Sunshine Week Is Here

Public information belongs to the public.

It’s a simple premise that can be overlooked by the gatekeepers of that information.

That’s why each spring, the American Society of News Editors joins up with other open government groups to host Sunshine Week.

It’s a national project to get people talking about government transparency, and inform everyone about their right to public information.

This week Sunshine Week runs from March 11 – 17.

We’d like to highlight the efforts around Connecticut this week as newspapers and other organizations take part in Sunshine Week.

Please e-mail Ricky Campbell at if you’d like us to highlight your project here. (List of projects will be posted below graphic.)

For more information, and for resources to participate in Sunshine Week (like the graphic posted here) visit

Connecticut Sunshine Week

Let sun shine on government, elections — The Day editorial

Shine The Light On Local Government — CTSPJ blog

Connecticut SPJ accepting Hall of Fame nominations

Nominations are now open for this year’s CT. Journalism Hall of Fame selections. Journalists considered for the Hall must have made “a significant and enduring contribution to journalism in Connecticut.”

Please complete this form and email it to Jerry Dunklee at by April 14, 2012.

Citizen Journalism Recap

CTSPJ and the Register Citizen of Torrington held a discussion on citizen journalism on Feb. 4.

Speakers included Andy Sellars, a staff attorney for the Citizen Medial Law Project, Ed McKeon, past editor for the Middletown Eye and Matt DeRienzo, group editor for JRC.

If you missed the program, you can watch it again here:

Live video for mobile from Ustream

Or read the live chat, moderated by CTSPJ board member and Register Citizen reporter Ricky Campbell.

As part of the larger discussion on citizen journalism, CTSPJ plans to post future blog posts on the topic, to help those involved in acts of journalism come up with common best practices for collaboration.

Participants also suggested creating a “reporting 101” document to help citizens understand some of their rights and responsibilities in publishing news stories.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the panel discussion.

Click the links below to read to blog posts leading up to the discussion.

Traditional Media And Citizen Journalism: Time To Curate, Collaborate

Citizen Journalism: Don’t We All Want The Same Thing?

Lessons From Citizen Journalists

Lessons From Citizen Journalists

While we’re talking about about raising standards for both citizens and journalists reporting the news, I don’t want the assumption to be that only citizens can improve.

There’s a lot practiced, professional journalists can learn from citizen journalists as well.

One of the most important lessons was featured in a Nieman Journalism Lab blog post this week: Report news how you’d like to consume news.

It’s a simple premise, but often overlooked during the grind of reporting stories — especially breaking news stories.

And it’s one that citizen journalists, by nature, are better at doing.

Gina Chen, in her post on Nieman Lab, gives tips for how journalists can improve their breaking news reporting. It includes the simple notion that some AP Style guidelines don’t make sense in a digital world.

Read her whole post here.

Another tip: Use social media like the rest of the world uses social media.

(Full disclosure — This premise was learned from Eugene Driscoll, the author’s editor. Read his direct words in his article in Street Fight Magazine.)

Most citizens don’t sign up for Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to their personal blogs. They do it to be part of a community, learn about other people and find interesting stories through links.

There has to be a balance — even for journalists.

Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t be dumping grounds for RSS feeds. They should be places where journalists can engage with their readers and learn about their communities.


So what other lessons can journalists learn from citizen journalists? Weigh in on Facebook or in the comments field here.

2012 Bob Eddy College Scholarship Program

The Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Foundation Inc. presents the
Bob Eddy Scholarship Program To Foster Journalism Careers

One award each for $2,500, $1,500, $1,000, $500, and $500 *

The awards recognize Bob Eddy, the late publisher of The Hartford Courant, and founder of the Connecticut SPJ chapter; the late Richard Peck, a veteran news reporter and city editor of The Connecticut Post, and the late James Clark, a veteran reporter for The Connecticut Post, a longtime member of the Connecticut SPJ Scholarship Committee, and a former president of Connecticut SPJ. A new scholarship recognizes the late Pat Child, former WTNH-TV videographer.

To apply for a scholarship students must start their junior or senior year in Fall 2012 and be enrolled at an accredited 4-year college in Connecticut or be a Connecticut resident enrolled in an accredited 4-year college in any state or country.


CT SPJ 2012 Scholarship Application

*Other scholarships may also be available

2011 Excellence In Journalism Contest

The 2011 Excellence in Journalism contest is now open for submissions.

The entry fees are the same as last year:

  • $10 for active Connecticut SPJ members
  • $25 for non-members and news organizations
  • $50 for the three top awards

Click here to enter the contest.


