Newspaper regroups after editorial controversy p. 10

By: Dorothy Giobbe Torrington, Conn., Register Citizen appoints new editor sp.

IN AN ATTEMPT to regroup a few weeks after one reporter was fired and two editors resigned, the Torrington, Conn., Register Citizen appointed a new editor, effective April 11.
Andy Thibault, who since 1990 had been an assistant bureau chief at the Enfield bureau of the Hartford Courant, was named editor of the Register Citizen.
The move came after Elizabeth Healy and Dolores Laschever, two Register Citizen editors, resigned to protest the firing of reporter Marsden Epworth.
In his new capacity, Thibault said, he will stress "fundamentals, getting back to the basics and executing them better than anyone else . . . . We're going forward."
He refused to comment about the situation involving Epworth, Healy and Laschever, saying, "I'm not really in a position to comment on anything that happened before I got here."
Before joining the Courant, Thibault was an editor and reporter at two other Connecticut newspapers, the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time. Previously, he was an editor at the Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and an editor at Connecticut Shore Line Newspapers.
In an effort to "put some order where chaos reigned," Thibault said, he immediately promoted five Register Citizen staffers and "lured away" Don Stacom, assistant metro editor at an area competitor, the Waterbury Republican-American.
As deputy editor, Stacom will be responsible for the Register Citizen's editorial and opinion pages and will work with Thibault to expand local news coverage.
Thibault replaced Healy, who resigned earlier this month after she refused to fire Epworth on what Healy said were direct orders from Register Citizen publisher Geoffrey Moser.
Epworth had written a story about local newspaper circulation battles and in her article included comments from Register Citizen subscribers who complained that they hadn't received their newspapers.
Epworth said she was fired by Moser after he told her that she had violated a policy that forbids negative coverage of Journal Register Co., the Register Citizen's parent firm.
The situation at the Register Citizen recently has gained widespread attention, with articles appearing in the weekly Litchfield County Times, New Milford, Conn.; the Courant and the New York Times Connecticut section.
Until recently, Moser and officials of Journal Register have refused to comment, calling the situation a "personnel matter."
Last week on NBC's Today show, Journal Register spokeswoman Diane Pardee said Epworth was fired because her article contained "factual inaccuracies."
In an interview, Pardee denied that Journal Register forbids negative coverage of itself.
"The reporters had exaggerated something that Moser said to them, which was, if you're going to write something bad about the paper, make sure you get your facts straight."
The Register Citizen printed a front-page article that said Epworth's "story stated that the Register Citizen had numerous delivery problems when in fact it was a very good day . . . . "
Moser was quoted in the same article as saying Epworth's story "violated the most elementary rules of journalism . . . .
"We did not report this fact earlier as it is our policy not to report on internal personnel matters."


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