Housatonic Times, LCT office to close
Updated 10:46 am, Thursday, June 21, 2012
The office of The Housatonic Times and Litchfield County Times on Bank Street in New Milford will reportedly close by July 2.
Executives of the Journal Register Co., parent firm of those weekly publications, confirmed late Wednesday that the office will close by July 2.
Publication of The Housatonic Times and Litchfield County Times will continue.
"Reducing the number of satellite offices we have allows us to reduce overhead costs and improve the quality of our local journalism," said Tom Wiley, senior publisher for JRC's Connecticut Cluster.
Matt DeRienzo, Connecticut Group editor, added that closing the New Milford office provides "a great opportunity to move the Litchfield County Times into our new open-to-the-public newsroom cafe in Torrington where the staff will be in a much better position to engage with readers and facilitate discussion on issues of countywide importance and with our `digital first' approach to news coverage."
Mr. DeRienzo continued, "The Litchfield County Times and Housatonic Times function more like a daily newspaper, publishing consistently through our digital channel. It makes sense for them to be part of our daily newsroom."
Mayor Pat Murphy was "not happy" to hear of the papers' office on Bank Street closing.
"I like having them here," she said Wednesday. "I don't like the idea that they are leaving the downtown. They're nice people."
"And this is where things are happening if you're a newspaper reporter," she added. "There has been a paper there for a long time. We wish them well."
JRC's imminent departure from New Milford comes 14 months after major cuts were made to the papers' staff.
In January 1998, the Journal Register Company purchased Housatonic Valley Publishing Company -- the parent company of the then-New Milford Times and several other publications, including four other Connecticut weeklies -- from a group headed by Trip Rothschild.
JRC subsequently acquired Litchfield County Times, a weekly publication that had been launched by Arthur Carter in 1981.
The company changed the name of its flagship paper, The New Milford Times -- which had been founded in 1914 -- to Housatonic Times and incorporated Brookfield news coverage in the newly named paper.
For a number of years, there were four newspaper offices in New Milford -- two dailies (The News-Times and the Waterbury Republican) and two weekly operations (HVPC and LCT).
Come July, there will be just one office left -- The Greater New Milford/News-Times on Main Street.
"I think it's awful what's happening to newspapers all across the board," said Ellen O'Meara, who was editor of The Bethel Beacon in the 1990s and worked on The New Milford Times staff in the late 1980s.
"I think it makes it harder for people to feel a sense of community when local papers and paper offices like this close," Ms. O'Meara observed.
Jan Howard, who was the longtime editor of The Brookfield Journal, lamented the loss of newspapers centered in communities that is often happening today.
"It's is so sad, all of the consolidation of papers," Ms. Howard said. "The community newspaper is the watchdog of the community. When they are gone, who watches? Who is the voice?"
Ms. Howard noted it is a community newspaper, located in a town, that "takes up the cause when a child is seriously ill, or a club is doing fundraising for a family in need.
"Close the community newspaper, consolidate it into a web of papers, and that kind of community coverage is lost," Ms. Howard added.