Ancient History

I appreciate that Albany Eye was called “influential” in Mark McGuire’s blog post about anonymity on the web, but I don’t think I agree.

At the time of its implosion in 2006, Albany Eye had about 1000 readers a day. That’s very, very (very!) small in a market of this size. So where does this idea of influence come from? That’s easy. The blog had a big following among those who work in local media, so it’s easy for them to assume Albany Eye was widely read by the general public. It was not.

It was created to be about the local media and read by the local media, and the truth is that it barely spread beyond that original mission. I have met few people who did not work in TV, radio, newspapers, or advertising that ever heard of Albany Eye. No, mostly the readership was made up of media insiders and a tiny contingent of local webizens who were more tuned in to the blog scene than normal people.

What’s that, like being the area’s most influential CB radio operator?

If there was one place that Albany Eye was influential, it was inside the Times Union newsroom. They helped Albany Eye breakout from unheard of to obscure with mentions in the paper by none other than Mark McGuire and editor Rex Smith. If it weren’t for them the audience would have remained even smaller than it was. Sorry if I never thanked you.

Not complaining, though! I love that people took the time to read Albany Eye, but just between you and me, it didn’t change anyone’s viewing/listening/reading habits, never swayed an advertiser’s media spending, and had no impact on the local news or entertainment product. But other than that? It was deeply influential.

15 thoughts on “Ancient History

  1. Well, here’s one of the things that made you “influential” : you were stepping on McGuire’s toes with your blog. Actually, it might be more accurate to say you were eating his lunch. There was no other serious writing about media in this market except for his and, frankly, people enjoyed Albany Eye better.

    But let’s look at that for a second. You did not have to play by the same rules as he did, did you? If McGuire had been honest about local TV stations, newspapers, and radio, in the way you were, the Times Union would have been accused of the exact ethical conflicts he’s tossed out about you.

    You had an unfair advantage, an advantage that served to make your writing more interesting and entertaining. Maybe that’s why some journalists dislike bloggers, because they aren’t shackled by editors. I mean really, you yourself pointed out the way the TU went after Theresa Grafflin of New York Citizen One.

    I agree: you were not all that influential, except maybe in the cublicles of the TV stations and newspapers you made fun of. In those places your work fell into two camps: those who loved you because you told the truth and those who hated you for the same reason.

    1. I don’t know about any of that, but I do know this: Mark McGuire never identified me, so his claims about “naming” me are a bit hollow.

      And as for why he made such a big deal about some dumb little blog, I have no idea. Albany Eye was completely insignificant — and to suggest that it was unethical based on business reasons, that it had some measurable effect on audience behavior, and that it was a tool that unfairly shifted the balance of competition? That’s absolutely absurd.

      People have had the nerve to leave comments here suggesting that I have some unreasonable grudge against the TU. Meanwhile, six years later, they can’t stop talking about a stupid blog that barely anyone read.
      That’s pathetic.

  2. At that time, when blogs were still fairly new, 1,000/day isn’t too shabby.

    By today’s standards, sure, but not by early the 2000s.

    1. No, but it’s just a drop in the bucket, and certainly not enough to sway public opinion. Several people who work at the TU have insisted that Albany Eye was an important force that had some mysterious power over the media market; I insist that they are nuts.

      By extension, they seem to think that having written Albany Eye — a blog that 99.98% of the public never heard of — makes me some sort of public figure. That’s equally stupid. Mentioning in a news story that I wrote Albany Eye is like mentioning that I wrote Christmas letters to send out with my cards every year. Nobody cares.

  3. You were influential to me . . . I’d been running a blog in Albany since September 2000, and yours was one of the first ones in our market that the “real” media actually paid attention to, so that intrigued me, needless to say. You were a big favorite on the Upstate Wasted board at the time, too, which had a HUGE and rapid following/participation for a couple of years, with insider media-bashing (anti-Metroland especially, while I was writing there) being a favorite topic, so your views carried weight and generated a lot of conversation there. (Some of the edited relics of that free-for-all still live at I also appreciated the fact that, years later, when the time came later to stand your ground on a point of principle as a blogger, you stood it. I was glad to know that I wasn’t the first or only one to go through that when my time came.

    1. Thanks! Metroland was a favorite target because they were so smug; not so much anymore, I don’t think. That’s what this terrible media climate does to people. But still, the assertion that Albany Eye was “influential” among the general public is completely fallacious.

      1. As much as any blog is “influential” among the general public. All Over Albany is a general-interest blog and very popular, but its typical reader is younger, a bit wealthier, more educated, and more of a godawful insufferable foodie than most people in this region.

  4. Oh . . . and I should also note that at some point before the meltdown, I was receiving regular e-mails from someone at WGY threatening to out me as Albany Eye. So I guess you had that influence on me too!!!!

      1. Yeah, it was . . . . though it was also a threat, which was disconcerting, since in my work at that time I was heavily dependent upon the goodwill of our local media corps when it came to advertising and promotions that I could not afford to pay for!

        1. Some people got very angry about Albany Eye — and those with no sense of humor became fairly testy. The threats to “out” me were the most disconcerting and caused me to lose sleep. There were also threats of violence, but I didn’t take those seriously.

  5. I, for one, read Albany Eye and I wasn’t a media person at all. I did some writing and editing for my college paper and in high school, but wasn’t pursuing it as a career. I was still a media junkie, sure, but I went to work at the TU because they needed someone right away and I had just lost my job. I came to love working there, but didn’t think of myself as part of the local media scene. Still don’t.

    For me, it helped me understand the lay of the local mediascape. I don’t watch TV news because I’m under 60, but your analysis of print and the relationship of print to the nascent blogging scene was interesting to me.

    I also have an interest in the craft of humor writing, and yours was a blog that was funny in a way that seemed natural and effortless, unlike the forced un-humor that populates so much of the Internet.

    1. Well, thank you!

      I suppose I’d count you and JES as among those who were more tuned in to what was happening on the web than the average person. I’m glad you found it funny; there are lots of people among the so-called media elite who didn’t really get it.

      I can think of a lot of things that have a small and intensely loyal audience, things that influence me greatly, which I couldn’t call influential to the general public.

      I remember standing in Valentines one night with twenty other people watching the Ike Reilly Assasination play. This is one of my favorite bands and nobody shows up to see them? What the hell?

      I’ve come to find that hardly anyone around here has ever heard of Ike Reilly, even though I think what he does is fantastic. I guess what I’m saying is that describing Albany Eye as influential is like calling Ike Reilly a huge star; most people will just shrug their shoulders and ask, “Who?”

  6. I first heard of the Eye when it was mentioned on Waking Up with the Wolf – a post about a New Years Eve party when all the so-called tolerant media types were laughing at Dick Clark after his stroke. Read other posts and loved it. Since then I faithfully read it because, dammit, it was FUNNY! Still are, so I enjoy this. And screw the Times Useless and Metro-rag. Metro ceased to be relevant a round the same time as Rolling Stone, and survives only on the porno ads.

    1. Thanks. The truth is that I enjoyed reading it, too! I think it was as much for myself as as anybody else — and if that makes me a nut, so be it.

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