Can This Newspaper Be Saved?

A blog run by former employees of the Hartford Courant is reporting that Susan Campbell, Rick Green and Helen Ubinas will no longer be columnists at the paper, but will continue on in the general assignment/analysts category.

FIC has tangled with all three of them in the past. Susan Campbell, in particular, was our longest-running journalistic foe, though one of our last mentions of her ended the matter on a high note. We had a battle royale with Rick Green last year that concluded with this June 8, 2010 email to our members:

The Courant today published Peter Wolfgang’s letter responding to Rick Green’s attack on FIC. Green has already launched another salvo, saying we only responded to him for our own nefarious fundraising purposes. In fact, Green is a distraction. It is precisely because we are not who Green thinks we are that we intend to give this matter no further attention.

Conservatives throughout the state are celebrating the demise of these columns and what they believe to be the impending demise of The Courant itself. The former is understandable. The latter is, arguably, not conservative.

It is conservative in the sense that The Courant oftentimes presents liberal propaganda as objective reporting, with a simple “this is the way it is” attitude that hides from its own readers controversy around what is being presented as normal. (This was The Courant’s idea of a Father’s Day article.)

But FIC does not view with glee the potential demise of one of Connecticut’s oldest institutions, a newspaper so venerable that the Declaration of Independence was once a breaking story for it. If liberal bias ends up burying the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper, let it be said now that it did not have to be that way and that FIC did not want it to be that way.

Six years ago FIC published an analysis of The Courant that The Courant itself called “recommended reading for anyone dissatisfied with the paper.” It is worth re-reading in its entirety but I want to draw your attention to one point in particular:

The problem at the Courant is not that they have staff with unacknowledged liberal worldviews. The problem is that those folks seem to make up the entire staff. There is no ideological diversity at the Courant. All the columnists are social liberals…Is there any columnist at the Courant who worships at a conservative evangelical church? Who homeschools her children? Who is opposed to the legalization of abortion and same-sex “marriage?” Who is opposed to contraception and practices natural family planning? Who belongs to a conservative Catholic lay group like Opus Dei or Regnum Christi? Who believes sex outside of marriage is sinful and something society ought to discourage?

If the Courant could do one thing—just one thing!—to address its bias problem, I recommend this: hire a social conservative columnist, one who can answer “yes” to the questions I listed above. Break the liberal monopoly that has a stranglehold over your staff of regular columnists. I don’t mean someone who will appear occasionally on the op-ed page. I mean someone who will appear in the paper as often as Helen Ubinas or Susan Campbell.

To this day, this concern has never been addressed. If The Courant wants to save its newspaper, if it wants to give more state residents a reason to be a paid subscriber in the competitive age of free internet content, that is way to do it.

For all our disagreements with them, FIC never called for the heads of Campbell, Green or Ubinas. We never boycotted The Courant and we have no interest in dancing on its grave. Democracy functions best when there is a healthy fourth estate monitoring the workings of government. In our perfect Connecticut, The Courant would still have a large staff that could report on every board of education and board of finance and board of you-name-it meeting in every town in the state.

But it would be an ideologically diverse Courant that represents more than just the viewpoint of the state’s liberal elites. It is not too late for that, at least. And addressing that problem could be the first step toward building The Courant back to what it should be.

For the sake of Connecticut and for The Courant and for a potential readership that is not being served by it, we hope the state’s largest newspaper has not given up on columnists altogether. We only ask that our voice be included among them.

8 Responses to “Can This Newspaper Be Saved?”

  1. […] This should tell us something: The Family Institute of Connecticut — a mis-named organization that preaches  values such as homophobia and live-and-let-live-so-long-as-it’s-our-way — is glad that Rick Green, Susan Campbell and Helen Ubinas will no longer be able to opine freely as c… […]

  2. on 23 Jun 2011 at 2:11 pmBettina

    My only response is – the Courant HAD conservative writers (for example, they once had a religion writer who was a member for the Catholic Discalced Carmelite Order), but they were laid -off because no one, liberals and conservatives alike, supported local news by subscribing to the paper. If anyone is to blame, it’s apathetic people who can’t be bothered to be fully informed and get their news from actual legitimate sources and not some half-baked blog that spits out what already been reported in the paper.

