City Dims

I feel for Times Union blogmeister Michael Huber.

As Interactive Audience Manager at the Times Union, Mr. Huber has the unenviable job of rounding up local people to write blogs. This is like herding cats or juggling chainsaws. Or juggling cats, even. He’s does a great job —and if the online community were a real community he’d have my vote for town supervisor.

But there are people in Blogville who are not doing their part.

To mix a few metaphors, some of the bloggers on board have dropped the ball miserably. Where you really see this is the City Brights section. All I can figure is that these people have so much important stuff going on that they can’t be troubled with their blogs. And some of them have neglected their digital space in a BIG way. For example:

L. Oliver Robinson, Superintendent of Shenendehowa School District: last posted May 18

R. Mark Sullivan, President of the College of St. Rose: last posted June 24

Don Levy, Director of the Siena Research Institute: last posted September 28

Susan Lerner, Executive Deirector, Common Cause NY: last posted October 21

Mitch Messmore, Executive Director, Upper Union Street Business Improvement District: last posted October 13

There are more. Some have just been MIA for a month, but on the internet, that’s an eternity.

Look, 95% of blogs are completely irrelevant and unnecessary —but if you’re a community leader or policy type, it’s a great forum to push your agenda. And c’mon: isn’t it embarrassing to have your name on something that you’ve abandoned?

Finally, here’s the ironic part: These people have something important to say but don’t say it. I have nothing important to say and you can’t shut me up.

19 thoughts on “City Dims

  1. I love that you can’t shut up! As a teacher, I’ve looked at Dr. Robinson’s blog and was also surprised that he only managed a few entries. Maybe someday they’ll remember and update again.

    Any pull with Mike Huber to get an individual “favorites” section to avoid scrolling through for the few blogs I read consistently?

  2. Isn’t this more a complaint about the “City Brights” banner than the authors?

    TU offers a no-cost blog in its WordPress MU forest to anybody. Only a few are listed under City Brights — a conceit invented by TU. I think you’re saying that, since a lot of these are comatose or dull, the City Brights mantle is exposed as … a conceit. But that was totally predictable.

    I think what Michael Huber needs — if he wants “City Brights” to mean something editorially — is a graceful approach for migrating blogs that for whatever reason aren’t interesting out of City Brights and into the general blog forest. From there they might develop or wither or whatever.

    It seems that TU at first uses City Brights as a recruiting tool, but content (get ready) is king. Can’t promote the boring and keep your editorial cred, so they need a plan for this brand. No way around it.


  3. I think the City Brights brand is a good idea, but people who seem like they’d be interesting bloggers aren’t always up to the task.

    Maybe they spend too much time thinking about it. They need to take a lesson from me: stop thinking and start writing.

  4. Just because someone is given the opportunity of writing a blog doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be effective bloggers. It seems to me that the TU affords anyone the chance to blog, if they merely express the desire and interest. And while that’s probably a conscious decision to recruit local people who otherwise wouldn’t get such chances, some of the drivel that passes as TU blogs these days is an embarrassment. As an example, “On the Edge” has spawned at least three blogs that I’m aware of, and none of these spinoffs, with the possible exception of Amanda Talar’s, shows any whiff of literary quality.

    1. “It seems to me that the TU affords anyone the chance to blog, if they merely express the desire and interest.”

      Hi Doug, let’s look at the numbers. 58 readers are writing blogs on, and another 83 readers co-blog on our ‘town blogs.’ Can we agree that that’s a teeny tiny fraction of our total readership.
      And we’re raising the bloggy bar with every new launch. Sometimes, we get winners. Other times, it’s a blown draft pick. That’s inevitable.

      As for Madeo, in my opinion he is blogging royalty. He wrote the region’s most popular blog — Albany Eye — and has penned some hilarious and smart entries in our Bethlehem blog. (My favorite: The Eagle has landed.)

      All that said, there are times when I read his blog and want to smack him, but that’s ok. I don’t want to agree with every blog post I read. Wouldn’t that be boring?

  5. Mr. Huber, while I concur that diversity of opinion is the spice of life, and that I wouldn’t want to automatically just march to the same tune as the writer, ability still does count for something. That’s why, while I respect your stated desire to raise the blogging bar, I don’t feel sheer volume/ quantity necessarily begets quality.

    As for Madeo, while I’m obviously biased, find me more like him, and you’ll really be doing the Fourth Estate proud!

  6. Hey, Doug – thanks!

    “These people have something important to say but don’t say it. I have nothing important to say and you can’t shut me up.”

    I liiike it. I really do.

  7. Kudos to Doug for being probably the first person ever on this site to appropriately use “drivel”, rather than “dribble”.

  8. Mike Huber- Why don’t you eliminate the inactive blogs? While you are at it, eliminate the political blogs, including Senator McDonald’s. Politician do too much damage control to host interesting blogs. In Senator McDonald’s blog, for example, he would not approve my request to end his silence on his vote against marriage equality. Yet he approved a comment calling me the “militant LBGT lobby.” Stop giving free ad space to politicians who pick and choose comments that support their agendas.

    I realize freedom of speech does not apply to blog comments. But I expect a reputable newspaper and elected officials to value freedom of speech and dissenting opinions. If your bloggers don’t value freedom of speech and dissenting opinions, they should blog elsewhere.

    I, too, often want to smack Rob Madeo. And I’m a pacifist. But he is one of the best writers on the TU blogs.

    1. #momto1
      I see your point about the inactive blogs. We’ll do some housecleaning soon.
      re: blogs written by politicians. It was a good idea: give the politicians a forum to share their views and encourage dialogue with readers. It was poorly executed: some pols just don’t get it.
      The experience of the past year has left me wary about launching new pol-blogs. Elected officials are so accustomed to controlling their message that perhaps they aren’t suited for this social media stuff.

  9. > Sometimes, we get winners. Other times, it’s a blown draft pick.

    I’m not getting this. A plot on TU’s blog farm isn’t specially awarded. Self-publishing platforms are everywhere. Pretty sure I get a free car wash and blog with every Hoffman’s oil change.

    Who runs this “draft,” makes the picks, and decides the winners?


  10. #14: You’re implying that the TU blog forest isn’t exactly organic. Some of the authors are staff, some are pure citizen volunteers, and some are recruited celebrities phoning it in. Duh. So what? Look, I don’t think you know what “blog” means. Blog means take it or leave it. TU has no obligation to make sure you understand who these peeps are and why they’re here because it’s all “blog.” Get it? Sheesh.


  11. To be fair, “City Brights” was a conceit used by the San Francisco Chronicle, then inexplicably imposed by Hearst on the TU, replacing the much more appropriate and region-specific “Capital Voices.”

    I read the term “brights” in a very different context, since I’m used to it meaning “particularly obnoxious atheists” and then its use at the TU just confuses the hell out of me.

  12. Looks like maybe you can’t get a TU blog for the asking any more. There used to be a prominent sign-up link, but it’s either gone or obscured. Would like to know how the TU blog forest currently works. Seems to be a secret. Not cool.


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