Friday, April 25, 2008


Remember Steamtown?

A couple of decades ago, this celebration of of steam trains, with museum and rides, seemed destined to be located in Ulster County, Hurley to be exact.

What a wonderful boost to the local econmy, many of us said.

What a desecration of our country way of life, said others.

Others won and Steamtown, like worthy projects before and after it, moved on.

Today's New York Times (April 25) contains a travel feature about Scranton, Pa. And, yes, right there in the middle of it is Steamtown, which comfortably settled in our neighboring state.

A pity.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dave Hyatt

The Freeman lost one of its own early Sunday when Dave Hyatt died.

A 35-year veteran of our newspaper, Dave stepped aside about six months ago to fight the cancer that ultimately killed him. He was only 58 years old.

Dave joined the Freeman in the footsteps of his dad, Don, and his uncle, Ken, both of whom toiled long and hard in our composing room. That was in the "hot type" era, before the computer revolution changed the way newspapers were produced. Dave's was a trade you learned as an apprentice until you reached journeyman status.

But Dave also had a desire to learn more about what was then cutting edge technology. After being schooled, he eventually became the newspaper's go-to guy for graphics and computers. He was named foreman of the composing room, but soon shifted to what we called systems manager. During those last 15 or so years of his career, Dave kept our computers running and then some. He knew the software programs and he put out the high-tech fires, not only in Kingston, but at our sister publications in Hillsdale and Millbrook.

Dave loved golf and his football Giants. Fortunately, he lived long enough to see the Giants win a Super Bowl on his new large screen HDTV. Sadly, his illness erased plans for an early retirement and a life of 18 holes on a different course every day.

We'll miss you, Dave.

Parade rest

As a follow up to our entry on the demise of Channels, I should point out that the Freeman's addition of Parade magazine had nothing to do with the elimination of our former TV tabloid.

Unfortunately, some readers saw the timing of Parade's arrival and Channels' departure and figured we were subsituting one for the other. Not so.

Parade approached us months ago seeking entry into our Sunday paper. After the successful conclusion of our negotiations, a starting date was established. Much later, as it became increasingly obvious to us that Channels' days were numbered, a pull-the-plug date was picked. It was purely coincidental that Parade was to debut the week before.

Parade is a welcome addition to the Sunday Freeman. We're pleased to be able to offer it to our readers. But it is not a TV section and it can't (and didn't) replace Channels.

Monday, April 14, 2008

No more Channels

Channels, the Freeman's Sunday TV section, is no more.


It became a victim of changing readership habits, the exploding TV universe and economics.

There was a time when weekly TV sections were must-reads and must-saves for newspaper subscribers. Comprehensive, timely and specific to the local markets, TV sections had wide appeal -- although for reasons our industry could never quite fathom, advertisers tended to avoid them, despite the TV sections' shelf lives.

But then came the cable and satellite boom. No longer were newspapers expected to list 30 or 40 channels in their listings. Now there were hundreds of channels, literally. TV sections were woefully inadequate. Newspapers couldn't cost justify publishing mini-dictionaries ever week, so many pages were there required to make the TV sections complete.

Readers already knew that. Most of had stopped saving the newspaper TV sections. TV viewers were getting their listings on the Internet, or via the on-screen guides offered by their cable or satellite companies. That left only a small percentage of readers who still relied on the newspaper listings, mostly those who don't have the patience to scan the on-screen grids or who lacked either the know-how (or the computers themselves) to go on-line.

So you combine fewer people who are interested in newspaper TV sections, with a diminishing number of an already small pool of advertisers who opt for newspaper TV sections, with an increasingly difficult newspaper economic environment making the expense of printing the TV sections prohibitive, and you have the increasing demise of TV sections around the country, our Channels being just the latest example.

To be sure, we regretted having to make the decision. It no doubt angered the rew readers who continued to use it. But it was a choice we made with our eyes open. And it was yet another step in the evolution of the print newspaper business.

Channels, R.I.P.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Credibility issues

Here's an excerpt from an Associated Press story that moved this afternoon:

Study finds gap between editors and readers in ground rules for online conversations

NEW YORK (AP)- Newspaper readers agree with editors on the basics of what makes good journalism, but they are more apt to want looser rules for online conversations, a new study on news credibility has found.

Newspapers highly discourage anonymous remarks, for instance, and editors are more likely than readers to want that principle applied to reader comments online, according to the Online Journalism Credibility Study released Tuesday by the Associated Press Managing Editors group and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Some 70 percent of editors surveyed said requiring commenters to disclose their identities would support good journalism, while only 45 percent of the public did. Similarly, 58 percent of editors said letting journalists join online conversations and give personal views would harm journalism, but only 36 percent of the public agreed.

Expressions of personal views seem to help boost readers' interest and trust in Web sites, said John 'Bart" Bartosek, editor of The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Fla., and chairman of the credibility committee for the AP managing editors group.

"That's contrary to most of the traditions we've all grown up with, to keep our opinions, viewpoints and personal lives out of our story," Bartosek said. "There's some indication that readers are looking for something more online. Whether it's information about our expertise, our knowledge, our background, I'm not really sure."

Regulars to this blog know how much I loathe anonymous comments. No surprise, this survey says the majority of readers feel differently. But if there's any encouragement for me, it's that 45 percent are on my side. That's a larger number than I'd have anticipated. I look forward to see if more lean my way the next time formal research is done on this subject.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I haven't forgotten

Where have I been?

In California and Woodstock, Kingston and Albany, Hillsdale and a couple of other ports of call.

I've had some time off - not nearly enough - and since returning, I've been buried with stuff (there's a technical word for you) related to three newspaper franchises - Kingston, Roe Jan and Taconic Press. That's not a complaint, just the way it is.

I'll get back to you with something more substantive as time permits.