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The Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant is Connecticut's largest daily newspaper, and the only morning newspaper for most of the state north of New Haven and east of Waterbury. Its headquarters on Broad Street are a short walk from the state capitol, and it reports regional news with a chain of bureaus in smaller cities and a series of local editions.

The Connecticut Courant began as a weekly on October 29, 1764. The word "courant" was a popular name for English-language newspapers, borrowed from the Dutch. The daily Hartford Courant traces its existence back to the weekly, thereby claiming the title "America's oldest continuously published newspaper" and adopting as its slogan, "Older than the nation." (Other papers claim to be the "oldest daily" or don't claim "continuous" publication.) One of its most famous editors, Charles Dudley Warner, was a widely-read author and collaborated with his Hartford neighbor, Mark Twain.

For many years, it was possible to commend the Courant for being the nation's oldest independently-owned newspaper. The Hartford Times, its greatest competitor, failed in the 1970s even after being taken over by the otherwise successful Gannett chain.

It also was possible for 75 years to make fun of the Courant as "the nation's oldest newspaper that never won a Pulitzer [1] Prize."

Both of those eras are over.

The Courant was purchased in 1979 by Times Mirror (the Los Angeles Times parent company). The first years of out-of-town ownership were described by a former Courant reporter in a book titled Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper. [1] One criticism was that the new owners were more interested in awards, and less interested in traditional Courant devotion to exhaustive (or exhausting) coverage of local news.

The new Courant won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for digging into problems with the Hubble space telescope (a Connecticut company was involved in the construction), and it won a 1999 Pulitzer Prize in the Breaking News category for coverage of a 1998 murder-suicide that took five lives at Connecticut Lottery headquarters.

In 2000, Times Mirror (and the Courant) became part of the Tribune Corporation, one of the world's largest media empires. Ironically, along the way the Courant also acquired the Valley Advocate group of "alternative" weeklies started by two disgruntled Courant staff members in 1973.

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