Thursday, May 10, 2007

Welcome to the machine

The Spa City’s blogosphere indoctrinated a new trio of posters last week, strangely enough from the daily disappointment some refer to as The Saratogian. It’s an unusual step forward for the newspaper, which has become quite renowned for its frequent steps backward.

Again, there seems to be more of an emphasis toward the sports end of the spectrum than news, with two of the three blogs being sports-centric. The third happens to be written by the paper’s city beat reporter and seems so far to be more of a regurgitation of press releases pitched forth by city politicians.

Still, a step forward is a step forward. And when it comes to the editorial decisions barfed down Lake Avenue, any forward movement is remarkable. So here’s a quick-but-guarded kudos to this recent innovation. But as any blogger will tell you, it’s difficult to keep up with the grind of producing day-to-day postings of interest; this semi-daily diatribe being no exception. So the proof in the pudding comes in a few months, when the creativity and innovation of the posters –or lack thereof –will undoubtedly be revealed.

Among the print publications, however, they’ll be facing some stiff competition for the fickle and easily lost attention among cyberspace lurkers. The blog-happy Times Union has already etched out a massive following with their veritable stable of online-authors and has proven to be the lithest among the Capital Region dailies. While some of their blogs borderline on the ludicrous, many are quite progressive and demonstrate a tendency for getting news out there faster than any classic medium; in other words, start saying your prayers, you hacks in television journalism.

Also adding to the recent deluge of daily drivel is the Metroland, which wryly coroneted its own blog during Election Day in November 2006. Unlike the TU’s somewhat issue-focused blogs, this eclectic site seems to wander all over the place with its posts. It’s kind of like the paper itself; if you can weed through a lot of garbage there are some pearls of wisdom to be had. Nevertheless, having a blog is a wise move for the bar-side publication, even if it doesn’t appear to be picking up much steam quite yet.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is The Daily Gazette, which for some reason still thinks it can make a go at selling online subscriptions without having any free online content. Needless to say, the Captial Region’s second largest circulated daily hasn’t bothered with the blogosphere and instead feels fit to watch the TU run away with the show. No doubt, this is perhaps the most regressive thinking among Capital Region publications.

On a side note, The Saratogian finally broke the proverbial Mendoza line of circulation numbers –and not in the positive direction. For the first time in modern history, the newspaper dipped below the 10,000 mark in circulation with both its daily paper and Sunday subscription.

Tell this to any reader and this will come as no surprise, given the paper’s spotty news coverage, high turnover of reporters and general lack of management; emphasis placed on the later. Recalcitrance flows down hill and there’s no one more recalcitrant than fixture Barbara Lombardo, whose utter lack of effort continues to show in the numbers.

But enough with this negativity. Here’s a quick cheers to the newest members of the Capital Region’s blogosphere. Keep up the work; maybe one of these days the word “good” can be inserted in there.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Post-Star has also recently launched some blogs, they're just not very pretty or easy to find yet:

Features: http://www.poststar.com/wordpress/?cat=35

"the moms blog": http://www.poststar.com/wordpress/?cat=11

Sports: http://poststar.com/wordpress/?cat=9

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, though, the Gazette's actually had the most success in the area at selling the online paper -- that's probably why they don't give anything away for free.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Yes, that is the claim. But there’s a slippery slope here and one that is difficult to mete out. Here’s the problem: no doubt, the Times Union’s Web site receives more traffic than the Gazette’s. TU ad reps can use this as a lure to sell online advertisements like hotcakes; maybe even move package deals of both print and online ads. So does this revenue trump what the Gazette receives for featuring the same online and printed advertising? That’s a question that could only be answered by the publishers themselves.

Chances are pretty good this is an apples-to-oranges comparison anyway, as the TU is twice the size of the Gazette. But the fact is online readership is going nowhere but up for all newspapers. Those who offer exclusive online content miss out on national exposure, which for businesses seeking to buy ads is a bad thing. Rumor around the horn is the Gazette is in the process of changing the pay-only format anyway. If true, it suggests the publisher doesn’t have much faith in the longevity or sustainability of this mode.

10:18 AM  

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