor who is returning after working as a reporter and editor in various parts of the country, including as a reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana, and Federal Way Mirror in Federal Way, Wash., as a news editor for City Pulse in Lansing, Mich., and as a content editor and marketing manager for ChefTools.Com in Seattle, Wash.

He is also a graduate of the State University of New York in Purchase. He is covering the city of Milford for the Register. Follow him on Twitter @Neal_McNamara.