Items tagged with 'TU'

Paul Grondahl is the next director of the NYS Writers Institute

paul grondahl Twitter profile picPaul Grondahl is set to become the director of the New York State Writers Institute at UAlbany, the org announced Friday.

His last day at the Times Union is February 17 -- though he tells Amy Biancolli (in the TU) he'll continue to contribute columns as time allows. He's worked at the paper for more than three decades and for much of that time has been one of this area's premiere journalists. It's the end of an era. A lot of people are going to miss regularly reading his work.

From a NYS Writers Institute press release:

William Kennedy, Founder and Executive Director of the Writers Institute said "Paul is a great choice for director of the Writers Institute for a lot of reasons. Above all, he's a serious writer. He's very savvy about literature and writers, and as a journalist, he's nonpareil - maybe the best we've had in this town in 30 years or more. He's written two well-received biographies of major political figures on our local stage - Teddy Roosevelt, and Erastus Corning, the singular mayor of Albany for 42 years. Paul also got his masters in English at UAlbany and he's covered many of the major writers who have visited the Institute."

It's hard to imagine finding someone better for the job.

The only downside is that Paul Grondahl can't write a profile of Paul Grondahl as leaves the TU.

Earlier: NYS Writers Institute visiting writers spring 2017

photo via Paul Grondahl Twitter

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist is leaving the Times Union

jordan carleo evangelist twitter picJordan Carleo-Evangelist, who's covered the city (and county) of Albany for the Times Union for many years, is leaving the paper, he publicly announced today. Friday is his last day. He's taking a job at UAlbany.

From his post over at Medium:

Not least of all, thanks to the Times Union for giving me a chance to do a job I truly loved in the capital of my home state. The TU is still full of great people doing really great work in creative new ways. I hope you'll continue to support the paper and the people who make it worth reading every day.
On the (rare) occasions that someone asks me what I think about the future for local news, I tell them that I think we get the best news we're willing to pay for. I truly believe that. You can't demand quality local news and expect it to be free. You wouldn't buy ground beef or bike helmet that way.

His departure is a loss for both the Times Union and the local media scene. Covering local government isn't always regarded as the most exciting beat, but in his coverage and our conversations with him, Jordan always came across as curious and interested in how things worked and why. That curiosity even extended to topics that don't necessarily grab headlines, despite their ultimate importance. (A recent example: His ongoing coverage of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering for judgeships in the area.)

Media orgs -- and cities -- need people like that.

photo: @JCEvangelist_TU

timesunionPLUS

timesunionPLUS screengrabThe Times Union rolled out "timesunionPLUS" for its website Thursday, a paywall/subscriber membership program.

The paper is pitching the program as an enhancement of its current offerings. And it may include some bonus features, such as a week-in-review section and "special issue briefs from time to time on major topics of interest." But it's also a paywall.

An example: That story Thursday about DeFazio's wanting to buy the old Vanilla Bean building on 4th Street in Troy was open only to subscribers. That very much appears to be the sort of story that would have run normally on the website pre-PLUS.

Current subscribers to the TU print version get PLUS along with their subscriptions. There's also an all-digital option that's currently being offered for $1 a week. (It looks like the regular price will be $3/week.)

This is a notable moment in the Capital Region's media scene -- the Daily Gazette, Record/Saratogian, Post-Star, and the Times Union now all have some form of paywall. It's interesting to see how each outlet has set up their wall: the Gazette holds almost everything back, the Record/Saratogian and Post-Star allow a certain number of stories before hitting the wall, and the Times Union appears to be picking and choosing which items will be walled and unwalled.

People grumble about paywalls, but newspapers need to make money to stay in business. And over the last decade that's become increasingly harder as the internet -- and services native to the internet -- have steadily eaten away at newspaper revenue streams, such as classifieds, that had subsidized news for decades.

Sure, there's advertising. But the difference between what a media company makes on print ads versus online ads is huge. So something has to span the gap. And getting the people who consume your product to directly help pay for it isn't a bad idea.

