The Hartford Courant, the Connecticut newspaper that has been in print since 1764, when it chronicled the locals’ dissatisfaction with British rule, is the latest daily that will try to cover the news without a newsroom.
Tribune Publishing, the company that owns the paper, told employees on Friday that it would “close our Broad Street office, with no plan to find us a new one,” the Hartford Courant Guild, which represents editorial employees, said in a Twitter post.
Andrew Julien, the Courant’s publisher and editor in chief, said in an email to staff members that the closing of the physical newsroom was “a decision about real estate needs amid a difficult and challenging time on both the public health and economic fronts.”
Journalists will continue to do their work remotely, he added.
“It won’t change the essence of what we do: Delivering the high-impact journalism readers have come to expect from the Courant and crafting creative solutions that meet the needs of our advertising partners,” Mr. Julien wrote.
Tribune said in a statement that the newsroom would close on Dec. 27.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office at the Hartford Courant for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” the statement said.
It continued: “As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices. We will keep employees informed of decisions as they are made.”
Tribune Publishing, which is part-owned by the hedge firm Alden Global Capital, has shuttered a number of its newspapers’ offices over the last few months, with the great majority of its employees working remotely as the death toll associated with the coronavirus pandemic continues to climb.
In August, the company closed the Lower Manhattan offices of The New York Daily News, which was once the largest circulation newspaper in the country. It also shut down the newsrooms of The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.; The Orlando Sentinel; The Carroll County Times in Westminster, Md.; and The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. A Chicago Tribune office for suburban publications in Aurora, Ill., was also closed.
Alex Putterman, a Hartford Courant reporter and member of the guild, said that staff members were told on Friday that they would have to pick up their belongings before the office shut down for good. He said the staff had been working remotely since March, when the pandemic first took hold in the United States in the early months of the year.
“It really hit hard,” he said in an interview. “We’ve been in that office for decades. We all value having the physical space, we value each other’s company. We had all been hoping we’d be able to return there after the pandemic and this is a big blow.”
“For all we know at this moment,” he continued, “the plan is for us to be remote forever.”