November 18, 2008

Hey, Hartford, doesn't anybody care about saving 100+ jobs?

A week after the Journal Register Co. declared it would close two of Connecticut's oldest newspapers on Jan. 12 if no buyer turns up -- and throw more than 100 people onto the unemployment lines -- there's been no indication that the state gives a damn.
I understand these are hard times, that lots of companies are struggling, that many jobs are in danger, that a budget crisis is exploding.
But we have a state Department of Economic and Community Development. We have a whole bureaucracy of different agencies whose mission is to make sure that state residents have good jobs. We are paying people to bust their butts to preserve the jobs that exist and find more.
Where the hell are they?
The demise of two daily newspapers, and a host of weeklies as well, undercuts the well-being of Central Connecticut. It would be a travesty that the region as a whole won't truly grasp unless the papers are gone. It would send a clear message out to the world that the region is dying -- not exactly the economic development mantra.
This isn't about saving my job. I fully expect that whatever happens, I won't be a part of it. This is about saving two institutions that circulate the lifeblood of their communities. This is about keeping intact more than a century of solid community journalism, of keeping intact the communities these papers have served for all those years.
The state's political leaders, who understand better than most how important newspapers are, should be pulling out all stops to find a way to stave off these closures. They should know that while The Bristol Press and the New Britain Herald are merely the first in line, there are many other wobbly papers in Connecticut, including the Hartford Courant.
We need to find a way to make sure they don't all vanish.
There's not much time. Let's get moving and find a solution. C'mon, Hartford, lead!
PS: Though I tend to focus on journalism, since it's been my life for two decades, it's important to recognize that these papers employ all sorts of wonderful people who aren't out there annoying people with questions. There are people who sells ads, people who process the inevitable paperwork, people who keep the buildings operational, people who answer the phones, people who print the papers, people who put the papers together and on and on and on. They need to make a living, too, and they deserve help from their elected leaders.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

Steve, you make a valid point, but it goes far beyond the Bristol Press woes.

Where was the State ECD for the following companies?

Barnes Group
AG Russell

These are just 4 Bristol businesses that have had to lay off or cut hours for a significant amount of employees.

What about other businesses in the State having the same issues.

Unfortunately, it's a sign of the times that there is little anyone can do about it.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see some leadership. Let's hope Hartford will provide some help. This is a crisis.

Bob Jelenic said...

Get in the real world, pal. What do you expect a state government to do? Honestly, what country do you think we are living in? Companies with far more employees than this go out of business all the time. Citigroup announced yesterday it was laying off 53,000 people. Repeat: 53,000 people. The state is supposed to add more burden to taxpayers by taking over privately run newspapers? I am sorry that people are losing their jobs, but your cries for help are more pathetic and ignorant than anything.

This company has been dying a slow death for a long time. Employees have had years' notice and foreshadowing that this exact type of thing could happen. People who refused to leave JRC papers, hoping and dreaming that things would one day get better, only fooled themselves and hurt themselves.

Dirk Diggler said...

And the people who call from "Crossfire" (on the caller ID). They are relentless callers even though we've told them that my houshold already has a subscription!

Anonymous said...

And get involved with "The Freedom of the Press"????

Anonymous said...

These state workers don't give a damn about saving these local papers. They get paid to do nothing. Now if these were union jobs on the line, that might be different.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

here here!!

Anonymous said...

Hard reality Steve, but no one cares.

Move on.

Anonymous said...

Steve, There are some of us in Hartford who ARE talking about the newspapers. Whether we can or will do anything to help, I can't say.

Anonymous said...

Is that really Bob Jelenic up there? If so, he should be outed and other newspapers should see his comments.

help is coming said...

This issue goes far beyond jobs and money. We're talking about Constitutional rights. Freedom of the press is a protected right and it always suffers under Fascist regimes. The past eight years have been horrible for so many innocent people, especially journalist who are the real foot soldiers of this country. G"W"B and his posse of thieves have had a grand ol' time watching the Press die a slow and painful death.

Thankfully, we have a new administration preparing to right the countless wrongs we've suffered. The day will come when we look back on the Bush years and wonder how they got away with what they did.

Stay hopeful, Steve. Help is on the way!

Me said...

I am sure the "bob jelenic" comment is not from Bob Jelenic, the former head of the Journal Register Co. It's probably from someone who left the company years ago and has little patience for those who stayed.

Anonymous said...

Just a matter of time before something else comes along to take the place of the Press. The Internet has killed the actual "paper" news. Steve, the owners of the Press never embraced technology and took advantage of reporting the news on the web IE: web only stories.

Me said...

I agree that the JRC was slow to take advantage of the web, but it's also fair to point out that NOBODY in the newspaper business is making much money online compared to what a print product can produce. And I can't even begin to imagine how to replicate online all the things that are in a paper for a measly 50 cents a day.

Me said...

Let me shorten that: Nothing will ever take the place of a daily newspaper.

Anonymous said...

RE: 4:31 comment

Please share with me whatever you are smoking, drinking or both. Goodness, get a grip.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if Bush knows anything about the BP, never mind enjoying watching it die. Maybe Obama will save the newspaper? C'mon, get real.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were dead. Or maybe I wished you were.
I'm sure it never occurred to you, the former president of the evil Journal Register Co., that some people would stay at their jobs out of professionalism, out of a sense of serving a community, of making their own little part of the world better, not because they "refused" to leave.
No, it wouldn't occur to you.

Anonymous said...

jelenic hit the nail on the head!

Anonymous said...

The real Bob Jelenic is dead. I honestly wish I could say that I am sad, but I am not!