A glossy centerfold: storied New England social club to launch magazine

NEWMAGINHFD-thumb-175x230A legendary New England social club that has claimed Mark Twain and Katherine Hepburn as members — and featured, among a venerable collection of others, John F. Kennedy, Walter Cronkite and Babe Ruth as guests — is turning their members-only newsletter into a subscription magazine.

The 136-year old Hartford Club will launch its bi-monthly business magazine, The Prospect, in October, distributing the 40-page magazine to 10,000 Hartford businesses, professionals and community members.

In his announcement, Vincent Valvo, the magazine’s publisher and editor, said the publication would be “a bona fide magazine that will focus on business, banking, finance and the arts.” He said the publication would also contain articles about why the “Greater Hartford area is a desirable place to live.”

The magazine is not only providing printed news for Hartford’s apparently downtrodden residents — many Hartford Courant staff members who have been swept up in Tribune Co.’s cross-country newsroom layoffs have been asked to freelance for the publication.

But it might take more than a magazine to restore newsroom integrity in the Connecticut capital, especially since Hartford-area news has faced a slew of recent criticism because of staff cuts and questionable editorial choices.

Earlier this week, George Gombossy, a business columnist and former business editor who had worked at the Courant for more than 40 years, was fired after he wrote a critical column about Sleepy’s, one of the paper’s advertisers. But maybe this magazine launch will revive journalistic optimism.

Or…maybe not. Said Paul Stern on the Hartford Courant blog:

It didn’t occur to me … that several Courant refugees, including me, are involved in something that actually qualifies as news.

At least Valvo said he has managed to lure advertising support, even if he hasn’t yet convinced his displaced writers that they are still reporters. Let’s just hope none of the former Courant journalists write unflattering pieces about the Prospect’s new advertisers.

One response to “A glossy centerfold: storied New England social club to launch magazine

  1. Dear Mr. Ember,

    I’m not quite sure what to say about this posting. Certainly, when I have my marketing hat on, I think any notice a new publication can get is good. But as I’m currently wearing my journalism hat — and this is a blog about the importance of good journalism, isn’t it? — I am dumbfounded.

    My biggest gripe is that this is a blog that purports to hold people up to high standards of journalism while upholding itself up to none. This piece is a retread of a couple of different reports that appeared in the Hartford Courant and on a blog. At no time did you even bother to check with me about getting an official “announcement.” Or even trying to speak to me in person.

    The quote you attribute to me, “a bona fide magazine that will focus on business, banking, finance and the arts,” never happened. The Courant reporter who wrote that seems to have agglomerated several different statements of mine into one. I didn’t correct her, but I make note of it here because you position this blog as a better source of journalism.

    You close your piece with the “snarky” comment about how the writers for the Prospect better not write something bad about one of the publications advertisers. Thus you insinuate that this publication will be as bad as the Courant is alleged to be.

    Might I suggest you try even a rudimentary Google search about me? I’m a past board member of the Conn. SPJ chapter. I’m the past president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. I’m a board member of the Conn. Foundation for Open Government. I have never in more than 35 years in journalism cowed before an advertiser, nor has any publication under me.

    I was fired as the editor of the Manchester Herald daily newspaper for pissing off a big advertiser. I was boycotted by the entire Judicial Department in Connecticut when I ran the Conn. Law Tribune because I refused to fire a columnist who incensed them. I assure you, when you run the state’s only newspaper for the legal profession, it’s a big deal to have the entire established legal system turn its back on you — which it did for six years.

    If writers for The Prospect have a story that’s appropriate for the magazine, that’s all that counts.

    If this is an example of “new media leaving print journalism in the dust,” we all have a lot to fear. Because at least in print journalism, we try to get our facts straight before we publish.

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