Items tagged with 'media'

The Capital Region lit up by Twitter

mapbox twitter map albany screengrab

Check out this map of the Capital Region (and the wider world) depicting geotagged tweets for the last 3.5 years. (That's a screengrab above.)

The map is the creation of Eric Fischer, a developer at the mapping company Mapbox. Here's how it was created using some 6.3 billion geotagged tweets.

The patterns here in the Capital Region aren't super surprising -- there are big clusters of tweets pretty much wherever people gather. But a few quick things that caught our eye:

+ Areas with large college students populations registered high concentrations of tweets -- not just campuses, but also neighborhoods like the midtown section of Albany.

+ Transportation nodes and corridors -- such as the Albany-Rensselaer train station, Albany bus station, and interstates -- stand out. (Again, this makes sense -- people are concentrated on transportation corridors. Also, um, maybe there's some tweeting while driving.)

+ Other high density spots: entertainment venues (like the TU Center), hospitals, shopping centers.

(Thanks, Katy!)

Growing from Hudson: Modern Farmer

Modern Farmer Ann Marie Gardner by David Harriman

Modern Farmer CEO/editor-in-chief Ann Marie Gardner in the magazine's Hudson office. / photo: David Harriman

By Deanna Fox

With the fertile soil of the river banks and glacial till, the Hudson Valley has long been regarded as a prime location for farming. And now it's proving a productive place for a different take on agriculture.

Based out of a second-floor office on Warren Street in Hudson, Modern Farmer has become a global media brand. The magazine is, in its own words, "for window-herb growers, career farmers, people who have chickens, people who want to have chickens and anyone who wants to know more about how food reaches their plate." In just its first year of publishing, Modern Farmer has already won a National Magazine Award, and it's attracted attention online via features such as Goat Week (complete with a goat cam).

So why set up in Hudson? I asked Ann Marie Gardner, CEO/editor-in-chief of Modern Farmer, to find out.

Hudson Week 2014 in-post ad Olde Hudson

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Hey there, Bhawin Suchak, YouthFX program director

youthfx bhawin suchak composite

Bhawin Suchak (left) and YouthFX help teens learn media production skills.

The modern world is a media-saturated world. If there's ever been a time to be a conscious consumer of the text, images, and ideas circulating all around us, it's now.

So we've been very interested in a program in Albany called YouthFX. It helps teens learn the skills associated with video production. Not only does that help these young people become active participants in media -- but becoming a producer also helps you become a more critical consumer of media.

After a recent sold-out screening of its latest batch of projects, YouthFX has an encore screening of lined up for The Spectrum April 2 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 for adults / $5 for students.

We had a chance to talk this week with the program director for YouthFX, Bhawin Suchak -- about how the program got started, about being a critical consumer of media, about "kids these days," and media that sees its subjects eye to eye.

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Hey there, Andrew Catalon, sportscaster headed into March Madness

Andrew Catalon

Andrew Catalon's well-known in the Capital Region media scene from his years as a sportscaster at WNYT. But his star has also been rising on the national scene in recent years as he's worked the Olympics for NBC, and now does games as the lead play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports Network.

This week, Catalon -- who still lives in the Capital Region -- will be on one of the biggest stages possible for a sportscaster: the NCAA basketball tournament. He'll be out in San Diego calling a slate of four games on Friday.

We talked with Catalon this week before he headed out west, about being in Sochi for the Olympics, the cult following of curling, the NCAA tournament, making friends with the TSA at ALB, and working alongside some of your idols.

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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.

More than a century of RPI, and Troy, online

rpi the polytechnic 1967 the doors

That time Jim Morrison trolled Troy with reference to Virgil and Homer.

Check it out: More than a century of back issues of the RPI student newspaper, The Polytechnic, have been digitized and placed online. They're now available through RPI's online digital collections portal.

It's usually fun to flip through old newspapers, it's true here, too. Here's one example from the archives, a story we'd heard about before, but the sarcasm of the contemporary account adds something to it. From the December 13, 1967 issue, an article by Bob Cunningham about The Doors playing a concert on campus:

It was concert time again at the Field House Friday night. This show, the opening event of Frosh Fling Weekend, began with typical Rensselaer precision a half-hour late.
Following the opening act, there was a 10 minute intermission which was well received by the crowd. A half-hour later the Doors came on and like true showmen gave not quite their all for 45 minutes. ...
Following Rose was the headline group, the Doors. CRAWDADDY MAGAZINE, New York's rock music bible, describes them as "the best the West has to offer" in concert. The audience was receptive to renditions of their hits "People are Strange" and "Break on Through." Also they were intrigued by the haunting tones of "Alabama Song" (Whisky Bar).
Most people were pleased by Ray Manzarek's organ and Robby Krieger's guitar soaring through "Light My Fire" and a few other songs. Unfortunately, much of the impact and fire of Jim Morrison's vocals seemed to be lost in the expanses of the Field House.
Instead of setting the house on fire, Jim failed to even break the ice. He seemed disgusted with the whole scene at the end and showed how he felt when he cried, "If this is Troy, I'm with the Greeks."
For the crowd's taste, the concert was far too short to be worthwhile. Those on the floor felt cheated of space, and all felt cheated out of the best the Doors could have offered.

The online archive of Poly issues stretches back as far 1869, with the bulk from 1885-2001. It includes more 41,000 pages. (We can't imagine how long that must have taken to scan all of those issues.)

Oh, and among the ads in the collection's first issue, from September 25, 1869: "Charles F. Lucas, Confectioner, Ladies and Gentlemen's Restaurant, No. 12 Broadway, Troy, N.Y."

image: The Polytechnic December 13, 1967, Rensselaer Digital Collections

Saratogian, Record paywalls are up

saratogian paywall notice

We were greeted by something new when visiting the websites for The Record and The Saratogian this week: paywall notices.

The paywalls allow a certain number of free articles before access is restricted, though it's not designated in the FAQ (it appears to be five articles). Access beyond that limit is $3 per week for online only (print subscribers also get access). If the papers can deliver good content, that's not a bad price -- most people probably spend more on a cup of coffee.

From the answer to the "Why Is There A Meter?" question in the FAQ:

As The Saratogian continues to evolve, we continue to invest in the digital future of The Saratogian so we can continue to serve you and others in our communities. We have set the meter on www.saratogian.com high enough that many readers may never reach it but if you are a regular/daily reader - and we hope you are - then you will want to subscribe to ensure you continue to have access to the news and information that matters to you.

It was announced this past November that both papers would be metering access to their website as part of a company wide plan by their parent, Digital First Media. In a post describing the company's path to the decision, DFM CEO John Paton said the paywalls are an effort to provide the "proverbial gas in the tank" to get the DFM through the transition from traditional printed products to digital.

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Interesting stories to cover 2013

that was 2013 interesting stories composite

Updated

With the end of the year coming up, we thought it'd be fun to ask a bunch of people about some of their favorite/most interesting things from the 2013.

Next up: A bunch of local journalists on the stories that were most interesting to cover this year...

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"We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children..."

a visit from st nick troy sentinel clipping top

Tonight at the Rensselaer County Courthouse, there will be a trial -- with real attorneys, a judge, witnesses and everything -- to determine who actually authored the now-famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston Jr (as mentioned). It starts at 6 pm and it should be a good time. (The event's been getting national coverage.)

As you know, the local link for this story of "Sante Claus" and "Dunder and Blixem" is that it first appeared in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. (See plaque in downtown Troy.) Thanks to Gramercy Communications, which had the archives of the Sentinel digitized, and trial organizer Duncan Crary (who else), the page from that issue of the Sentinel is online (a big pdf).

It's interesting to read the poem in context -- it's sandwiched between an article about honey and some wedding announcements. And the intro to the story hints to the controversy that would eventually arise over the poem's authorship.

Anyway, we thought it'd be fun to post the poem as it originally appeared on the page, like a newspaper clipping. It's after the jump. Almost two centuries later it's still a fun read.

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The Record, Saratogian to get paywalls

record saratogian screengrabs

The Record and Saratogian will be getting paywalls for their websites, part of an "All-Access print-digital subscription initiative" by their parent company at 75 dailies across the country. John Paton -- the CEO of Digital First Media, which manages the company that owns the papers -- announced the plan in a blog post Monday. Saratogian managing editor Barbara Lombardo confirmed that both the Saratogian and the Record are part of the plan.

