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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, December 28, 2007

News Comes from You

Got news?
A couple of years ago I attended a journalism seminar at which the keynote speaker was someone involved in a nationwide study of newspaper readership. One of the many things she said that stuck with me was, "Most days are slow news days."
It's true.
Most days, we're all incredibly busy with whatever it is that occupies our lives. We're doing ordinary, which is not to say unimportant or uninteresting, things.
The challenge in the media is to find stories that are newsworthy -- stories that are compelling, that will mean something to the reader, that will add to their understanding of the community or the world, that will enable them to take action.
This time of the year is notorious for being "slow" news days. It's also a slower time for advertising, which means additional space for the newsroom to fill. So we look for "enterprise stories," picking topics and offering stories with some depth and perspective. Accomplishing this is no small feat at a small paper, but it's a responsibility we at The Saratogian take seriously.
As with any news outlet, we depend on people in the community for news tips and story ideas. We appreciate your suggestions. We even get leads from the "Sound Off" call-in column. Some ideas pan out, some don't, but we want to hear from you.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"Glad to be Alive" works for me

Put aside newspaper and other work-related issues to spend a few moments on being a member of the "sandwich generation" -- adults who have both children and parents who, to some degree or another, need care and attention.
We celebrated my father's 78th birthday on Thursday with a pizza party at an unanticipated location: children and grandchildren gathered in the "Sunshine Room" of the rehab center where my mother is trying to learn to get along with a broken ankle.
The best present was for me: When I picked him up at his apartment and he asked me to guess what was the best thing about it being his birthday, and I hopefully (and correctly) took a shot. "You're alive."
Yes, he said, I'm glad to be alive.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stand up and be counted

A few years ago we had a reporter who discovered after a while on the job that while she enjoyed writing, she didn't enjoy writing controversial stories and didn't like the way she could never really be off duty. She wasn't comfortable covering news where she lived. She changed her line of work and still lives in town.

I could empathize with her reason for leaving the news business. We work long and crazy hours. Our work is out there for anyone to see and critique. You have to be willing to make people mad or sad. And when you work and live in the same relatively small town, you can't do it semi-anonymously. There's no escaping people who have something to say, good or bad. Usually, I don't mind. When I do talk with someone, though, I like to know who I'm talking to.

That's why I'm not exactly leaping into the world of blogging.

Would you answer your telephone and then get into a conversation with someone who not only was a stranger, but who had no intention of identifying himself? If you received an anonymous letter in the old-fashioned U.S. mail, would you write back?

As the managing editor of The Saratogian, I hope to use this space to converse with you. I like talking about the news business and explaining how and why things work. But I don't intend to engage in lengthy defenses with any single, anonymous, would-be pen pal.

Friday, December 7, 2007

See Barb blog. Blog, Barb, blog.

There's a first time for everything. And thanks to Web Editor Stephen Shoemaker and sports paginator Adam Samrov, here we are.
Adam informed me that editors at other newspapers have blogs that are bor-ing. So the pressure is on.
I'm not posting so much to entertain as to open a dialog with you about, well, whatever it is about the newspaper and the newspaper business that you'd like to talk about.
We just introduced our new Saratogian Web site and I insisted on having a tab for "blogs" -- so I figured there had better be something besides Stan Hudy's Diary of a Mad Sportswriter. Not that Stan isn't enough on his on. Still, there will be more, I promise.
For now, let's start with this little hello and see where it goes.