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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, March 26, 2008

Too much information already

At what point should we as citizens and those of in the media say "enough already" when it comes to revealing the past indiscretions of public figures?
Do you care if the governor used cocaine and pot when he was in his 20s?
Do you care about the marital infidelities of public officials?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How long will the honeymoon last?

It's hard not to feel good about the potential for David Paterson as the new governor of New York. As far as first impressions go, he is smart, quick on his feet, firm, seems genuine and has a disarming sense of humor.
"He's going to need a good sense of humor," Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno told a reporter on Paterson's swearing-in day.
Bruno also had many public words of praise for Paterson, with whom he dealt in the Senate. Of course anything would have to be an improvement over the terrible relationship between Bruno and Spitzer.
But today government gets back to work and Gov. Paterson starts his new job. Don't be disappointed if his honeymoon with the Legislature is short-lived.
Bruno and Paterson have different political philosophies, constituents and priorities. So how long do you think the new nice-nice lasts. What time is it?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sunday comics arriving in a new format

After a week of news focus¬ing on the political and personal tur¬moil of soon-to-be-former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, it’s time to turn the page, to the funny pages.
Let’s talk about the Sunday comics.
Being in charge of the news content of a daily newspaper is an awesome responsibility. Being in charge of the comics is just, well, awesome. I sup¬pose I feel that way because the color comics have always been one of my Sunday morn¬ing pleasures.
As a kid in Brooklyn, I pored over the Daily News, growing up with the gang in Gasoline Alley, enamored by Dondi, and enthralled by Brenda Starr. My admiration for this redheaded bombshell may have sublimi¬nally sowed the seeds for a career in journalism and some awful dye jobs. Decades later I reluctantly gave Brenda the pink slip in this publication. I check her out occasionally in out-of-area papers and she hasn’t changed a bit.
Things change, though, and starting March 16 there will be a change in The Saratogian’s Sunday comics: It will be pub¬lished in four pages instead of six, with almost all the features remaining intact.
The change is a cost-cutting measure, plain and simple. Eliminating a single two-sided color-printed sheet once a week reduces spending on paper and ink. The savings add up in a painless way as news¬papers everywhere seek ways to economize without sacrific¬ing the product or people.
But how can six pages be squeezed into four, without risking readability?
For starters, the kid-oriented science feature, “You Can by Beakman and Jax,” is moving from the Sunday comics to the Saturday Life section. That’s why it’s here today. It seems like a good fit, since we also run the “minipage” in this sec¬tion each Saturday, and kids have the whole weekend to do the experiments.
All but three of the remain¬ing comics fit into the revised format that you’ll find tomor¬row.
Almost every Sunday comic includes a “filler,” a rectangle with the name of the comic, to use if needed. By eliminating the fillers in the horizontal strips, a vertical comic could be added to the page.
Once upon a time, all multi¬ple-panel comics contained the same number and size squares, week after week.
The retired Bill Waterson broke that pattern with his wonderful Calvin & Hobbes. Now it’s hard to find strips that can consistently run vertically. Three that work are Dilbert, The Lockhorns, and Non Sequitor.
I know that when it comes to newspaper comic enthusiasts, messing with the Sunday is section is no laughing matter. So, take a look and let me know if there’s a strip you miss and what you’d rather see pulled.
I was extremely tempted to retire The Family Circus. Then I worried you’d make tracks all over the paper looking for it. And if you asked who cut it, I’d have to say, “Not me.”

Barbara Lombardo is man¬aging editor of The Sarato¬gian. Her column is published Saturdays. Tell her about the Sunday comics, or anything else about The Saratogian, via e-mail at blombardo@sarato¬ or by calling 583-8711.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kids Write the Darndest Things

I had the pleasure the other morning of speaking with the fourth- and fifth-graders at Lake Avenue Elementary School who come to school an hour early every Monday to put out a newspaper. One thing they learned: Criticism sometimes crops up in the most unexpected places.
A "What's Hot and What's Not" feature prompted a parent to complain to the principal that it inadvertently encouraged students to judge one another by the brand names of their clothing.
The next edition included a letter to the editor from the principal mentioning the parent's comment, describing the pros of wearing uniforms, and asking for reader thoughts about that suggestion.
The editor then responded about why she thought uniforms were not a good idea and nothing that "an article that stirs up a lot of discussion really helps a paper get noticed."
That's true for a daily community newspaper as well. Although "getting noticed" is not the primary goal, last month's publication of city salaries stirred up a lot of discussion. Coming up: School salaries. We have Freedom of Information requests filed with several local districts.