8th Annual “Stories Behind the Big Stories” Panel Discussion Held Feb. 8 in West Hartford

For the eighth year, the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG) held a panel discussion of top Connecticut journalists describing how they landed major news stories in the state in the past year.

The quick thinking, ethical guidelines, courage and sheer hard work of Connecticut journalists was on display Feb. 8 when CFOG held the “The Stories Behind the Big Stories of 2023” event at the Elmwood Community Center at 1106 New Britain Ave. in West Hartford.

The discussion was moderated by veteran television journalist Leslie Mayes.

The panelists were:

  • Caitlin Burchill, an investigative consumer reporter for NBC Connecticut
  • Alison Cross, a reporter for the Hartford Courant
  • Ginny Monk, the Connecticut Mirror’s children’s issues and housing reporter
  • Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, an investigative reporter for Hearst Connecticut Media
  • Camila Vallejo, a former reporter for Connecticut Public

The journalists discussed the major stories they broke in 2023, including Rabe Thomas’ important series on Bridgeport’s failure to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act and Hearst’s coverage of a scandal involving false tickets issued by the Connecticut State Police. Monk discussed how she gained the trust of a Hartford mother whose young son died by falling out of a window to tell a moving story of the forces that shaped the toddler’s life and death.

Vallejo explained her compelling coverage of a New Haven mother’s eviction – told in English and Spanish – after the tenant complained to her landlord about rats and other housing violations in her apartment. Cross detailed the difficulties she faced when covering several sensitive stories about clashes involving the First Amendment and free speech.

Burchill described how she and videographer/producer Steve Pancione used hidden cameras to capture security lapses in a parking garage at Bradley International Airport.

The event was sponsored by CFOG, a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 by residents of Connecticut interested in promoting open government and the public’s right-to-know. Its programs are carried out by a volunteer board of directors drawn from the news media, academia, the law and government.

The event is designed to help the public understand the resourcefulness and professional tools journalists use every day to uncover the motives and truth behind important stories.