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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, October 18, 2013

What's new at The Saratogian? Better question: What isn't?

When you ask an editor “what’s new,” you might expect the answer to have something to do with news. And there’s been plenty of local news worth talking about.
In the last few days, a movie theater opened in downtown Saratoga Springs for the first time in decades, the supervisor from one of the county’s biggest towns was charged with felonies, the federal government shutdown and reopening created local ripples and the former Arizona congresswoman still suffering from a 2011 assassination attempt appeared at a Saratoga gun show with New York’s attorney general to promote federally mandated background checks of gun buyers.
In addition, The Saratogian revealed that legal expenses incurred by the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority far outpaces comparably sized agencies, the contrasting styles of the Bolshoi Ballet and the New York City Ballet were examined in anticipation of both dance companies coming to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center next summer and local election campaigns are in full swing.
What’s more, there’s been coverage of events and activities designed to raise awareness and money for communitywide issues and services, like domestic violence, hospice, Saratoga Hospital and Saratoga Center for the Family, to name a very few.
But that’s not the kind of news I wanted to talk about today. I want to take you inside the newsroom and up into the clouds: introduced a new look on Wednesday.
Overall, it’s a cleaner look than the one it replaced. But you’re not the only one getting used to it.
I’m calling this our “soft launch.” We are learning as we go and addressing glitches as we (and you) discover them. We’re trying to figure out the best way to give stories appropriate placement, how to get photos in the right size and location and how to ensure headlines and captions show up. We’re looking at both the website and the mobile apps and turning to tech support when presentation is amiss. Sometimes, it’s operator error. Sometimes, it’s the system.
And we’re doing all of this with the position of “online editor” vacant, meaning more work for people who already had more than enough to do.
Assistant Managing Editor Betsy DeMars, Copy Editor Chelsea Kruger and Community Engagement Editor Aubree Cutkomp — all of whom wear many hats — deserve recognition as the new website’s “superusers.” A couple of weeks ago they sat through nine hours of mind-numbing back-end training on a system that was not yet in place.
Since then, Kruger led the way by “populating” the site in anticipation of the launch, uploading content to two websites and being the main go-to person for the rest of us. Repetition will push us along on the road to web publishing success, if the trainers don’t kill the trainees along the way.
The new website is the latest in a series of changes that have been occurring one on top of the other at The Saratogian and many of its sister papers under the Digital First Media umbrella.
Work shifts and coverage for news and sports were moved two or three hours earlier to accommodate earlier print deadlines; a new content management system was installed for writing, editing, filing and storing stories and images; a redesigned print edition was introduced as part of a companywide move to a consistent look; and the layout of pages was moved to a hub at our sister paper in New Haven, although the local staff is still doing all the editing.
And this weekend, we’re switching from Outlook to Google for email, contacts, calendars and documents shared among Saratogian employees and colleagues in newsrooms from New Haven to San Jose and all the Digital First Media properties in between.
Assuming a seamless transition to the new email service (and what change doesn’t go without a hitch?), I invite you to write me at with your comments about the new website and anything else.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the new style, but it seems that important news is buried, while profile pieces and other soft news seem to come up on the page first.

Study other sites, like, and see how important news is right there at the top, while the personality stuff is further down.

November 3, 2013 at 4:54 PM 

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