Kristi Barlette stepping back from the TU

kristi gustafson barlette cropped smallKristi Gustafson Barlette -- one of the Times Union's highest profile personalities -- announced today she's stepping back from her popular blog and column. From a post today about the evolution of her role at the paper:

That's not to say I don't still love writing, I do, but my mission has changed and raising Little C is a priority. R and I were raised by stay-at-home moms and want to offer Little C the same.
So I've decided to step away from the blog, and from Life 3.0, to be home with our daughter. To watch her grow and mature and build and follow her own dreams.
I'm not going off the grid, or even fully stepping away from journalism. Around Memorial Day, I'll be doing some part time editing for the TU and freelance writing for the magazines. I'll also continue my FLY 92.3 segment.
I'll continue to play around on Facebook and Twitter -- and use those platforms to reach out to readers for story ideas and sources for two of my favorite features sections -- Solutions and Work Life. A new opportunity, and a new role -- one I'm excited to begin. Now, and then, you can reach me through Facebook and Twitter or kbarlette@timesunion.com.

During her maternity leave, Barlette started her own blog separate from the TU, and she mentions in the post that she'll continue to write there.

More than anyone else in this market, Barlette has successfully embraced being the sort of multi-platform personality that so many media orgs have tried to cultivate over the last handful of years: as a columnist in the paper, on her very popular blog on the TU website, on radio and TV, on Facebook and Twitter. All the while she's exhibited a keen sense of how to pick topics people will respond to -- and from time to time, to press people's buttons.

Most media people are kind of interchangeable for consumers of media. Yep, some readers/watchers/listeners notice bylines, and if a media figure sticks around long enough there's a certain position of familiarity she or he takes on. But it's remarkable to us how often we've encountered people who have some sort of opinion about Kristi -- good, bad, impressed, frustrated, whatever. They noticed her. It's like they couldn't help but have some sort of reaction to her. We're pretty sure that didn't happen by accident.

Start the presses

new times union print quality comparison

On the left: a closeup of Tuesday's edition of the Times Union (printed on the new press). On the right: Sunday's edition (printed on the old press).

Tuesday's print version of the Times Union was the first edition from the newspaper's new printing press. The off-set press provides the TU with "dramatically improved print quality" and expanded capability for printing color.

The difference is easy to see (above). And much needed. The print quality from the paper's 44-year-old letterpress machine was... not good. Type wasn't sharp and the photo quality was bad.

That said, this is quite a move for Hearst, the Times Union's parent company. The new press reportedly cost $15 million. That's a lot of money to drop, whatever the time. But it's an even more significant expenditure considering the way the media business has been heading -- away from products printed on paper. The new machine allows the paper to be a commercial printer for other products -- even those of other companies -- so maybe this can be a way for the company to further diversify its revenue sources. [AP/WSJ]

The Times Union is by far the biggest player in this area, which makes it easy to throw rocks at it. Heck, we read it every day and certainly have some criticisms. That goes with being at the top. But no one else in a position to fill some of the roles it plays. And lately there's been some reason to wonder about whether it will be able to keep that up as it downsizes -- both its staff and the size of the actual paper. (This new version is physically smaller than the old, example post jump).

This isn't a unique condition -- it's happening to newspapers everywhere. But he Capital Region is better off with a vibrant media ecosystem, and for the near-to-medium term that probably means a well-staffed, capable Times Union.

(there's more)

State Senate break reportedly near, Biden coming to area, layoffs at the TU, mouthwash defense surfaces, liquor license denied because of Salvation Army

It's now been a month since the state Senate upheaval started. The two sides are reportedly nearing some sort of resolution. The Democrats known as "The Three Amigos" (that includes Pedro Espada, who's sided with the Republicans) are threatening to do something (it's not clear what) if there isn't a deal by Thursday. Two of the Amigos plus another senator walked out of the Dems' session yesterday -- and apparently other rank-and-file members are feeling "frisky." [Daily Politics] [PolitickerNY] [TU] [AP/Troy Record]

