April 8, 2008
By Ken Krayeske • 8:35 PM EST
Sweet Jesus, thank you! To the god of the Old Testament who said he would punish those who stood by and watched acts of good and did nothing, thank you for taking action! Justice flows like a mighty river!
Or maybe its just publisher Josh Mamis coming to his senses and realizing that dumping editor Alistair Highet is a smart move. Yes, the Hartford Advocate is undergoing some major personnel changes, starting with the forced departure of Highet, according to sources deep inside the Tribune Company walls. Apparently, Reporter Jennifer Abel and photographer Nick Lacy are being shown the door, too.
The day of reckoning when they all leave is apparently April 11, from what I've been told.
I like Nick, and have worked with him in the past. I think his photos stand up to scrutiny. It's a bummer that he's going. Abel, I don't have much of an opinion about, but new blood never hurts, and she can take solace in the fact that many a good reporter has been shown the door at the Schmadvo, myself included.
But great Yahweh, thank you for bringing us mercy and sending Highet, the Litchfield County commuter, packing. While Highet occasionally wrote columns that made me think, too many times I put down the Advocate distressed at how his leadership had hurt the once-great publication. The used-to-be a weekly must-read had withered to a grab-it-for-Rob-Breszny's-Real-Astrology only under his command.
I've criticized Highet before in this space, but pretty much gave up on wasting ink or electrons on him, and just started waiting for his gig to be up.
Hartford has dealt too long with the personal grudges that he brought to the editorial board, and his prejudices impacted news coverage. Trust me on this one.
Highet's lack of connection with the local community seriously hurt the quality of journalism. About three weeks ago, my tolerance for the journalism practiced by the Hartford Advocate hit a boiling point. I couldn't take it any more. I called Josh Mamis, the publisher of the Advocate, too complain of this latest insult to the profession, a one-source story.
Mamis listened to my concerns, and thanked me for my interest. He seems like a good enough guy, and I think he has more of a pulse on what's going on here that Highet, and I have high hopes for what new editor he might bring in.
I'd apply for the job of editor if I just didn't get this great gig at a law firm (I kind of need to practice what I'm learning in law school). Aside from the fact that the Advocate would never hire me, I'm not sure I'd want my hands tied the way that the Tribune Company's budget is sure to do it.
It is more likely that any incoming editor will have to balance the the profit-margin dictates of new owner Sam Zell with the needs of community reporting. I'm wishing whoever it is luck, and thanking my lucky stars that Mamis had the good sense to usher in such a monumental change.