darts and laurels

A laurel to the Hartford Courant

Local coverage at its best
December 17, 2012

Connecticut is the third smallest state in the country, area-wise, with a total population less than half that of New York City. In this respect, Connecticut news is always local, and the Hartford Courant, with an average daily circulation of 130,000, is the biggest paper in the state.

It is the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper. The paper has won two Pulitzers in its history. It may win a third with its coverage of the Newtown massacre.

Even as its readership and revenue declined, as budget cuts decimated the newsroom and increasing amounts of its content was supplied by wire services or syndicated articles (the Courant has been owned by the Tribune company since 2000) — as the Courant fell victim to those familiar news industry woes — it stayed a fixture on my family’s breakfast table, the best place to find out what was going on in our neighborhood.

As bigger outlets from all over the world swarm Newtown to cover an unfathomable tragedy and as legacy outlets and prolific Tweeters alike spat out misinformation and rumors, the Hartford Courant had the best account I’ve seen so far. Its coverage continues to be excellent: patient, accurate, and compassionate. As recent Connecticut transplant Megan Greenwell wrote: “You cover something differently when it’s yours.”

If you want to know what’s going on in Newtown — what it was before, how it’s coping afterwards, and the closest we may ever get to why — you’d best start with the Courant. I wondered if it would be able to step up to the challenge of covering the second-deadliest school shooting in US history. It has.

I’m so sad for my state. I’m so proud of my newspaper.

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.