Posts by Connecticut SPJ

Broadcasters and their date with Irene

By Jerry Dunklee
Board member

Prepare ahead. Respect the audience. Use social media to expand your news staff.

These are some of the lessons Connecticut broadcasters say they learned from covering tropical storm Irene.

WVIT-TV, Channel 30, went on the air at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday as the storm was moving in. They stayed on for 26 hours straight. The news staff worked 12 hours shifts. Other station employees came in to help answer phones, help with food, and support the effort.

“We have a little gym with a shower here.” said Mike St. Peter, Ch. 30’s news director. “We brought in a dozen cots. Lauren Petty, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, slept on a mat on the gym floor. She just had her baby. We rehearsed. We wanted to be prepared for the worst case.” Our general manager, David Doebler, had been in hurricanes before and wanted us to be ready.”

“Ray Andrewsen and I spent the night at the station,” according to Greg Little, news director of WQUN in Hamden. We stayed on continuously for 15 hours with regular updates from meteorologists Dr. Mel and Gary Lesson. We had Paul Pacelli inside and Martin Waters in the field. We thought it was important. It’s the core of what we do.”

At WTIC Radio in Hartford, Dana Whalen’s staff did storm updates the days before Irene hit and went to full live coverage at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Several staff members also slept at the station. They shared coverage, at first, with CH 61 from the emergency center set up at the state Armory in Hartford, then got their own reporter there.

“He was able to set up a broadcast quality line and we did interviews with officials there. We were also able to take calls from listeners and do utility updates.” Whalen said. WTIC’s local talk hosts handled much of the air time.

At Ch. 30 the news staff used Facebook and Twitter to communicate with viewers and to get news from viewers in various parts of the state. ”We tweeted and posted. We took e-mail questions and answered them on the air.” St. Peter said. ”We streamed coverage live online.”

Little said WQUN did a number of long interviews with local mayors trying to give listeners updates on what was happening in their towns. “We got a number of letters and e-mails thanking us for our coverage.” he said.

“We wanted to own the coverage.” WVIT’s St. Peter said. “Early on Saturday the Weather Channel had the highest ratings in the state. We dominated the evening of Saturday and Sunday.”

Many radio stations in Connecticut simulcast various TV stations’ coverage. Some stayed with syndicated programming and didn’t cover the storm.

What did St. Peter say he learned from covering Irene? He said, “I would have gone on earlier.”

Meet Cara Rosner

Cara Rosner is a freelance reporter and editor.
Previously, she served as the external affairs director at United Way of Greater New Haven from 2012 to 2014. She was breaking news editor at the New Haven Register from 2011 to 2012. She was also the business editor from 2007-2011 and was a business reporter at the paper for three years prior to that at the daily newspaper.
She writes a blog geared toward young professionals at
In addition to her work with SPJ, she is on the board of directors for the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven. Prior to the Register, she was a reporter for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester and the Hartford Business Journal. She is a graduate of Boston University’s journalism program.

Connecticut SPJ is getting a face-lift

By Jamie DeLoma
Vice President of Communications

The Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has launched this new website to better serve our members and the journalism industry as a whole.

We will utilize this new space to bring you journalism news, insight and information. You may also find find our latest programming notices here.

Please do not hesitate to email me at or call me at 203-540-9399 with any suggestions or ideas.

Cindy Simoneau elected president

Cindy Simoneau

Cindy Simoneau, a long-time Connecticut journalist and educator, was elected president of the Connecticut Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at our annual meeting and awards dinner in May.

This is Simoneau’s third term as president of the chapter.

Enter our contest

Thank you for your interest in joining our annual journalism contest.

Details on the contest are coming soon.

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