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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, June 13, 2012

The Saratogian continues as your local newspaper; the land, not the newspaper, has been sold

The city block on which The Saratogian sits, including the building in which I am sitting as I write this, is as of this moment owned by local businessman Frank Parillo, who has the smarts and the wherewithal to acquire valuable property when he sees it.
The Saratogian itself is not — repeat, not — part of the sale.
I want to assure you that we are continuing to do what we do as your local newspaper, er, news company. We’re still here, printing daily and every day expanding our online presence. 

Read a full story about the sale here. 
John Paton, the CEO of our parent company, has made it clear that one way to run a financially viable news company is to reduce so-called legacy costs, like buildings that are not needed for doing business. (Click here to find John Paton's blog) The Saratogian property falls in that category.
Make no mistake, I found this brick building — with “The Saratogian” spelled out on the corner — charming from the day I started here as a reporter, on June 20, 1977. But what I love more than the building is being downtown, in the heart of Saratoga Springs. The deal with Parillo keeps The Saratogian at 20 Lake Ave. for at least the next three years. That’s plenty of time to figure out where our base of operations will be after that. This is an opportunity to open the door, literally, to the community.
Yes, The Saratogian has the charm of an old building: stuffy in the summer, drafty in the winter, and windows that were caulked shut during the French and Indian War. Hard to get nostalgic about a place when half the year staffers wear gloves while they type and sit practically in one another’s laps. Can’t say I’m enthralled by a building whose largest conference room comfortably seats six. And for the last 14 years the printing has been off-site (in the building of our sister paper, The Record, in Troy), so I’ve long gotten over missing the smell of ink and the way the building shook as the press rattled and rolled.
When Col. Walbridge sold The Saratogian to Gannett Co. Inc. in 1934, the editor at the time probably offered the same assurances I offer today: Local news is our bread and butter, our brand, our reason for being.
There was a time when newspapers, and other businesses, abandoned their downtowns and moved to the suburbs, and I worried that we would end up in a sterile building somewhere far from where the action is. Happily, that never happened.
In April of 1985, when The Saratogian switched from afternoon to morning publication, I remember then-Publisher Margo Drobney saying that we need to be available where and when readers want us. At the time, that meant when they started their day.
That philosophy is more imperative than ever: We must be where and when readers want us. Today, that means being available 24/7 on a variety of platforms, in addition to print, and being an interactive company engaged with its community. We are better equipped than ever to meet those obligations.
When Gannett sold The Saratogian to Journal Register Co. in March of 1998, the new owner made it clear that our mission was unchanged: we are the hometown source for local news. We’re still owned by Journal Register Co. and managed by Digital First Media, which operates more than 800 digital and print products in 18 states serving 57 million customers per month.
The impressive reach of Digital First Media allows us to offer readers much more than we could ever provide with our local news resources. Breaking news, features, pictures and videos on topics of general interest — business, health, entertainment, veterans — are just a click away at and through social media. The strength of those numbers is being leveraged to grow readers and advertisers, essential for the financial survival of news companies.
As part of the reduction of legacy costs, Digital First Media has been consolidating and outsourcing some business functions. That does not include the gathering and reporting of local news. We’re going through a spurt of turnover in news and sports, and I am already in the process of interviewing and filling these openings.
I am so proud of The Saratogian staff and how much this small, talented, dedicated crew accomplishes. I love being an integral part of this community. It is exciting to be a journalist during this revolution in the way news is defined, produced and shared. All these things will continue to hold true, wherever The Saratogian staffers hang their hats.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved working in that building and working in downtown Saratoga. It is to bad they could not hold on to it. I'm not worried about the newspaper as much as I am about what they do to the building and property.

June 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM 
Blogger Fresh Ink said...

Honestly, I am optimistic, as everything Frank Parillo has done has been first-rate. The Hampton Inn, the nicest in that chain, and the Strike Zone bowling facility are two examples.

June 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweeet you got 2.6 mil for a whole city block. Who's your real estate agent Lenny Dykstra.?

June 13, 2012 at 6:47 PM 

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