A Note To Our Audiences

April 6, 2018

Our newsroom works hard each day to be thoughtful about the news and how we cover it. Here, and throughout public media, we take pride in being non-partisan, accurate, impartial, and independent. In pursuit of those aims, we also hold ourselves accountable.

To that end, we have two items to share.

First, Harriet Jones has been a trusted voice at Connecticut Public Radio for years. She is currently managing editor -- which means she runs our daily news operation. On February 20, 2018, her husband, Bob Statchen, filed to run as a Democrat for the 18th state senatorial district in the 2018 election.

In an effort to avoid real and perceived conflicts of interest, and after consultation with NPR, we are taking the following steps in advance of the election season:

  • Jones will not report on, or edit reports on, Connecticut’s 2018 municipal, legislative, or gubernatorial elections.
  • She will not participate in her husband’s campaign.
  • She will not cover or edit political issues of concern in her husband’s race.

I'll be responsible for the newsroom duties from which Harriet is recusing herself.

Second, Elizabeth Messina is Connecticut Public’s vice president of media innovation. In this role she oversees the radio and digital content teams, including news and local talk shows. This week, her sister-in-law, Mary Glassman, declared her candidacy for Congress, seeking the 5th District House of Representatives seat that will be vacated by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty.

In her administrative role, Messina does not function as a news editor, reporter, or a talk show producer.  

Again, in an effort to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest during this election season, she will recuse herself from any planning conversations, decisions or oversight of state political coverage. She will also not participate in Glassman’s campaign.

I’ll continue to oversee and direct all local political coverage on Connecticut Public Radio. John Dankosky, Executive Editor of the New England News Collaborative and co-host of our news roundtable program, “The Wheelhouse,” will oversee all planning and production decisions for that show. Catie Talarski, executive producer of Connecticut Public Radio’s local talk shows, will direct decisions about the guests and content on those programs.

Messina is involved in strategic planning and administration of collaborative journalism partnerships, some of which include the co-production of political news coverage. During this election season, Deidre Tavera, senior vice president of strategy and development, and I will manage any collaborative relationships that involve local political coverage.

Again, these plans come after careful consideration internally and with guidance and advice of NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices and the NPR ombudsman.

Transparency is an essential part of our work. That’s why we’re sharing this with you now. We’ll obviously revisit this issue as the campaign season progresses, and we welcome your feedback.

Jeff Cohen
News Director
Connecticut Public Radio