Paging through The Alt

The Alt issue 3 cover

The new weekly backed by Proctors, The Daily Gazette, and Overit -- The Alt -- is now three issues into its run. (New issues are released on Tuesdays.)

Here are few quick initial thoughts about the publication so far.

There's a strong Metroland feel

That shouldn't be surprising. The Daily Gazette had tried to acquire Metroland toward the end of its tax-complicated life. And you'll recognize a bunch of names and bylines from Metroland's past, such as David Howard King (who's editor of The Alt), Shawn Stone (digital editor), B.A. Nilsson, Miriam Axel-Lute, and others.

That said, there are new people in the mix. It's good to see Haley Viccaro writing about Schenectady again after leaving the Daily Gazette -- she wrote about Schenectady's police chief and some of the challenges the department faces. See also Jaya Sundaresh about criminalizing neighborhoods. And Luke Stoddard Nathan's focus on housing issues is worth attention.

It's very much an alt weekly

Again, that's not really surprising. You know, with the name and all that. Still, a lot of the familiar elements of the genre are there: the event listings, writing about the arts, left-leaning politics, a sex column.

The origin of alt weeklies generally was a response to the stuffiness of metro daily newspapers. They focused on topics the dailies didn't cover well -- like local arts and food -- and did it with a tone that was edgy compared to the buttoned-up old newspapers.

But the media world is now so crowded and loud. It's hard to stand out as the alternative to anything. We were thinking that about this week's The Alt cover story by Katie Cusack about the women who own and operate the strip club DiCarlo's -- complete with a large photo of a stripper on the cover. There was a time when that probably would have been risque and eye catching. Now? Not really. (Heck, the Times Union ran what looked like a soft porn photo on its front page years ago. It was, and might still be, displayed on a wall in the paper's Colonie offices.)

Sailing against the tide

So, in some ways, launching a new alt weekly -- printed on actual paper! -- these days is like building a replica ship or restoring an old boat. It's almost a nostalgia play. (We say this from a website whose blog-format design is like something from the media equivalent of Oregon Trail.)

That's not to say it won't float. Maybe it can. The Alt has some powerful backers. The Daily Gazette owns a printing press and has a lot of experience with print products. Overit knows how to build a website. And Proctors is the premiere arts organization in this region, with connections to a bunch of different venues and projects. Just having that alliance with Proctors will open some doors because people have so much respect for the org. And it doesn't hurt that a not-small amount of local arts and entertainment advertising dollars pass through Proctors. (In the most recent paper version of The Alt, five of the ads are for events either at Proctors or for orgs whose ad buying is handled by Proctors.)

It's early

All that said, it's early. Few things look or feel truly like themselves -- or develop their own identity -- when they first begin. That's true of everything from media publications to restaurants to companies. The Alt will evolve.

And given the ongoing media/advertising apocalypse in which so many outlets are cutting back or dropping dead, it's worth being patient to see if it can work.

Earlier on AOA:
+ On trying to fill the space left by Metroland
+ Every local publication is Metroland now


Could not find a phone number in my issues?
It does not even come close to YOUR content!
Metroland was fun, entertaining, and exciting!
All Over Albany is TOPS!
' A.O.A. is informative, fun, interesting & with the nicest , most hard working , smart Mary & Gregg that i bless my lucky stars we have in this area!

I saw a pile of these the other day and just depressed me. I know I know give it a chance and all that but ugh. Albany has made so many strides in even just the last decade and this so smacks of the lamer, "we really need a Metroland" era Albany. Hi "The Alt" the 80s called and want their paper back. Who exactly is the market for this? Certainly not the youths?!

The cover article is very off-putting. A women's role at Dicarlo's: to strip. What's the end game with that one. Let's glamourize really unglamorous, demoralizing sex work. No thanks!

I tried Googling "The Alt" and nothing came up. "The Alt Albany, NY"... nothing.

Time to invest in a good SEO person.

I like it, but I would like it to have some funny stuff in it too.

Amelia, a woman's role at DiCarlo's is also to own and operate DiCarlo's. According to their website, they're one of 10 such clubs in the entire country that is woman owned and operated. Why not let the dancers decide if they're demoralized?

Back on topic - I haven't seen this paper around. Of course, I hadn't been looking, but this cover would have caught my eye (even as a gay man haha). Where is it distributed? Apologies if I missed it in the article - it's a particularly sleepy Friday.

I am sooo glad to have an alternative newspaper back in the area! Looking forward to returning to my Saturday morning ritual of tea, "Wait, Wait" and Metrol.....The Alt. :)

I'd advise The Alt to focus on entertainment listings and news if they want to be successful. Maybe promoting local businesses too. Avoid articles about politics and sex, they just irritate people.

Really don't like the name. Not sure if it's the abbreviation or the definite article that irks me. It sounds like something a middle age person would say to try to sound youthful or edgy. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing in the entryways of my local waterholes. I always preferred thumbing through a Metroland to scrolling through my phone while I wait for my lunch.

I think it's awesome - especially because its in print. I remember the excitement of Thursday afternoons - grabbing the Metroland and reading it during lunch, planning the weekend and reading Jo Page.

Where do they distribute them? Can i pick them up at the Daily Grind or other drop-off locations?

Not sure where else to find it, but the Albany Public Library branches all have copies.

The Alt did drop off some issues at our cafe (The Daily Grind-Albany) but they were gone in one day.

It is funny that they felt a need to name themselves "The Alt," as if we wouldn't get that it's "alt."

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