The news in today's Hartford Courant that its two top editors have been given the heave-ho and that an "interim editor" will be reporting to someone with the title of "senior vice president in charge of news content" for the Courant and Channel 61 leaves me cold.
Sure, the paper's new publisher, Richard Graziano, has already made quite a splash on the news since his arrival in town a month ago. But what he's doing to the news is what really matters.
And it doesn't look pretty so far.
The Courant reported today that it has lost 45 percent of its newsroom personnel in the past 16 months. That's just a little short of half its reporters, editors, copy editors, photographers, sportswriters and so on. So it's no wonder the paper can't even begin to do the wide range of stories it had not so long ago.
I don't have the answers to stop newspapers from sliding away into oblivion, but I'm quite sure that putting TV people in charge isn't the solution, that slicing away experienced hands won't help and that gutting the core mission of the newspaper doesn't exactly appeal to those who read it.
Those of us in the newspaper racket desperately need to experiment, to see what new things might catch on, to integrate the web with what we do much more seamlessly and holistically, but there seems to be a feeling in the executive suites that the problem with newspapers is that they want to cover news.
And the one thing I'm sure about is that if the only way to keep people interested in newspapers is to gut them, then the hell with 'em.
I'm having a hard time believing that a publisher who thinks driving drunken young women around in the middle of the night is a good idea is the guy with the answers to the problems afflicting our state's flagship newspaper.
PS: You can read the relevant letters to Courant staffers on CT News Junkie.
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