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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, January 2, 2015

Focusing on local news, across county lines

You are more likely to find me at my
desk than at the gym. (And, full disclosure,
my desk is this neat only the night
before a vacation.)
My standing New Year resolutions include going to the gym, eating healthier, worrying less about my children and writing regularly. And here we are, the first Sunday of the year, and so far so good — for the writing.
Since Jan. 1, I’ve been to the gym, um, not once. I had Chinese food for dinner and leftover Chinese food for breakfast. When my sons call I drop everything, even though they’re 27 and 25 and living independently (while my husband wryly observes that he lands in voice mail).
For me, 2014 was a year of personal and professional change.
The big thing was that I turned 60, an age that I am happy to have attained and yet in denial of having reached. If you’re my age or older, you know what I mean. If you’re younger, just wait.
Professionally, after years as managing editor of The Saratogian, where I began my journalism career, I was promoted last January by Publisher Mike O’Sullivan to the expanded role of executive editor of The Record, The Saratogian and the weekly Community News, which all fall under the umbrella of a company called Digital First Media.
A regional approach already in play in the advertising department under Advertising Director Barbara Fignar and in the sports department under Executive Sports Editor Kevin Moran expanded into the digital and print news coverage under the leadership of Editor Lisa Lewis, News Editor Paul Tackett, Digital Editor Karen Wallingford, and City Editor Charlie Kraebel, who just celebrated his one-year anniversary with us. Happy anniversary, Charlie!
Mid-way through the year, newsroom staff reductions — an occupational hazard in the news business everywhere — necessitated a leap into a regional approach to planning, reporting and editing. One of the challenges has been keeping our eye on news of particular interest to our specific and diverse communities, while recognizing that a regional approach is in fact appropriate for much of the news, especially as it relates to our quality of life, health, finances, jobs and family.
Consider, for instance, some of the top local stories of 2014:
The sprawling Albany diocese, which includes Rensselaer and Saratoga County, got a new bishop, when Edward B. Scharfenberger was appointed by Pope Francis to succeed Howard J. Hubbard, a Troy native who led the diocese for 37 years.
The 62-year-old Hoffman’s Playland in Latham got a new lease on life with new owners a new location for this summer adjoining Huck Finn’s Warehouse & More.
A Schenectady waterfront project was selected for the region’s only full-scale casino, beating out two proposals for Rensselaer County, including one put forth by the owners of Saratoga Casino and Raceway.
One of New York’s most power politicians, former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, whose district included Rensselaer and Saratoga counties, was acquitted of charges tied to accusations that he took a businessman’s bribes in exchange for steering state money toward the man’s business interests; the state attorney general subsequently agreed that the state would pay $2.4 million as reimbursement for his legal defense bills.
And there was business growth of note in both Troy and Saratoga Springs, along with milestones like the 50th anniversary of the Holiday Inn, the hotel that spurred the revitalization of downtown Saratoga Springs, and the 30th anniversary of the Saratoga Springs City Center. Those two entities continue today to anchor the two ends of Saratoga’s lively Broadway.
Impressive development in downtown Troy during 2014 included the reopening of the former Proctors building on Fourth Street as home to the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce; the start of renovations to Tech Valley Center of Gravity’s future home; new life breathed into the historic Dauchy Building by Saratoga-based Bonacio Construction; the purchase by Pfeil & Co. — another firm with ties to both Troy and Saratoga Springs — of the historic building that houses the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall; and the debut of the River Street Lofts.
The regional outlook is in addition to, not in place of, local news.
For instance, our daily Community Page in print and the digital Community page under Lifestyle on our websites, and, contain a running calendar of events submitted by representatives of local organizations as well as a large photograph, usually submitted by readers, to feature a local activity that has occurred or promote one that is coming up. (Send photos to Charlie at
We realize that our readers’ interests and concerns don’t end at the city or county line. We work, play, seek medical care, study, travel and have connections throughout the Capital Region. And a good human interest story is always a welcome read, regardless of ZIP code.
That said, our niche is what it’s always been — local news — including the celebration of individual achievements in the school and workplace, non-profits and their staff and volunteers, spaghetti suppers and other fund-raisers large and small, neighborhood issues, keeping officials accountable, and providing a forum for opinions.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. You know where to find me: Not at the gym.


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