National Society of Newspaper Columnists issues support for CtWatchdog

August 15, 2009
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Statement on the firing of Connecticut columnist George Gombossy
From: Board of Directors, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Release: Immediately
For information, contact Ben S. Pollock; secretary, National Society of
Newspaper Columnists, ben.pollock@stanfordalumni.org, (479) 236-6302The board of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists regrets the dropping
of George Gombossy’s watchdog column from The Hartford Courant, as well as the
termination of his 40-year employment there.The NSNC contains all manner of columnists — though Gombossy is not a member
— and the consumer watchdogs among us have proved popular among their
employers’ print and online subscribers. Such a beat provides busy readers
details not easily accessible, as well as the time and experience to get facts
from labyrinthine agencies and reluctant businesses.Published interviews with the journalist, as well as his own online posts,
differ from comments by Courant executives. This restrains the NSNC’s
judgment. Confirmed elements of this saga, however, are worrisome.“We said we wanted to go to more helpful news, and less gotcha news,”
Courant Editor Naedine Hazell confirmed to The New York Times that she told
Gombossy at a meeting.The NSNC expects more precise language from cornered editors. Thorough
research and clear analysis can’t help but be “helpful,” while “gotcha” is the
cry of those, well, gotten.A watchdog column poorly handled by its author, due perhaps to inexperience or
poor judgment, hurts all concerned, from the public to those written about.
The length and responsibility shown in Gombossy’s career — including three
years on this beat and 12 years as the paper’s business editor — clearly
indicate otherwise.

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