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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.

Friday, March 16, 2012

See for yourself what goes on in the newsroom

A newsroom has its daily routines, yet it is never the same two days in a row.
But don’t take my word for it. Come on in and see for yourself.
You are welcome to experience — and participate in — our late afternoon news budget meetings and join a small tour of our cozy newsroom. If you’re interested, just email me at to schedule a visit.
Tuesday evening, a group of young Boy Scouts with their parents and den leader in tow were the latest local residents to take a peek at the inner workings of The Saratogian newsroom.

Reporter Michael Cignoli told them he was heading out to the Saratoga Springs school board meeting, where buying seven new buses would be discussed. He would have less than an hour to write the story for the print deadline. He had already written about the local gliding club wanting access to Saratoga County Airport. And for a fun item for his blog, Cignoli asked Saratoga County officials to fill out the NCAA March Madness brackets and discovered it was a first for Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville.
Sportswriter James Sherrill showed them a video he’d shot, edited and uploaded of the Saratoga Springs High School ice hockey team. Sportswriters don’t just write anymore.
Sports copy editor Matthew Donato asked the visitors to help choose the “1,000 words” picture that appears daily on the second page of the sports section. You know, one picture is worth 1,000 words. Should Donato select the Associated Press picture from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska or one about Steeplechase horses?
“The dogs,” one Scout suggested as they reviewed the choices. “You have horses all the time.”
The dogs photo it was, on page 2B Wednesday.
I chatted with the group about the role of their hometown newspaper — online and in print — and how identifying issues and telling local stories are community efforts. We talked a bit about their experiences appearing in print. I also showed them metal plates that go on the printing press and how red, yellow, blue and black combine to create all the color images that are published.
News Editor Paul Tackett showed the shell of the front page of Wednesday’s Saratogian on his computer. By 6:30 p.m. he had a story about revitalizing South Broadway on one side of the page, and on the other a story about a theft that may have its roots in a gambling addiction. Tackett was awaiting the centerpiece story about a program helping veterans reintegrate in their home and community.
When the visitors first arrived, gathering around Superhorse in The Saratogian lobby, a handful of editors were clustered in Tackett’s corner for the evening “news budget” meeting, making decisions about the top stories of the day. Typical questions include: Which stories are already online, and which will need updating? Which stories will appear on the front page of the print edition — and will they go “over the fold” so you can see them in the vending boxes? Which stories have video? Did we save room to promote the online chat about financing a college education? What are the top sports stories? Which stories are coming in late, and where will they be placed in print and online? Which stories will have links on Facebook and Twitter?
Behind Tackett’s desk hang a week’s worth of front pages, so we can see at a glance the big stories and how they were presented. A few feet away, on a tall file cabinet that stores decades of Saratogians on microfilm, a magnet holds printouts of which recent online stories you, dear readers, deemed most popular.
Having community members in the newsroom as guests and advisers is nothing new. But we learn never to assume, so I shouldn’t assume you know you’re welcome. Consider this a formal invitation to an informal newsroom visit. I look forward to hearing from you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we ignore stories like this:

March 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM 

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