Sunday, August 3, 2008
Where is the Courant's reporting on its layoffs?
I know these are depressing days at the Hartford Courant. They're depressing days, indeed at all US newspapers facing a spiraling decline in readership. In an effort that can only be described as desperate self-strangulation, the corporate owners of the papers are shedding reporters, news copy inches, and number of pages to "save themselves."
The Hartford Courant, like a number of US dailies, is trying to reinvent itself as a sleeker, more-focused version of itself, but it's unlikely that the paper will be able to reinvent the news-seeking habits of a new generation of readers. The defection to either web-based news, or complete insular, non-news, ignorant bliss, is endemic in a generation who would rather laugh at the news than understand it. What I don't understand, is that one must know what the news is to get Jon Stewart's jokes.
But why has the Courant refused to devote a single line to the sizeable loss of reporting staff (and for that matter, support staff), which occured Thursday July 31? Is it bad business to acknowledge that the news will be written by fewer hands?
Credit to Diane Smith of WTIC-AM for spending time honoring some of the departing writers and performing the eulogy that other media outlets seemed to ignore.
In my email correspondence with a few friends at the Courant, I discovered that there is not a definitive list circulating at the Courant, but among those whose bylines have disappeared are Carole Goldberg, Greg Morago, Linda Giuca, photographer Marc-Yves Regis, and many copy editors. Many were offered buy-outs, some were victims of lay-off.
The wake for the departing writers was held at Kenny's (now the Red Rock tavern), which has been an indispensable hang-out for Courant writers. It's reported that the short good-bye was bittersweet, but as cathartic as a real wake.
UPDATE: Found an unofficial list here which includes all 2008 departures, layoff and buyouts, thanks to CT News Junkie.