Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parents, learning to be advocates, take a turn at grilling the media

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor / Twitter: @edstannardnhr, @nhrvoices

One of the big reasons I applied to become community engagement editor was to give me a chance to get out and meet more people around the New Haven area. I think I'm one of the few newsroom types (along with Angi) who actually enjoys talking to groups!

Last week, Dee Brasselle of the Parent Leadership Training Institute emailed us and asked if someone could speak at their meeting the next night. As its web page says, PLTI "helps parents become leading advocates for children," and the parents who were there (who will graduate in June in ceremonies both at New Haven City Hall and the Legislative Office Building in Hartford) I'm sure are great advocates for their kids, based on how ready they were to hit me with questions.

Among the things they asked me, along with my answers:

  • How does a person in a wheelchair let the city know about obstacles, such as damaged sidewalks, that prevent him from getting around?
    • I told them about SeeClickFix, the New Haven-based company on whose website you can post issues that will be seen by city officials. You can even create a watch list for your neighborhood or block, and set it up so the proper official (such as your alderman) will get notified.
  • What's the best way to get a letter to the editor into the paper?
    •  Short and to the point is the best advice. We like letters from all points of view, but we like when they're concise, express an opinion clearly, and don't attack others. Letters can be sent to our editorial page editor, Charles Kochakian
  • How do we get publicity for community events and good news, such as fairs and awards?
    • This is one of the biggest issues for us, since our space in the paper is so tight, and we're working on solutions, such as a blog that people can post events to. In the meantime, if you have something you want to say, or want to send us a report about an event you attended, email Angi and me at Brief announcements can be sent to
  • Why does the Register cover crime in New Haven but doesn't cover the good news stories that are out there?
    •  This is another big issue, and we're really concerned about it. Fewer reporters covering New Haven than in years past means we have less ability to get to all the events that are happening, although we're always looking for stories about people doing interesting and positive things. For one thing, we don't always hear about what's happening. So email us at, or City Editor Helen Bennett at We also want to make this blog -- YOUR Open Newsroom -- a place where we can post the photos and stories that you send to us. We want you to be our eyes and ears in your neighborhoods, because no one knows a place better than the people who live there!
As I said at the beginning, I love getting out and meeting people in the New Haven area, and so does Angi. So if you want us to come out to talk to your organization, please email us (, call Angi at 203-789-5752 or me at 203-789-5743.

And here's the to parents who make their kids Priority No. 1!

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