Category Archives: News

A Tale of Two Headlines

headline

June 11, 2015

oopsy

July 9, 2015

Well, it took a month, but the Times Union finally figured out what other media outlets were reporting from practically day one: that the Dannemora escape was far from the first.

In today’s front page item, the paper blames Governor Cuomo for spreading the “first escape” story; one has to wonder who Cuomo is blaming.

Paul Grondahl writes, “Cuomo’s comments were picked up and repeated, including by local residents.” Yes it was picked up and repeated. Please refer to the photo at the top of this blog post.

Anyway, this makes it all OK:

The Matt and Sweat imbroglio, however, did not eclipse the level of subterfuge in the escape of George Leggins of Coxsackie, who broke away on July 31, 1915, from a farm outside Dannemora’s walls.

Anyone who can use imbroglio and subterfuge in the same sentence gets an A+ in my book.

Antisocial Media

Much is made of the noxious atmosphere in blog and newspaper comment sections. “See,” say critics, “this is what you get with anonymous comments.” That may be true, but people who sign their name aren’t any better.

Take Facebook, for example.

News outlets have gotten in the habit of posting stories to their Facebook site, and the posts often get hundreds of comments — many of them amazingly insulting and abusive. Here’s a sample from a story a local TV station posted about a couple accused in an animal abuse case:

comments

Let’s be clear: abusing animals is abhorrent to me, but the people in question haven’t been convicted of anything, just arrested. We’re not just throwing the accused into the stocks, but lining up the villagers to hurl tomatoes at them.

Can’t they moderate this stuff? Of course — but I’m told it would be impossible due to the huge number of comments. Filters can be set to screen bad language and individual complaints can be fielded, but a full-time commitment to Facebook comments isn’t something a local TV station can afford.

You could argue that comment abusers are violating Facebook’s terms of service and that page owners are not responsible. That might be technically correct — but if your name is at the top of the page, it’s not that simple.

A Nation Divided

Americans were so outraged with the Ferguson grand jury decision that many of them actually tweeted about it.

If only we’d had Twitter during the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. Who knows what would have been possible with so many people sitting on their couches blurting out their opinions to nobody in particular.

Blast Zone

The derelict Wellington Hotel Annex is going to be demolished tomorrow and it’s probably the most exciting thing to happen in Albany since Henry Hudson stepped off the Half Moon in 1609.

They’re going to blow the place up in a controlled implosion that was originally scheduled for Thursday, August 22 — in the middle of a work day. The Thursday blast date had a very casual feel to it, sort of like, “Hey, no problem, we’re just blowing up an 11 story building.”

So, what I want to know is what’s different now, because Albany has set up an exclusion zone surrounding the Wellington, closing every street in or out.

implosion

Imposion street closings

Just to clarify, on Thursday it was OK to have thousands of people in the surrounding offices, but on Saturday we have to close every street. Puzzling.

UPDATED: In case you didn’t see it, here’s video of the big eveng from All Over Albany.

Wellington implosion from All Over Albany on Vimeo.

I Have a Gub

Look, if you’re going to send out a video with the whole world as your audience, take a moment to check the spelling on your titles.

Taliban release Bowe Bergdahl

This was the message on the video released by the Taliban showing the turnover of American POW Bowe Bergdahl.

Don’t (Don’) take this the wrong way; I don’t find anything funny about all this — but as someone in the business of doing communication for a large organization, I find their lack of attention to detail as abhorrent as everything else about these animals. I wish the video had ended with us dropping a bomb on them.

Maybe they did it on purpose just to mock our language…

On a lighter note, it reminded me of this scene from Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run, where they can’t understand his bank robbery note.

For the Record

recordsThis comic somebody posted on Facebook really caught my attention.

I’ve told my kids about the days before iTunes, when you’d have to go to a store to buy music. Yes, there were even stores that sold nothing but vinyl records! Really, it’s true!
Making a special trip made music buying a ritual. From my house you could walk to Korvettes or to Record World at Roosevelt Field Mall.

Korvettes, while it had a smaller selection, always had the best price. Record World was more for connoisseurs — plus, going to the mall meant the compulsory visit to World Imports to see the groovy dayglo posters in the back and gawk at the bongs in the head shop.

Then you’d walk back home. Unseal the package, take out the inner sleeve — it always felt like a bonus when it was a printed inner sleeve — and put your new treasure on the turntable. Was there anything as good as that first perfectly pristine play of a new record?

Don’t get me wrong, I love that anything I want to hear is a click away. Everything is so easy now. Back then nothing was a click away.

FLASH Newspaper Website Publishes News

Most people would sooner stick their tongue in an electrical outlet than pay for news online. That’s why it’s so damn exciting that the Daily Gazette has dropped its paywall.

According to All Over Albany, it’s only temporary. Editor Judy Patrick told AOA that the Gazette is upgrading their paywall technology; no word on whether this upgrade will fix the “Free Gazette” trick long used by those in the know to access stories.

Anyway, I’ve noticed something odd while reading the Gazette online: it’s full of news. I keep scrolling down the page expecting to find fluffy, inconsequential content and all I see are freakin’ news stories.

Hey, Gazette! Where are the endless snapshot galleries from local events? Why no silly wire service stories about dogs? What’s this with burying the entertainment news?

The page is so full of news that it looks suspiciously like it was organized by an editor. WTF?

So, Gazette, I rarely give advice, but here’s some for you: have a look at the Times Union and learn a thing or two about what a newspaper website should look like. Then you might have something I’d pay for. Or not.

Let One Rip

When I heard that legendary local sportscaster Rip Rowan had died it left me melancholy. There goes another one, I thought.

Rowan was one of those old school guys who were in ample supply when I got into the TV business, before pretty faces became the norm, and street smarts meant more than a degree from Newhouse.

But as I pondered the passing of Rowan, I could not get this thought out of my head: how did he get the nickname, “Rip?”

Like a prayer answered, my question was addressed in today’s paper:

“Rowan had a mischievous streak, which included legendary on-set flatulence, according to McLoughlin. “He did it on purpose. It was murder,” he said.

Ha! Try that today and you won’t get a colorful nickname, you’ll be sent to visit HR — and likely receive a ticket to some sort of sensitivity training class.

R.I.P. Rip.

Oh, Deer

It’s a fascinating story: human bones discovered in the crawlspace of an old house — bones that may be tied to the disappearance of a woman more than 70 years ago. And on top of everything is a plot element that makes every tale more intriguing: Nazi Germany.

Yes, quite a story. Too bad it wasn’t true.

Could be human, right? From my collection of things I probably don’t need.

Area media this week went apesh*t over the macabre discovery of these “human remains” in East Greenbush — until it was revealed Thursday that they were deer bones, not human. Ooops.

Yes, the cops bear much of the responsibility here. They were the ones who declared the bones to be human. They also cited a 1938 document as a key bit of evidence, possibly linking the bones to the disappearance of a woman whose husband later returned to his native Germany. That document was a school report written by a 9th grader.

This leaves a few questions, like where is the healthy skepticism we count on from reporters and editors? Did no one bother to ask the police about the process for identifying bones? And seriously, a 9th grader’s school report? Really?

To their credit, the Times Union did a great job of tracking down details about the real German family who returned home before the war — but not before they swallowed the whole story, hook, line and sinker.

Oh, yes: one of the “clues” police found near the bones was woman’s shoe. Maybe someone could do a story on why a deer would be wearing a shoe. That would be more interesting.