“That's something that we'd be more than willing to explore,” said Rell, a Republican.
“I’d be happy to take part,” said Blumenthal, the state’s top-ranking Democrat.
Rell and Blumenthal spoke in favor of local papers after hearing about the possible closing of The Bristol Press, The Herald in New Britain and 11 weekly papers in the state. Together, they employ about 100 people, mostly in Bristol and New Britain.
All the papers are owned by the Journal Register Co., a Yardley, Penn.-based chain that is struggling financially. The company said this month that if the papers aren’t sold by January 12, they will be closed.
Rell said she was “so saddened” by the news that the papers are in danger and that employees are facing the loss of their jobs.
“This is the worst financial turmoil I have ever seen, not only in our state but in our nation,” said Rell. “I've never seen it so dour and people are feeling it.”
But despite “some very difficult economic times,” Rell said, it is “very important” that local papers stay intact.
For Blumenthal, local papers help him learn what’s happening in towns across the state.
“That kind of closing would be a huge loss to me and learning about what’s happening in this community,” said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal said newspapers have a critical role.
“It’s really the oxygen of democracy. People take it for granted,” the attorney general said, until it’s gone and they can’t breathe.
Local papers provide vital news, said Blumenthal, about what is going on in the community, from zoning meetings to city council actions, as well as things like firehouse fundraisers, Parent Teacher Organization activities and school sports.
In addition, they provide a record of births, marriages and deaths.
“The newspaper is an information lifeline,” said Blumenthal. “It provides really an essential service.”
“There’s something about having that paper and being able to sit there with your cup of coffee or your tea and read through and find out not only the news but the real feel for a community,” said Rell.
“Any time you lose a news service, that's a service to the public,” said Rell, who said the closing of the newspapers would be “a real loss to the communities.”
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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