Yale Law School

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Revitalizing State News Coverage

Shelley Geballe ’76,the founding President of CT Voices for Children and a lecturer at Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health, took on a new challenge last year in hopes of helping improve coverage of Connecticut state government news. Geballe helped create The Connecticut Mirror, a website that launched in January 2010 with the purpose of informing Connecticut residents about how different policies and decisions will affect life in the state in the coming years.

CTMirror features in-depth reporting, thorough guides to state elected officials, and an ever-growing collection of source documents from different state agencies and outside organizations.

According to Geballe, CTMirror came about because of conversations that she had with students in the Yale Legislative Advocacy Clinic that she co-teaches with Jay Pottenger ’75. It seemed as though state news coverage was degenerating due to layoffs of Capitol reporters, and the idea for a nonprofit news organization was born. Like publications such as the Texas Tribune, CTMirror wants to fill the void in state government news coverage that can be seen in almost every state.

Geballe is pleased with the progress of the site so far. “In less than a year we moved from an idea to a robust organization with funding for an award-winning editor and six experienced reporters, and news posted daily on The Connecticut Mirror.” In addition to these marked strides, CTMirror has hired a former New York Times executive to run the nonprofit (the Connecticut News Project), and has the support of many foundations, including the Knight Foundation, which supports a fellowship for young journalists. Geballe said she is often told that CTMirror has become a “must read” for Connecticut’s policymakers and those who follow state government.

The process of starting and running the site has not been without challenges, however. “A big challenge is figuring out how best to make our content ubiquitous,” said Geballe. “Through syndication agreements with multiple Connecticut newspapers that lack Capitol reporters, we now reach a broader audience than through the website alone, but we still have more to do to expand our reach.” Another challenge that faces CTMirror has been developing a sustainable funding model. Geballe hopes to expand the revenue of the site beyond just multi-year foundational support to include sponsorships, donations, and other revenue sources.

The site has many goals in terms of where it hopes to end up in a few years. Expanding the reporting staff and featuring new beats are just two of these goals.

“We’ll also roll out new features, such as Connecticut Commons, a place on the website for op-eds and moderated online discussions among civic leaders and state residents on some of the pressing topics of the day, and the CT CampusWire, which will link CTMirror with the state’s college newspapers,” Geballe said. Another aim is to expand the e-library of public documents by including submissions of research reports by Connecticut’s universities, businesses, and its nonprofit community.

In addition to her work at Yale, Geballe is now the Distinguished Senior Fellow at CT Voices for Children, a founding member of Yale’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, and co-President of the Connecticut News Project, the nonprofit that launched CTMirror.

-- Madeleine Broder, Yale College ’13
Shelley Gaballe