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In a Feb. 9 editorial we took freshman U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty to task for trying to control press information during a series of roundtable discussions she held in the wake of the Newtown shootings. The Democratic congresswoman's Fifth District includes the town.
Rep. Esty's efforts to get information from police, teachers, parents, sportsmen, clergy and parents about issues of gun control, mental health and school security were laudable. But what wasn't praiseworthy was her attempt to limit access to information, telling reporters that if they attended they could not report what they heard. Some news organizations, to their credit, refused to participate given that restriction. They also declined to attend Rep. Esty's post-meeting briefings where the congresswoman presented her versions of the discussions.
These restrictions seemed even sillier because the state legislature was hosting a series of meetings at which the same issues were under discussion openly.
In a letter to the Hartford Courant published Saturday, Rep. Esty did something politicians seldom do - apologize and admit she was wrong. The Courant had also criticized the off-the-record format in an editorial.
"I understand this format did not allow many members of our community an opportunity to engage in the larger national conversation on gun violence and made it more difficult for the press to fulfill its role. For that I apologize," wrote Rep. Esty.
"Going forward, I will hold more events, open to the press and public," the congresswoman vowed.
We can't ask for more than that.
The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.