  3. on 23 Jun 2011 at 4:05 pmPeter

    Bettina, who is the religion writer you’re talking about? I remember Gerry Renner was an ex-seminarian and I remember Frances Grandy Taylor and Mark Oppenheimer. I think even Colin McEnroe was The Courant’s religion reporter decades ago. I was not aware that any of them fit your description. Or do you mean someone else?

  4. on 23 Jun 2011 at 7:03 pmPatty in CT

    While it is sad that the Courant faces the proposition of closing, it is not that surprising. Most people get their news from media outlets other than the printed page anymore. And I completely agree with you, until they get an unbiased news room, they can say goodbye to a majority of their readership who doesn’t support the “politics as usual” ideologues coming out of Washington right now.

    I just read too that CNN’s religious columnists are made up mostly of atheists. Yes, read that line again, and let it sink in. No, this is not an accident, or political job placement. It’s a vendetta. Our country has held a long standing history of hatred against Catholics. I’m not surprised to see none in the printed media. However…Atheists???? For religious topics??? Seriously??? No, they’re not serious, just like the Courant, the Norwich Bulletin, the Windham Chronicle, the New London Day…

    These outlets are a waste of my time, and anyone’s time, for those who long for objective truths above and beyond what is politically expedient.

  5. on 23 Jun 2011 at 7:11 pmPeter

    I should note that I’ve fixed a stylistic error Susan Campbell caught (conservatives are celebrating the demise of the columns, not the columnists.)

    Her point about her job not disappearing is well taken–it was noted in the first sentence of my post.

    Susan seems to think we’re “frustrated” because she does not provide a conservative viewpoint. No, we’re disappointed because nobody at The Courant provides a socially conservative viewpoint.

  6. on 25 Jun 2011 at 7:34 pmJosh

    I switched from the Courant to the Journal Inquirer two years ago when Bill 1098 was proposed. The bill would have given the CT state government control of the Catholic church – completely ridiculous. The Courant called it a bill on church “finance reform” and initially whitewashed the measure. The Journal Inquirer had real, balanced journalism. I have found the JI to be far superior to the Courant in every way — in local coverage, in national coverage, in journalistic objectivity, in editorial content.

  7. on 01 Aug 2011 at 4:17 pmWJR

    While I do not often read the columnists you are talking about, I don’t think it was very appropriate to call out the Father’s Day article.

    No matter what your opinions are on same sex marriage, that couple should be commended for fostering so many children in need. That is exactly the type of article this organization should be hoping for – an example of selfless caring and dedication to those in need and without a family of their own.

    It seems as if those two guys have done more to help “family” in CT that the “CT Family Insitute.” While I agree with you and support you on the issue of life, your use of this article as something that is “wrong” is distasteful and goes against everything a family organization should be standing for.

  8. on 03 Aug 2011 at 3:58 pmJames Bailey Brislin


    What you’re missing is the interests of the kids. At FIC, it’s our goal that every child in Connecticut be raised in a stable household by their father and mother.

    Study after study has shown a significant correlation between traditional family structure and superior life outcomes. According to every measure— high school & college graduation, alcohol & drug abuse, crime, employment & income, family / marriage stability— children who were raised in traditional households are far more successful. Anyone who grew up with a loving mother knows that there is no substitute for a mother’s love. No man— heterosexual or homosexual— can truly love and care for a child the same way his mother does. Likewise a child who grows up without the involvement of his father— loses out on the male role-model and mentoring that only a father can provide.

    Although I have no doubt that the homosexual couple spotlighted in the article have the best of motives, what they are doing is not fair to the children.

    The bottom line here is that this article does portray something that is wrong— the redefinition of family.

    By nature, marriage and the family are pre-political institutions. They existed prior to government and any other organization in civil society. The end-game of anti-family activists is to define traditional family structure out of existence— to make people believe that marriage is not a matter of covenant— but rather a matter of contract— created and regulated by the state. They intend to use this belief to crush traditional family structure— which has been the fundamental building block of eastern and western civilization— and remake society as they see fit.

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