Category Archives: media

All the Editor’s Men

It was interesting to read Harry Rosenfeld’s take on “The Post” as reported by Paul Grondahl in the Times Union. Rosenfeld knows a thing or two about the Washington Post. Before coming to Albany to serve as editor of the TU, he was the Post’s metro editor and oversaw a couple of guys named Woodward and Bernstein. Speaking of movies, Rosenfeld is a key character in All the President’s Men, played by Jack Ward.

Anyway, Grondahl went to see the movie with Harry Rosenfeld, and if you look past all the misty-eyed tribe of ink stained wretches bullshit, it’s a pretty cool story. However, I can’t help but imagine Rosenfeld and his wife talking out loud during the movie, because that’s what old people do while watching a movie at the Spectrum.

“Look at the hair. Ben Bradlee didn’t comb his hair that way.”

“The chair?! What’s wrong with his chair?”

“No, his HAIR. It’s all wrong. Too long. And he parted his on the other side.”

And on and on and on. You can turn around and tell them to shut up, but it won’t do any good.

By the way, after the movie, Grondahl writes, they all went for “a nosh.” Oh, really? Did the Rosenfeld’s also kvetch about the schlep to the diner? Oy.

Random Notes

Down the Rathole
Paul Vandenburgh used “rathole” as a stand-in for President Trump’s “shithole” remark this week. Coincidentally, both rathole and shithole are acceptable when used to describe his radio station.

Wrap This
Anybody else sick of these ads that are wrapped around your goddamn Times Union every day?

The Ripoff Report
I like the Empire Report website and visit frequently. It’s a great way to keep up with New York political news, but I’m perpetually bothered by the site’s design, which is basically swiped from Drudge Report. Here’s the thing: when you steal someone’s design, you’re also taking all the hard work they did to build their brand — and in the case of Drudge, that’s worth a fortune.

The Week That Was

An Itch for Christmas
A few years ago, there were lots of stories around about ticks in Christmas trees. Well, the good news is that ticks are not really a problem. The bad news? There could be 25,000 other bugs on your tree.

Quote of the Week
“People don’t know what wine tastes like until they taste it.” – Paul Vandenburgh

That’s either a brilliant nugget of wisdom or the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Crushing It
I made a lot of news promos, and I’m still impressed when I see something that nails it like this MSNBC spot.

These folks have been portrayed by the idiot in the White house as enemies of the people. Their response: we do this because we love you. Extra points for using R.E.M.’s Orange Crush.

Media Roundup

Turkeys
The Times Union tried to charge us extra for the privilege of receiving their big Thanksgiving edition. What the what?  You should be paying me to take your giant pile of advertising. And , yes — I still have the paper delivered, which I guess means that I’m old.

Quote of the Week
“Everybody says something stupid at one point in their life.”                                   -Paul Vandenburgh

Yes, they do. In fact, some people say something stupid every fucking day of their life. On the radio. In Albany.

The Departed
Two high profile departures from WNYT announced this week: morning anchor Phil Bayly and meteorologist Jason Gough. Both were really solid guys and great at their jobs.

What does it mean? Maybe nothing, but two in one week seems a little weird; if we get a third, then we know something’s up. Too bad we don’t have a media reporter in this town.

Witless

I’ve figured out why AMC’s The Walking Dead is such a bummer: the show is completely humorless.

And what’s so funny about brain eating zombies?

Nothing — but horror aficionados know that the best work has some laughs to diffuse the tension. Without that, it’s just a relentless downer, but mix in some funny bits with the scares and you have a winner.

Right wing talk radio is like the horror genre in that regard. You may hate Rush Limbaugh’s politics, but he can be entertaining. Even while you disagree, it’s fun to listen.

You can’t really say the same for Talk 1300’s Paul Vandenburgh. I’ve been listening to him for years and never once heard him say anything that’s funny. Not a joke, never a witty remark, no humorous observations. Never. Not once.

Some people think humor is related to intelligence, but not always.

Vandenburgh’s obviously smart enough to pull in some listeners with his angry guy schtick — and smart enough to be 13% owner of his radio station — so he must be smart enough to come up with a zinger now and then.

Right?

Maybe not.

I think there’s something else going on with humorless people and those with no appreciation for irony: they are missing a certain part of their brain. Whatever little node or fold that makes a person funny is absent or undeveloped.