It's not really news that newspapers have been struggling to find their financial footing as the media world transitions from print to digital. And it sounds like DFM -- which pulled its papers through bankruptcy and has been attempting to aggressively restructure its business -- is making this move somewhat grudgingly. A clip from Paton's post:

After a lot research by our team, we believe an All-Access print-digital subscription initiative is necessary to buy us that proverbial gas in the tank [to make the transition].With the rise of digital and the fall of print, we're at the point where we can launch a working All-Access subscription model.
Let's be clear, paid digital subscriptions are not a long-term strategy. They don't transform anything; they tweak. At best, they are a short-term tactic. I have said that often enough in the past.
But it's a tactic that will help us now.

In the post, Paton says the configuration will be different in each market, and will include new offerings. Jonathan Cooper, a DFM VP, tells us in an email that timing and details for each market are still to come. (Here's the setup for its paper in Denver.)

In the Capital Region, the Daily Gazette has a paywall that restricts access to subscribers for all but a few stories and features. The Post-Star's paywall allows people to access 10 articles over the course of a month without paying, much in the same way the New York Times paywall operates. And the Albany Business Review restricts some of its content to subscribers.

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The anchorlady as sitcom character

We've had a strong suspicion for some time that YNN anchorlady Kate Welshofer -- all composed and serene on screen -- is actually a total goofball in real life. Suspicion confirmed!

A few weeks back Welshofer started a video series on her No Teleprompter, No Mercy blog. The latest episode -- about being hungover (not that sort of hangover... we think) -- is embedded above. See also: Kate on Halloween, and Kate on trying to finish last in a 5k.

The clips are goofy. And they kind of create the impression that YNN is actually the fake TV station in a sitcom about a character named Kate. (This would explain so much about AnchorCat Brian.)

So we're waiting for the episode in which Kate mistakenly wears that pink wig from the Halloween episode during a news segment. Hijinks ensue.

How to use Capital Region news websites to read the news

local news websites collage

Updated

We use the websites for Capital Region news outlets all the time -- whether it's looking for stories to include in Morning Blend, or just to keep up with what's going on. And we've found some shortcuts to finding the way to the stuff we're really interested in: local news.

So, here are those shortcuts...

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"I'm probably the most normal crazy guy you know..."

Update 2014-01-27: Collins has pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping.
____

It was one of the most bizarre -- and scary -- local stories of the past week: UAlbany police say a man attempted to abduct two women at a bus stop near the university's downtown campus. And in one of the incidents, they allege the man had a knife -- thankfully another student intervened and no one was hurt. [YNN] [News10]

One of the things about crime stories is that so often the people involved -- both perpetrators and victims -- end up being portrayed as one-dimensional characters. And while there are understandable reasons why that happens -- time, space, limited resources, limited attention -- it also sometimes makes it hard to remember these events are happening to real people. And maybe it also makes it harder for us to understand how and why these things happen.

The man accused in the alleged abduction attempts is 54-year-old Anthony Collins. As it happens, Collins is the subject of a documentary project by UAlbany student Shannon Straney. In the short doc, Collins talks about being diagnosed with mental illness, and Straney's project is aimed at better understanding how the condition has affected his life. Part 1 of the project is embedded above.

We got in touch with Straney this week to ask her a few questions about the documentary project, and how it's prompted her to look at the alleged incident from the past week. Here's a quick Q&A...

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NY attorney general's office tries to trim the astroturf

yelp screengrabFrom the state attorney general's office:

Posing as the owner of a yogurt shop in Brooklyn, representatives from Attorney General Schneiderman's office called the leading SEO companies in New York to request assistance in combating negative reviews on consumer-review websites. During these calls, representatives from some of these companies offered to write fake reviews of the yogurt shop and post them on consumer-review websites such as Yelp.com, Google Local and Citysearch.com, as part of their reputation management services.
The investigation revealed that SEO companies were using advanced IP spoofing techniques to hide their identities, as well as setting up hundreds of bogus online profiles on consumer review websites to post the reviews. The investigation found that many consumer-review websites have implemented filters to detect and filter or delete fake reviews, with Yelp's being the most aggressive. ...
Besides using their own employees to write and post the reviews, the companies hired freelance writers from as far away as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe for $1 to $10 per review. One SEO company required that freelancers have an established Yelp account, more than 3 months old, with more than 15 reviews (at least half unfiltered), and 10 Yelp "friends," as an attempt to avoid Yelp's advanced review filter.

The operation was called "Operation Clean Turf" (because, you know, of "astroturfing"). The OAG announced that it had reached an agreement with 19 companies to stop writing fake online reviews and pay $350,000 in penalties. Quote from AG Eric Schneiderman in the press release: "'Astroturfing' is the 21st century's version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it."

None of the allegations made by the AG's office are surprising. If you talk with people in online marketing and/or content you'll hear all sorts of stories about stuff like this. And apparently it's a growing problem. Hell, we've had people try to astroturf posts here at AOA.

And, you know, what else would you expect? Any system with value to someone -- whether it be online recommendations, Google's Page Rank, the world financial markets -- will end up being the target of manipulation. Such is the modern world.

That said, sometimes people are really, truly irked by the spoons.

"First of all, how lame is it that someone tweeted the 518?"

anderson cooper 518 lame

"I mean… please, what is that, upstate New York somewhere?"

Coming up: A Wolf Blitzer muummuu. But first...

Bad Decisions. Outrage. Silver fox sassiness.

Anderson Cooper 360 had a segment Thursday night about the huge unauthorized party that trashed the Rensselaer County house that belongs to former NFL player Brian Holloway, and Holloway's subsequent effort to shame the teens allegedly involved by posting their images on a website. (The story's since been covered by outlets all around the country.)

After the package by Randi Kaye, Anderson Cooper riffed on one of the tweets that was apparently posted from the party:

"First of all, how lame is it that someone tweeted the 518? I mean... please, what is that, upstate New York somewhere?"
"Yeah, man, 518. Woo. Rockin' it. Keepin' it real in the 518. That's how we roll... in [Oh-needa], New York... not that's there's anything wrong with [Oh-needa], New York..."

Later in the show, AC highlighted the Wolf Blitzer muummuu that Man Man's Ryan Kattner wore at Rest Fest.

(Thanks, Duncan.)

screengrab: CNN

Jimmy Vielkind leaving Times Union

jimmy vielkind hat bwAce Times Union political reporter Jimmy Vielkind is leaving the paper to join Capital New York's expanding Albany bureau, TU capitol bureau chief Casey Seiler announced today.

Capital New York, a news website that's focused mostly on New York City politics and culture, was recently acquired by Robert Albritton, the owner of DC political news factory Politico. The plan is apparently to turn Capital New York into a sort of Politico for New York State. Last week, one of Politico's co-founders said Capital New York planned to hire six new reporters for its Albany bureau. (So... who gets poached next?) [Capital New York] [NYT] [Bloomberg]

Earlier on AOA: Interesting in 2010: Jimmy Vielkind

photo: Jimmy Vielkind Twitter

Well, that is upstate...

msnbc upstate ny wrong map

You know, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. It happens.

And sometimes, when it does happen, you have to laugh.

That screengrab above is from the Martin Bashir show on MSNBC, about the upcoming Barack Obama bus tour through upstate New York. And as @AlbanyArchives remarked: "We'd like to welcome Binghamton, Buffalo and Cuse to the Capital Region!"

The show owned up to the mistake. From a tweet last night:

Thank you viewers (and Buffalo bloodline @lukerussert) for pointing out our erroneous PA/NY map...an honest geographic mistake...

[via @AlbanyArchives]

Update: A map of the MSNBC cities versus where the actual cities are (with distances)...

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GRAARRARRR

We admit we've watched this multiple times.

This made us laugh: Former Fox23 reporter Julie Tremmel -- now apparently on the ursine beat for a station in Rhode Island -- recently put together a package about a man who faced down a bear in his yard. Part of the story: how to "protect yourself should you come across a curious bear."

Then she demonstrated. And didn't hold anything back.

Buzzfeed has gifs.

[via @KLowmanTV]

Lifetime says injunction is lifted, it's showing that Christopher Porco movie

lifetime romeo killer chris porco

The Lifetime Network says it's won an appeal in state appellate court that allows it to show the made-for-TV movie Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story this Saturday night. Deadline has a copy of the order.

A state supreme court judge had issued the injunction Wednesday after Christopher Porco himself had filed a motion objecting to the use of his name and story in the movie. [TU]

Earlier Thursday Slate's Emily Bazelon explained why the restraining order probably didn't stand much chance of holding up. A clip:

Christopher Porco sued Lifetime under New York civil rights law, arguing--without having seen the film--that the movie is "fictionalized" and uses his name for "purposes of trade." Judge Muller should have realized that the First Amendment trumps publicity rights here. Courts almost never stop movies--or books or articles or blog posts--from being published. Nor should they: As the Supreme Court has repeatedly said, the value of a big teeming marketplace of free speech and ideas outweighs the cost of publishing information that's far more private and controversial than the facts of Christopher Porco's history and crimes.