All categories are open to all Connecticut journalists. Entrants will be judged against similar media types (listed below). The exception is the CTSPJ Special Awards, in which entrants are judged against all other entrants, regardless of media type.
To enter, the work must have been published or broadcast during the 2011 calendar year.
For each category, please indicate what category your news organization falls in:
• Daily Newspaper above 50,000 circulation
• Daily Newspaper at 18,000 – 50,000 circulation
• Daily Newspaper below 18,000 circulation
• Regional non-daily
• Community non-daily
• Magazine
• Special Supplement
• Television
• Radio
• Online– Independent (includes for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that publish and stream video exclusively online on a regular schedule. The primary purpose of the website must be to inform, rather than to sell or promote a product, or advocate a political point of view.)
• Online – Affiliated (The online product for a news organization that also has a print or television/radio product. The material must appear exclusively online.)
SPECIAL AWARDS…………..(open to all Connecticut journalists, judged against each other)
  • Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award: This is a special award open to all media for a story or stories having a significant impact in the public interest. Entries must include supporting documentation such as letters, editorials, evidence of a change in public policy, etc. showing how the entry had an impact.
  • Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting: A single story or formal series containing information, obtained through reporter initiative, not readily available to the news media or public.
  • First Amendment Award: A single story, column, or series which increases understanding of the public of the role of the press in a free society.
CATEGORIES …………….. (open to all Connecticut journalists, judged according to media type)
  • General Column: A single column (other than sports, opinion or Op-Ed) that does not express a strong opinion or point of view on an issue or an event.
  • Opinion Column: An opinion column clearly states an opinion on an issue or an event. It must appear in any section other than the Op-Ed or Sports pages or portion of a broadcast.
  • Single Editorial: A single editorial represents the opinion of the publication, station, or news website as an organization. It can be written by one or more than one person.
  • Editorial Cartoon: A single cartoon that appears online, in print or on a broadcast.
  • Op-Ed Column: An Op-Ed column must have been published in the Op-Ed section of a paper or news site, or designated portion of the broadcast. It must have a byline or author.
  • In-Depth Series: a formal series helping the reader understand situation beyond information provided in a normal news story. Limit 1 series per person.
  • In-Depth Reporting: a single story helping reader understand situation beyond information provided in a normal news story
  • Investigative Series: a formal series containing information obtained through reporter initiative that was not
    readily available to the news media or the general public. Limit 1 per person.
  • Investigative Reporting: a single story containing information obtained through reporter initiative that was
    not readily available to the news media or the general public.
  • Spot News: a single story involving coverage of a spot news event written under an immediate deadline. Non-
    daily and magazine classes are not eligible for this category.
  • Feature: A single story written for some factor other than timeliness.
  • Feature Series: A series written or produced for some factor other than timeliness.
  • General Reporting – Single: A single news story not covered by any other category.
  • General Reporting – Series: A formal series of articles or broadcasts that do not fit into any other category.
  • Business: A single story about a business topic.
  • Arts&Entertainment: A single story dealing with the arts.
  • Sports Column: A column that appears in the sports pages or portion of a broadcast.
  • Sports Feature: A sports story written for some factor other than timeliness
  • Sports News: A single sports story.
  • News Photo
  • Feature Photo
  • Sports Photo
  • Photo Layout: the photo layout category is not a design category. It is for photos only; not their arrangement. It generally should be for the work of one photographer.
  • Headline: All three headlines submitted for each headline entry must be the work of a single individual but not necessarily from the same publication. Entries involving the work of more than one person will be declared ineligible.
  • Page 1 Layout: A category for the person who arranged the text and the illustrations, not for the writers and photographers of the materials on the page. Only the layout person should be listed.
  • Non-Page 1 Layout: A category for the person who arranged the text and the illustrations, not for the writers and photographers of the materials on the page. Only the layout person should be listed.
  • Informational Graphic – Design: a static graphic that appears in print, online or in a broadcast to augment reporting on a topic. Entrant should be person who designed the graphic.
  • Video Storytelling: Excellent use video medium to either tell a story alone, or bolster written reporting.
  • Interactive Graphic – Reporting: Use of free Internet tools to present data or reporting in an interactive format
  • Interactive Graphic –Design: Creation of a functional interactive graphic using tools such as Flash or HTML.
  • Audio Storytelling: Excellent use of digital audio production for online storytelling, including podcasts, audio

AP Seeks Stringers For Election Coverage

The Associated Press is looking for stringers to call in results from Connecticut towns and cities for the April 24 presidential primary, the Aug. 14 primary and on Election Day, Nov. 6.

For more information, contact stringer coordinator Kate Farrish at or 860-871-8089.

A Discussion On Citizen Journalism

“Citizen Journalism” is a loaded phrase, one that people in the news business have come to loathe or love. In February, Connecticut SPJ will host a discussion on acts of journalism by citizens at a program co-hosted by The Register Citizen in Torrington.

We hope to engage journalists and citizens alike in a dialogue about the role the public now plays in news production, and ways that both groups can strive to uphold journalistic and ethical standards in the process.

The program is not intended to be a debate about whether citizens SHOULD be involved. That debate certainly has merits, and has played out in other places.

This program is intended to be a more focused conversation on HOW both groups can collaborate to better inform the public about important news — and on WHAT are the implications of involving the “people formerly known as the audience” in the process.

The Register Citizen office is the perfect location for the program. The paper’s “Newsroom Cafe” invites members of the public inside the newsroom to learn from, teach and interact with the newspaper staff.

But you don’t have to wait until the program on Feb. 4 to start talking about Citizen Journalism.

In the weeks before this joint program, CTSPJ will publish some different blog posts about “citizen journalism” that aim to inform and raise questions about the practice.

We hope that you will contribute your thoughts here in the comment section.

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.”

Copyright 2010-2017. Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, P.O. Box 5071, Woodbridge CT 06525