It does seem like something is up -- David Paterson has requested statewide TV time for 5 pm this evening. That's prompted speculation that he might try to dislodge the situation by appointing a lieutenant governor (which would, in turn, probably set off legal throwdown). [Daily Politics] [TU]

If it's any consolation, the senators' pay has been stopped. [NYDN]

Joe Biden will be in Clifton Park tomorrow to tout the federal stimulus effort. He'll be speaking at Shenendehowa High School. This will be the first Vice Presidential visit to the area since 2000. [TU] [WTEN] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Newspaper guild urges people to cancel TU

tu newspaper boxUpdate: Be sure to read the comment from guild president Tim O'Brien.

Here's sign of how rough the fight between the Times Union and the Albany Newspaper Guild has gotten: the guild is now urging people to cancel their subscriptions to the paper.

And it's not just asking people -- it's helping them do it. The guild has set up a site called Cancel the Times Union, where it provides a form people can fill out to have their subscriptions canceled. (Presumably, they'll want people to re-subscribe after all this is over -- otherwise...)

(there's more)

From the archives

tu fountain day pic

Oh, Fountain Day.

Look what an enterprising web editor at the TU dug out of the archives today: the (in)famous Fountain Day soft-porn photo.

That photo graced the front page of the paper a few years back. We remember doing a double take when we picked up the bundle of papers that morning. And then blushing a little bit.

Anyway, that pic must be like click-through crack.

Update!

Here's the meta-info for the photo:

Times Union staff photo by Michael P. Farrell
SUNY Albany freshman Tatiana Shvachus and second year student Eric Fisher (both center) bask in the cool water during Fountain Day at the State University at Albany, New York Thursday April 22, 2004.

Does anyone know what's become of Ms. Shvachus? Amazingly, a Google search for her name comes up... empty. We have an email in with the Eric Fisher we think might be the photo's Eric Fisher.

Also: as Naomi pointed out, that is an award-winning photo. It won both AP and National Press Photographers Association awards.

screengrab: Times Union

State worker union turns down no-layoff deal, Paterson pushes for same-sex marriage bill, Hearst cancels guild contract at TU, rescued animals pack humane society shelter

CSEA says it has rejected a deal offered by the Paterson administration in which state workers would give up this year's scheduled three percent raise in return for a no-layoffs guarantee. Liz Benjamin reports there may be a "pay lag" agreement coming together behind the scenes, though. Also: as promised, David Paterson has sent 10 percent of his salary ($18k) back to the state. [AP/TU] [Daily Politics] [TU]

David Paterson said yesterday he thinks the public will accept same-sex marriage and he wants to see a same-sex marriage bill come up for a vote in the state Senate -- whether it's guaranteed to pass or not. That call didn't go over all that well with same-sex marriage advocates. [NYT] [Daily Politics]

The state budget has lead to cuts in open hours at state parks this season. The local regional state park director calls the cutbacks "fairly unprecedented." Among the local consequences: the Peerless Pool will be closed on Tuesdays (the day it gets the smallest number of visitors, according to officials) and the beach at Grafton Lakes will be closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. [TU] [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Post-Star] [Daily Gazette]

As of this morning, the New York State Board of Elections was reporting that Scott Murphy had an eight vote lead over Jim Tedisco in the 20th Congressional District special election. The count of absentee ballots will continue today. The NY 20th may be missing out on federal stimulus money because it doesn't have a House member right now. [NYSBoE] [AP/TU]

(there's more)

Special election vote totals shifting, Morris says Albany treasurer lied, arrest in Barnes assault, Shen coach suspended after old accusations come to light, state budget leading to Saratoga paid parking?

