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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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

After 38 years in the newsroom, it's a wrap

My workplace since June 20, 1977.
On Thursday I’ll help put together The Saratogian’s Pink Sheet racing section for Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course, and then call it a day for the final time – ending 38 years at my full-time workplace since grad school.
I was in college during the Vietnam War and Watergate and was stirred by the power of the press to do good. I discovered journalism was fun, and I was good at it.
I lucked out landing a reporting job at The Saratogian (where Linda Glazer Toohey was my first of 11 publishers) and rose up the ranks in a great place to live and work. Christy Bulkeley made me one of the few women managing editors in the country; there was never a line at the ladies room during national editors’ conferences.
I’ve loved most of the job: the chase of a “good” story, depth reporting and strong writing, news that somehow makes a difference, the simple joy a well-written headline that fits in print, helping staffers improve their craft, the hectic deadline-driven environment, meeting interesting people who do amazing things, getting to know (at least a little) about a lot of stuff.
After years of running The Saratogian newsroom, I was promoted in 2014 to be top editor also of our sister paper, The Record, merging the two newsrooms into a single reporting and editing operation and striving to serve the audiences of both dailies, not to mention the readers of our weekly Community news in southern Saratoga County.
Newsrooms are not known for their feng shui
But that consolidation was nothing compared to the single most exciting – and challenging – change in the news business during my career: the Internet.
It is fantastic to be able to report any time, from any place (with an Internet connection), unshackled by the constraints of a press. I love that content can be delivered to your phone. The challenge for news companies is to keep that content coming, and for the public to be savvy consumers of reliable news sources.
We aren't in it for the awards, but we're proud of them --
and we win an inordinate number for a small operation.
My belief in the importance of reporting – regardless of how it’s published – is as robust as it was four decades ago when I caught the journalism bug. When the company made its recent offer to accept voluntary layoffs, it felt like the right time for me to move on, allowing Louise Kilbara in advertising to continue her unchallengeable reign as the longest-tenured employee. I have tremendous faith in our products and staff in all the departments here at The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News.
When people ask me, “What are you going to do,” I offer the same reply my husband and I gave our first-born when he wanted to know what we did for the first nine years of marriage before he came along: Have fun.
Seriously.
I will continue to teach a journalism class at the University at Albany, which I’ve been doing since 2008. I intend to get back to writing regularly, stepping up the pace in this blog
. I will continue my volunteer work. I will no longer have lack of time as an excuse for the condition of my garden, my tennis game and my gut.
Before signing off, I want to tell you that I feel bad, to varying degrees, that I:
• Praised deserving staff members too infrequently.
• Didn’t write more.
Superhorse welcomes
visitors to 20 Lake Ave.
• Sometimes caused inadvertent pain for people in the news and their loved ones, an occupational hazard for journalists.
• Might lose touch with people in the community who have generously shared their off-the-record insight with me over the years.
• Don’t dare acknowledge colleagues in this column for fear of leaving some out.
• Claimed to always put my family before my job, but didn’t.
That said, there’s plenty I feel good about:
• My kids turned out more than OK, my husband is patient and supportive, and my sense of humor remains intact.
• I beat the big boys at the metro papers in our company in an editorial writing contest, one of the most satisfying of my national and state awards.
• I’ve never been doing it for the awards (though I wouldn’t turn down a Pulitzer).
• I’ve launch the careers of dozens (I think it’s in the hundreds, actually) of journalists and had the privilege or working with countless gifted, amazing, dedicated people.
Most important, I feel good to be leaving this newsroom in the hands of talented, hard-working men and women who believe in the importance of what they’re doing and, I hope, will continue to have fun doing it.

5 Comments:

Blogger Debra Murphy said...

This column reminded me of why I love journalism. You have been an inspiration to so many, and definitely earned the "best boss ever" award. #nowgohavefun

July 22, 2015 at 7:41 AM 
Blogger Sam Hollingsworth said...

Good luck, Barb. I appreciated working with you in my days at The Saratogian, and appreciate the jumpstart to my career!

July 22, 2015 at 10:14 AM 
Blogger Name Withheld said...

The instability of local journalism has impacted the lives of many area multimedia journalists.
The latest wipeout is only the culmination of considerable upheaval and life changing loss.
That part of the story is not verbalized here.
This did not happen overnight, and many local journalists did not have an offer of a by out or a buffer to land on, or the notice that management had to prepare.

How incredibly sad to see it all come to this in the name of progress.

Name Withheld

July 24, 2015 at 5:14 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The instability of local journalism has impacted the lives of many local journalists and photographers.
The latest wipeout is only the culmination of considerable upheaval and life changing loss.
That part of the story is not verbalized here.
This did not happen overnight, and many local journalists did not have an offer of a by out or a buffer to land on, or the notice that management had to prepare.

How incredibly sad to see it all come to this in the name of progress.

Name Withheld

July 24, 2015 at 5:12 PM

July 24, 2015 at 5:15 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barb:

Congrats on your "retirement"! I worked for the Troy Record evening and morning papers, starting as an Editorial Messenger in 1966 and exiting as the Police and Fire Reporter for the morning paper in about 1972 under the able tutelage of my City Editor Tommy Thomas and Page One Editor John Scanlon. My career as a reporter was shattered when I was shot by a Troy Cop in Central Headquarters and it made it difficult for me to work with the Police thereafter.

I've always missed the newspaper business and following my departure have been very successful in County Government and retired myself about three years ago. It was sad to see that the Record Building where I started my working career as a young man is being sold, but change cannot be denied.\\I hope you enjoy life as a retiree as much as I and my wife Janice have.

Remember that once you're retired....every day is Saturday!

Tim Holt Sr., Troy/Brunswick

July 24, 2015 at 6:17 PM 

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