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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, January 31, 2011

Mika Brzezinksi and My Dad -- a perfect afternoon

Saturday afternoon was a win-win for me.

I was among the 300-plus people lucky enough to be charmed in person by Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” at the Soroptimist Cabin Fever luncheon at the Saratoga Springs Holiday Inn. She was entertaining and impressive. And nice! Even before being introduced, as the event was just getting under way, she unexpectedly and spontaneously stood on a chair and auctioned off a signed poster of herself and a signed book, which went for $500 and $200 respectively, all going to the day’s fundraiser. By the way, she took a run through Saratoga Springs Saturday morning, and announced to the audience that she plans to come back with her family.

Someone who was at the event e-mailed me unhappy that the caption with the photo from the event that The Saratogian published Sunday made mention of her spilling caviar on the crotch of a world leader as a kid. That was my caption, in which I also tried to capture the more serious gist of her talk. But a lot of it consisted of entertaining stories growing up as the daughter of a national security adviser and a sculptor. (Hey, I didn’t mention her mom’s road kill meal in the caption.)

One of the especially interesting aspects of “Morning Joe” is the way news is discussed intelligently but not “objectively” in the traditional news sense. You know who’s a Democrat, a Republican, a Conservative, and it’s OK. In fact, it’s good. They aren’t pretending to be objective. And they are civil in their give and take.

The other reason this was a “win” for me was that my dad, Jerry Shrager, a big Mika fan, was able to attend the luncheon. He got a book (addressed, at his request, to “Barbara’s Dad”) and a hug. If I can figure out how to do this, I will attach the picture to this blog entry!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Internships are priceless: Read on for becoming one at The Saratogian

I’m a huge proponent of internships, and we’re proud to offer them at The Saratogian. So if you or someone you know might be an intern candidate, stick with the posting to the end.

As an undergrad at SUNY Binghamton, as soon as I realized I was hooked on journalism, I hooked up with the managing editor at the morning paper in Binghamton for an internship.
I interned at the Sun-Bulletin twice, actually.

The first time was during a semester, for credit. Then I interned full-time during the summer after receiving my political science degree and before embarking on my master’s in journalism at Ohio State University. I received a stipend that maybe covered my one-quarter share of an apartment, but the experience: priceless. One of my big stories was about the then-new Legionnaires' Disease. I also remember an accident where five people were killed. I remember crying as I worked on the obituary of a child. I remember the managing editor making a show of deep-sixing a resume from an applicant who'd spelled Binghamton with a P between the m and t. I remember the banter in the newsroom, where I felt very much at home.

Now, during the hiring process, when I sort through the dozens of resumes of would-be members of The Saratogian newsroom, I always look at whether the applicant interned somewhere, anywhere, during high school and especially college.

Some schools require internships and help place you; in those cases, it’s important for me to find out how the applicant performed in the internship. It’s even more impressive when they get an internship on their own; it tells me they are hungry for the experience.

Either way, I tend to check with the internship supervisors. Did the intern show promise? Were they reliable? Did they show initiative? Were they eager and quick learners? Did they “get it”? And if the internship wasn’t in journalism, did they demonstrate the potential necessary for a place in a newsroom?

Besides looking for applicants who have been interns, The Saratogian offers a variety of internships for high school and college students.

We’re always looking for interested, promising students who’d like exposure to the world of local media.

If you’ve gotten this far in the blog, help me to spread the word. The Saratogian offers a variety of internships to high school and college students. They can be specialized internships or can be designed to offer a sampling of experiences.

All Saratogian internships are unpaid and must be for school credit, and the school must provide a certificate of liability insurance. Internships are limited and competitive, and may be for all or part of a semester or season. We’re flexible and willing to work with the student and the school. We’ve had great success with students from Saratoga Springs High School, Schuylerville High School, Skidmore College, SUNY Plattsburgh, University at Albany and other high schools and colleges.

Here are some of our basic internships:

Online Journalism: Work with the online editor to enhance the media company’s multiple websites and use of social media. This could include the creation and uploading of video. Knowledge of HTML is not necessary. Contact Online Editor Emily Donohue at or 518.583.8729 ext. 213.

