Should Connecticut try to prevent the Tribune Co. — publishers of the Hartford Courant, the New Haven and Hartford Advocate, Fairfield County Weekly newspapers and owners of WTIC-TV and WTXX-TV from running advertisements for prostitution?

That is the view of retired police officer and Waterbury State Rep. Jeffrey Berger (D-73), who is pushing for legislation to make publishers criminally liable if an advertisement leads to an encounter with an underage prostitute.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who helped pressure the classified advertising website Craigslist into dropping prostitution ads, supported Berger at a March 19 news conference, though no other state lawmakers attended.

Hartford Courant Publisher Richard Graziano would not respond to reporters’ phone calls about the ads, but a Courant spokesperson told the CTMirror.com news site that such a law “is problematic due to concerns of constitutionality, enforcement and the inability of newspaper publishers to comply.”

We’re not aware of any other Connecticut newspapers running such ads, but we agree that the Constitution does allow Tribune, one of the largest media companies in the U.S., to profit by pimping mostly young and sometimes underage girls and boys. And profit they do. In a further abuse, these service-providers are in effect subsidizing other advertisers as the per-inch cost for advertising by “sex industry workers” (as many Tribune journalists like to call them) is higher than for other publication advertising. 

What amazes us is why the journalists and other employees of the Advocate and Courant can accept being compensated by this income and hide behind constitutional and administrative arguments.

What is their personal responsibility for enabling this corporate policy?

 Connecticut has an estimated 101,800 women-owned companies, employing 94,400 and attributing to roughly $16 billion according to the American Express OPEN “State of Women-Owned Businesses Report,” a study analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

 

Similar to the first report released this time last year, the unique analysis, reported by industry, revenue and employment size at the national, state and top 25 metropolitan levels, shares a new and nuanced investigation into the growth trends among the 8.3 million women-owned enterprises over the past 15 years. 

 

Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 54 percent, to 8.3 million since 1997. Connecticut ranks No. 30 nationally (at 40.6 percent) in growth of number of firms over the past 15 years and 16th (77.2 percent) in growth of firm revenue between 1997 and 2012. 

 

Over the same period, revenues generated by female-owned businesses in Connecticut grew by more than 77 percent, from $9.2 billion to $16.4 billion.

 

“Even as women-owned firms continue to proliferate at rates exceeding the national average, enterprises at the $250,000 to $499,999 revenue mark are at a turning point in their development,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “In order to further advance and grow these businesses, new management tools must be implemented.”

 

The full report may be viewed at OPENForum.com/womensbusinessreport.