The family of Amanda Knox tried a similar move in 2011 in an attempt to stop a Lifetime movie about her story -- that didn't work, either. [Deadline] [Deadline]

Romeo Killer is scheduled to run Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 7 pm.

In other words, yes, your weekend has been saved.

photo: Ed Araquel / Lifetime

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.

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Era of holy-crap-will-I-have-a-media-job-tomorrow? continues

troy record buildingFrom the kafkaesque intersection of modern journalism and business: there was one bidder for the Journal Register Company -- the parent company of the Troy Record and the Saratogian -- at its bankruptcy auction last week. That company: an "affiliate" of Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that already owns Journal Register. [Saratogian] [AP/Washington Post]

That was pretty much the plan when the company filed for bankruptcy (again) last fall: to wash the company through bankruptcy in an effort to rid itself of legacy obligations -- like leases and pensions. [John Paton blog]

So. It's not exactly the most confidence-inducing time for employees of the company. And then this happens: everyone got termination notices. From a Saratogian article by editor Barbara Lombardo:

This does not mean there will be changes in the operation or staffing of The Saratogian, The Record, the Community News or other Journal Register Company properties. Changes, if any, will be up to the new owners.
The termination notices were mailed to every employee in the company in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act -- commonly called the WARN Act -- which requires most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
In this case, once the sale is complete, the purchaser will contact current Journal Register Company employees about its staffing decisions. Journal Register Company officials said they hope to complete the sale on or about April 17.

Update: Here's the notice filed with New York State.

Said a JRC VP to the (Litchfield County, CT) Register Citizen (itself a JRC paper): "Journal Register Company's leadership team cannot speak on behalf of the new owner, but has continually expressed to the purchaser that a competent and competitive workforce is critical to the Company's success moving forward."

Noted.

Earlier and elsewhere:
+ Parent company of Saratogian, Record files for bankruptcy. Again. (2012)
+ Nieman Lab: Journal Register Co. declares bankruptcy... again: Is this the industry's first real reboot? (2012)
+ Poynter: Newspaper investor [and Alden Global Capital founder] Randy Smith breaks silence to speak up for Gannett
+ Back in 2011 the NY Post called Smith the "grandfather of vulture investing"

image: Troy Record

Modern Farmer

modern farmer logoThree things about this:

1) There's a publication called Modern Farmer starting -- and it's based in Hudson (on Warren Street, it appears).

2) From its Tumblr:

There has been a movement afoot in recent years to make connections between what we eat, how we live and, frankly, how we can avoid trashing the planet. Food and farming buzzwords -- food security, localism, urban farming, for instance -- have entered the mainstream. People want to know where their food comes from and how they can grow it themselves. Modern Farmer recognizes the escalating importance, even urgency, of global agriculture issues. We want to raise awareness through excellent, independent journalism. (And the occasional animal picture.) We'll provide tools and information for people who want to be more self-reliant, and celebrate those who are leading the way.
Modern Farmer is for window-herb growers, career farmers, people who have chickens, people who want to have chickens and anyone who wants to learn more about the new food culture. We'll be posting behind-the-scenes images from our offices and previews of the kind of content you can expect from Modern Farmer.

3) And they're hiring. (Yes, an actual full-time journalism job.)

[via @JustKristi]

A Small American City

duncan crary medium shotSomething to listen to this weekend: A Small American City, the new podcast from Duncan Crary. As you might guess because of Duncan's involvement, it's about Troy. From the blurbage:

It aims to re-acquaint listeners with small city life in North America through the voices, stories, history and urban fabric of [Duncan's] home city of Troy, New York. The program features spoken-word essays and intimate conversations with a cast of characters who bring this unusual Hudson River settlement to life. This is not a news program. It is not a talk show. It is a passport into the lives of the people who inhabit a place. You are a welcome eavesdropper.

He recently talked about the project with the Troy Record.

There are currently three episodes available, and the main part of each is an interview. Our favorite of the three was the interview with local author Jack Casey. (He tells a good story about the time a judge asked him if he was going to stop being an asshole.)

We are Duncan fans, obviously. And we're looking forward to new episodes, especially as Duncan polishes the concept. (If we had a vote, we'd cast it for more interview and less Achilles.)

Here's how to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Also: Don't miss this excellent bird's-eye-view map of 1881 Troy.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Holiday wish list: Duncan Crary
+ Duncan Crary, downtown disciple

Interesting stories to cover 2012

st josephs albany exterior

St. Joseph's is part of one of the stories mentioned...

With the end of the year coming up, we thought it'd be fun to ask a bunch of people about some of their favorite/most interesting things from the 2012.

Next up: a handful of local journalists on the stories that were most interesting to cover this year...

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About the Times Union/real estate agents situation

tu newspaper boxYou might have seen the Romenesko post about how the Times Union is apologizing to real estate agents over a piece it published a few weeks ago about ignoring real estate agents' advice. The post has been circulating locally on Twitter ever since it was published late Tuesday. And the Biz Review followed up on Wednesday afternoon.

We've been thinking about this episode since sharing the link on Twitter last night. And for what it's worth, here are those thoughts...

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Albany weekend on C-SPAN

c-span albany on uss slaterThe product of C-SPAN's recent wonk through of Albany will show up this weekend on C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3.

The segments produced here as part of the network's "Local Content" tour will be "sprinkled throughout the weekend," but they'll also be shown in two blocks. Here's the schedule...

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And then Tim Tebow called

twitter trendsmap Albany tebowcallmatt

A screengrab of the Trendsmap for tweets in the Capital Region Monday night around 10 pm.

Remarkable: A hashtag campaign on Twitter Monday night -- #tebowcallmatt -- got Tim Tebow to call Matt Hardy, one of the teens seriously injured in the fatal crash this past Saturday on the Northway.

The campaign resulted in what was apparently a huge surge of tweets -- the hashtag was trending nationally for a while Monday night. There were also two related campaigns -- #MissyCallBailey and #DaleyCallBailey -- trying to get Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin and/or British Olympic diver Tom Daley to call Bailey Wind, the other teen seriously injured. (Wind is a diver planning to attend the University of Tennessee.)

Update: Franklin tweeted late Monday night that she called Bailey Wind and got her voicemail. "Would still love to talk to her."

The two other teens in the vehicle that night -- Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, both Shen students -- died from injuries sustained during the crash. The Saratoga County DA's office says State Police are reviewing evidence from the crash, and waiting on a blood alcohol content test, as they consider charges against the driver of the other vehicle.

As we watched some of the tweets stream by tonight, one by Patti Gibbons seemed worth highlighting: "The challenge, #518Family, is to live what you're tweeting tonight for more than a few days. Make a life change for the better."

screengrab: Trendsmap / Google Maps

Prepare now: C-SPAN is coming to Albany

c-span local content vehiclesNot content to restrict itself to broadcasting floor speeches from empty Congressional chambers, incredibly thorough book reviews, and every panel discussion at every think tank in DC, C-SPAN has decided to extend its reign of terror to Albany.

That's right, mamas, lock up your wonks and hide your policy nerds, Brian Lamb's horde of marauding content buccaneers is descending upon our fair city.

The renegade, no-holds-barred network will be in town under the guise of highlighting the history and rich cultural heritage of Albany for an entire week on C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3 (yes, while you weren't paying attention, the C-SPAN beast has grown another high-channel-number head):

C-SPAN videojournalists are travelling in specially detailed Ford Transit Connect vehicles, which C-SPAN is calling Local Content Vehicles (LCV's), visiting various literary and historic sites and interviewing local historians, authors and civic leaders. Outfitted with the most current digital camera, editing and other recording technologies, each member of the LCV team is equipped to shoot and edit video on location as well as make presentations to schools and community organizations about C-SPAN and its public affairs content.

Its pre-invasion forces having already infiltrated the highest levels of Albany, C-SPAN will be welcomed next Tuesday (November 13) at Albany city hall by Jerry Jennings, artist Len Tantillo, and William Kennedy. (Bill... It's gonna be OK... Blink twice slowly if you require extraction... We have a team ready to lift off.)

Albany is just the latest stop in C-SPAN's rampage across the American landscape. Montpelier was the last city to be hit -- and, as we understand it, the Green Mountain capital will never be the same.

photo: C-SPAN

Tonko/Dieterich Twitter debate

daily gazette ny20 twitter debate screengrabThe Daily Gazette's David Lombardo hosted a Twitter debate for the 20th Congressional District race between incumbent Paul Tonko (D) and challenger Bob Dieterich (R) yesterday -- it's embedded (with free access) at that link.

