Holy crap, it’s a real newspaper!

IMAG0095_PerfectlyClear_0001-w1200-h1200During my tenure at FoxCT I got to work closely with the reporters, managers and staff at the Hartford Courant. It was sad to see them feel they were on a sinking ship. In aggregate, these were the smartest people I’d ever worked with.

It’s not specifically the Courant that’s going down, but newspapers and print media in general. Times have been tough. Profit margins in print have vanished and turned to losses.

When I came to New Haven we subscribed to the New Haven Register and Journal-Courier. Two daily papers in little New Haven. Those days are gone.

With all respect to my friends on Sargent Drive, the Register is a pale shadow of what it was. What a shame. It suffered under horrible mismanagement long before print soured.

I came to California with low expectations for print journalism. We subscribed to the Orange County Register at Helaine’s insistence. She wanted local news.

Holy crap, it’s a real newspaper! If it’s possible to judge by a week’s worth of reading, it’s a pretty good newspaper.

A fat paper has arrived at our back door every day. Multiple sections. Big sections. Real local advertising–which is valuable information.

There is lots of local content from staff reporters and columnists. There is plenty of national news too, including syndicated stories from the New York Times, Bloomberg and AP.

The editorial page makes no qualms about its conservative, libertarian bent. We will disagree.

My cousins tell me the OC Register hit bottom before its current rebound. The reporting staff has been boosted. Its local footprint expanded. You have to pay to read, as its website has been cordoned off behind a paywall.

The economic climate is different here. SoCal is rebounding from the recession faster than Connecticut. There are no Orange County TV stations to compete against, even though the county has over three million residents. The Register is the only game in town.

No one knows if the OC Register’s current incarnation will save it or if its just digging a deeper hole. Spending to put out a better product is a concept seldom seen. Only time will tell.

I’d like to see their investment pay off. We all benefit if print gets healthy again.

Pressroom Pilgrimage

“I feel like a kid when I’m here,” I told Slim. He’s a powerful man with rough workman’s hands. He was in blue coveralls, wearing ear protection and watching over a massive Goss offset press.

“That’s how I felt when I first walked in here 36 years ago,” he replied.

I suspect he still feels that way.

The Hartford Courant presses roll early on Thursdays. I was reminded as soon as I started walking downstairs. You feel a press run before you hear it. Your feet pick it up. The stairwells vibrate.

My intention was to get a soda. It ended up a pilgrimage to the pressroom. I hadn’t been there since before my surgery.

“I feel like a kid when I’m here,” I told Slim.

He’s a powerful man with rough workman’s hands. He was in blue coveralls, wearing ear protection and watching over a massive Goss offset press.

“That’s how I felt when I first walked in here 36 years ago,” he replied.

I suspect he still feels that way.

All around me men were getting dirty as they climbed on these behemoth machines making adjustments. There is pride in making sure the paper looks just right.

Nothing in the press room is said quietly. You’ve got to outshout all the machinery… and there’s plenty.

I walked around and said hello to everyone. This is their crunch time. I didn’t want to bother them or distract them. They work with equipment that is dangerous and unforgiving.

There is something pure in this massive three story space. They are making something. They are producing a real physical product. I’ve never been in a business where you could hold what we sold in your hand.

I love this place.

My Story In The Courant

Though it doesn’t officially run until Sunday’s Courant, my recap of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene is online.

I love writing and am thrilled the Courant chose to publish this. Thanks to Carolyn Lumsden, Editorial Page Editor, and Peter Pach, Op-Ed Editor, for saying yes.

Print journalism is special. It is the seed corn from which most of what you read elsewhere originates. These are tough times for print. Print needs to find a way to survive.

I Help In All Departments

I checked and double checked and at one point even had someone looking over my shoulder to make sure everything I said was absolutely right.

If you walk into Home Depot you see people wearing aprons saying: “I help in all departments.” That was me this week at work.

I was in the Weather Center Thursday afternoon when Hugh Owen walked over. Hugh is the front page editor for the Courant. FoxCT and the Courant are one and the same. We are commonly owned and share a newsroom.

Hugh was there because Mara Lee was writing a story on the impact of winter. I was asked to add some technical expertise to a second story showing the nuts and bolts of this crazy weather.

Over the next few hours I spoke with Hugh, business editor Dan Harr and graphic designer Wes Rand. They questioned and probed.

TV news and news in a newspaper are very different. Newspapers have much more room for detail and depth. I’m not sure an entire newscast would fill a full newspaper page! That demands everyone involved have a more thorough understanding of the story.

I was excited and pleased to be involved. I checked and double checked and at one point even had someone looking over my shoulder to make sure everything I said was absolutely right.

Friday morning the Courant hit the street with the product of our labor. I was quoted in the story and credited for providing the data for the graphic. Between those credits and an ad for FoxCT I was mentioned on the front page three times. Usually you need to commit a major crime to get that level or notoriety!

I’m pretty buzzed about it. No lie.

When I went to work on Broad Street I hoped I could get involved in this way. Mission accomplished.

I Took Clicky To My Favorite Place At FoxCT (photos)

This is not a dainty job. It’s staffed by hard working people who get dirty! They must stay focused. The equipment doesn’t forgive mistakes.

We don’t just produce television where I work. We publish a newspaper, The Hartford Courant. The whole shooting match is done in our building, right down to printing the paper.

Saturday, during a lull in my hurricane tracking duties I went to the presses. They are three stories tall! Powerful. Loud. Massive.

In a typical week well over a million papers run through those presses. On a typical day it’s millions of pages.

This is not a dainty job. It’s staffed by hard working people who get dirty! They must stay focused. The equipment doesn’t forgive mistakes.

Take a close look at the facility. Beautifully maintained. Spotless. A lot of pride on display.

Here’s a little of what I saw.

After An Exciting Weekend It’s Back To Work

Dan told me I could show up at 3:00 PM Monday. Yeah, fat chance! It’s my first day. I’ll be early.

It was a rainy Sunday night, but I still took the drive up to Hartford to get another look at the weather equipment I’ll be using at FoxCT. The forecast itself will be formulated the same way as before. How I show it is totally different!

Dan Amarante was there tonight working. He helped me get a feel for it. Comfort and ease won’t happen overnight!

It’s been a pretty exciting weekend. Over 5,000 people have shown up on my brand new “Fox on Fox” Facebook page (click the like button on the right hand side of this page to be part of the fun). A new 15 second promo began airing Friday. Today’s Hartford Courant was wrapped with a single sheet which included a half page ad featuring me.

We all have our weaknesses. Mine is print journalism! Seeing this ad in the newspaper is just incredible. I can assure you an ad like this is a first for me.

Monday is my first real working day. Dan told me I could show up at 3:00 PM. Yeah, fat chance! I’ll be early.

I’m very excited.