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 firstname.lastname@example.org