For those who didn't know, the News-Times, Connecticut Post, Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time are all owned by the Hearst Corporation and recently, the company has moved the printing operations for their area papers to Bridgeport (yes, the News-Times you read is no longer printed in Danbury.
The article goes into great detail highlighting the good and bad of consolidating local papers and it's a must read for those who are concerned about the quality of reporting in the area.
Simon says despite the dailies being "shockingly thinner — he "picked up a paper the other day and thought they'd left out a section" — they're keeping up the quality.
"It's a pleasant surprise," he says, "They seem to be doing it with smoke and mirrors."
At the dailies, Hearst has consolidated entertainment, weekend and business sections, increased shared regional content and added more bells and whistles online.
"We've launched new blogging platforms, more database polls, videos," says Tom Baden, editor of the Connecticut Post. They certainly have. Beneath and between flashing ads, blogs, slideshows, videos and interactive polls, the eye can hardly land upon the links to news stories.
But increased regional news stories are not pleasing some readers. Dale Salm, managing editor of Connecticut Magazine and a reader of many local and regional papers, says, "[Readers] have written letters to the editor to the effect that if they wanted to subscribe to the Connecticut Post, they would. They do not appreciate 'shared editorial' and feel cheated."
The June 10 Stamford Advocate, for instance, ran seven news stories about Stamford, and 14 regional (Fairfield County), two state and seven national/international stories.
The June 9 issue of the Connecticut Post ran three stories about Bridgeport, two about Milford, one about Stratford and one about Fairfield — towns the paper covers. It also ran one story each from Greenwich, Ridgefield and Danbury, picked up from sister Hearst papers.
Critics, such as Salm and former and current journalists from local papers who asked that their names not be used, doubt readers of the Connecticut Post care about Greenwich, Ridgefield or Danbury.
McCumber says the papers share content only where they see "there's some interest across the market. We play it differently."
The loss of veteran reporters concerns industry watchers. Salm notes most of the "skilled editors and writers ... have been handed their walking papers after years of devoted service. Almost all the people writing for the [Advocate] today were not there a year ago, and frankly have neither the history with the publication and its audience nor the skill to do justice to what was the area's top daily."
The Stamford Advocate now has only one experienced city reporter. Seven new, young reporters have been hired in the last year and a half. Many do not live in Fairfield County.
As someone who remembers the days when Valerie Roth articles on Jim Dyer were required reading, the decline of reporting at the News-Times is something that's on the minds of everyone.
As noted in the Weekly's write-up, on any given day, you can pick up a copy of the Connecicut Post and News-Times and read the same article. With no weekly paper in sight in Danubry (yet), people are correct to be concerned that further consolidating of material in the News-Times and Connecticut Post could result in loss of our local paper...and that would be a sad day indeed.
The article is worth the read.
(*full disclosure, I'm a blogger on the News-Times/Hearst Corporation)