Blogs > Fresh Ink

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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Publisher swap

This morning (Monday, Jan. 26) I knew the workday would start with a meeting of the publisher and all of his department heads -- me (the managing editor), the ad director, the controller, the classified ad manager, the pre-press supervisor (where the ads are created) and the circulation director (the department in charge of making sure the paper is thrown under your porch). I also knew that one of the execs from corporate HQ in Pennsylvania would be there, and there was no way of knowing what that meant.
But when I saw Mike O'Sullivan was also in the building, I knew this would be no ordinary meeting.
Sure enough, the corporate exec announced that our publisher, Frank McGivern, would be returning to his previous position as publisher of the Troy Record, and O'Sullivan would be leaving his job as publisher of the Record to return to his previous position as publisher in Saratoga.
In other words, in May 2007 the company swapped the Troy and Saratoga publishers, and today they swapped 'em back.
Don't try to figure it out. Suffice to say that each with be back running the papers in the towns in which they live. I think that's a good thing for the newspapers. For Mike, it's something of a homecoming, because he and his family wasted no time putting down roots in Wilton and Saratoga Springs.
Both publishers have their work cut out for them, given the economy, the national downtown in advertising, the reduction of newspaper readers and the huge debt hanging over the heads of newspaper companies, including this one. None of this is classified information.
The good news is that, as both publishers know, the small but dedicated and plucky staffs at both newspapers will continue to work hard to serve their communities. We're self-motivated in that way. We love the business and take pride in our work.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What's new in Rome?

If you need any additional proof that the world of information is changing before our eyes, check out the pope's You Tube site.
Yes. News, videos and more, from the Vatican. Very cool.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching the inauguration

It takes a special occasion for the newsroom to be not only quiet, but free of wisecracks. Staffers from throughout the building gathered in front of the newsroom TV. What an inspirational, intelligent speaker President Obama is. A fine, strong speech, in content and delivery, and 20 minutes to the second. How moving to see the Mall packed with people of all ages and backgrounds, determined to brave the cold to be present for this historic moment.
I listened not just as a citizen but as a newspaper editor, tuned in for a snippet that would make a good front page headline. Missing from the speech, I think, was a catchphrase. But he had some headline-worthy lines: We are ready to lead once more. Our patchwordk heritage is a strength, not a weakness. The question is not whether government is too big or too small, but whether it works. To nations that deny human rights: We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To leaders who sow conflict: Your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. How far we have traveled. Unity of purpose. Reaffirm our enduring spirit.

Bringing many voices into the newspaper

Received a text message a little while ago from Kristen Dart, the granddaughter of my next-door-neighbors Clarence and Millie Dart. Kristen and Clarence were on a bus from Bolling Air Force Base in D.C. with other Tuskegee Airmen and their guests with a police escort to the inauguration. They'll be in the yellow section, she wrote. I'll be watching for them.

Check out the inauguration part of our Web site and put in your 2 cents.

By the way, good news about reporter Ann Marie French: sore as heck, but no broken bones. (See yesterday's post -- yes, folks, I am posting two days in a row. I WILL learn to blog regularly. Let's see if it is habit forming. It hasn't worked yet for exercise, but maybe it will for blogging.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

One in Cincinnati, one being X-rayed

Today was not quite your typical Monday morning in the newsroom, yet not that unusual, either. Looking at the schedule of today's Martin Luther King activities, Assistant Managing Editor Betsy DeMars and I agreed that a reporter should go to the afternoon events and take the group bus to Skidmore for the film and panel taking place there. That would be an assignment for Andrew Bernstein, one of our three reporters.
As if on cue, the phone rings. It's Andrew. In Cincinnati. He was away for the weekend (a rare weekend when he wasn't working), and is waylaid. Temporarily, I hope, but not in time to count on for the MLK coverage.
Meanwhile, finishing up the Monday morning payroll paperwork, I notice there is no timecard from reporter Ann Marie French, and no answer on her home phone. She picks up her cell phone right away -- while she is having a foot X-rayed following a fall down her basement steps. Won't be in the office at least until Wednesday.
Arrghh! Never mind today's stories, so much for having Ann Marie work on Tuesday's local inauguration coverage. (Copy editor Mareesa Nicosia will be stretching her day, doing local coverage and then changing hats to edit and paginate.)
So one reporter is still on the last leg of his journey home, and one reporter may have leg supported by crutches. The remaining one-third of our reporting staff, Paul Post, will do most of the writing today; I'll be contributing a story about the Dart family in D.C.; the patriarch, Clarence Dart, was a Tuskegee Airman. I also am going to write an editorial for Tuesday's paper. And I'll be doing editing and pagination of pages for the paper, too.
We are never, ever bored in the newsroom.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What will you be doing on Inauguration Day?

I'll be glued to the little newsroom TV at noon Tuesday. I can't remember being more eager to hear what a president had to say on Inauguration Day. I know that every politician makes bigger promises than they can keep, but I want to believe that Obama will inspire the nation -- on Tuesday and beyond. But I will miss David Letterman's Great Moments in Presidential Speeches, with his hilariously pitiful clips of assorted Bushisms. One of my favorites, which was repeated tonight on Letterman's farewell to the feature, was Bush saying about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, as he gestured with the wrong hand.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

No. 1 resolution: No resolutions. (Pssst: Film Forum)

OK, I lied. I've resolved to try to remember to write more frequently to the blog, with the hope that readers will be motivated to comment. So we're off to a strong start: It's still Jan. 1.
Just came home from seeing "Happy-Go-Lucky" at the Saratoga Film Forum. I identified with the main character's generally optimistic view about life and her desire for people to be happy.
I'm happy to have the Film Forum in town. I feel the same way about it that I used to about the Victoria Pool: that it's something of a great secret that more people should take advantage of -- and yet I don't want it to get so crowded that I can't get a seat.
I don't understand why more people, especially young adults, are not regular users of the Film Forum. They show the top-notch films that rarely make it to the mainstream theater; maybe Albany's Spectrum. Admission if four bucks for members, and popcorn and soda are a buck apiece. Beat that.