City of New Haven’s Perception Task Force works to get feel-good stories in the news

New Haven’s recently formed Perception Task Force aims to get positive coverage of the city in the New Haven Register and other news outlets. The mayor’s spokesman is assigned to “develop a stable of positive City focused stories to funnel to media to discourage sensational crime stories.”

City officials insist crime is down, but say that’s not reflected in news stories.
“There is an internal bias in a downsized media to do one big negative story every Monday,” a task force member tells the New Haven Independent.

Mayor Toni Harp and others met with New Haven Register publisher Kevin Corrado “to get his buy-in that the perception of the city is important” and “how they write stories about the city is important.” The Register’s coverage of the the city, says Independent editor Paul Bass, “leans toward the boosterish in covering civic/business leaders while way overplaying crime and freaking out people.”

The Independent reports:

In an email, Corrado declined to comment on the specific items discussed at the meeting. “We are always open to feedback and discussion from officials and other residents,” he wrote. “It helps inform our news coverage of New Haven and other communities.”

Records of a later task force meeting on Sept. 3 indicated that media coverage is “steady and positive.” There are “no glaring red flags.”

Rich Scinto, who covered crime for the Register from the end of 2012 until September of this year, says “the entire city desk staff was in my opinion extremely fair with its coverage of the city” and “the Register has and continues to cover crime fairly and doesn’t attempt to sensationalize it.”

He adds: “To the New Haven Perception Study Task Force I say the perception problem of New Haven is incredibly important and I hope the group has luck, but you don’t have to go seeking the ‘buy-in’ of the paper; it’s already there.”

* Perception task force targets city’s reputation (