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Community Impact 2019, a special section published last Sunday in The Day and and available for viewing on theday.com, distilled the essence of what community journalism is all about.
The section featured a dozen topics covered by The Day that influenced events last year. Four stories were investigative reports.
Investigative reporting requires extra digging beyond the public meeting and official press release. It often involves a search for hidden documents. Those stories included:
• A series of articles describing barriers faced by minority cadets at the Coast Guard Academy.
• A crusade for public disclosure of efforts by the Connecticut Port Authority to secure a long-term lease of New London’s State Pier for offshore wind development.
• A series about the decades-old cases of abuse of children by priests in the Diocese of Norwich.
• A three-year investigation into the extravagant entertainment spending by senior executives and board members of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative.
Of course, reporting on the region is more than investigative journalism. With every story, The Day attempts to hold a mirror up to southeastern Connecticut and reflect the place we call home. Among those efforts last year included:
• Making a Difference: The series runs between Thanksgiving and Christmas and features stories of local people in need of a helping hand. Families were helped by the generosity of many readers who responded with cash, clothes, furniture and gift cards.
• Curious CT: More than 600 readers submitted suggestions for stories they wanted reported. Twenty stories were written.
• Municipal Debates: The Day’s editorial page editor moderated live debates for municipal races in New London, Stonington, Montville, Preston, Waterford and East Lyme. About 1,000 people attended the debates and another 5,000 watched them on www.theday.com.
• Game Day: Live streaming on www.theday.com of high school sports competition among the 14 regional high schools. The segments were viewed 330,000 times.
The Community Impact 2019 section demonstrated how The Day strives to meet its mandate of providing a free flow of news content. It promotes a sense of place, a common understanding of who we are and where we live and work. This is The Day’s mission.
Sadly, that mission is at risk across the country.
For two centuries newspapers thrived on advertising. Those ad dollars have fled the printed page and landed online where Google, Facebook and Amazon dominate. The collapse of the newspaper business model has led to massive consolidation and job eliminations.
The statistics are grim:
• Since 2005, more than 20 percent of American newspapers closed.
• Between 2008 and 2017, employment of newspaper journalists declined 45 percent; from 71,000 to 39,000.
• Two-thirds of America’s remaining daily newspapers are now owned by just 25 corporations.
Last November, two corporate chains, Gannett and GateHouse, merged into the country’s largest newspaper company. One in five daily papers in America — more than 260 of them, including the The Norwich Bulletin — are owned by the new Gannett.
The $1.8 billion merger was financed by a private equity firm. These firms are buying distressed newspapers, selling the real estate, eliminating jobs, and diverting cash flow. They are effectively conducting liquidation sales of hometown newspapers in hundreds of communities.
The Day has maintained its independent status — and its quality journalism — because the company is owned by the non-profit Day Trust. The Day is beholden to neither Wall Street nor to corporate overlords. We are doubly blessed with a feisty, engaged and faithful readership base. We need more of you as paying customers to keep this special organization viable.
A credible, fearless and ambitious local news organization provides a community with a common narrative and history. Stories about municipal and school board spending, high school football heroes, and the environment keep residents informed. News of road construction, business trends, crime statistics and real estate prices are the stuff of life. Information about candidates for political office, their performance and their ideas, instruct voting decisions.
People need such information to make better life choices.
We can hold up our end of the bargain as long as you, as an informed citizen and devotee of The Day, value what we provide enough to keep supporting us. For that support, we thank you for letting us do what we love.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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