This has turned into a bummer of an autumn for Connecticut’s traditional newspapers.
Last week, the owners of The New Haven Register announced they would be laying off 30 to 40 members of the newspaper’s business-side staff and transferring those operations to the Journal Register Company’s Michigan business office.
That came down just after The New York Times came out with a massive front-page exposé on “the deal from hell,” as Sam Zell characterized his takeover of the Tribune Company. The Tribune owns the Hartford Courant, this weekly newspaper, and Fox 61 here in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, you have AOL’s new Patch system of hyperlocal news websites hiring away good young reporters from The Meriden Record-Journal and The Waterbury Republican-American.
The Meriden Record-Journal lost its Wallingford town hall reporter, Dave Moran, and its Southington reporter, Leslie Hutchinson. The Waterbury Republican-American saw Paul Singley, who had been covering Naugatuck, jump to become a local reporter for Patch.
One reporter who attended Singley’s going-away party last week, said Singley was saying he will be getting thousands of dollars more a year to work for Patch than he was making at the Waterbury paper.
“He is a good young reporter,” one Rep-Am staffer says of Singley, “a go-getter.”
Exactly the kind of journalist Connecticut newspapers need to hang on to as they struggle to make the transition from print-only to multi-media operations in this Internet age.
As the Patch news service gets established in the Greater Danbury Area, in order to survive, print media such as the News-Times and Ridgefield Press will be pressured to examine how best to deliver their product. In the age where most people can obtain their news on their smartphone and mobile devices, with the ability to hire journalists, the Patch service has the ability to deliver news faster than traditional media. Also given the fact that critics of the News-Times complain that the newspaper fails to provide local news, since the Patch focuses on news pertaining to a particular city/town, it can provide local content at a faster pace than what the public is receiving now.
Will Patch succeed in Greater Danbury? It's too soon to say but the Patch is an extremely popular service whose readership is increasing every day and it can only be a good thing in area such as Bethel and Danbury where local reporting barely exist.