How was it? Not bad!

Sure, the candidates weren't able to go on at length about their positions -- though that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Most debates are relatively high in "blah blah blah" content. But on Twitter the candidates had to get right to the point. Considering the way a lot of these sorts of discussions go off the rails because of the candidates and/or moderators, some built-in constraints can be helpful (up next: dueling political haiku).

Of course, a Twitter debate by itself would be insufficient -- but part of a broader mix of live debates, interviews, exchanges, it's a good changeup. So +1 for trying something new. We'd like to see it again.

TU editorial cartoonist John de Rosier laid off

john de rosier caricatureTimes Union editorial cartoonist John de Rosier was laid off this week. De Rosier had been at the paper for 13 years. His panel today included a goodbye to readers:

For nearly thirteen years, it has been my privilege to comment on the news as the editorial cartoonist for the Times Union. Due to layoff, my tenure here has come to an end. Thank you all for reading, for your comments pro and con, for keeping me on my toes, and for reminding me daily that my opinion is not the only one worth hearing.

As newspapers around the country have made significant cuts in an attempt to maintain (or return to) profitability, many editorial cartoonists have been among the ranks laid off. Just recently, editorial cartoonists at papers in New Orleans, St. Louis, and Syracuse -- and now Albany -- have lost their jobs. [Washington Post] [Cagle] [Daily Cartoonist]

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Reviews of The Place Beyond the Pines

place beyond the pines gosling still

Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider who knocks over banks. Apparently it's less ridiculous than that sounds.

The movie that shot in Schenectady last summer -- The Place Beyond the Pines -- debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday night. It stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, and a bunch of other actors you'll recognize. It also reportedly includes many locations you'll recognize around the area.

The film has been picked up by prominent art house film distributor Focus Features after what was apparently a bidding war. Director Derek Cianfrance says it will be released sometime in 2013. [IndieWire] [IndieWire]

Here's a quick a scan of the post-debut reviews...

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Calling BS on that for which you are known

brandon mendelson bio photoBJ Mendelson -- upstate Twitter archduke (currently 772k followers), one-time UAlbany grad student, purveyor of air -- has a new book: Social Media is Bullsh*t. You can probably guess the central argument of the book from its title.

Here's a clip from the blurbage on his publisher's site:

In this lively, insightful guide, journalist and social critic B.J. Mendelson skillfully debunks the myths of social media. He illustrates how the notion of "social media" first came to prominence, why it has become such a powerful presence in the marketing field, and who stands to benefit each time it's touted in the press. He shows you why all the Facebook friends and Twitter followers in the world mean nothing to you and your business without old-fashioned, real-world connections. He examines popular tales of social media "success," and reveals some unsettling truths behind the surface. And he tells you how to best harness the potential of the Internet--without spending a fortune in the process.

We haven't seen the book, yet (apparently it includes the term "Cyber Hipsters"). But it's some sort of trick to be able to turn a massive follower count on Twitter into a book that argues a massive follower count on Twitter is meaningless. It got him on CNBC this week.

He'll be at the Barnes & Noble at Colonie Center today (Friday) for a book signing, from 4-6 pm.

photo: Matthew Farenell

Parent company of Saratogian, Record files for bankruptcy. Again.

troy record front page 2012-09-05The Journal Register Co. -- the parent company of the Saratogian and the Troy Record -- announced today that it's filing for bankruptcy. That prompted a WTF? moment for a lot of media people because JRC has already been through bankruptcy recently, emerging in 2009.

So, what's the deal?

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The Cambridge Hotel ep of Hotel Hell

gordon ramsay hotel hell cambridge hotel

Experience the transformative powers of my British accent...

The Cambridge Hotel episode of Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell aired last night. If you missed it and would like to watch it, the Fox website says the full ep will be available online August 28. (You can watch it now if you have Hulu Plus, or you're a Dish or Verizon subscriber.)

You've seen this show even if you haven't seen this show. Ramsay shows up, things look bad, he scolds some people and tells them how bad they are, we witness an epiphany produced by the scolding -- and look at how much better everything is now. Here's a representative clip from last night's show in which Ramsay scolds owner John Imhof about the apple pie.*

And, hey: Steve got a few seconds -- and even one line -- which was fun. Also: here's an account of Jerry's visit post-Ramsay.

As you probably know, the hotel wasn't ultimately saved. It was foreclosed upon and sold at auction in June. [Post-Star]

Related: NYT had an interesting story about what happens after these restaurant makeover shows leave -- it appears that very few of the places end up doing well.

*Apple pie a la mode was first created at the Cambridge Hotel. Maybe.

photo: Hotel Hell/Fox

The recipe for a juicy rumor -- or, Did you hear the one about Wegmans and Albany?

wegmans rumor recipe illustration

The ingredients are there...

Hey, have you heard the rumor about Wegmans coming to Albany? At the Latham Circle Mall? At the First Prize Center?

Variations of this rumor have been circulating since at least the beginning of the year. We've heard from it about 100 different people (an exaggeration, but not by much). And they all heard from a guy who knows a guy who... you get the picture.

The latest version surfaced Tuesday and it goes like this: the big W has bought the Latham Circle Mall -- it's a done deal -- and Wegmans will start demolition/construction soon. Since then, we've watched search referral traffic for "wegmans albany" come rolling in. The word has obviously gotten around.

Well, for what it's worth, Jo Natale -- a spokesperson for Wegmans -- told us today that the company has not bought the Latham Circle Mall property.

But that story is just so delicious. And it's easy to see why -- it follows the recipe for a juicy rumor...

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TvFilm 4

TvFilm 2TvFilm -- WMHT's showcase of short films created by regional filmmakers -- returns this Sunday (June 24), and will have new episodes for six weeks. From the blurbage:

WMHT sought out unique and original independently-made short films created in upstate New York and western New England with the idea that you don't have to be in the Big Apple or Los Angeles to make, watch or enjoy independent cinema. TvFILM proves that filmmaking is alive and well in our region. From short films to documentaries to animated shorts, TvFILM leaves no cinematic stone unturned.

The schedule is post-jump. We noticed the second episode (July 1) includes the documentary about Tyler Rhodes, the Albany teen fatally stabbed in Hoffman Park, created by the Grand Street Arts' YouthFX program.

TvFilm airs at 10:30 pm on Sundays.

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Our Town: Troy

our town troy stillWMHT's new Our Town: Troy airs for the first time this Thursday at 7:30 pm. From the blurbage:

WMHT's OUR TOWN TROY features stories told by those who live and work in Troy using their personal video cameras. The stories are designed to show the heritage, personalities and unique characteristics that make the community distinct. The stories are chosen and told by community members.

The program includes 25 stories -- the full list of stories and storytellers is after the jump. And here are a bunch of stills from the program.

The Our Town series already includes Amsterdam, Bethlehem, Hudson, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady. Those episodes are available online in full.

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Proposed New York legislation aims to crack down on anonymous online comments

NYS Capitol from ESPMembers of both the state Senate and Assembly are pushing legislation that aims to crack down on cyberbullying and other online nastiness by requiring a commenter's actual name and contact info be associated with a comment.

From the text of the "Internet Protection Act":

"A web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate. All web site administrators shall have a contact number or e-mail address posted for such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted."

The bill's Senate sponsor -- Tom O'Mara, a Republican from the southern tier -- has framed the bill as anti-cyberbullying measure: "Victims of anonymous cyberbullies need protection. We're hopeful that this legislation can be helpful to the overall effort to deter and prevent anonymous criminals from hiding behind modern technology and using the Internet to bully, defame and harass their victims." [NY Senate]

But other sponsors also see the legislation as a way to crack down on anonymous criticism of businesses and politicians.

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Covering a visit from the POTUS

Press at Obama Nanotech.jpg

Waiting for President Obama

By AOA Mary

Hey, guess what? The president was in town today.

And, yes, I got to go to the event. And yes, I was excited about that. I was excited about what a presidential visit says about what's happening in the Capital Region, excited that the leader of the free world thinks this is an important place to visit, and excited that I got to hear him speak in person.

But I was a little less excited than I was the first time I covered a presidential visit -- and that's no reflection on the president. This is the third time President Obama has visited the Capital Region, and the second time I've covered his visit.

What's it like to cover a presidential visit? It's a compelling (not) story of press releases, protocol, twitter, 4G frustration, porto-potties, and hurry up and wait.

Here's how it goes...

