Friday, November 18, 2005

Courant Losing More Staff

Columnist Michelle Jacklin Offered Severance in Latest Round

CT News Junkie has been following the latest round of "belt-tightening" over at the Hartford Courant, which apparently is now going to include columnist Michelle Jacklin.

The details are well-covered on that always excellent site, so I'll let you read about them there. It's worth a look.

The Courant has been losing local coverage for years, which is where I imagine these cuts will be felt the most. There were a lot of complaints about coverage of local races leading up to the elections, and their print edition had very little that was useful in the way of results.

Who will fill the local news void? Smaller papers like the Journal-Inquirer have already stepped in, and I tend to prefer them over the Courant for coverage of my own town. However, people do seem to be turning to online sources more and more for local news, which seems to be counterintuitive on the face of it. After all, the web is "world wide" and accessible from anywhere. Isn't it overkill?

Not at all. Websites are cheaper to create and maintain (my total costs for this site? $25/year) than a run of 5,000-10,000 copies of a print newspaper each week, and they have the advantage of being accessible from anywhere by anyone at any time.

Local news sites (Westport Now and the New Haven Independent are good examples) can exist in a variety of formats and have many different types of features. They can also be interactive, meaning enabled comments, forums, etc. Many have taken blog formats and have specific points of view, like Willington Issues and the newly created Stokes Report.

In short, people are stepping up to fill the need they see.

So perhaps the future of local news is on the web instead of in print, although it may be more accurate to say that online sources will not replace but supplement and coexist with print sources. This makes the decision of Tribune (the Courant's parent company) to gut the paper's staff, thereby reducing already lousy local coverage to next to nothing, highly questionable. This ground, once lost, may be impossible to recover.


BDRubenstein888 said...

I was sorry to see that Michele Jacklin was offered a severance package. She has been a political reporter a long time and certainly has a great " institutional" history fo Ct. politics...Ive always enjoyed her columns...she will be missed if she decides to leave the Courant

Aldon Hynes said...

As much as I hate to admit it, I have to whole heartedly agree with bdrubenstein888.

Jacklin is one of the best assets that the Courant has. Losing her will only compound the Courant's descent into irrelevancy and promote the growth of hyper-local journalism that will eat the Courant's lunch.

On the other hand, if Jacklin hooks up with a good hyper-local journalistic site, it could turn out to be a very good thing for journalism in Connecticut even as it furthers the Courant's descent.

Aldon Hynes said...

P.S. Rumor has it that she will be on Colin's show on WTIC this evening at 5:40. Tune in if you can.

Anonymous said...

Well I guess their is always two sides to every coin. I'm glad to see her go.

Great Santini said...

There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the Courant throughout central Connecticut. I know that in my neighborhood, I see very few Courants in the driveways as I drive to work. I see a lot of New York Times and Wall Street Journals. The Courant has an agenda and not everyone agrees with it anymore. Many of my friends buy the Courant for the sports coverage only. If Hartford ever had a sports only daily, the Courant's circulation would drop precipitously. The news business is undergoing a major revolution - the Courant has to change or cease to exist.

Aldon Hynes said...

Partly off topic, but perhaps related:

The Danbury News-Times has an article on political bloggers in Connecticut which mentions Genghis and me.

It also talks about Dan Levine who 'online news is just the next step in media evolution' but 'cringes if you refer to his site as a blog'.

P.S. I'm 46, not 65.

Anonymous said...

Retired at 46?

Mon Dieu!

You used to work for Chirac?

TrueBlueCT said...

Hi Aldon--

I read the Danbury News-Times article and then visited the Republican blog Fred Lucas leads his column with,

Absolutely incredible that Fred would refer his readers to a site that hasn't been updated since early June!

Too bad they didn't give Genghis the lead mention. Oh well.

P.S. Genghis Conn's identity is unveiled in the column which Aldon links to. If that's of interest to anyone.

MikeCT said...

Hey, everybody knows who Genghis is. We're just fortunate he has time to blog in the midst of all his pillaging and plundering.