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    Local Columns
    Saturday, April 20, 2024

    ‘This is what we do’: Celebrating The Day’s Newspaper of the Year and Publick Occurrences awards

    When the newsroom scanner crackled with urgency on the morning of April 21 with reports of a fuel tanker collision with a car on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, we looked out the newsroom window to see a plume of heavy black smoke pouring from the southbound span and went into “all hands on deck” reporting mode.

    “This is what we do,” said the newsroom’s big boss, Executive Editor Izaskun Larrañeta, who came out of her office to work on the developing story with reporters and editors.

    Reporters, photographers and editors dropped whatever we were doing to cover the many angles of the story ― some called in on their day off to see how they could help ― and soon we were informing the public with stories, photos, videos, text alerts and social media posts.

    The Day journalists weren’t heroes that day. We were just doing what we are supposed to do. We were uplifted to learn Thursday that our coverage of the incident had helped win Newspaper of the Year for weekday editions from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. We also received a “Distinguished Newspaper of the Year” award for our Sunday editions.

    In entering the contest, we were asked to submit our choice of stories from June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023. We selected the Gold Star story among many others we are proud of. The judges also wanted to see a strong edition from the week of March 6 to 11, 2023. We submitted the March 8 edition, which had three local stories on the front page: a faculty no confidence vote in Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron, a childcare worker rally for funding in Groton and the New London murder trial of Christopher Petteway.

    We don’t work for awards, but we’re thrilled, and honored, to receive them.

    “It’s an absolute honor to be recognized by NENPA as newspaper of the year,“ said Larrañeta. ”I already know that we have the best newspaper in region, but it’s wonderful to be recognized for it. I’m proud to work with a dedicated group of people who believe in the importance of journalism and continue to pursue this profession despite the challenges the industry faces. I’d also like to thank our subscribers for supporting us. We need your continued support to keep going and if you’re not a subscriber, please consider one.“

    The Publick Occurences Award we received for our Housing Solution Lab belongs to all of us: The Day, our partners in the community and at the University of Connecticut and our readers who donated to our first-ever crowd and philanthropy-funded investigative project.

    In our entry submission for that award, we sent a package of stories, photos and videos including the “Day in Eviction Court” story we produced in collaboration with the University of Connecticut’s investigative journalism class.

    The judges said in their remarks that the The Day staff “delivered an intensive examination of the region’s chronic shortage of affordable housing. The Day’s series spotlighted the problem through several human interest pieces, giving anecdotal evidence of the shortage’s dire impact on distressed residents. In just one such instances the coverage took readers deep inside the world of eviction with its maelstrom of competing agendas, legal complexities and human costs.

    The series wrap-up piece, rife with stats and graphics, offered ample evidence of the extent of the housing problem..the series is thorough and detailed in it’s reporting and well written in general.“

    We still have a couple more stories coming from the Housing Solutions Lab investigation before we actually do wrap it up and move on to our next project. We promise to take what we learned from this experience and make the next one even better.

    It’s what we do.

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

    Editor’s note: This version corrects the date of the Gold Star crash.

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