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"The recession seems to be every place but here"

UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering was featured on the CBS Evening News last night. The angle: how the public/private partnership there is creating jobs -- "even for a blue collar guy." (It should be noted the "here" in the title quote refers to CSNE.)

The package was better than ABC's GlobalFoundries story from earlier this week. (Thankfully, Jim Axelrod did not feel the need the wear a clean room suit.) But, oddly, the CBS package didn't mention the GlobalFoundries chip fab. Maybe the two segments can be stuck together using some sort of cross-network nanotechnology.

Even though these sorts of stories often miss the mark, they're still spreading word of some of the stuff going on here. The same goes for the Obama visit next week. That's worth something -- how much is hard to say -- but something.

(Thanks, Fred! Thanks, John!)

That ABC News story about GlobalFoundries

The much hyped ABC World News story about the GlobalFoundries chip fab and Malta aired last night. And it was shockingly bad.

As reported by ABC, the chip fab story is one in which a plucky "tiny American town" got together, put on a show, "beat out of the world," and is now "coming back to life." And (best TV reporter smile voice) look at those crazy white coverall suits people have to wear at a chip fab!

No mention of the fact this "tiny American town" isn't actually in the middle of nowhere, but rather is part of the 59th largest metro area in the country -- and in the middle of the most prosperous county in that metro area. No mention of the $1.4 billion in public incentives used to lure the fab project, including an unprecedented $665 million cash grant. No mention of UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and its focus on chip fab research, the presence of which was key to attracting the fab. No mention of the billions in public and private investment going into this metro area for chip fab research.

There are so many angles to this story that could have highlighted both that Americans are capable of advanced manufacturing -- and the investment, complications, and side effects of attracting that sort of development.

What makes ABC's story even worse is that the correspondent, David Muir, is from upstate New York. He grew up in the Syracuse area, went to Ithaca College, and was on the local TV news in Syracuse. It's not like this place should be totally foreign to him. We're reasonably sure he's heard of the Albany metro area.

But attention is attention.

Post-Star is starting a pay wall

post-star front page 2012-04-30The Post-Star announced today that it will start charging readers for online content this week.

The paper is using a model similar to the one used by the New York Times. Readers will get 15 free "page views" (we wonder if that's page views or stories) per month. After that, you'll need a paid subscription -- "non-subscribers will not be able to click on headlines to view stories." The paper is charging print subscribers $1.95 per month for online access -- it will be $6.50 per month readers for everyone else.

The Post-Star is owned by Lee Enterprises, which is switching most of its papers over to a paywall. Lee filed for bankruptcy last year (the re-organization kind) in order to re-finance $1 billion in debt. The chain's CEO just got a $500k bonus for pulling off the re-fi. [St. Louis Post-Disptach] [Thomson Reuters] [Romenesko]

The Post-Star recently laid off a trio of reporters, and appears to be pulling back from covering Saratoga Springs. [Adirondack Almanack]

The highest profile pay wall experiment has been New York Times, which appears to be doing OK with it. The Boston Globe has been experimenting with one. The Wall Street Journal has charged for access for what seems like forever now. And, of course, locally the Daily Gazette also has a pay wall (yes, we know, you don't like it when we link to their stories). [CJR]

Why's this happening?

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Sh*t Public Radio Listeners Say

By the way: it's N-e-d-a U-l-a-b-y.

More evidence that "sh*t (insert whatever) say" is the dominant mode through which we now understand modern society: local public radio people Sarah LaDuke, Ian Pickus, and David Hopper have created a "Sh*t Public Radio Listeners Say" video.

And it's funny. Because it's true. Nicely played.

If you sit with the volunteers answering calls during a WAMC pledge drive, you will hear about half of these things in one hour. They'll also tell you that you sound taller on the radio.

Earlier on AOA: Local holiday wish list: Sarah LaDuke

AOA crowd car radio presets

aoa crowd presets radio graph

If there was a "crowd radio."

Last week, Capitol to Capital asked about the stations people had preset on their car radios.

A bunch of people answered, so we thought it'd be fun to count responses to see what stations the AOA crowd is listening to...

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Office chair lacking a jet engine? Maybe he can help with that.

mad scientists john bowler

John Bowler atop the "mechanical lizard car."

This is fun: John Bowler, a contractor from Malta, is the host of a new show on the National Geographic Channel called Mad Scientists. From the blurbage:

Travel across America with host John Bowler as he ventures into gadget-filled garages and junk-strewn backyards to meet amateur inventors who are making amazing(ly weird) things! Test-drive a jet-powered minivan, a fire-breathing wheelchair, a water-powered rocket belt, and more. Once we've seen what these 'mad scientists' are capable of, John challenges each inventor to improve one of their creations, and, with his help, build the coolest, weirdest thing they can think of. And here's the catch -- they only have 48 hours. The results? Well, it might work and it might not, but either way, "It's going to get weird!"

After the jump, there's a clip from an episode in which they build a rocket-propelled motorcycle/office chair.

Bowler got an audition for the show through a college roommate who's producing the show -- and, as he told to the TU, "I'm fairly fluent in wacko."

Mad Scientists debuts tonight at 10 pm at Nat Geo.

(Thanks, Jessica R!)

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Saratoga lip dub, a week later

The Saratoga lip dub remixed with a dubstep track. Posted by YouTube user BrothaMouzone1.

It's been just about week since the much-hyped Saratoga lib dub was released -- and it's been viewed a little more than 35,500 times on YouTube.

That's not bad, but as Drew pointed out recently, it doesn't even come close to the total number of views for that clip of drunk people knocking down the horse statue on Broadway. Two of the most popular postings of that video total more than 120,000 views. (Sure, those videos are much older, but if you check the stats, most of their views came shortly after they were posted.)

The lip dub's view count might not be notable if it weren't for the fact that Saratoga officials were aiming for a mark somewhat higher than 35k -- 10 million views. That figure was probably never realistic (at least, without a sneezing baby panda), but it gives a sense of the kind of hopes people had for this effort. And, we're guessing, the video wasn't cheap to make. [WNYT]

It's hard to create viral stuff -- and however much skill someone might develop for it, there's always going to be a certain amount of luck involved. The situation also highlights why it's important to not copy what other places have done. People -- especially people online -- love novelty. If you're the nth college/business/city to do a lip dub (or whatever), you'll have to fight a lot of lip dub fatigue.

In the case of the successful Grand Rapids lip dub, it was both relatively novel (for a city) and there was a strong reason for it to exist (a response to a claim that the city was "dying"). The Saratoga video lacked both novelty and a backing narrative.

Still, we give the organizers credit for trying something different than the usual regional marketing effort. And they were able to organize an impressive number of people who, by all accounts, had fun and generated some community spirit (that's something!). But they probably should have tried something even more different. And unique to Saratoga. And, yep, that's hard.

Also: next time, more "Yakety Sax."

Cruel and unusual

Alternative to jail is working in Albany

Well, at times it can seem small and confining...

Bridget snapped this pic while in the ladies room at the Newseum in DC. The walls are tiled with blooper headlines.

In this case we're not so sure it was a blooper rather than someone at the Gazette having some fun. The headline is from a 1998 story by Jill Bryce about a work alternative program administered by the Albany County Sheriff's Department.

(Thanks, Bridget!)

Organizers want public access television in Troy

publicaccesstv.jpg

Television control rooms like this one could be available to the public if Troy requests public access.

Activists in Troy are trying to mobilize as many people as possible to attend a Troy City Council meeting tonight to speak out against a proposed 10-year cable contract with Time Warner.
The biggest issue that community organizers like filmmakers Jim DeSeve and Andrew Lynn see is that the Time Warner deal does not provide Troy and the surrounding areas with public access television stations. Jim DeSeve said that deals like the one in Schenectady show that there can be a thriving public access cable channel that the public can use to produce its own shows.
Federal laws require cable companies to provide public access services to a community in exchange for using a municipality's right of way such as cable wires. Andrew Lynn said the people could have three public access cable stations: one for public programming, one for education and one for government. But it won't happen unless city official ask for it.
The group is urging the Troy City Council to vote no on the Time Warner deal and to negotiate a deal with a company that will offer the Troy community cable access.
The meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at Christ Church at 5th and State streets. There will be a public comment period before the vote.

Photo courtesy of Klaser Filmsvia Flickr

All eyes on him during the storm

eric fisher search traffic irene

Search traffic to AOA for Eric Fisher leading up to and after Hurricane Irene. Not a huge number, but there definitely was interest.

eric fisher weather channelAt Quito's request, we pulled the search referral traffic to AOA for Weather Channel meteorologist Eric Fisher leading up to and during Hurricane Irene. We've written about him a few times because he was the guy in the famous UAlbany Fountain Day photo a few years back.

