Journalism in Connecticut

I have led a really bizarre life. I was Supervisor of Shipping and Receiving for a major Department Store. I’ve been a Life Guard and Swimming Instructor (including many children with Special Needs). I worked as a cashier at a Gas Station, twice. I was Master of my Masonic Lodge 3 years running and State President of my club. Oh, and I do the Computer Technician and Writer thing now.

But that’s not the half of it.

I was also an Editor of an Alternative School Newspaper (meaning not paid for or sanctioned by the School, though they did let us distribute on the grounds). My most notable personal accomplishment was an award from the Columbia School of Journalism for a satirical piece I wrote, and my most notable group achievement was co-authorship of an article getting our Band Director passed over for a promotion and damn near fired (he was playing favorites with his grades).

Anyway, during this time I got to meet the publisher of our local weekly where we did paste up and printing and while I was between phases in my education I got a job as a copy boy.

Well, sort of. My main job was running around for the Ad Department picking up ads. I also handled Newsstand Sales and the Archive (3 copies of every issue since forever and 10 or so we kept around for a year in case anyone wanted to buy one).

We had 5 beats. Editorial, which was the Editor and Publisher and the Editor handled the Letters To. Sports, which was one guy. Town Meetings and Politics, which was another guy. Photography (are you beginning to sense a pattern here?), and then Obituaries, Notices, and Lunch Menus which were handled by the same poor schlub who had to update the Classifieds every week. Anything outside the beats got assigned to the Photographer (hey, he had to be there anyway- make sure you get the spelling of the names right).

The Ad Department was a little less than twice the size (if you counted me and did I mention I had to fill the glue pots?).

Our guaranteed circulation was between 13 and 14,000 copies a week. Sure it was fudged up a little, but everyone does it and you don’t print thousands of extra copies- paper and ink cost money.

The point is that we were a little less than twice as large as the New Britain Herald out of which comes this strange story featuring Sheldon Adelson, new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Edward Clarkin Is The Most Important Man In Journalism Today — And He’s Probably Not A Real Person
by Judd Legum, Think Progress
Dec 25, 2015 8:32 pm

Edward Clarkin holds himself out to be a reporter for the New Britain Herald, a small paper in Connecticut with a circulation of about 7500. Prior to this month, Clarkin’s only articles for the New Britain Herald were four effusive restaurant reviews published in 2011. “If A Taste of Poland is anything like Warsaw or Krakow, I’m buying an airplane ticket tomorrow,” Clarkin wrote.

Then, on December 1, Clarkin published a nearly 2,000 word article on the performance of business courts, which specialize in corporate issues. Oddly, the article not only covered Connecticut business courts but included ten paragraphs criticizing Elizabeth Gonzalez, a state judge in Nevada. Clarkin wrote that Gonzalez’s rulings “appear inconsistent and even contradictory” and her conduct “undermines the rationale for the creation of such courts in the first place.”

“There is no record of an Edward Clarkin in Connecticut on state voting rolls, property records, lawyer registries or various social-media sites, and several current and former newspaper employees said they never met anyone by that name,” the Hartford Currant reported.

The New Britain Herald staff numbers in the single digits — but no one can recall ever meeting or talking to Clarkin.

Michael Schroeder, the publisher of the New Britain Herald, said that he has “no comment on our newsgathering, story selection or writers” and “declined to provide information about Clarkin.”

Schroeder does have an unusual connection to Clarkin, however. Schroeder’s middle name is Edward and his mother’s maiden name is Clarkin.

What else should I know about Michael Schroder?

Michael Schroder is the manager for News + Media Capital Group LLC, a company created by conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson to purchase the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this month.

In other words, he is now the boss of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, answering to Adelson.

While Adelson was pursuing the purchase of the Review-Journal, three Review-Journal reporters were abruptly told to “[d]rop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.” The assignment came directly from GateHouse Media, the former owner of the Review-Journal. (GateHouse continues to manage day-to-day operations at the Review-Journal under an agreement with Adelson.)

One of the judges under scrutiny: Elizabeth Gonzalez, the target of Edward Clarkin’s article in the New Britain Herald.

Review-Journal reporters wrote 15,000 words about the judges assigned to them by GateHouse, including Gonzalez, but none of their work ever appeared in the paper.

Information about Elizabeth Gonzalez did subsequently appear under Edward Clarkin’s name in the New Britain Herald.

After publishing the story about the Review-Journal’s unusual assignment about Judge Gonzalez, the editor of the paper, Mike Hengel, was replaced.

Judge Gonzalez is overseeing a case against Adelson and his gambling company by a former attorney who alleges “he was fired for trying to break the company’s links to Chinese organized crime triads.” The employee also claims “Adelson turned a blind eye to prostitution and other illegal activities in his resorts there.”

Adelson has clashed with Gonzalez as the case has progressed. At one point, Adelson refused to answer a routine question and Gonzales told him, “Sir, you don’t get to argue with me. You understand that?”

Gonzalez has fined Adelson’s companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for withholding documents. Adelson offered financial support to candidates willing to run against Gonzalez and unseat her, according to the Review Journal.

If Edward Clarkin is really Michael Schroder, he is symbolic of an effort of a billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, to seize control of the largest paper in a major state and use it as a vehicle to advance his political agenda by any means necessary.

Nevada is a swing-state and Adelson is among the very largest donors to the Republican Party.

Now the New Britain Herald is far from being the largest newspaper in Connecticut, they’re not even bigger than the place I worked, but they are a Daily. The largest by far would be the Hartford Courant (oldest continuously published newspaper in the nation) with the New Haven Register a distant second. They aren’t even in the top ten.

But this isn’t really a story about Connecticut, is it?

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