The Hartford Courant is the largest daily newspaper in the U.S. state of Connecticut, and is a 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 and was started by Thomas Green. 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." The New Hampshire Gazette, which started publication in 1756, has a legitimate claim to the title of oldest paper in the nation, and is a bi-weekly, while the Courant has not missed a week since October 29, 1764.
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. 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 Courant won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for inquiring 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 Company, one of the world's largest multimedia companies. Ironically, along the way, the Courant also acquired the Valley Advocate group of "alternative" weeklies started by two disgruntled Courant staff members in 1973.
At its Hartford office, the Courant also sells - amongst other merchandising goods - a beach towel that has the text of the paper's first ever frontpage printed on it.
When two newspapers were published in Hartford, The Courant was editorially Republican and did not endorse a non-Republican for president until Bill Clinton. When the Hartford Times ceased publication, The Courant's editorial page took an independent stance.
While the Courant editorially has recently endorsed Republican presidential candidates, its editorial approach to state government in recent decades has traditionally been liberal and opposed to what it considers short sighted conservatism. Its strong endorsement of former Senator Lowell Weicker was decisive in the 1990 gubernatorial election. It endorsed his Lieutenant Governor Eunice Groark for Governor in 1994. After Republican Governor John G. Rowland announced major development initiatives for downtown Hartford, the Courant endorsed his 1998 and 2002 re-election bids. In 2006 the Courant reverted to form and endorsed Democrat John DeStefano for Governor, but he was defeated soundly by incumbent Governor M. Jodi Rell.
The Courant's long-time law firm, Tyler Cooper & Alcorn, also happened to be the Connecticut Republican Party's law firm. That business relationship with the Republican Party ended when Tyler Cooper lawyers fought aggressively on behalf of The Courant to uncover a police report about an alleged domestic incident at Rowland's Middlebury home.
The Courant is the most recent American newspaper to win the Society for News Design's World's Best Designed newspaper award (won in 2005).
In late June 2006, the Tribune Co. announced that Courant publisher Jack W. Davis Jr. would by replaced by Stephen D. Carver, vice president and general manager of Atlanta, Ga., TV station WATL.
In July 2006 the Courant weighed in on the contentious Connecticut Democratic senate primary by endorsing incumbent Joe Lieberman. The Courant also endorsed his bid in the general election.
In recent years the Courant has offered early retirement and buyout packages to reduce staff as it continues to experience declines in advertising revenue. There have also been layoffs; the Courant announced in June 2008 that it would lay off about 25% of its newsroom staff. Moreover, in September 2008, it would reduce the number of pages in its weekday editions.