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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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Idiots ruined your right to comment on Saratoga Springs fatal hit-and-run

On Friday, The Saratogian removed all the comments on the story about the fatal St. Patrick's night hit-and-run and blocked any more comments from being entered.
A few heartless jerks whose repeated comments were over the line of civil discourse. Freedom of speech is a Constitutional guarantee from government intervention in the working of the press. It does not require that every monkey who can type be given a soapbox through their local media company. (Not sure why I'm picking on monkeys.)
We do our best at The Saratogian to keep up with the reported abuse, which come as e-mail alerts. But it was too much to keep up with the unreasonable, abusive nastiness that had to be removed, one stupid comment at a time.
So the privilege is gone.
I appreciate the frustration of those of you who have something constructive to say. Not so much for people like who responded to the removal of the comments with the admonition to "open up you d-bags" and "you suck." Thanks. Your opinion means a lot to me. Not.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Talk to us about national health reform ... and the Saratoga Springs skate park

Every story, whatever its origins, raises at least one question in a reader's mind: What does it mean to me?
That's a big question as it relates to the new health care bill -- and one that we at The Saratogian intend to ask U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy in a conference call Thursday morning to help us formulate an editorial position.
If you have questions you'd like us to ask or comments you'd like to share, post them below.
Same goes for stories that you'd like us to pursue. A comment on my previous post about the skate park in the East Side Recreation Field in Saratoga Springs led to a front-page story in this morning's paper as well as online. After the online publication of the story, the number of people who turned to a save the skate park Facebook page doubled.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saratoga Springs without racing? NYRA insists it is not crying wolf

The issue of whether thoroughbred horse racing is in jeopardy was the topic of this morning's Capitol Pressroom, Susan Arbetter's live radio show. Co-host for the day was Jay Gallagher, the well-respected Gannett News Service journalist, and the guests were Bennett Liebman, who has extensive background from both the inside and outside of New York racing from a legal perspective. Susan called on me to talk about the issue from a Saratoga perspective. You can listen to the podcast at

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tennis or soda, I'll serve myself

I broke into a sweat at tennis last Monday night — before stepping onto the court. My doubles partner went home sick, leaving three of us — two women who play tennis fast, hard and smart, and me.
They suggested Canadian doubles: You play two against one for three games, and then rotate, taking turns being on one side of the court by yourself. Gulp. I’ll tell you a not-very-well-kept secret: I’m not adept at doubles, let alone singles, American, Canadian, or Slovenian.
Sure, I said, mopping my brow.
I bring three strengths to this league: I more often than not show up on time (with seconds to spare), have a positive attitude and deliver the Lob of Death.
My serves and returns are so high, so weak and so slow that occasionally they actually win a point for my side. The opposing player swings and misses, like a batter swinging at a knuckleball. Sometimes the bounce is so high, the receiving player goes back-back-back until she slams backwards into the back wall. Usually, though, my opponent can run out to the water fountain, check her Blackberry, re-tie her tennis shoes and still smash my poor excuse for a serve right back at, and by, me.
That’s OK. They’re a friendly group of women who encourage my weak, weekly stab at sports.
They are gently forcing me to admit I’m not getting any younger. That’s why today you see a new picture of me here and on my blog, Fresh Ink, at The old "head shot" as we call them in the news biz, was about to celebrate its sixth birthday. Time for a change.
So when I showed up earlier this week with newly cut hair and a freshly powdered nose, photographer Erica Miller took the challenge. I was willing to let her Photoshop an extra eye if she could remove an extra chin. She did better than that, sitting me on the stoop of The Saratogian’s corner entrance and demonstrating the trick of shooting from above, so that all chins are tucked safely out of sight. All things considered, she made me look good, as everyone in the newsroom usually does.
But it’s not enough to look good. We need to feel good. And to feel good, we need to be healthy.
Yet the governor’s proposed soda tax is making me nauseous.
I grew up on Pepsi and have the cavities to prove it. Soda was the standard drink at every dinner.
Nowadays we supposedly know better. Yet we’ve become a nation of obese people, diabetes is becoming more prevalent, and there’s a frighteningly cavalier attitude about fat kids.
The governor weighs the problem and comes up with a way to lighten New Yorkers: take more money out of their pocket. The state health commissioner on Friday urged the Legislature "to adopt a penny per ounce tax on non-diet sodas and other sugary beverages and challenge the beverage industry to stop unethical and predatory advertising and marketing of high-calorie sugary beverages to New York’s children, especially in low-income and minority communities."
Try this instead: Lower the price on healthy food.
And send those kids outside to school me on the tennis court. I could use the lesson.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Come talk sports with The Saratogian

When it comes to covering local sports, our goal at The Saratogian is to aim for a homerun. A hole in one. A slam dunk. A perfect 300 game. A perfect 10. A hat trick. A touchdown. A knockout. A pin. We want to hit the wire first.

You get the idea.

The Saratogian is built on a foundation of local news, and at its core is local sports. What does that mean to you? Your interests are wide and varied. We want to hear from you about how we’re doing and how we can do better — and to talk about how we can work together to showcase local sports in print and online.

We’ve booked a meeting room at the Gideon Putnam for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, and you’re invited.

This informal community forum is an opportunity to meet Sports Editor Andrew Bernstein and the rest of the sports staff, along with Publisher Mike O’Sullivan (a local sports fanatic), me and others. We’ll introduce ourselves and let you know what’s new with The Saratogian, in print and online, along with its weekly products, Ballston Spa Life, WG Life and the Community News.

Most important, we want to hear from you. Anything concerning sports is fair game. You might be a coach, a volunteer, a parent, a player, a plain old sports fan. You might be interested in high school, youth sports, outdoor activities, college … you name it.

All you have to do is RSVP so we know how many cookies to order. Call 583-8702 or click here to RSVP.

Many of you communicate us via e-mail and telephone and comments on stories and blogs. All that’s fine. But face-to-face time hasn’t gone out of style.

As a small way of saying thanks, we will draw the name of a participant that evening to win a free ad in The Saratogian for the non-profit organization of their choice.

I hope you’ll make the time to join us. Help us hit the bull’s eye.