E.J. Dionne Receives Journalism Award, Talks Election at Trinity

“Bombast and bullying mistaken for strength,” is how Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne described the climate that enabled the recent presidential election.

Dionne delivered the talk “After 2016: Can a Divided Country Heal Itself?” last week at Trinity College while accepting the Moses Berkman Memorial Journalism Award.

In his talk the writer described what makes this election and this president-elect different from all others. Trump, Dionne said, is a “special case…a scary case.”

It is the way in which Trump has “pushed aside norms” regarding the transition to power, that is in part what worries Dionne. He pointed to how Trump is refusing to eliminate conflicts of interest as recent past presidents have by moving their assets into true blind trusts. (more…)

Learning Curb: Flaky Parking

Although Mayor Segarra was careful to say “As of 1:00am we had full compliance with our parking ban,” it is worth noting that a FOX CT NEWS vehicle was parked in front of City Hall during Monday’s City Council meeting– hours after the parking ban went into effect. There are nearby parking lots, including the one located directly behind the building.

This is not the first time we’ve spotted mainstream media outlets behaving as if the laws do not apply to them.

Most Best Awesome Superlatives of 2014

There are people who hate year-end lists because it sounds like the creator is putting out some clickbait while spending his days going to Christmas parties.

We’re using this opportunity to review the operation of the city and the City– what helped to build up Hartford and who needs to have a time out to think about what he has done. (more…)

When the Media Teams Up with Public Schools

Those not immersed in the field of education might believe the recent attention to Common Core and teacher evaluations came out of nowhere. With the exception of items that are unavoidable, such as the nonrenewal of the superintendent’s contract, local news reporting has trended glossy on education, biased toward the status quo which goes by the name “education reform.”

Last month, the Hartford Courant and Hartford Public Schools announced the plan to partner, specifically with the Journalism Academy. The details on this, along with potential price tag, are still being hashed out.

Already, HPS has contracts with Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc.

With such partnerships, there are a few clear winners. (more…)

10+ Years In

In 2003, to oppose the United States’ invasion of Iraq meant setting oneself up for anything from ridicule to threats. Having been called a traitor in no uncertain terms, I know this firsthand. Seeing the biased coverage of the anti-war movement was what compelled me to participate in Indymedia, as there was (and is) a great need for reporting on social justice from the perspective — or at least, with empathy — of those not in the dominant culture.

Too often, the stories are still told from those in positions of power. We can see this in the narratives created about the protests of police brutality in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Most mainstream news outlets attached the word “riot” to what had been happening, despite citizen journalists’ video footage showing that the majority of the protests were peaceful, if not in language, at least in action.

A press release does not a story make. (more…)

Focus on Women, Not Fox News

Now that the initial sting of Fox-CT’s obscene coverage of Women’s Day has subsided, we can all agree that some reflection is in order. After all, the event did mark the 40-year-battle for gender equality in Connecticut.

The obvious takeaways: yes, the progressives’ disdain towards Fox News has been validated. And yes, the footage highlighted that even in a 21st century, blue state like Connecticut, the effects of misogyny and gender discrimination persist at best. Even though Fox was publicly shamed, I can’t help but wonder if they won this round at the end of the day.

Think about it. For those who weren’t able to attend the event, the only newsworthy piece of information revolved around the news outlet’s unfortunate—but unsurprising—distraction from the depth of the issues and their solutions. In Connecticut, full-time working women earn 78% of their male counterparts. The wage gap is even more drastic for African American women and Hispanic women, who earn 59% and 48% of what men earn, respectively (The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Policy Agenda 2013). Violence against women, whether it’s domestic violence or sexual assault, abounds and causes costly long-term health problems for women everywhere.

But what does this mean for Hartford, where poverty and crime are concentrated more than anywhere else in the state? (more…)

Still Revolutionary, Real Hartford-Style

Connecticut is not boring. It is revolutionary. Still.

But tourism websites and ad agencies never capture this for a multitude of reasons, giving the masses yet another branding campaign to mock.

One reason these don’t work: they are too slick. We know someone is trying to sell us on a trip here or there. The realness is removed through photography and videography that is just too polished. There’s no human voice there.

Contrast that with two homegrown sites that exist primarily for the authors’ own amusement. Connecticut Museum Quest, authored by Stephen Wood, comes with its own mission statement: “destroying the myth that there is nothing to do here.”  Wood, often with his family in tow, travels around the state exploring museums, trails, food, and specializing in the quirky. This is how I learned there is something called “peak-bagging,” which is not what it sounds like. If all you know about Connecticut is Mystic Seaport, Mark Twain, and Mohegan Sun, this is the site to visit. He’ll show you everything on and off the beaten path, make you laugh while doing it, and tell the truth about which places have employees with nasty attitudes or venues with inconsistent hours. Even if you have lived in Connecticut your entire life, this site will introduce you to at least one thing you did not know existed.

The Size of Connecticut is a blog about the author’s “attempt to discover (and live in and travel around and photograph) these 4,845 sq. miles.” Johnna Kaplan was raised in Westport, where she understandably developed a skewed sense of what the rest of Connecticut was like; now, in New London, she travels the state learning about life outside of Fairfield County. This is where to find out about synagogues randomly in the middle of nowhere, replica schoolhouses, and what might attract young(ish) people (back) to Connecticut. Yes, she writes about Nathan Hale, but her portrayal has flavor.

There is nothing touristy about these sites, yet they are compelling in ways that the well-funded official sites are not.

The Connecticut Office of Tourism’s website is not without merit. There is information. It does make Connecticut appear attractive. But there are gaps. Look at the “Creative in Connecticut” list, for example. Someone unfamiliar with our state may glance at it and believe that we lack in creativity; we simply lack in people willing to put together comprehensive lists about creative offerings. To be fair, the “This Weekend” lists are better than the “Getaways.”

The other major failing of the “Still Revolutionary” official propaganda is that it wholly ignores activism in Connecticut today. Governor Malloy should get credit for acknowledging Connecticut’s role in the sexual revolution, but he speaks of it in the wrong verb tense. (more…)

In Hartford, Officials to Promote Education Bill

As Governor Malloy’s approach to education reform receives criticism, some proponents of the bill rush to its defense, leaning on false dichotomy to alienate those who do want youth to experience more quality education, but do not believe that SB 24 is the way to best achieve this.

The result: the lobbyists’ message — promoted heavily through social media and slick email blasts — is the one readily taken as factual information by lazy and/or understaffed news outlets.

The Office of Legislative Research, in its analysis of the bill, pointed out many ambiguities and potential legal challenges. One such issue, they wrote, could arise from disenfranchising voters by replacing elected local board of education members with those of the State’s choosing.

This potential legal challenge became very real yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education was in violation of the law.

Despite the clear legal challenge to the section of the bill which would reduce local control of public schools, Malloy himself will be embarking on a statewide promotional tour for his bill, beginning with a stop in Hartford on March 1, 2012. His one-hour engagement at the Village South: Center for Community Life (331 Wethersfield Avenue) will begin at 7pm. (more…)