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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.


Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Whenever I hear or read about someone moaning over a so-called “slow news day” I’m reminded of something a reporter once told me many years ago. This fellow –whose name eludes me –said there are no slow news days, only slow news people. Given the recent track record of The Saratogian, there seems to be a whole bunch of these folk hunkered down for the winter on Lake Avenue.

Look, it’s not the publics' job to bring your reporters news. It’s your reporters' job to go out to the public and get it. There’s no easier place to do this than Saratoga Springs, a municipality covered by no less than four daily, two weekly and a host of other news publications. In fact, with the stories that regularly appear in all the other papers but don’t seem to make The Saratogian, your reporters should have their hands full just playing catch-up ball.

You want your own news story? Well, march down to city hall and dig one up. There are plenty beneath that roof, let me tell you; ones that never seem to make it to press thanks to the flotsam and jetsam of the news week. Still can’t find one? Then stomp down Broadway; look into the store fronts and down the back allies; go into a bar for a drink and strike up a conversation with the barkeep. You’ll find your news story and won’t have the humiliation of some hack delivering it to you on a plate, like your some anemic zoo animal.

But the real problem right now isn’t getting the news; it’s delivering it to the tattered remains of your readership. Many disgruntled readers –including myself –can't justify paying 50 cents for your paper and instead read it online. Today this is almost impossible thanks to the crawling nature of The Saratogian site. It takes half a century to load and the damn thing is so difficult to navigate, there’s often no since in waiting around for it to come up.

You don’t need to take my word for it. Hear it from a fellow Spa City blogger going by the moniker Ben Arnold: “FYI, the cold weather has provided me with a handy (and healthy!) solution to the Saratogian's glacier-like web site speed: Click on the Saratogian...walk outside and turn on your car...perform 25 jumping-jacks...come inside, feed the dog...check the TU, the Post Star and the Gazette...wait five minutes and....Voila!”

Oh yeah. That’s right. You “don't intend to engage in lengthy defenses with any single, anonymous, would-be pen pal.” It’s too bad. You could learn a thing or two even at this late stage in your career.


January 4, 2008 at 9:33 AM 

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