The New Haven Register, a daily metro paper that covers New Haven and its suburbs, has formalized plans to move from its current Sargent Drive office to a still undetermined location in downtown New Haven before the summer of 2014.
In both a physical and ideological shift, the Register has sold its former building to Jordan’s Furniture and will establish a downtown headquarters to facilitate increased community engagement, Matt DeRienzo, Conn. group editor said. Part of the reason for the move is that the New Haven Register no longer prints its own paper in-house and therefore does not require the same amount of space. Register staffers are aiming for a smaller location that is closer to the New Haven Green, DeRienzo said.
The 200 year-old paper has been stationed at its current location off of Interstate 95 since 1981. Before being converted into a newsroom and warehouse, the building was a Gant shirt factory.
“We were originally on Orange Street, so in one sentence, this is a homecoming to the downtown,” DeRienzo said.
In the past, the Register and other papers moved to locations adjacent to the highway in order to facilitate paper distribution, Mark Oppenheimer, director of Yale Journalism Initiative, said.
However, this return into the heart of the city reflects a larger trend in journalism to create more pluralistic community involvement.
“For a long time, The New Haven Register was the poster child of the traditional, somewhat arrogant, print newspaper business — they ignored the web and were not as visible and connected to the community as they should be,” DeRienzo said. “It really is about trust and relationships, and to have relationships we need to be near people, and to have trust, we need to have transparency,” he continued.
In addition, the relocation will place the Register in closer proximity to the stories that it covers. The office’s remote location may incentivize reporters to stay in the newsroom, Oppenheimer said.
DeRienzo noted that five to 10 years ago the Register decided to make community engagement its top priority. New Haven residents will be welcomed for community meetings and public forums in the future, DeRienzo added.
In addition, this downsizing comes in light of the changing economic needs for daily print paper. Since The New Haven Register stopped printing its own paper in-house on March 4, 2012 (it is now sourced to the Hartford Courant location), 200,000 square feet no longer serves the utility it once did.
“They don’t need all the real estate they have out there… They are a smaller organization than they used to be. If they can offload that building and move to smaller digs, they can save a lot of money,” Oppenheimer said.
The Register failed to supply exact numbers of square footage it is aiming to buy since its plans hinge on finding the right building. While it does not have a final location, DeRienzo said that the Register plans to move to the heart of the city, which will allow the reporters to have greater accountability to the residents who will soon be their neighbors.
“When people can walk into your office, when you can run a few blocks over to the center of the city, when you can get there with one bus ride rather than two — it makes a big difference,” Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent said.
Still the solution for the Register may be more complicated than simple relocation. Oppenheimer bemoaned the Register’s website and said that improving their online presence should be the Register’s first priority.
“The principal problem is that it has a terrible web property, you would never use their website if you could help it — it is one of the worst in the business,” Oppenheimer said.
This relocation may also be the start of an entirely new relationship between the New Haven Independent and The New Haven Register since they will be in closer proximity than before. “I applaud what the Register is doing, I think it is great fun for the reporters, it’s going to be good for the news organization and it will be good for downtown,” said Bass.
The New Haven Register was founded in 1812.