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    Local Columns
    Thursday, February 29, 2024

    Impact a long game for The Day journalists

    On Sunday, we’re publishing a special section looking back at some of The Day’s best work in 2022.

    In the Community Impact 2022 section, which will appear in print and online, you’ll see a note from Timothy Dwyer, president and publisher, explaining The Day’s unique business model and why it’s important to show the impact of our work.

    We’ll have stories about The Day’s efforts to reach new and diverse audiences; our community and grant-funded Housing Solutions Lab investigation into the region’s affordable housing crisis; professionally produced GameDay livestreams of high school sports; coverage of athletes of the year and election coverage. We couldn’t report on The Day’s impact without including a story about award-winning columnist David Collins.

    If you go online, you’ll see “bonus” impact stories about events we staged in the community throughout the year and the company’s growing podcast library.

    All of these efforts consumed days, weeks and months of staff time, and we’re proud of the results.

    We also want you to see our dedication to topics that don’t always make the MOST READ section on theday.com or win awards.

    In the print and digital editions, you’ll see a story under the headline, “The rise and fall of major projects in 2022.” We asked reporter Claire Bessette, who expertly covers Norwich and Preston, to show you how The Day’s coverage of projects such as the Mystic Oral School proposal in Groton, a proposed Preston RV park and planned highway work in Norwich that included six roundabouts helped shape the future of those three communities.

    Bessette and Groton reporter Kimberly Drelich wrote multiple stories about these projects, and during the past year, it wasn’t unusual to hear Bessette say, “I’m going to another four-hour hearing tonight,” on a proposal she was following. She could have phoned it in, but that’s not her style.

    “So, why do we cover four-hour zoning hearings?” Bessette wrote in an email when I asked her to explain.

    “When dozens of residents crowd into a town hall or school to voice their opinion ― a lot of times angry opposition ― that’s the biggest event in town,“ Bessette wrote. ”Being there is the best way to see first-hand how major proposed projects affect a city, town or neighborhood. They examine poster board development maps, find their own homes and envision the changes. Some of it might be unfounded fears, misconceptions or rumors, and the developers are there, too, to explain their side of the story.“

    It’s hard to quantify how much our reporting on these topics influences the end result, but we’re certain we’re having impact.

    Drelich’s reporting on the Mystic Oral School development, along with columns by Collins, amplified resident objections and brought to light problems with the proposed developer and the project itself.

    Drelich also wrote extensively about a proposed data center in Groton that was called off due to public concerns. The town implemented a one-year moratorium to determine how to regulate large-scale data centers.

    Bessette covered the RV park and roundabout proposals, both of which are expected to be significantly altered following public input and publicity.

    We hope you read all of the stories in the Community Impact 2022 section to learn more about our coverage of your community. Let us know what topics are important to you as we continue our impactful work in 2023.

    This is the opinion of Engagement Editor Karen Florin. Reach her at k.florin@theday.com or (860) 701-4217.

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