Friday, January 27, 2012

Breast health and environment bloggers in the house!

We’re pleased to welcome two people who are well-known in their fields in Connecticut to the Register’s Community Media Lab.

Dr. Andrea Silber is an oncologist who specializes in treatment of breast cancer specialist and is co-director of the Hospital of Saint Raphael Women's Center for Breast Health. In Get Healthy CT, she will answer general questions, even those that you might consider silly or embarrassing.

Christopher Zurcher, a former journalist and environmental communications director, edits CT Environmental Headlines, where he gathers environmental news stories and links about local and regional events.

One of our tasks as community engagement editors is to seek out those of you who have a passion for a topic, an issue or a hobby and help you start a blog to share your thoughts and ideas with the world. We’re also looking for existing blogs to link to. If you would like to join our Community Media Lab, let us know. Email Angi or Ed or call us (Ed’s at 203-789-5743; Angi is at 203-789-5752).

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In the midst of the East Haven storm, an opportunity to build bridges

By Ed Stannard and Angi Carter
Community Engagement Editors

Sometimes -- not often -- a story hits us in the newsroom like a hurricane. There’s the initial blast, and then it keeps coming, with new angles, stories and developments. It’s all the reporters and editors talk about; other stories, however worthy, somehow go to the back or our minds.

The storm hasn’t stopped in the case of the arrests of four East Haven police officers for allegedly mistreating and discriminating against Latino residents. There was the indictment, full of horrific descriptions of beatings and intimidation. There was the press conference in Bridgeport, with officials’ soundbites of “bullies with badges” and “a cancerous cadre” in the East Haven Police Department. There was the context of a town under a cloud because of investigations by the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department and a lawsuit brought by Yale students.
Then Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr., just returned to office after a four-year absence, was asked, “What are you doing for the Latino community today?” He responded with his potential dinner plans: “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not quite sure yet.”

For the record, most Latinos in East Haven, and those who are the subject of the alleged bias and harassment, are of Ecuadorean descent. Tacos are a Mexican dish. But as the WPIX-TV reporter pointed out, that’s not the point. Our editor, Matt DeRienzo, called Maturo’s comment “a blatantly racist, ignorant and arrogant slur.”

Clearly, there is ignorance, if not disdain, for East Haven’s Latino residents on the part of the mayor and, it appears, some members of the police force. And every resident of East Haven is now feeling the pain of being labeled as racists or victims.

You have shared your thoughts about this using social media networks and we curated your comments to augment what needs to be an ongoing discussion.

The people of East Haven are going to have to find ways to heal and improve understanding among the town’s diverse communities. But while we follow this issue and the stories that come up, we also want to help foster those solutions. We want to hear what you have to say about what can and should be done, what needs to be done. We’ll be discussing this in the coming days, and we hope you will join in that conversation.

Call Angi Carter at 203-789-5752 or email her at Call Ed Stannard at 203-789-5743 or email him at

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dr. Mel is gone, and clouds are blocking the sun

I was just starting to think of Dr. Mel as more than a newsmaker and celebrity but as a friend when I got the devastating news today that he had died.

Just this Monday, Angi and I went to his house to visit with him and Arlene and talk about starting a blog on the Register's Community Media Lab! Since last year, I (and colleague Joe Amarante) had written several stories about his health issues, his retirement from News 8 and Tropical Storm Irene. We did a live-streamed chat just before the storm.

Recently, he called to tell me he was in Connecticut Hospice because he was aspirating liquids, which had caused pneumonia. But he said his cancer was under control and praised Dr. Joseph Andrews and the Hospice staff -- especially the cooks! -- for the care he was receiving. Last week, he returned home. “I’m doing pretty well, not 100 percent, but feeling as well as I’ve felt in over a year, so I’m really, really happy about it,” he said.

We had talked about him starting a weather blog and he was really excited. His computer wasn't working, so he dictated his first essay to Arlene. It's probably the last thing he wrote, and you can read it below.

Angi and I went to his house to pick it up, to talk about the blog and to bring him a get-well card someone had sent. He was definitely not as perky as he had been before, but he had had a reaction to thickener he had to put in his liquids, and I hoped he was just having a bad day.

I don't believe Dr. Mel thought he was near death. Maybe he was keeping the truth from us; maybe he was keeping it from himself. I really thought we'd soon be introducing his blog in our Community Media Lab. I know it would have been really popular.

There are a lot of people who are in the public eye -- and many who are not -- who put on a mask for the public, who are in it for themselves, who want to talk to a reporter in order to aggrandize themselves. Some are friendly in public, but not in private. Ego and cynicism are rampant.

