Register Lays Off Hladky

by Paul Bass | March 11, 2008 5:47 PM | | Comments (11)

Greg Hladky, the New Haven Register’s last surviving full-time Capitol reporter, normally starts the day checking the list of press conferences and hearings to cover. Tuesday he got a message to call his editor first.

Hladky did — and found out that after 28 years, he won’t be filing any more stories datelined Hartford for New Haven’s daily newspaper readers.

Hladky lost his job in what appears to be the last budget-cutting move by the Register, which like many daily newspapers is shedding reporters and editors the way snakes shed skin.

Tuesday’s layoff is particularly significant because of its impact on state government coverage for much of the state. Hladky was the last Capitol full-timer not only for the Register, but for other dailies owned by the Register’s parent company, the Journal-Register Co. Those papers — the New Britain Herald, Torrington Register, and Bristol Herald — gradually lost their Capitol staffers as Hladky became the chain’s sole daily eyes and ears under the dome. His stories also appeared in the chain’s weeklies.

It was unclear Tuesday whether the Register intends to replace Hladky with a less senior staffer, or at least a part-time Capitol reporter. In the past reporters from the paper’s shrinking New Haven desk have sometimes aided Hladky in the final days of legislative sessions.

Register Editor Jack Kramer Tuesday declined comment.

The Register regularly had three to four reporters at a time covering the Capitol in the early 1980s. The bureau has gradually shrunk since then.

“I was told that they were cutting three or four positions” at the paper in this latest cost-cutting round, Hladky, who’s 56, said late Tuesday.

“I was stunned,” he said, “in large part because I had been told repeatedly that because my work appeared on a regular basis in so many JRC [Journal Register Company] newspapers, it was a pretty safe position. I don’t think anybody every questioned the quality of the work that I was doing. I would get journalism awards, for what that’s worth.

“On the other hand, I probably should have been out of that newspaper a long time ago.”

Hladky has worked at various Connecticut dailies since 1977, at the Register since 1983, and in the Capitol office since 1990. He said he’d already received calls Tuesday with leads on possible new jobs.

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Posted by: mindoflen | March 11, 2008 5:59 PM

Greg: Repeat after me: "This is the best thing that ever happened to me."
It certainly was true for me after I got the ax at the Reg during the big purge in 1990.
You'll land fine. Real newspapers or other outlets won't let a talent as good as yours lie fallow for long.
In the meantime, enjoy the vacation.
Hey, maybe you can follow David McClendon and go to work for Micky Hirten in Michigan.
Anyway, good luck.
As one who trod the path on which you're starting to walk, I can tell you that it really was the best thing that ever happened to me, journalistically that is.
Best to you
Len Honeyman
Register Layoff Class of 1990

Posted by: walt bradley | March 11, 2008 8:56 PM

Greg did a great job. I suppose now it's only a matter of very short time Randal Beach will be cleaning out his desk, one way or another, thus leaving new haven's copy editor at a desk soemwhere in delhi no doubt. you know, i used to deliver the journal courrier, and we had guys like gred, and george wadley, writers who'd tell you something, guys who's stories you'd look forward to reading, now, we're reading ap wire about something that happened in guilford and wallingford. Long live local independent media outlets, and don't take your Dave Solomons, Paul Bass' and Randal beachs for granted. You'll be reminiscing sooner than you'll think.
Thank you Greg, you are always welcome (as is everyone) at Citizens Television.

Posted by: bugupit | March 12, 2008 12:00 AM

Connecticut residents of the Register service area need to push back. Each morning, I surf to the Registe first, the Courant second and Independent third. OK, so maybe its because I know I will spend the least time at the Rag. Well, their website did improve after going so stale for so long last fall. But back to my point, blogs and non=MSM sites are informative and quirky, but I rely on MSM to uphold a higher standard of journalism and to be there with reliable verified news. I truly believe it is absolutely unconscienable (a word I have never before tried to spell) for the Journal Register company to lay off the last capitol report representing all their papers. We, citizens, simply cannot accept this action and allow it to stand without a vocal response. Too much happens in those two buildings in Hartford that influences our lives too much.

Posted by: Doug | March 12, 2008 12:19 AM

No doubt the JRC's CEO won't be taking a pay cut, or anyone else at the top of that ridiculous, profit-mongering corporate bloodsucker.

It's companies like the JRC - that continue to make enormous profits at the expense of the product - that are literally tearing the democratic process to shreds. Greedy lowlife bastards.

Greg, we haven't met but I've read your byline for years. You deserved better.

I'm sure you've been stuck with a lot of unpaid overtime as well. Stick it to them.

Posted by: Steven Kalb | March 12, 2008 8:58 AM

I am constantly reminded just how short sighted management can be. Faced with declining readership (or listenership) the current thinking is to save money at all costs. Not produce a better product to FIND new readers...just save money.

I've had the good fortune to be in the same Capitol Press Room as Greg. To say he is smart would be an understatement. Not only does he have a sharp mind and quick wit but an almost encyclopedic memory and the reporter's talent for being able to put together a great story from what started out as nothing.

Persoanlly I will miss seeing him at the Capitol. More importantly, the state will miss his superb reporting.

I have no doubt he will land a better job faster than he thought possible.

My suggestion? Take two weeks and find a beach to enjoy. You've earned it.

Posted by: Fan | March 12, 2008 9:53 AM

Good luck, Greg, you were one of the last real journalists at that waste of newsprint.

Posted by: Mark Thompson | March 12, 2008 1:11 PM

More than 40 years ago, when I was in the 6th grade in Branford, we took a field trip to the Register building in downtown New Haven. Watching the presses roar, that was the day I decided to become a reporter. Since then, I have watched JR bleed the Register, along with the weekly newspaper in Rhode Island where I began my journalism career. I was stunned when a Connecticut aunt died not to find her obit posted online in the Register -- I can't recall if that cost extra (so much for covering the news) or what the precise reason was. But it doesn't surprise me that a newspaper that didn't post obits would lay off its lone capitol reporter. I just wonder where today's 6th graders will go to hear the roar of the presses and feel the First Amendment rumbling up through their feet.

Posted by: DT | March 12, 2008 2:33 PM

As a former NH area resident and former journalist in Connecticut, this is an outrage. It goes beyond the personal outrage of a good journalist losing his job -- it's that the Register has so little regard for its employees that it would chop a 29-year vet who works his tail off and makes the paper look good on a regular basis.

I know people who still subscribe to the Wretchedster and I will encourage everyone I know to cancel that fishwrap. Greg was their link to credibility. Now that's gone.

Posted by: Our Town [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 13, 2008 9:59 AM

I don't know DT, if that happens a bunch of other good people will be out of a job too. (My current fav is Joe Amarante.) It's sad to see a newspaper tradition unravel reporter by reporter. Looks like the paper is going the way of local radio.

And , thanks to Greg and all the others now departed from the Register who tried to keep us in the know.

Good luck.

Posted by: Janet Kipphut Ainsworth, Guilford, CT | March 13, 2008 6:48 PM


As you know, my household contains a member of that same layoff class of 1990 referenced by Len Honeyman. I was aghast when I heard the news about your departure. I read your work regularly. I suppose the "state cap" will now be covered by the Associated Press or staff reporters with vastly less experience. Meanwhile, I'll get my state Capitol news from the Courant. Good luck in the future. I'm sure you'll find something rewarding very soon.


Posted by: Bob Fredericks | March 14, 2008 11:19 AM

Another stunning example of corporate suicide in our business.

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