News Reporting: Be part of the newsroom reporting team, writing stories in the newsroom and reporting on stories in the field. Applicants must be good writers interested in learning more about news reporting and writing on tight deadlines. Contact Managing Editor Barbara Lombardo at or 518.583.8711.

Magazine Internship: Learn what it takes to create a monthly magazine in print and online. Internship could include planning, editing, writing, page design and proofreading. Contact Assistant Managing Editor Betsy DeMars at or 518.583.8729 ext. 335.

Sports Internship: Be a part of The Saratogian’s sports department and learn what it takes to produce a print and online sports section. Contact Sports Editor Nicole Russo at or 518.583.8729. ext. 334.

Advertising Department: Learn what’s involved in consultative sales in a multi-media advertising environment, including print, online and video. Also, learn how the advertising department interacts with other departments, including the newsroom. Contact Advertising Director Lauren Rose at or 518.583.8707.

Graphic Arts Department: Learn what it takes to create advertisements, promotions and news graphics under deadline pressure for a print and online media company. Contact Pre-Press Manager Christopher Brown at or 518.583.8733.

Photography: Learn what it takes to be a photojournalist taking still pictures and video on deadline for online and print publication. Contact Photo Supervisor Erica Miller at or 518.583.8729 ext. 223.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arizona shooting sends shockwaves nationwide

It is 11 p.m. Saturday. I have CNN on the TV next to the computer. My prayers are with the victims and their families and friends in the horrific shooting at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s “Congress on Your Corner” visit in Tucson. I hope there will be no additional deaths.

Accessibility is a given for our politicians. During her tenure as the representative for this sprawling 20th congressional district, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was diligent about meeting with all sorts of people. “Congress on Your Corner” is a great way to talk with and listen to constituents, and no doubt contributed to her popularity with voters. Her successor, Scott Murphy, held them as well.

Today, this district’s brand new congressman, Chris Gibson, is with his family in the D.C. area, at a retreat with new House members. His office released a statement expressing sadness and extending their thoughts and prayers.

What else must Gibson and his wife – and every other politician -- be thinking? Will today’s shooting put a chill on informal gatherings? I hope not. What do you think?

Perhaps nothing can stop a crazy person. But crazy talk by supposedly sane people – hateful political verbal violence – must not be condoned. How do you know when you’ve gone to far? After the shooting, Sarah Palin pulled off a website a graphic showing gun crosshairs at political targets in the country, including Gabrielle Giffords’ district, with the heading “We’ve diagnosed the problem …. Help us prescribe the solution.”

Of course Palin didn’t mean people should be shot. She had nothing to do with the shooting. But it’s an example of the kind of vitriol that can encourage some nut to take literally.

“Congress on Your Corner” has become such a commonplace event, the media stifle a yawn when a longtime congress member announces yet another get-together at the local grocery store. But the truth is, they are important exercises in democracy, good for both the politicians and the people. They must continue, and they will – but the cloud of today’s mass murders will hover.

CNN is reporting optimism about Giffords’ chance of survival. My fingers are crossed. Saratoga Springs High School grad Pia Carusone, Giffords’ chief of staff, was en route to Tucson this evening from Washington D.C., to be with her boss as she fights for her life, and to be with her colleagues – one of whom is among the dead in this terrible tragedy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

MSNBC Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski coming to Saratoga Springs

My husband turned me on to Mika Brzezinski, the self-described sidekick on "Morning Joe," MSNBC's relaxed roundtable of the news of the day, on channel 49 between 6 and 9 a.m. She's smart, lively, personable, sassy and funny.
So I was glad when she was booked at the speaker for the Jan. 29 Cabin Fever Luncheon, a major fund-raiser of Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, the professional women's service organization of which I am a longtime member. We were lucky to get her.
And when someone on the Cabin Fever committee called to ask me who from The Saratogian could interview her, I said, "Me."
Mika managed to squeeze in about 10 minutes via cell phone while she was in a car, graciously continuing to chat as she had arrived at her destination. We covered a lot of ground in a short time, and her answers were frank and thoughtful. She's someone who would be fun to talk to not so much on the fly, if she ever slows down long enough.
Well, lucky for us, she'll be speaking and answering questions at the luncheon, at noon Jan. 29 at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs. Here's a bald-faced plug: Go to for the order form.
To find out what Mika and I talked about, check out The Saratogian in a couple of weeks.