The vote totals for the 20th Congressional District special election keep shifting as voting machines and emergency ballots are "re-canvassed." What appears to be the latest tally has Jim Tedisco now ahead of Scott Murphy by 12 votes. The election will ultimately be decided by the count of the absentee ballots -- which won't start until Monday at the earliest. Both campaigns continue to express confidence that they'll come out ahead. [Troy Record] [PolitickerNY] [TU]

The Saratogian reports that Jim Tedisco will be stepping down as state Assembly minority leader on Monday so he "can focus on this congressional district." The TU reports that Tedisco is facing a no-confidence vote on Monday because members of his caucus are annoyed that he's spent so much time on his Congressional campaign during the state budget process. [Saratogian] [TU]

The state Senate has continued its debate of the budget bills, though a vote could be coming soon. The Senate voted to allow Democratic Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who's been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia, to vote "yes" on all the budget bills ahead of time. The majority Dems didn't have enough votes to pass the bills without Hassell-Thompson. [TU]

Albany Common Council president Shawn Morris says she thinks city treasurer Betty Barnette "flat-out lied" when Barnette testified earlier this week that her office doesn't "fix" parking tickets. The Common Council is now seeking copies of every parking ticket dismissed in 2008. [TU]

Guilderland police have arrested a mixed-martial arts fighter for the assault of the TU's Steve Barnes and a friend last year in the parking lot outside Creo. According to the TU, the police are investigating "connections" between the fighter and an unnamed Albany restaurant that Barnes wrote about. [TU]

(there's more)

Turmoil at the TU

tu newspaper boxAccording to a post on the Albany Newspaper Guild's blog, the publisher of the TU has told the union that Hearst is threatening to cancel the union's contract:

In an effort to get employees to swallow all of its demands, the Company today filed notice it would cancel our contract on April 9.

"The message to members is that if you don't allow the Company to gut your contract, it will launch an unprecedented assault on your union," Guild President Tim O'Brien said.

Canceling the contract would mean the union would no longer be able to take grievances to an independent arbitrator. The Company also claims it will be able to cease deducting dues from your paycheck. The union disagrees and will seek help from the Guild International.

It appears that this development has been building for awhile. The guild announced two weeks ago that Hearst wanted to make job cuts at the paper based on performance -- not on seniority, as the union contract requires. Hearst recently won this right during negotiations with the union at the San Francisco Chronicle.

All newspaper companies have been having a tough time recently and Hearst is no exception. It looks like it will soon be shutting down the paper version of its Seattle Post-Intelligencer. And the head of the company's newspaper unit said this week that Hearst will probably start raising subscription prices at its papers and pulling back some of its content from its free web sites.

Newspaper guild: TU layoffs coming

tu newspaper boxUpdate Friday 7:45 pm: the TU's publisher has announced it will be cutting costs (not necessarily jobs) by 20 percent -- no word on how many job cuts.

The Albany Newspaper Guild, which represents many of the Times Union's employees, reported this evening that it was told by George Hearst, the TU's new publisher, that layoffs are coming to the paper. From the guild's blog:

He declined to publicly discuss numbers or say when an announcement would be made, but said it was imminent. "A notification will be going out to employees in the early days ahead," Hearst said at a contract negotiating session with the Guild.

While any round of layoffs is sure to be hard, it sounds like there could be a big fight between Hearst Corp, the TU's parent company, and the union. Apparently the current union contract requires job cuts to be based on seniority -- last hired, first fired. But, according to the Guild, the paper is moving to cut people based on performance.

These layoffs aren't surprising news. The newspaper industry as a whole has been crumbling over the past year. Hearst Corp has been talking about shutting down some of its most prominent newspapers -- including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Francisco Chronicle. And the TU just recently let go many of its part time staff.

Albany's ghost ticket scandal widens, Tutunjian plans for new city hall, mud flying in Gillibrand replacement race, UAlbany narrows list of potential presidents,

The roster of vehicles eligible for "ghost" parking tickets apparently extends to a "VIP" list of 270 vehicles owned by the government and private citizens. Among those with a park-for-free pass: the head of the Downtown BID, who has previously said that people should expect to pay for parking. Albany police chief James Tuffey says the program has been shut down. [TU] [CBS6]

Nelson Costello, the man accused of murdering David Bacon 40 years ago in Waterford, was indicted yesterday on charges or murder and witness tampering -- he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. Authorities say Costello and Bacon were involved in a rivalry over Bacon's then-fiancee -- the woman now lives in Schaghticoke. The Saratoga County DA says Costello was arrested last week in Cohoes after crashing a rental car and then trying to cover up the location of the accident. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Troy Record]

Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian announced during his state of the city address last night that the city would seeking $22 million of federal stimulus money to build a new city hall on the site of the old one. [TU] [Troy Record]

The council meeting after Tutunjian's address turned into a verbal spat as the council argued with Troy deputy mayor Dan Crawley over the implementation of a new landlord registration law. After a council member accused Crawley of not responding to email, Crawley reportedly shouted: "Not from you. Approach me like a man and quit hiding behind your computer." [Troy Record]

(there's more)

Job openings attracting many applicants, tax trouble for legislators, wig-wearing would-be test taker won't be charged with felony, libel suit against TU dismissed

Local employers say they're seeing a flood of applications for open jobs. [Daily Gazette]

The former state employee who blew the whistle on Antonia Novello says he was framed for speaking out against the former Department of Health commissioner. [TU]

A Schenectady police officer topped the list of the city's highest paid employees last year. His $168,922 in gross salary was a department record. Mayor Brian Stratton's $97,000 ranked him 74th on the highest-paid list. [TU]

It seems that members of the state legislature have trouble paying their taxes. Twenty current members have had "tax warrants" issued for them at some point. [TU]

During the first 12 hours of this most recent snow emergency, 226 cars were towed in the City of Albany. [Fox23]

A jury convicted an Albany woman of conspiring to murder her ex-husband in 2007. The woman is now facing 25 years to life in prison. [TU]

(there's more)

It's cold, emergency landing at ALB, Soares calls for video of interrogations, Dalai Lama coming, state threatens bingo in Troy, Obama-Osama mistake strikes again

Note: the TU's site, in a stripped-down version, seems to be up again. Sort of.

Newsflash: it's cold. Temps this morning were below freezing zero and today's forecasted high is 16 degrees, with a wind-chill of as low as -9. [NWS]

ALB was closed for about an hour yesterday after a flight from Canada had to make an emergency landing. The Toronto-to-Manchester (NH) flight asked to make the emergency landing at ALB after it reported engine problems. The commuter plane's tires blew out during landing -- no one was injured. [Biz Review] [AP/Troy Record] [TU]

After this week's conviction of Jermayne Timmons, Albany County DA David Soares says he will push for the Albany Police Department to start videotaping interrogations. A key part of the Timmons case was a statement the APD extracted from the teen about the shooting of Kathina Thomas. APD chief James Tuffey says there's isn't money available to record the sessions, but Soares says the department has failed to take advantage of state money for the project. [CapNews9] [WNYT]

The Saratoga County sheriff's office says the driver who's accused of injuring a garbage man in Wilton after rear-ending a garbage truck was driving without a license. The garbage man was still in critical condition yesterday. [Saratogian] [Saratogian]

(there's more)

What's going on with the TU site

tu newspaper box

Maybe newsprint does have some advantages...

As many many people have pointed out today, the Times Union's website has been down for about 24 hours now. So, what's going on? They're not quite sure. Here's what Rex Smith, the TU's editor, told us in an email this afternoon:

Amazingly enough, we do not even know what the problem is. For more than 24 hours, some sort of technology problem has affected timesunion.com. It's perhaps coincidental that we have experienced significant email problems today, too. With the help of the Houston Chronicle, we hope to have up this afternoon some sort of a diminished site -- kind of a blog that you could reach if you go to timesunion.com. But that's not happening speedily, either. The smartest Web folks I know are working on it.

In the meantime, the TU is posting to a stripped down site at timesunion.wordpress.com.

We've heard through other channels that the TU has been going through a massive overhaul of the computer system that runs its newsroom during the last few months -- an overhaul that's included a few hiccups. We haven't heard if this website outtage has anything to do with that, though.

By the way, a useful site for these types of situations is Down For Everyone or Just Me.

Update January 27: If you're still having problems accessing the site, there might be an issue with the software that runs your cable modem.

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