New Haven’s final pre-primary mayoral debate in what has been a spirited campaign was held Thursday — and the New Haven Register, the Journal Register Co.’s flagship, didn’t bother to cover it. Instead, the Register linked to a story in the New Haven Independent, a nonprofit news site.
It was a curious decision, to say the least, and it comes at a time when JRC chief executive John Paton is the toast of the newspaper business for espousing a “Digital First” strategy.
In late August I had a chance to interview Matt DeRienzo, the new editor of the Register (as well as of two other Connecticut dailies). He struck me as a nice guy and genuinely committed to Paton’s goal of reinventing the daily-newspaper business online. But even though this particular debate was not as high-profile as previous ones, it still seems strange to outsource a story about an important city election to another news organization.
Among the Journal Register Co.’s high-profile advisers is Jeff Jarvis, well known for saying, “Do what you do best and link to the rest.” Good advice. But if covering a mayoral debate is not among the things a city newspaper does best, then I think we have to ask why.
Maybe someone got sick — though I’d hate to think the Register is so thinly staffed that no one else was available to send into battle.
Update. Paton responds via Twitter: “NHR doesn’t cover one event and you think that calls into question Digital First as a strategy? Ridiculous.”
Update II. DeRienzo responds in the comments. And makes some good points.