February 25, 2009

Courant's publisher is a liar

I can understand that cutting jobs may be a necessity at The Hartford Courant, if only because someone at the Tribune Co. gave the order.
But that's no reason for the paper's publisher, Stephen Carver, to lie about the consequences of losing 100 people, including 30 in the newsroom.
"We're going to perform at the level we've been performing," Carver said in a statement published on the daily's website.
How offensive.
And what a preposterous lie.
It's an insult to the fine reporters who are losing their jobs and a slap in the face to scores of loyal employees who have stuck by the paper through increasingly hard times.
Using Carver's logic, I suppose if the paper fired every journalist on its payroll, it would just keep on "performing at the level we've been performing."
At least the man should have had the decency to express remorse and to state the obvious: the news will suffer.
"I wanted to get us into an environment where we could focus on our readers and advertisers going forward, and focus on growing the business," Carver explained as his reason for the pink slips.
Oh, yeah? Really?
I suspect the atmosphere at the paper's office is more like a morgue than "an environment where we could focus on our readers and advertisers."
In fact, I'm sure of it.
This is bad business, but let us at least tell it like it is. We owe readers the truth, not a smiley face stuck on a bleeding and badly wounded paper that's gasping for air.
Carver better understand that he runs a newspaper, not a fantasy land.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

Mr. Collins, do I detect some hypocrisy here?

"Be polite, please. I will delete posts that are too mean-spirited."

How can you now enforce your "standard" after posting these words?

Just curious...

Sue Gorski said...

I always thought that the "business" of a newspaper was to report the news. Reporters write the news. If the Courant gets rid of its reporters, how can they possibly expect to "grow the business"? I realize that selling advertising space keeps newspapers afloat. But readers are not going to want to buy a newspaper that is merely filled with ads and businesses are not going to want to waste their advertising dollars on newspapers with shrinking demographics. We all know the economy is bad and businesses all over are cutting staff to stay afloat. However, Carver's sugar-coated comment about the Courant continuing to "perform at the level we've been performing" is not only an insult to the loyal employees who are no longer on their payroll, but also to their loyal readers who know unequivocally that the quality of the paper cannot possibly remain the same.

Anonymous said...


When the quality of your product is at rock bottom, it is easy to maintain that level of performance.

The HC is a shadow of its former self and even the shadow is fading. Too bad the cuts always come at the bottom when the financial drain is at the top.

Steve Collins said...

6 PM -- Calling him a liar is being polite.

Anonymous said...

Steve, are you honestly surprised about the lying? Welcome to Corporate America!! Every man for himself. If you can't beat'em, join'em

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying it like it is. I'm sick of these corporate hacks trying to make every cut appear to be a step forward. It's like slicing off your leg and bragging that you're now ready to win that marathon.

Bob W. said...

What is he supposed to say, he's the publisher; he has to assuage readers/investors/advertisers that the paper has a plan going forward, hence the difficult decision about job cuts. It's business.

Sure it's crap, but what else could he say? Maybe you'd be happy if he let slip that 'Hey, there's no light at the end of the tunnel, this is the first of what I presume will be many job cuts, and the paper that lands at your doorstep next month will be a mere remnant of the Courant of old', but then the Courant's remaining 732 subscribers would turn and run.

And as for the "future" of newspapers, I would argue there is NONE, and that people here and now on this site are gazing into the future. The whole newspaper model is circling the drain; I have to force my kids to read the paper now (the Washington Post) whenever I feel like buying one (usually for the coupons), but they are all over setting up Google Reader with the tripe they want to look at.

Any journalist possessing the slightest instincts of self-preservation should be learning html/css, etc, and be ready to make the leap as the last remaining newspapers disappear.

Today's Bristol Press is tomorrow's RSS feed.

By the way, Sue, the product of a newspaper is news/commentary etc; but the business of most newspapers is to make a profit; if the role of newspapers (all media, really) was something more altruistic, we would not know what Britney Spears had for breakfast yesterday.


Steve Collins said...

Well, he could say that we had to make some tough, nearly impossible choices. We lost some great reporters and some good people. We did what we had to do to make money and move forward. We have high hopes that can continue to produce a high quality newspaper that will prosper as times improve and, with luck, allow us to hire more journalists in the future.

Anonymous said...

At this point I think the Step Saver has more content then the Courant.