Dr. Mel was none of these things. He was genuine and unassuming. There are hundreds of people, especially cancer patients, who can talk about his kindness, his good works, his support for them in their time of need. He was loved by his co-workers and his public.

Whenever I left him, I felt happier, which is reason enough to spend time with someone. Today I feel sad, but blessed that he let me into his life.

Weather and Winter Health

By Dr. Mel Goldstein

If you can't stand the cold, should you stay out of the kitchen? The cold and flu season is upon us, and so, too, is that desert-dry air that drains all that helpful moisture out of the air. And can we suffer!

The relative humidity becomes so low that a major strain on our respiratory tract takes place. Infections set in, bronchitis develops and pneumonia of various strains appears -- take it from one who has
just been there. I have had every form of pneumonia you could imagine since last March — double, aspiration, the list goes on and on.

Frequent hand-washing helps, but trying to keep your office or indoor rooms at a reasonable temperature and humidity will go a longer way. Humidity of 40 to 60 percent is healthful.

So if we are going to pin the blame on the weather -- we have to look at the humidity -- just to make it stick.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Black History Month 2012: 'Black Women in American Culture and History'

By Angi Carter, Community Engagement Editoracarter@nhregister.comTwitter: @ReachAngi, @nhrvoicesFacebook: Angi Carter, Community Media Lab

The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History this year is dedicating Black History Month to a celebration of the contributions African-American women have made throughout the annals of the nation's history, from the advent of slavery to 2012.

The association selected "Black Women in American Culture and History" as the 2012 theme.

Harriet Tubman
There have been prominent women on the national scene, such as Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) or our first black First Lady Michelle Obama, (1964-present) but there also have been countless women who made a difference in our own homes, schools, churches, neighborhoods, cities and towns.

We were able to count on you - our readers and neighbors - in selecting a Person of the Year for 2011. So, we're coming back to you again to ask you to nominate African-American women who have made positive contributions to your community for profiles that will run in the Register throughout February.

Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) founded "Negro History Week" in February 1926. It was expanded to a month-long observance in 1976.
Carter G. Woodson
Help us honor this time of remembrance, reflection and celebration by honoring women who have touched your life and the lives of others.
Tell us something about them by sending an email to, posting information on this blog or calling me at 203-789-5752 or my fellow Community Engagement Editor Ed Stannard at 203-789-5743.

Thank you all for your help.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Clearing up some misconceptions

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

The news the other day that the New Haven Register will outsource the printing of our newspaper to the Hartford Courant, at a loss of 105 full- and part-time production jobs, understandably created a shudder throughout the region. But we’ve been getting questions from people who misunderstand what’s happening to their newspaper. So here’s the bottom line:

  • The Register will still cover Greater New Haven, as always, from New Haven -- we’re not leaving the city.
  • Newspaper subscribers will continue to receive their paper.

A newspaper, in a real sense, is “owned” by its community, and we know that any time we make a change, even something small like deleting a comic strip, we upset a lot of readers. So the news that we will no longer print the paper and plan to move out of our Long Wharf plant is historic. But the newspaper that is delivered to subscribers won’t change.

I worked at the Register when we moved in 1981 from our downtown location at Orange and Audubon streets (shown at left, long before I worked there; I am in the May 1981 photo of the Orange Street newsroom below). When we moved to the former Gant shirt factory on Sargent Drive, it was a good move at the time. The paper’s previous plan for its new presses was to block off the end of Audubon at State Street. The Gant factory was big enough to hold our new presses and all of our news, advertising, circulation, production and business offices.

The glory days of print newspapers are gone and while the changes are painful to live through, that’s not likely to change. There is sadness about the layoffs. Several of the pressroom guys who are being let go have been here for decades. I was among 20 newsroom people laid off in 1990 (I returned nine years ago), and I will always feel for those who lose their jobs, even if, for many, better times are ahead.

But this plant is just too big for who we are now. The only thing keeping us from looking for a smaller space is the presses. So, having the Hartford Courant print our papers frees us up to downsize. We’re not the first. As our story said the other day, papers in New London, Stamford, New Britain and Bristol are printed out of state or in Bridgeport.

But to quell another rumor:

  • We are not being bought out by the Courant and we are not merging with it.