He's also... what's the meteorological term... really hot.

As Quito suspected, the storm did seem to prompt some significant interest in Mr. Fisher -- who, if we remember correctly, was reporting from Virginia. Google Trends also reported a spike in searches. Among the popular search referrals AOA got were queries about his age, photos of him, whether he's married, and whether he's gay.

People were obviously very focused on the storm. Yep.

Earlier on AOA:
+ The sexy weatherman
+ He's the famous Fountain Day guy

photo: The Weather Channel

Messing with Schenectady

schenectady wikipedia entry screengrabChris Churchill recently checked the Wikipedia entry for Schenectady and found an interesting "fact" about the origins of the city's name -- specifically that it's "derived loosely from a Mohawk word for 'dress in layers.'"

Of course, that's not true. The edit was made August 4 at 6:24 pm by user RalphMonster -- the first contribution recorded under that name. It was corrected (with the actual origin) just 8 minutes later by Wknight94, who has a significant record of contributions -- in fact, he/she has the highest number of logged changes to the entry.

The correction was uncorrected (if that's the word) Monday at 4:07 pm, about a half hour after Chris noted the odd "fact." The new version: "The name 'Schenectady' is derived loosely from a Mohawk word for 'church hill,' or 'near the church hill,' or 'place beyond the church hill.' The user: 518Snark, who seemed to be having some fun based on Chris' name. (It was 518Snark's first contribution.) The entry was re-corrected at 11:15 pm Monday by a user who did not login, but whose IP address does have a history of contributions.

Anyway, everyone knows that Schenectady means "place where people swoon over goslings."

Kate Welshofer, off prompter

kate welshoferNewsflash: the people on TV are actual, three-dimensional people. You might find that surprising, but we can confirm from having known of some these people from before they were were on TV -- they existed pre-screen. It's true.

Sometimes these TV people provide clues that they are, in fact, real people. We came across one such clue recently: "No Teleprompter, No Mercy," a blog written by YNN anchorlady Kate Welshofer.

Some of the posts are about TV news. Others are more personal, like the one about how the state issued her father a lifetime hunting license -- six months after he died. All of them usually involve some humor. We enjoyed a recent post about using the weather tease format for everyday conversations:

"We are out of toilet paper... again. How many times does this have to happen? I'm going to check the linen closet and I'll let you know what I find."

Kate* is also on Twitter, as is her cat -- Brian Williams (@AnchorcatBrian).

She always comes off as so serene on TV (maybe it's her eyes, they are... very blue). We like the fact that she seems like a bit of a goofball the rest of the time.

*Can we call you Kate? We've watched you on TV, so, it's like we know you, right? Right? (Oh, no, we're like those people who used to say, "I know you from the radio!")

photo via Kate Welshofer Twitter

Swipe card, open door, remove paper

tu box credit card slot

Eight quarters. Twenty dimes. Forty nickels. Or one card.

We noticed this Times Union newspaper box outside the Gateway Diner in Albany the other day. It caught our eye because it has a credit card slot. It's the first newspaper box we've seen like that. It makes sense -- who ever has 8 quarters to pump into a box for a Sunday paper?

Note to readers who stumble upon this post via a Google search in the future: As their name suggests, newspapers were once actually printed on paper ("newsprint," it was called). People could buy these "papers" from a box by depositing coins (small metal discs that served as money), pulling down a door and taking one paper (they could have taken all the papers, but people didn't do that). This was all before the newsfeed started beaming directly to the chip in your head. Yes, we were all very quaint in the past.

bears > local government secrecy

Ricky Gervais has a very important message for the Pulitzer Prize committee, and it involves the Post-Star:

Heh.

The funniest thing Elisa Streeter has ever seen

It involves Coors Field, an infield tarp, and a man tripping last week.

Thank goodness Caporizzo was there to save the end of newscast.

The sexy weatherman

eric fisher weather channelEric Fisher -- the UAlbany grad who was the guy in the famous Fountain Day photo -- is now an on-camera meteorologist at The Weather Channel. When we talked with him in 2009, he was at WGGB in Springfield, Massachusetts. (He was a really good sport about the photo.)

And based on the search referral traffic we've been getting for his name, he's becoming a viewer favorite on The Weather Channel. Yes, person who googled "eric fisher sexy weatherman" -- we're talking about you.

By the way: we never were able to get in touch with the woman in that photo -- the elusive Tatiana Shvacus.

photo: The Weather Channel

Sympathy for the weatherman

jason goughAfter we snarked on Twitter yesterday about the shifting forecasts for today's Icy, Snowy Apocalypse, Jason Gough -- a meteorologist at WNYT -- responded that we were being a bit, you know, cold.

He wasn't wrong! So we bounced a few questions Jason's way about forecasting snow storms, the feedback forecasters get when they're wrong, and whether meteorologists talk smack...

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WNYT is dynamite

If ever you wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a local TV station, we're pretty sure this WNYT clip is a close approximation:

Ed Dague's Six and Eleven

ed dague book six and elevenLongtime Capital Region TV anchor Ed Dague has written a book about... being a TV journalist in the Capital Region for a long time. It's called Six and Eleven. From the blurb:

Dague's book offers a sage and penetrating look at the news business in the Albany metro area, at the people and personalities who both made and reported that news and at how the news business has changed and continues to change. This book also offers insight into the personality and character of a man who was part of the daily routine of hundreds of thousands of Capital District residents who depended on him for a fair and balanced recitation of the events that affected their lives in myriad ways.

We haven't read the book, but we're looking forward to it. Dague was always our favorite local TV anchor.

Back in October he wrote of the book: "[it's] about my experiences, my successes and my failures, while trying to sustain a career in a really strange business that I once thought could produce a lot of good." This week he mentioned that he finally read the book start to finish and "It is a lot better than I expected."

Dague will be appearing at the Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza this Saturday for a signing. He'll also be making a bunch of appearances around the Capital Region over the next month.

Follow up December 3: Paul Grondahl's story in the TU today covers the degenerative arthritic condition that Dague has been fighting.

AOA on CW15, now on Wednesday

aoa on tv with doriCheck it out: AOA's spot on the CW15 News at 10 has been moved to Wednesdays!

We'll be on tonight with Dori talking about backyard chickens, Ryan's question about the best burgers in the Capital Region and... pancake bites.

Update at 8pm Wednesday: ... or not. We just heard that there was a technical problem - and as a result, no AOA segment tonight.

Update again: Now we're going to be on Friday this week! But next week -- and the weeks after -- Wednesday.


This Schenectady Life

steven raucci mug shotThis week's episode of This American Life will focus on the Steven Raucci case in Schenectady. From the blurb for the ep, appropriately titled "Petty Tyrants":

In Schenectady, NY, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he's in charge of the maintenance department. That's when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

TAL airs on WAMC Friday night at 8 pm and Saturday at 4 pm. You can also listen -- and download -- online.

Earlier this year, TAL focused on the broken New York State budget.

(Thanks, everyone!)

photo via This American Life

ESPN3 now available on TWC

espn3 logoThe subject of when ESPN3 would available on Time Warner Cable came up a few weeks back. And we now have an answer -- and it's "now."

TWC sent out an email to subscribers today that ESPN's online video channel is now available -- you just have to register through the "my services" section of TWC's website.

Even though ESPN3 is an online channel, TWC is only making it available to subscribers who also get the regular ESPN via cable. Apparently this restriction was added in an attempt to head off cord-cutting. Sports programming is one of the hardest things to get after dropping the cable subscription in favor of downloads and streaming.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Trouble with digital TV?
+ Ahh! They took Anthony Bourdain from us!

The reviews of Eliot Spitzer's new show are in....

spitzer parker screengrab

The "Can you believe I have a TV show?" face.

After watching the debut last night of Eliot Spitzer's new CNN show Parker Spitzer, it seems the critics were feeling Jay Sherman-esque.

It stinks!

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Trouble with digital TV?

broken TVDonna emails, "in a bit of a rage":

I had antennae for years and was content with their grainy, faded images. I was most pleased that my infrequent television watching was free. So, naturally, when the big switch to digital came, I made the transition using the bare minimum: a converter box and my existing antennae. Boy, am I sorry.
One cannot watch a single thirty-minute program without the imagine freezing, the sound clipping in and out, or the sounds and images falling out of synch from one another. And just when you get a good ten minutes of TV time without getting out of your seat to adjust the antennae, the screen will go blue and you'll find yourself balancing the antennae on a vase in the corner of the room knowing full well that it's not going to work but you're blind with rage because you missed the funny thing Abe Lincoln said to Marry Todd in that new Geico commercial. Which is a silly thing to be so angry over, but you're angry because you're powerless against it.
AOA, I'm sorry to be writing you while I'm angry. I'm not even a big fan of television. I just need to know that I'm not the only one suffering from this poorly planned "upgrade". Is it a problem that only hits certain pockets of Albany? Has there been any backlash, an uproar of any sort that I've somehow missed? Or has everyone with antennae complacently done what the cable companies were silently giddy over ... have they gone and bought basic cable?

