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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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Saratogian bids farewell to Jim Kinney

The newsroom is losing one of its go-to guys.
After 10 years covering the county, cops, crime and just about anything else that needed to be covered, Jim Kinney is wrapping up his reporting career at The Saratogian.
He’s going to the big leagues — a metro paper. After Feb. 29, he’ll be reporting for The Republican in Springfield, Mass., with circulations of about 85,000 daily and 125,000 on Sun¬day.
People come and go at The Saratogian. That’s the nature of a small newspaper. A lot of peo¬ple are often starting their career right out of school. Many move on to new locations, bigger markets and fatter paychecks.
Kinney stayed longer than most, long enough for him to be the guy who knows who’s who and what’s what — an invaluable resource in a newsroom where reporters turn over faster than the flapjacks at Compton’s.
And in a business where char¬acters come with the territory, his leaving is like losing a major player in a long-running sitcom.
“Jim Kinney here!” he’ll inform callers.
Jim Kinney everywhere, really.
“Send Kinney” may have been the phrase uttered most often by editors in the newsroom since 1998, early in the morning, in the middle of the day, late at night, and on weekends.
Fires. Accidents. Perp walks. Police calls. Funerals. Press con¬ferences. Not to mention county meetings about sewer, water, budgets, bridges, laws, farms, traffic, garbage, airports, ani¬mals, inmates, cell towers, fire towers, elections, construction. You’d need a front-end loader to lift his clip file.
Kinney is nothing if not prolific.
But he will be missed not just because he produces mountains of copy, but because he’s done it with a cheerful, positive, can-do attitude, hour after hour, day after day. He’s a newsman, through and through.
Talk about timing: I just fin¬ished typing that last sentence, it’s after 8:30 p.m. Thursday, and Kinney, who started his day cov¬ering a breakfast speech by the county administrator to the chamber of commerce, just walked in.
“Hey, there’s a firetruck up on Nelson, you hear anything about it?”
Uh …
“I’ll find out,” he said, reaching for his phone.
“Jim Kinney here. Why’s that firetruck on Nelson? A trans¬former fire? Thanks.”
Think they’ll have that kind of excitement in Springfield?
Springfield is a city on the banks of the Connecticut River, trying to redevelop the riverfront as well as the city core while dealing with the crime and relat¬ed issues of places more urban than Saratoga. A place Kinney will surely get his teeth into.
What about fun?
Well, there’s the Basketball Hall of Fame, AHL hockey, a symphony, theater, and muse¬ums of art, history and science. Not to mention the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. How does that stack up against the Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, Albany River Rats, Philadelphia Orchestra, Home Made Theater and the Yaddo Rose Garden?
Kinney, who’ll also be moving closer to family, seems ready to take the transition in stride.
What will you do for sports, I asked him.
“Every place has cable,” shrugged the Penn State grad. “And it’s about the same trip to State College for football.”

Barbara Lombardo is manag¬ing editor of The Saratogian. Her column is in the print edition of The Saratogian on Saturdays.


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