Posts by Connecticut SPJ

Hall of Fame honoree Robert Estabrook dies


Robert Estabrook, a 2008 Connecticut SPJ Hall of Fame recipient, former publisher and editor of the Lakeville Journal and former Washington Post editorial page editor, died on Nov. 16. Please click here to read his obituary in the Washington Post.

Here is the script from his induction into our hall of fame:

Robert Estabrook has lived several journalism lives.  He is best known in Connecticut as the publisher and editor of the Lakeville Journal.  He owned the newspaper for 16 years.  During that time the Journal covered a number of high profile stories including the 1973 Peter Reilly murder trial.  Because of the newspaper’s in-depth coverage, all charges were dropped against the 18-year old who had been accused of killing his mother.  For those stories and editorials the paper won the national John Peter Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press. He also has been active in Freedom of Information issues.  But his career extended beyond the boundaries of Connecticut.  He was a writer for northern Michigan weeklies and managing editor of the campus newspaper at Northwestern University, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 1939.  He worked as an editorial writer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He served four years in the Army during World War II and started a U.S. forces newspaper in Brazil.  After the war the Washington Post hired him as an editorial writer.  He spent 25 years with that storied organization including nine years as a foreign correspondent traveling to 70 countries.  He has been a Pulitzer Prize judge and with other New England editors, conducted journalism workshops in India.

Mitchell Pearlman, former director of the CT. Freedom of Information Commission said,

“Bob’s autobiography is entitled “Never Dull.”  When it comes to leadership for journalism’s sacred causes, his biography can aptly be called “Always There.”  There are many who say they believe in the virtues of a free press and an open and accountable government, but too precious few who step forward time and again to vigorously preserve, protect and defend freedom of the press and freedom of information, both of which are so essential to democracy.  Bob Estabrook has been, and is, one of them.

People throughout the United States, and indeed the world, have benefited by his indefatigable leadership in journalism.  But we in Connecticut have benefited the most, and the most directly, when he and his wife, Mary Lou, decided to move to Connecticut and buy the Lakeville Journal.  They not only made that paper a great weekly newspaper, they became the paradigm for community-based, civic-minded journalism, while ever mindful that their local community is part of a broader statewide, national and international community about which every reader should be well-informed.  I’ve had the honor and privilege of knowing and working with Bob for over 35 years.  Thus I can say that without doubt, no one during this period has done more for good journalism and good government in Connecticut than Bob Estabrook.  He is indeed a hero and much deserving of this recognition.”

Mr. Estabrook is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  He has been married to Mary Lou for 65 years and they have four children and four grandchildren.  He sings in a barbershop chorus, plays baritone horn in the Salisbury Band, and still writes his “Perambulating” column for the Lakeville Journal.

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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