Anyone have thoughts, suggestions, rallying cries for Donna? Please share!

We've heard from a few people that they've had trouble picking up some of the broadcast channels since the switch. Apparently putting an antenna on the roof or in the attic helps -- but you know, that involves ladders and whatnot.

The government's digital TV transition site has tips for using rabbit ears and signal strength maps.

By the way: the basic cable package that includes the broadcast channels is about $12/month, though you won't find that on TWC's site -- you have to call to ask about it.

ESPN3
Also, @go_phish recently asked about getting when RoadRunner customers here will be able to get ESPN3, ESPN's online channel (it's currently blocked). TimeWarner and Disney, which owns ESPN, worked out a new deal in September for the continued carriage of the entertainment company's various channels. ESPN3 was part of the deal, with a hitch: when it becomes available on RoadRunner, it will only be accessible by TWC subscribers who also get the TV-version of ESPN. Apparently this qualification was added to combat cord-cutting.

Earlier on AOA: Ahh! They took Anthony Bourdain from us!

photo: Flickr user schmilblick

Ahh! They took Anthony Bourdain from us!

twc discovery channel move

With the realization that there would be no more Dogs 101, there was unrest in the uptown office.

When we slumped down on the couch yesterday evening, we flipped on the TV and clicked around to the Travel Channel. Except it wasn't the Travel Channel. It was Discovery Health.

Who are these Discovery Health people and what have they done with Anthony Bourdain?

Flipping around some more, we found the screen above. Well... fine.

But here's the thing: we don't have digital cable. By choice. Yes, shocking. We have chosen to consign ourselves to 2002. We just never felt the need to pay the extra bucks to upgrade. The 70some channels that we already had seemed like plenty.

But now that means no more No Reservations. No more Dogs 101. No more random CSPAN2 wonking.

So we contacted Time Warner Cable.

(there's more)

This... is Eliot Spitzer

spitzer parker cnnAt least he didn't end up on a reality show.

CNN announced today that Eliot Spitzer (you remember him from such episodes as "The governor who spitzered himself") will be co-hosting a nightly "roundtable discussion" program at 8 pm (he had been guest anchoring on MSNBC). The other host will be columnist Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist and 2010 Putizer Prize winner.

Jon Klein, the head of CNN, is promising a show that's "a lively roundup of all the best ideas -- presented by two of the most intelligent and outspoken figures in the country." Presumably Spitzer and Parker will try to not hurt America, as Jon Stewart famously accused Crossfire, CNN's former left-right wrestling show, of doing (and then Klein cancelled the show).

Among our list of hoped-for guests: Ashley Dupre, David Paterson, Joe Bruno.

CNN says the new show doesn't have a name, yet. All Night Long with Eliot and Kathleen? There would seem to be many possibilities.

Update: Spitzer tells NYT he's "extremely thankful" for the opportunity.

photo: CNN

Allegations against Ward Stone

From a story in the TU this weekend about state wildlife pathologist Ward Stone:

During his 41 years as New York's wildlife pathologist, Ward B. Stone has built a statewide reputation as an environmental hero, popular with the media and a rare public servant willing to thumb his nose at authority to defend nature.
What is less known about the 71-year-old scientist at the state's Wildlife Resources Center in southern Albany County, except among co-workers and state investigators, is that he has a long history of allegations of abusive, unethical and inappropriate behavior, ranging from berating colleagues to shooting animals, and has been repeatedly faulted by his frustrated superiors, according to interviews and records.

Read the whole thing. The list of allegations is long. (Also, "Dr. Stone" doesn't have a PhD.)

Stone told Fox23 this weekend that he's had problems with his accusers "Because they aren't good enough to be in pathology." And he told WTEN that he's been "a bargain for the state."

It'll be interesting to see how these allegations play out in the local media -- Stone is a real media fave. He has a rep as a crusader for the public interest -- recently on topics such as concerns about emissions from the Lafarge cement plant in Ravena, and lead in children's toys.

Stone's lab is at the Five Rivers Environmental Center in Delmar.

Updated at 1:20 pm WAMC says it's suspending production of the show that featured Stone, "In Our Backyard." The statement is after the jump.

(there's more)

Of loudspeakers and tweets

twitter birdToday's hunt for an armed robber in Troy and subsequent lockdown at RPI seemed to stir up a lot people. There was the obvious (and understandable) "Yikes!" reaction to the thought of an armed suspect running through the neighborhood near campus -- but there also seemed to be a bit of confusion and frustration with the way information about the situation was communicated.

Thankfully, no one got hurt. And maybe there are some good things that can come out of all this for the next situation.

(there's more)

Ask AOA: local podcasts

podcast logoJessica R emailed recently:

I was wondering if AOA readers could recommend any locally-themed or locally-produced podcasts.

Here are a few to start:

Know of others? Please share!

The new old Daily Gazette

gazette google grab

There should be more stories about giant blimps.

This is cool: Google is digitizing the Daily Gazette's microfilm -- and it's indexing the archives using optical character recognition (that's software that can "read" the text in images).

Google has already indexed 7.6 million Gazette articles, according to the newspaper's site. The current index stretches back to the 1920s, but paper the archive will eventually include articles from 1897 forward.

The archive is fun to do through. You can search for a topic, read the article (and link to it), zoom out to see page on which the article originally appeared, shuffle through adjacent pages and click on headlines to zoom back in. For example, here's an article from 1922 about Thomas Edison's return to Schenectady. As far as we can tell, you don't have to be a subscriber to use the archive.

Google has working with newspapers to digitize archives since 2008 (and few major papers before that). It shares ad revenue from the archives with the papers.

screen grab: Daily Gazette

Describing the candidates

gillibrand ford badgeWe couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition in coverage of Harold Ford and Kirsten Gillibrand this past weekend.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Ford, a five-term congressman from Tennessee, has given himself until the end of February to decide whether to challenge Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in New York's Democratic primary, but in the first week of a statewide tour, he is quickly revealing what kind of candidate he would be: an effortless retail politician, equally at ease in baroque restaurants and Baptist churches, who makes instant, Clinton-like connections with voters.

And from the New York Daily News:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is turning herself into a leaner, meaner campaigning machine - showing a slimmer silhouette as a tough election battle looms.
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) confirmed to the Daily News what observers have been noticing in recent months - she's dropped some pounds.
She declined to say how many, but outsiders are betting 15 to 20.

Let's just go on the record right now: we won't even think of voting for Harold Ford until we know how many calories he eats each day.

By the way: Ford is at the Capitol in Albany today and says he's strongly considering a challenge to Gillibrand for the Democratic nomination. [@kaitlynross1] [@WNYT]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Does she sound like a senator?
+ The quick scan of Ford/Gillibrand

Luna, Luna, Luna

luna coverage composite 2

Too much?

It's pretty safe to say that we're dog people at AOA. Heck, we never shut up about the office dog.

But yesterday afternoon while watching the news spread that Luna -- the Capital Region's now-famous missing bulldog -- had been found in Colonie, we started thinking: Did this get out of hand?

(there's more)

Retro Ray

CBS6 has continued its "Retro 6" series with a handful of Rachael Ray videos from the late 90s and early 00s.

The segments are kind of fascinating to watch -- it's Rachael Ray, but not RACHAEL RAY. (Of course, this was just the beginning of the campaign for world domination.)

This segment is from 1997:

Retro Joe Bruno

As part of its "Retro 6" web series, CBS6 has posted film from the beginning of Joe Bruno's political career. Uncle Joe appears a little less bold -- and a lot less gray.

RPI's "beer pong" flu: a highly transmissible story

weekend update

The story was mentioned on SNL's Weekend Update this past weekend.

The media are pretty much defenseless against stories like the recent "RPI beer pong flu" story. No journalistic immune system can withstand a story that combines such topicality, weirdness, a health scare and drunk college students. And once stories like this find a host, they're pretty much guaranteed to spread -- often mutating along the way.

The RPI story was no exception. It's spread all over the media world during the last week and a a half. Given that we're pretty sure we know the index case, we thought it'd be interesting/fun to do some media epidemiology.

