Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame

CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Stephen A. Collins

Stephen A. Collins had a lifelong devotion to newspapers that began at age 9 when he was a delivery boy for the News-Times in Danbury.

He later went on to become a high school correspondent for the newspaper.  At the age of 32, he was named editor of the paper, earning the distinction of being the youngest editor in the state.

He later was named editorial director, a position he held until his retirement in December 1985 after more than 51 years with the newspaper.  Collins was born in Danbury, and was well-known throughout the state for his pioneering work on the state Freedom of Information Act.  He was a longtime SPJ FOI Chairman.

He died on Feb. 27, 1986 at the age of 69.

CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Theodore A. Driscoll III

Theodore A. Driscoll III began his career with the Hartford Courant in 1965 as a city hall reporter.  After many years on that beat he went on to become the paper’s first full-time investigative reporter.  His cutting-edge reporting included balancing Connecticut and national news angles, as in his in-depth coverage of the gangland murders during the early 1980s of two World Jai Alai executives in Oklahoma and Miami. The murder trail led to a Boston-based hit team whose members protected themselves by serving as FBI informants against New England Mafia leaders.

Driscoll was born in Westport, attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and was graduated from the University of Connecticut.  In 1975 Driscoll helped found Investigate Reporters and Editors Inc.  He died Dec.21, 1988 at the age of 50.

CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Walt Dibble

It’s a news anchor’s job to disseminate the information, fairly…with authority…Walt Dibble was a gift and fairest of them all.  He was hired on a handshake at WTIC in 1977, but Hartford had already heard the voice on “Earwitness News” for nearly 10 years at WDRC, 10 years before that in New Haven and before that, Walt was Bridgeport’s newsman, 50 years in Connecticut broadcast news all told.

Walt had graduated from Stamford High School and received his degree from The New England School of Radio in 1948.  Walt Dibble personally trained Hartford’s first flying traffic reporter.  As WTIC-AM News Director and Managing Editor, he brought the coveted Ohio State Award to WTIC, along with the national RTNDA (Radio & Television News Directors Association) Investigative Reporting Award and enough Associated Press Awards to fill a Gold Building.  Even though he was the boss, Walt Dibble was never afraid to pick up a microphone to hit the street and cover a breaking story. In 1995, the Hartford Associated Press presented Walt with the Abrams Award as Best Reporter in the state.  Walt was not only a great broadcasting voice and journalist, he was a great listener, and in his career, he interviewed the biggest names in Hollywood, presidents of the United States, and of course, the man on the street,

If Walt were to pick one story, it just might be the collapse of the Hartford Civic Center roof.  As usual, Walt won The A.P. Award that year for Continuous Coverage in the anchor chair.  What listeners didn’t know, is that Walt wasn’t reading from a script.

He taught at Southern Connecticut State University and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and instilled in many interns his work ethic and his desire to “get the story” and get it right.

Walt Dibble died in 1997 and left his wife Barbara, his sons, Rob, Lee and Chris, and his daughters, Laurie, Holly, and Sherry.

 

CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Robert J. Leeney

Born May 10, 1916, Leeney began his long and distinguished journalism career in 1939 as a freelancer and joined the staff at the Register in 1940 as a  reporter, Sunday feature writer and book page editor. His career was interrupted beginning in January 1943 when he served with the 3rd Air Commando Group, 5th Air Force during World War II. Upon his return in December 1945, Leeney came back to the paper. By 1947, the New Haven native began to also serve as a drama critic.

He was an editorial writer and editor of the editorial page for the Register and the Journal Courier from 1947 to 1961.  He became executive editor in 1962 and served as editor from 1972 to 1981, when he allegedly retired.  He has since continued to write a weekly column, “Editor’s Note,” for the Register.

He was a charter member of the Connecticut SPJ chapter and served as commissioner of the Freedom on Information Commission from 1981 to 1986.  He has won numerous awards, including the Yankee Quill Award for distinguished service to journalism and the Seal of the City Award from the New Haven Colony Historical Society in recognition of his contribution’s to New Haven’s civic life.  City officials have even named a local plaza after him.

Leeney counts among his greatest accomplishments the technological modernization of the Register, introducing letters to the editor and starting the Sunday arts and leisure section.

“In the 60’s, every community newspaper was a family-owned newspaper.  Today the connection to the community is nearly non-existent,” he said. “The papers are far more professionalized.  The staff is on the whole, better educated and they have a better general knowledge of public issues.”

Leeney passed away in 2008 at the age of 92.

CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Hannah Bunce Watson

Hannah Bunce Watson was 27, mother of five children all under age 7, when her husband’s death from smallpox catapulted her into the job as the publisher of the Hartford Courant in 1777.

She was one of the first female publishers in America. The next woman to take the helm at the Courant was Marty Petty, who was named to the job in 1997.

At the time of Ebenezer Watson’s death, the Courant had the largest circulation on the continent and was considered one of few independent voices, since Boston papers had been shut down by the British and only Tory papers were being published in New York.

Hannah Bunce Watson, left with children to raise and an estate to settle, had no background in publishing a newspaper.

But she took on a partner and kept the paper publishing on its regular schedule – a schedule that was threatened when the paper mill burned down in 1778, only four months after her husband’s death.

This was not a crisis for The Courant only; it was a blow to the patriot cause, reads one history account.  “The British had closed down every patriotic press they could lay hand on, and had cut off imports of paper.

If the Courant went, Americans would lose their largest remaining “patriotic journal.”

While cutting back the paper’s size, Hannah Watson and Sarah Ledyard, widow of Ebenezer Watson’s partner in the paper mill, appealed to the Connecticut Assembly for help – and had the mill rebuilt that spring.

Hannah Watson continued as publisher of the Courant, and in 1779, she married her next-door neighbor, Barzillai Hudson, who became a partner in the newspaper and took over publishing duties with another partner.

Within a few years, the paper, “attained a financial stability that was the envy of other newspapers of the era, “reads one history account.

But even throughout its darkest days, The Courant never missed an issue – thanks in large part to Hannah Bunce Watson

CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Robin Marshall Glassman

Robin Marshall Glassman founded the journalism department at Southern Connecticut State University.   Over a 50-year career, she worked as a newspaper reporter and managing editor, newspaper writing coach, news service correspondent, and film, TV and magazine writer with work produced on network TV and in leading publications.  She worked on special assignments with Life magazine and has been published in many other regional and national publications.  An article she wrote was adapted for an NBC TV network special.  She has worked as an editor and reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Lake City(Florida)Gazette, the New Haven Register, and Fair Press.  She was a reporter for United Press International.

In 1989 the Society of Professional Journalists selected Marshall Glassman from among journalism professors in the nation for their award to “The Distinguished Teacher of Journalism.” She was active in SPJ for a quarter of a century serving on the Connecticut chapter board of directors and as president.  When she retired, Connecticut SPJ decided to name its Lifetime Achievement Award after her.

She received a B.A. from Tulane University, an M.A. from Yale and completed studies for the Ph.D. in Yale’s interdisciplinary program in psychology, sociology, and anthropology.  Ms. Marshall Glassman retired from Southern in 1995, and died in 2009 at age 83.

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