For most of my previous years in the business, I sat behind a desk — mostly in New Haven, but also in New Britain, Bristol, Torrington, Middletown, New Milford, Storrs, Woonsocket, R.I., Fall River, Mass., Trenton, N.J., Saratoga, N.Y. … OK, you get the idea.
Most of my journalism career I was an editor, supervising reporters, photographers, copy editors, graphic designers, when I wasn’t answering to the many publishers I worked for and corporate bean counters.
Three different times in five years, from 2011 to 2016, I got fired. I could call it laid off — but that’s too kind a term. Like thousands and thousands of journalists in the internet age of “free” journalism we now live in, I was a victim as newspaper company profits plummeted.
Luckily, I had the good sense to call Christine Stuart two years ago, editor of CTNewsJunkie after my third, and (I decided) last firing.
Christine, who is as good a journalist as I have seen (and I’ve worked with some who have won Pulitzer Prizes), quickly put me to work.
Frankly she did so out of necessity. There was just too much news coming out of the state Capitol for her to keep track of by herself. She needed a hand.
I was glad to be of help. Truthfully I had forgotten the thrill you get from reporting and writing. You meet wonderful people who tell compelling stories, and I was once again one of the lucky ones putting those stories into words.
In the past two years I’ve written hundreds of stories for News Junkie — ranging from the state budget crisis, to the opioid crisis, to whatever crisis of the day, or the minute, or the second, is going on.
And that coverage by CT News Junkie has never been more important.
A little aside on the issue of “real news” in these days of so-called “fake news” cycles.
As I said, the opioid crisis has become one of my beats. More than 1,000 people in our small state — three a day – will die this year because of it. Most of them are young people in their teens, 20s or 30s. I’ve been to far too many press conferences where grieving parents talk about the pain they live with each and every day.
A few weeks ago, 60 Minutes and the Washington Post did an investigative piece that showed that the man picked to be the nation’s drug czar leading the fight against the opioid crisis had actually worked behind the scenes to make it easier for drug companies to circumvent regulations.
The next day that man, a Pennsylvania senator, withdrew his name from consideration for the job.
I bring up that example not to compare my work — or anybody else’s reporting — to that fine piece of journalism. I bring it up to illustrate the value that real reporting still plays and as a reminder that it needs to be nurtured.
Because you see the trend of fewer reporters isn’t changing. There were very few reporters up in Hartford and across the state when I started working for News Junkie a few years ago. There are even fewer now as news organizations continue to be cannibalized.
But the issues today are even more important, more pressing, than ever before.
And the impacts those issues have on your wallet, your kids, your mortgage, your town, your job, are why we are so committed to keep working as hard as we do.
We aren’t making a lot of money doing this. Frankly, we along with many other independent news organizations, need our loyal readers’ help.
So here comes the pitch: Please consider making a donation — in fact, please sign up for an ongoing subscription plan — so that we can continue to provide the best possible coverage of state and local news — and how it impacts you — that we possibly can. There is simply no substitute for direct reader support of professional journalism. It’s crucial.
We promise we’ll do our best to make sure your dollars are well spent.