(there's more)

That Kosciusko McDonald's commercial

We've had a handful of people recently mention a McDonald's TV spot that features a bunch of local namechecks (Amy was the first person to point it out to us):

The spot references Lark Street, the Karner Blue butterfly, the missing Exit 3 on the Northway and Kosciusko (though they mispronounce it).

Well, Michelle has turned up the backstory on the commercial -- including how many times it took the to get the Kosciusko bit right (well, close).

Lydia Kulbida coming back to local TV

lydia kulbidaUpdate: It's official now. From WTEN's Twitter stream:

I am thrilled to be working with Lydia Kulbida for our new 4PM show. Lydia will begin working for WTEN in a couple weeks. Stay tuned! Elisa
Our new 4PM show will feature the news of the day and issues facing women, children and families in general, in the Capital Region.

And Kulbida has now posted about the new job on her blog:

It's rare in this economy to see expansion in a news department, but I've been reading about launches across the country and now get to be part of something new without having to move from an area I love.
___


Tweeted WTEN this afternoon:

a BIG announcement for WTEN tonight! A new member to our team as well... the name may be familiar. Tune in at 6 for the details.

We have heard from a good source that this new "team member" will be Lydia Kulbida. We hear that she'll be anchoring a new 4 pm newscast.

WNYT let Kulbida go last December -- even though she was pretty clearly the area's top local TV anchor (Ed Dague had some thoughts on why that happened). Ch 13's news ratings then dropped (we understand that they've since gone back up) and its news director was recently shown the door/decided to leave.

Since leaving WNYT, Kulbida has been blogging and taking graduate classes. She recently moderated the town hall meeting Paul Tonko held in Bethlehem to talk about health care reform.

(Thanks, Anonymous)

photo: ny.gov

Three new local blogs to check out

FUSSYlittleBLOGThe Capital Region already had a bunch of interesting people who blog, but we wanted to point out a trio of new local blogs that we've been enjoying.

(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)

The state Senate goes social

nys senate site grab

Malcolm in the middle.

The New York Senate's web site gets the social media makeover today. "We like to think of this as returning government to the people ... They paid for it. This is citizens first," says the guy who built it.

In theory, this sounds great. We're all for opening up the governmental process to the public. And stuff like RSS feeds for individual Senators (Neil Breslin, for example) and a "plain language initiative" for public data are all encouraging. Thank you. Yes. This is good. More, please.

But, like with Kirsten Gillibrand's new site, we're also a little wary of this technology just becoming gloss on an otherwise old and broken system. As Bob at Planet Albany posted today:

"No doubt it will be an improvement, but the preview I saw contained photos of public meetings that might leave the unwary with the impression that the Senate is a model of democratic discourse. In fact, on every contentious issue from the budget to the MTA to gay marriage, it is operating under standard Albany rules of closed government."

In the end, the technology is just a tool. Let's hope it's put to good use.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Where's our CongressTube?
+ Schenectady mugshots on Twitter
+ The Albany crime map: keep trying

He's the famous Fountain Day guy

fountain day pic smallAfter the TU's (in)famous 2004 Fountain Day photo resurfaced last week, we were kind of curious to find out what's become of the two people in the pic.

Well, we're still keeping an eye out for the mysterious Tatiana Shvachus -- but we found Eric Fisher. He's now a TV meteorologist in Springfield, Massachusetts.

We emailed him a few questions about his memories of that day -- and that picture.

(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

Schenectady mugshots on Twitter

schenectady mugshotsThe Schenectady Police Department has started posting its arrests reports (including mugshots) online -- and it's publicizing them via a Twitter feed. It looks like the department just started this week.

(there's more)

More on the NXIVM Metroland lawsuit

metroland logoNXIVM's $65 million lawsuit against Metroland was filed over two weeks ago in Niagara County Court-- but so far publisher Stephen Leon hasn't been served.

Leon took a few minutes to talk about the lawsuit with AOA this afternoon.

(there's more)

Suit filed against Metroland for $65 million

metroland logoNXIVM, the controversial executive training program in Colonie, has filed a lawsuit against Metroland, according to documents posted by Courthouse News. The suit seeks $65 million in damages.

The suit alleges that Metroland "conspired" with one of NXIVM's critics to publish false information about the organization in a story published last year (scroll to the bottom). The suit also alleges that NXIVM has "experienced a drop-off of business and loss of profit" because of the Metroland article. In addition to the $65 million, the suit is also seeking to have the article pulled from Metroland's website.

The Albany Student Press was the first place we saw mention of this lawsuit. It reports that Metroland's publisher, Stephen Leon, says that NXIVM's case is not strong and the weekly hasn't been served with the lawsuit, yet.

NXIVM is affiliated with the World Ethical Foundations Consortium, the organization that's bringing the Dalai Lama to Albany in April.

The "dump tax"

dumptaxA couple of people have emailed us today about a "dump tax" that's taking effect today. From the site for this "tax":

The New York bathroom tax will take effect at midnight on March 26. All bathrooms in state buildings and roads will now require a $1.00 pre payment. Toilet paper will be available at twenty-five cents per 10 sheets. Credit and debit cards will be accepted. We thank you in advance for your patience during this transition.

Ha! This is clearly a hoax. And it looks like it was created by people at PYX 106.* The url "dumptaxny.info" was registered by Robert Wohlfeld of Chatham -- AKA The Wolf.

Nicely played.

*We didn't hear the segment in which they apparently talked about this today, so they might have owned up to the hoax on the air.

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.

Liz Funk on Today

liz funk todayLiz Funk, a college student who grew up here in the Capital Region, was on the Today show yesterday talking about the pressures faced by teen girls.

Liz, who's 20-years-old, is the author of a book that will be published in March: "SuperGirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls."

Until recently, she wrote a long-running blog for the TU. And she's been writing freelance pieces for a number of outlets. She also got some attention a few years back for getting into a bit of a rhetorical spat with the popular feminist blog Feministing.

screengrab: NBC

Out in the cold with Capital News 9's Kaitlyn Ross

Kaitlyn Ross cold

Kaitlyn wanted us to tell you that she's much prettier without the hat. We think she's pretty cute this way, too.

So, this morning we turned on Capital News 9 only to find poor Kaitlyn Ross shivering on an Albany street corner just so viewers could see exactly how cold it really is outside.

And a few months back, when trees were bent over with ice, Kaitlyn was standing in Washington Park to let the Capital Region know that it was much too dangerous to -- you know -- stand in Washington Park.

In fact, if it's morning -- and the weather sucks -- turn on channel 9 and you're almost certain to see poor Kaitlyn out in the thick of it. Which prompts the question, what the hell did she do to piss off the Capital News 9 producers?

And of course, being us -- we had to ask.

(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.

Brad Holbrook on the Onion

Brad Holbrook on The Onion

Holbrook plays "Jim" for the Onion

Check it out: former WRGB anchorman Brad Holbrook, who hosted the evening news with Liz Bishop from 1998 to 2001, is now one of the hosts of The Onion's fake morning show Today Now. (Here's a clip with the "author" of a no-food diet book.)

It seems like Holbrook has been headed in this direction since leaving Ch 6. He's appeared as a reporter on Law & Order -- and he's also played a doctor on two different soap operas. He's made a movie appearance, too -- in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate from a few year's back.

Funny thing, though: his IMDB resume doesn't list his time at WRGB.

(Thanks, Kristi!)

Piling on at Giants camp

media huddled around coach at Giants camp

There's a football coach in there. Somewhere.

Even the media huddles up at the Giants' training camp at UAlbany.

Congressional race field still changing, challengers for Silver, Spitzer's shine dims, a bus full of teddy bears, Ed O'Brien to head for warmer climes

Republican Chris Callaghan says he will not run for the 21st Congressional seat. But Schenectady County legislator James Buhrmaster might. There are currently no Republicans officially in the field. [Troy Record] [Daily Gazette]

For the first time in more than 20 years, Sheldon Silver will have challengers in the Democratic primary for his state assembly district. [TU]

Eliot Spitzer is catching criticism for violating the spirit, if not the exact letter, of his campaign finance pledge. Spitzer's people say he's just doing what's necessarily to flip the state senate, while good-government groups are starting to think the Gov is just like the rest of them. [NYT]

Albany Common Councilman Corey Ellis is pushing for the city to have a residency requirement for city employees. [CapNews9]

A Clifton Park woman has gained fame with her teddy bear factory on wheels -- and fortune may be just down the road. [Daily Gazette]

Channel 6 morning news guy Ed O'Brien will be leaving the station in August. He says he wants to pursue a different kind of job -- maybe one involving baseball or horseracing -- somewhere warm. [Business Review]

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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