Thursday, May 27, 2010

Idle, but busy

Lots of projects and too little time to blog recently. I'll try to get back into a regular routine, although it will be difficult, given what's going on here.

For example, we're proceeding with something called the Ben Franklin Project. The editors will be telling you a lot more about it in the days to come. In short, it will culminate in a special edition on July 4, Independence Day, highlighted by contributions generated by our readers. There's much more to it than that - particularly behind the scenes, as we attempt to publish a newspaper using tools available to anyone on the Internet. Stay tuned.

Then there's the matter of installing a brand, new computer system for our editors and reporters. Long-overdue and highly anticipated, the system will replace software and hardware that needed replacement a decade ago. What will it mean to us? Think about the difference in your lives when you junked your first computer for a faster, more versatile laptop, for example. But before that happens, there's the not so small matter of installation and training. We're looking at "going live" before the end of June. Keep your fingers crossed.

Meantime, it's been fascinating watching the numbers climb on our Website. Page views and unique visitors continue to rise. Well over 125,000 "uniques" a month visit our site. And at a time when newspaper sales are dropping dramatically around the country, the slippage here is far short of the industry average. (And we're starting to see growth again in subscriptions.)

There was a time not all that long ago when it was hard to be optimistic about newspapering. No longer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Midweek notes

*I'm sure Donald Christian will be a fine interim president at SUNY New Paltz, but I sure would have liked to see Gerry Benjamin get the nod. Gerry has risen through the ranks over many years at New Paltz. He knows the terrain and his expertise on state government has made him the go-to guy for many big-time media outlets, thus increasing the college's visibility. An appointment as interim president would have been a fitting cap to his academic career.

*It's not just the media and umpires like Joe West who think Yankees-Red Sox games are too long. It's many everyday fans like me (it's been years since I was a sportswriter), who can't sit through four-hour marathons such as last night's (into early this morning) game. Other than added TV commercial time and its impact on lengthening games, baseball is the same as when Whitey Ford and Bob Gibson would start and finish in about 2:10. Once a big league baseball game exceeds three hours, something's wrong.

*No question the tea party movement is shaking things up in politics. But I'm not ready to say it had much to do with the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, in which Arlen Specter's career came to an end. Specter's party switch and age (80) were the big turnoffs in his unsuccessful race with a little known congressman.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Off the air

The importance of cameras in courtrooms is underlined in today's New York Daily News column by Bill Hammond.

Hammond repports on what the public missed - and should have been allowed to see and hear - in the courtroom last week when former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno was sentenced.

Moreover, he notes that a camera actually did capture the proceedings for those in an auxiliary courtroom, but that the images and sound were not allowed to escape the federal courthouse in Albany. In other words, while the cameras didn't interfere with the court action, as oppponents of cameras in courts typically warn, the public was kept in the dark until after the gavel, when print and broadcast media scurried to report the news.

Read the full column here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday afternoon quarterback

*Worst of two poor performances over the weekend: Jay Leno at the White House Correspondents Dinner, or Conan O'Brien on "60 Minutes"? Leno, by a chin.

*Speaking of the correspondents event in Washington, it took an unfortunate turn some years ago when news organizations began peppering their tables with celebrities. Not necessarily in order of importance (or lack thereof), this year's guest list included the likes of the Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, Kim Karsdashian, Jessica Simpson and Omarosa, among dozens of others. With all the troubles the big time media has these days, why would it want take down its level of respect another couple of notches by engaging in these kind of trivial one-night associations?

*I know I've lost my senses when I play 27 holes of golf, most in one weekend for me in well over a year, in stifling heat. Considering how poorly I play - and I do mean poorly - it's yet another reminder that not all of my decisions are good ones.