Background on new venue for annual dinner


It’s time for making changes to the way we run our annual Excellence in Journalism awards dinner. Just as the media landscape is changing all around us, so should we. 

This year, we are trying a new type of venue for our awards dinner. Why? you ask. As most things, it comes down to money. 

The cost of hosting a sit-down dinner is becoming higher than the amount of money the chapter receives in organizing it. Simply put, CTSPJ is losing thousands of dollars each year because of the dinner.

The venue for the past two years has cost more than $4,000, and ticket sales have not been able to cover that amount. The chapter’s reserves have absorbed the deficits in recent years and can continue for the next decade or more, but it’s important the chapter reduce costs now in order to maintain existence much longer. Making changes is something the board has discussed for many years, but we decided last year to taking a hard look at other options available. 


At the July 1 board meeting, members voted unanimously to examine a different direction for its award dinners. In past few years, the dinners have been held at function facilities with a sit-down dinner in the suburbs. It was agreed that a new format, involving a buffet dinner either at a restaurant or at a rented space in a city would be best. Hartford and New Haven were discussed as locations to focus on, with a greater focus on sites near public transportation.

Board members were then tasked with finding possible locations and submitting them to discuss at a meeting in December. At that meeting, the board meet to review 16 recommendations in the two cities. Cost and capacity were the major issue in reducing the number of selections down to three: The Press in Hartford, City Steam in Hartford and Bar in New Haven.

A final site was picked on Jan. 12. Unfortunately, that venue later announced it would be unable to host our dinner due to its building being sold. The board then voted on a backup option: The Hawthorne, 2421 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin. 

This site offers plenty of free parking but is still near public transportation. Stay tuned for more options about this venue and details for buying your dinner ticket. 

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