What is the Connecticut News Project? The Connecticut News Project Inc. is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization created to reinvigorate news coverage of Connecticut’s state government, public policy and politics. We will report, analyze, explain and investigate the activities of state government, reasserting the “watchdog” role of the media. We will post our work on our website, CTMirror.org, and distribute it through various other channels.
Our primary goal is to ensure that Connecticut’s residents are better informed about their government and its activities, so they can more effectively participate in the development of public policy and hold officials accountable for understanding and addressing the state’s needs. CNP also intends to encourage and facilitate discussion and debate on public policy matters; to create an archive of documents and data about state government and public policy; and to help train a new generation of journalists to cover state and local government in this rapidly changing media world.
Why is the project needed? Year of declining revenues have forced most traditional news organizations in the state to cut back coverage in all areas, including government and public policy. One measure of this is at the state Capitol: In 1989, two dozen reporters representing most of the daily newspapers in the state covered the Capitol full time. Today, fewer than a third that number remain. The news space allotted to this coverage also has declined with the size of newspapers overall. Meanwhile, the pressures and responsibilities of state governments everywhere have increased enormously.
Is CTMirror.org another blog? No. The Connecticut Mirror-CTMirror.org-is a news site that aims to combine the best of traditional and new media. We will use our years of experience in newspapers to break new ground with significant original reporting on the big issues and ideas of the day. We also will use the immediacy and flexibility of the web to provide background and context, to connect with the best work others are doing, and to deliver breaking news. In addition, being online will allow us to establish and build a library of past stories, databases, government and non-government reports and original source documents, and to make that information easily accessible to our users. Finally, the Internet will allow us to encourage communication between Connecticut’s residents and their public officials.
Are you competing with the Connecticut media? Yes and no. Certainly every news organization wants to be first with the best story, and we’re no different. If that competition invigorates news coverage, the public wins. But we also believe our ability to focus on government, politics and public policy reporting will complement the broader range of traditional media coverage. Far from being adversaries, we are forming partnerships with other organizations to give our work the broadest possible reach.
How is the project financed? The project has received funding or funding commitments from multiple foundations and individuals. The funding now in place will allow the project to operate at a base level for three years. We plan to increase funding from a variety of sources and to build a sustainable business model.
Who is involved in the project? News staff of the Connecticut News Project currently consists of editor Michael Regan, a 35-year veteran of the Hartford Courant; Capitol bureau chief Mark Pazniokas, a long-time reporter who has covered local news, politics and government, courts and investigative beats for the Manchester Journal Inquirer and the Courant; Bob Frahm, former education reporter for the Courant and past president of the National Education Writers Association, and Jacqueline Rabe, Capitol reporter, who has been a reporter, online editor and web site developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Southern Maryland Newspaper chain. Jim Cutie, a former New York Times executive, is chief operating officer with primary responsibility for assuring the long-term sustainability of the Project and identifying potential partners and opportunities for growth.
Who is on the Board of Directors? Founding members of the board of directors are Shelley Geballe (co-president), founding president of Connecticut Voices for Children and lecturer at Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health, and William Cibes Jr. (co-president), Chancellor Emeritus of the Connecticut State University System and former OPM Secretary; Marcia Chambers (secretary), former New York Times reporter and Research Scholar in Law and Visiting Journalist in Residence at Yale Law School; Jeannette DeJesus, Executive Director of the Hispanic Health Council; and Robert Hohler, Executive Director of the Melville Charitable Trust. We hope to expand the board in the coming months. There also is a growing Friends of the CT News Project group that consists of former and current journalists and others who seek to further the Project’s mission.
What is the Board of Directors’ role in defining CT Mirror’s news coverage? None. Members of the board share a commitment to public service through their work in various non-profit and educational organizations. They also share a belief that vigorous coverage of government and public policy is essential to the common good. It is that belief, rather than commitment to a particular cause, that has led them to contribute their time and expertise to launching the Connecticut News Project. To ensure independence of the news operation, immediate oversight of news coverage will be provided by a separate News Advisory Board.
Do you accept advertising? We will not accept advertising. However, we do seek sponsorships and underwriting. This is a great way of associating you and your company with the highly valuable service of providing news, information and knowledge to all Connecticut residents so they can make informed decisions that impact their communities, their families and themselves.
Can you really reach all Connecticut residents? Not by ourselves and not all on the first day. But with the help of distribution partners, other media, community groups and organizations and via a variety of platforms and technologies we think we can begin to deliver our content throughout the state.