A Thousand Words from the Editor

It’s nearly a month since the donnybrook over Chuck Miller’s April Fools’ blog post.

A quick re-cap.

Chuck’s piece claimed that Kellyanne Conway would speak at the UAlbany commencememt, and though it was up only a short time, it created a huge stir. In fact, within hours after it was posted, a group of UAlbany professors began mobilizing resistance to the Conway booking — something which brings new meaning to the word “gullible.”

In short order the Times Union deleted the post and blocked Chuck’s account. Chuck resigned and several bloggers protested, threatening to quit over the matter and demanding an apology from Rex Smith, the paper’s vice president and editor.

Rex Smith did respond, but one could hardly call it an apology. Aaron Bush, who quit the TU over the April Fools  incident,  published Smith’s response on his new blog:

A few key takeaways from Mr. Smith’s letter:

  • Smith believes that Chuck’s post was not just untrue, but a “irresponsible” and “unfair,” a “caper” that “threatened the credibilty of the Times Union brand.”
  • The Times Union blogs do not generate significant traffic or revenue.
  • The paper does not have the resources to properly manage the blog section.
  • Changes are coming to the blog page, including a “culling” that will eliminate inactive blogs — and perhaps also those that do not “focus on issues of greatest interest to the Capital Region.”
  • He regards the criticism he received over this issue as a personal attack.

I don’t like how the Times Union handled the whole situation, but it’s easy to understand why they did what they did. It will be interesting to see what happens next. If anything, I think we all can agree that there are some blogs over there that are ripe for “culling.”

But if the Times Union blogs are so insignificant, as Mr. Smith says in his letter, isn’t it strange that he made such a big deal over Chuck’s prank? It’s true that newspapers are weathering a storm of change, but rest easy. They still have the spunk to pick a fight that they can easily win.

9 responses to “A Thousand Words from the Editor

  1. One month away and honestly, I’m glad I left. I’m also very grateful and thankful to you and to the other independent Capital Region bloggers who understood what happened and how it played out.

    Although I was told many times that if I ever left the TU the only people that would read my independent blog would be “a couple of family members and both my friends,” I am pleased by the number of people who continue to read and to comment on my new portal. Much more than a couple of family members and both my friends. 😉

    Once again, much thanks and gratitude to you and to all the other Capital District bloggers and raconteurs. It’s the one thing I’ve always said during my time at the old locale – “bloggers should always support bloggers.”

  2. When you combine a big head and a high horse, the results are never good.

  3. Can I request that all of my blog pages and photos be removed in the cull, as I have asked periodically over the past seven years to no avail?

    Seems like that’s in keeping with their desired direction . . . glad to be helpful.

    • Yes, I’d like to be culled, too.

      I’ve read that there are places on the web where hackers market their services. How hard could it be for someone to make a few WordPress blogs disappear forever? Just asking.

  4. Rex can be pretentious and pompous. I’ve had professional interactions with him and got that impression, but generally, he can come off as a reasonable, friendly guy. His response about the blogs provided a glimpse into both sides of him.
    What infuriates me even more is his insistence on integrity and to be trusted source, yet there’s still plenty of contradictions to that. Forget the integrity of the blog posts, just look at their “sponsored stories” published at the bottom of every article. These are click bait stories paid by advertisers and they’re mostly pitches for products/services or straight up fake news with no sources or fact-checking. I encourage you to click on some of them. Some are just unattributable celeb gossip stories. They’re utterly ridiculous and crazy!
    If Rex is going to preach about integrity, he needs to work with the TU sales dept to vet all the click bait they post too. I will never work with the TU again while Rex is there.
    Oh and fun fact (or you could say it’s an opinion), but Ms.KGB Queen Blogger is an absolute head case in real life. Maybe it’s common knowledge by now. She herself has lied and embellished on several posts through the years. I figured it would blow up in her face eventually, but maybe not. Anyway, all I learned from Rex’s response is he’s still a douche and admitted the blogs are an under-performing, perhaps overrated, platform.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share such a thoughtful comment.

      When it comes to the TU, I try to imagine what it must be like to have your world so thoroughly turned upside down. I experienced a bit of that before getting out of TV, but never like what the newspapers are facing.

      I was surprised when even the NY Times started running sponsored content on the front page of their site; it’s somewhat responsibly, under the banner “From our advertisers,” but it is still designed to trick readers into thinking it’s not an ad.

      We can’t talk about integrity without mentioning the endless “Seen” galleries. Have you noticed the heavy emphasis on T & A in these pictures? More often than not, the picture used on the front page features several lovely ladies with a plunging necklines. I’m no prude, but c’mon: it’s really obvious what they’re up to.

      Anyway, I still pay for the paper (I get it delivered four days a week) and generally find it somewhat satisfying. They still do some very good work and we’re lucky to have a pretty decent paper. As I’ve stated, I won’t subscribe to the digital edition until it comes down to $.25 per week. If we all paid them the $.25, reporters could have raises, some of the cheesy clickbait would vanish, and most importantly, Mr. Smith and Mr. Hearst could sleep more soundly at night.

  5. Ha! Thoughtful. It was more like hateful. I was harsh on Rex because I take any little slight personally. I’m a little embarrassed I posted it. My comments were troll-ish. It’s my Irish Alzheimer’s. I forget everything except the grudges. Same with KGB. I’m sure she’s probably a nice person, but what I heard was third hand. I have no proof she fabricated anything in her blog. I can’t stand reading it anyway. But I hear you on the Seen galleries. I’m guilty of clicking on those occasionally.

    • I was worried you’d think I was being sarcastic!

      No, you right on the money. As for KGB, I don’t know what her deal is — and my dime store psychology is not worth a damn — but I agree that there’s something complicated going on in there. As there is with all of us.

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