I decided at the end of 2019 to leave a job at a small town paper in Missouri and take a shot at freelancing. As COVID shutdowns quickly led to newsroom budget cuts, that plan unraveled. Then Gregory Stroud offered me a job reporting at the CT Examiner.
I jumped at the opportunity, and it may be the best decision I’ve made in 26 years.
I’ve found the CT Examiner to be a breath of fresh air in the journalism industry – a small, growing operation that invests in local reporting, rather than a massive conglomerate that strips small papers for parts. I no longer worry about the next round of layoffs coming from an office halfway across the country, or if my paper’s new owner will sell my office out from under me.
Over the last six months, CT Examiner has allowed me to report with a level of freedom and independence many papers don’t allow.
One of my favorite aspects of how CT Examiner operates is that reporters aren’t siloed into covering beats or specific towns. While we all have areas of interest that we focus on – I am always looking to write about energy – we recognize that reality doesn’t fit neatly into different categories.
The New London State Pier, which Cate Hewitt has been covering better than anyone, is a perfect example. It’s an issue of land use, but it also includes the offshore wind industry, questions about our energy future, and questions about public access to meetings and information.
In the same way, issues don’t fit neatly into town borders. If something is happening in East Lyme, there’s a good chance another town on the shoreline is having similar issues – whether that’s water quality, waste management, schools or turf fields. At CT Examiner, we’re not only encouraged, but expected to cross town borders when we write.
CT Examiner is not like any other paper I’ve worked at. We don’t need to fill pages and in many cases we don’t have the pressure of a tight deadline. We are dedicated to local coverage, but not in a way that obsesses over each gear turning in local government. We’re given the freedom to ask bigger questions and see how our issues connect to issues in other places.
I’m incredibly grateful to have found work at a time when that has been so challenging for so many people, and I am grateful to be back east, much closer to my family in New Jersey after spending seven years in Missouri.
In the next year, I’m looking forward to continuing that work at the CT Examiner. I hope I’ll be introduced to a Connecticut unrestricted by COVID for the first time since I moved here in May, and I especially hope I’ll have the opportunity to meet more of you in person.