As for where and when we will move, it’s uncertain, according to our publisher, Tom Wiley, who met with the staff on Wednesday to answer our questions. As with any real estate deal, a lot depends on what happens with 40 Sargent Drive (at right in 1981, with the name of the old Journal-Courier joining the New Haven Register; our current newsroom, back in the day, is below). Ideally, we’ll be in the heart of downtown New Haven, with an open newsroom and café where people can come in, use a computer, search our archives and sit in on our news meetings. (You can do that now online at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.)

As for other concerns that have come up: Local delivery of the newspaper will not be affected. Papers will be trucked from Hartford to our subscribers, just as the Courant is. And we’ll still compete for news with the Courant. All of our news is posted online before the paper is printed, so there is no advantage for our Hartford rivals in printing the paper.

The news industry, like many, is in the midst of a revolution, moving from printing to online. The Journal Register Co. is betting that news companies that focus on delivering the news digitally, whether on the Web, on your smartphone, or on some medium that hasn’t been thought of yet.

It’s disconcerting to be in the midst of this change, but it’s exciting too. I love learning the new tools we use to report the news. I’m sad for those who are losing their jobs, but to be honest, I won’t miss this old shirt factory much. I think it will be great to work downtown again in what I think is the best city in Connecticut.

Contact Ed:
Twitter: @edstannardnhr, @nhrvoices
Facebook: Ed Stannard-Register, Community Media Lab

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Get Your Blog On

By Angi Carter |Community Engagement Editor
Twitter: @ReachAngi
Facebook: Angi Carter or New Haven Register Community Media Lab

Sooo, Ed and I have discovered a great resource for thecommunity, businesses and bloggers – all in one spot.

It’s called The Grove on Orange Street in New Haven. Every2nd Monday of each month, bloggers and folks with social media or marketingexpertise get together there for a “Bloggers and Beer” networking event.
We got turned onto it by Giulia Gouge, a master Twitter useryou should follow: @giuliag.
Ed and I got a chance to meet other folks who are startingblogs or looking for ways to improve their blogs. We also encouraged them tobecome part of the Register’s online blogging hub the Community Media Lab.
Even though we are full-time journalists, we don’t know itall when it comes to writing or blogging skills and we don’t pretend to.
As Ed and I figure out the offerings of this blog and growthe Community Media Lab, we’ll be offering weekly tidbits that we pick up alongthe way. So here are some tips we lucked out on hearing at The Grove. I hopeyou find this first edition of “Get Your Blog On” as helpful as it was for us:
Know your mission and purpose for blogging:
Start your blog and create each post with a clear sense ofthe message you want to convey, who you are trying to reach and what you aretrying to achieve with the content you provide for that audience.
Content is Queen:
Content is the most important tool we have as bloggers toengage our audiences. Spruce it up with links to previous posts or to websitesthat can help provide context; videos or maps; and photographs.
Give people an idea of what they can expect in a future postand issue a call to action. Ask them to comment or hit your Google+ and Likebuttons.
We will definitely be returning to The Grove – with someother bloggers alongside us.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

An afternoon floating in the blogosphere

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor
Twitter: @edstannardnhr, @nhrvoices
Facebook: Ed Stannard-Register, Community Media Lab

It’s a big new digital world we live in, and we’re all at different places on the path. So it’s great to meet up with others and trade ideas.

That’s the idea behind “Bloggers and Beer,” a monthly event at The Grove, a kind of social-entrepreneurial incubator and nice place to hang out. I went there today with Angi to find out what was happening. We had an ulterior motive too—to spread the word about our Community Media Lab of bloggers. We’re always looking for new writers to add to our stable.

I don’t know if it was the blogging or the beer, but more than 15 people were there: everyone from a guy who’s running multiple blogs, to someone getting ready to launch, to a hat designer. Some had no clue how to get a blog going. Most had something they weren’t sure about. (I include myself in the category of “have a clue, but not a big one.”)

The topic of the day was content—how to make a blog interesting to draw traffic. There was talk about having bright, interesting headers, photos, graphics, and how people sharing on social media makes the audience bigger.

Someone said something like, “Once someone tells me how to do something, I feel like I should have known that already.” I’ve felt that many times. Here’s my take on it: This digital medium is like going to a new country. Even when you know what’s going on, it can feel foreign and strange. We should assume we know everything there is to know, even if we knew it when we put out a newspaper or a newsletter. That’s why we need to get together, share ideas. The bottom line: There are no stupid questions, and if anyone asks me something that’s obvious to me, I need to remember that I have asked others things that were obvious to them.

That was the tone at today’s gathering at the Grove: People helping each other, bringing them along. It was exciting and fun. Join us next time!

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