In the interest of science, I hope we can get hold of the brains of some of these humorless people when they’re gone — not in the zombie sense, but for research. We must find a way to help them. God knows, we’d all be better off.

Ink Stained Retch

Oh, Times Union. Here’s the latest development as they creep toward full paywall:

Indulge me as I tell a story.

Years ago, the Times Union’s marketing director, Bob Provost, invited us TV station people over for a meeting. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I remember that he gave us a tour.

We saw the vast, bustling newsroom, rows of busy graphic designers, phones ringing off the hook in the sales office — and most impressive of all, the production plant where the massive presses sat.

Everything was was spotless and impeccable and unfailingly professional.

And it was intimidating.

Even my boss, the general manager, seemed a bit overwhelmed. We looked around and saw a leviathan that sucked in ad dollars. Who could compete with this? They might as well be printing money on those presses.

How times have changed.

I’ll repeat something I’ve noted before: local TV still doesn’t charge you a penny for their content. They sell advertising and the advertising pays the bills. Newspapers charge you for their product and fill it with ads. And isn’t that like making you pay for it twice?

On Their Own Terms

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein firestorm, two Times Union bloggers wrote brutally frank #metoo accounts about being sexual assault victims.

The newspaper took down the posts and suspended their accounts.

Yes, you read that right.

Chuck Miller, who had his own trouble with the Times Union, re-published the posts by Heather Fazio and Fran Rossi Szpylczyn on his blog. The paper put Fran’s post back up when she agreed to change the term “cock-tease” to “c*ck-tease” — as if that makes a difference. According to Chuck Miller, Heather Fazio has refused to change what she wrote.

Both bloggers were notified of their suspension by Tena Tyler, who’s listed on the masthead as “Senior Editor, Engagement.” Here’s how she engaged them:

Sorry about your sexual assault, but you violated our terms of service.

And what terms are those?

“You agree not to post, e-mail or otherwise make available content: – that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, lewd, defamatory, pornographic, libelous or invasive of another’s privacy or harms minors in any way”

OK, so a woman’s story about being attacked — in one case as a child — is “lewd” and “pornographic.” That’s fucking sick, Ms. Tyler.

Look, I’ve complained about the Times Union’s blog page for a long time, especially about the way they manipulate people and the one-sided relationship between the paper and the bloggers– but this is too much.

Any writer who continues blogging with the Times Union is out of their mind. Maybe you enjoy the opportunity to reach a large audience, but at what cost? A deal with the devil often seems like a good idea until the bill comes due.

Another Brick in the Paywall

Watch for changes to the Times Union’s digital offerings.

I noticed on my phone and tablet they’ve been fiddling with settings that impose a monthly story limit. By “fiddling,” I mean turning it on and off. Also, the paid content timesunionPLUS story designation has vanished.

It could mean that they’re getting ready to pull the plug on free content — like so many newspapers have done — and that the timesunionPLUS scheme was a bust.

The blogs? Those will probably stay free. Hey, you get what you pay for.

Maybe they’ll take up my idea of offering unlimited access for $.25 per week, which I’d gladly pay for the online edition.

“Rob,” you say, “why should they give away their news content. That makes no sense, these days.”

No, I suppose it doesn’t. And who would do that, anyway? Oh, I don’t know — local TV stations, maybe? They’ve never charged you for news and they still don’t.

Anyhow, wait and see.

The Debate Debate

All politics is local, and local news is always looking for a way to make local races interesting. Sometimes it’s a struggle. In much of the Capital Region, political power is so tilted toward one party that results are a fait accompli — and in many other races, the candidates are often indistinguishable.

That was the case when the Democrat candidates for Albany mayor debated on August 17 — and it was a real snoozefest. The winner of the September primary will be mayor — and you may as well pick the name from a hat, because they’re all the same.

But this isn’t about the debate, it’s about the exessive exposure it got in the media: the amount airtime it got far exceeds the audience.

You could watch the debate live in primetime on WNYT or listen on WAMC, plus there was streaming. WAMC ran the whole thing again the next afternoon.

What’s a small audience?

In 2013, about 12,000 people voted in the Albany mayoral primary. That represents about 1.3% of the people in the market. That adds up to a ton of people who are not involved or interested.

I used to work with a news director who said that people in Pittsfield won’t watch a story about Schenectady. I said that people will always watch a compelling, well-told story — no matter where it occurs.

But a boring story? Kiss them goodbye.