Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Off the cuff

*Mets' owner Fred Wilpon has taken a lot of grief over his comments in the current issue of The New Yorker. But here's what you need to know: The lengthy profile by Jeffrey Toobin is primarily about Wilpon the businessman and his dealings with Bernie Madoff; and Wilpon's widely quoted words about David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes make up only a tiny section of article. Oh, by the way, Wilpon needn't apologize to his players for telling the truth.

*We received several phone calls of complaint when the size of the Freeman's crossword puzzle was tightened, but none since we re-enlarged it. Funny how that works out.

*Those reaction shots of Oprah during that two-part televised farewell celebration reminded me of the "candid" images of a jaw-dropping, tearful Jerry Lewis after a telethon toteboard update.

*Would the network news coverage of the tornado tragedies been less complete had the anchors stayed at their desks in New York and, well, anchored?

*Leave it to comic-writer-actor Albert Brooks to set us straight: In China, he says, "Chinese food" is just "food". Why didn't I think of that?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The blotter

The arrest of Congressman Hinchey's wife, Allison Lee (who's also a noted Albany lobbyist), on a DWI charge has predictably generated lots of comments to our newspaper's website. Most are partisan shots at the congressman, but some are critical of the newspaper.

Consider this excerpt:

"The real issue here is the Freeman and what they consider newsworthy. Unlike other publications, the Freeman makes a sport out of mudslinging and printing the names of people charged with misdemeanors (felonies are a different matter). It even goes so far as to print court updates of pleas, etc. Then, if an offender is someone of any note around town, the person gets an entire article - and in this case, a photo too. This is just wrong.

"People make mistakes and when they get into trouble, they want more than ever just to be left alone to deal with it. It is sad that the Freeman enables its readers to revel in the misery of their neighbors."

I'm afraid I don't have the energy to explain to someone why this story is news. Or why the news is more significant if it involves "someone of any note." History says such explanations would fall on deaf ears.

I will say, however, that community newspapers typically report lesser offenses than larger newspapers. Why? Because newspapers that serve a larger market often can't devote the space to the many more misdemeanors they'd have to report. Moreover, a major felony in our community is likely to be reported on the front page. The same kind of felony in New York City might attract a brief story inside a newspaper (or maybe even go unreported), because those crimes are more commonplace in big cities.

Point is, there is a procedure and standards for reporting police news. All newspapers have them. And the bottom line is that newspapers try to inform their readers as best they can with the limited resources at their disposal ... even if the news is uncomfortable for some people to read.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Apropos of nothing

• Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the International Monetary Fund chief who’s facing sexual abuse allegations in New York City, looks a lot like the villain in the James Bond movie “Thunderball”, no?
• Arnold cheated on Maria. Show of hands: Anyone surprised? I didn’t think so.
• Those of a certain age remember when an aging Yankees’ star shortstop Phil Rizzuto was released at mid-season. Think Jorge Posada's career in pinstripes isn’t in jeopardy, particularly after the stunt he pulled the other night?
• Who looks sillier: the Donald Trump we’ve seen the last couple of months in his never-to-be-taken-seriously presidential foray, or those members of the media who took him seriously with an excess of air time and print space, thus propping up his non-candidacy?
• Maybe it’s because I’m indoors from early morning to early evening, but I enjoy looking at the rain outside my office window.
• If you write with a complaint to the “fact check” feature on our website, it would be helpful if you gave us a name and return address so somebody here can get back to you. That said, sorry if pop-up ads are annoying, but they’re helping to underwrite the journalism on the site. No pay wall here. Free reader access, 24/7.
• What to make of people who claim they never read our paper anymore, then proceed to tell you everything they didn’t like about that day’s edition?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Still here

It's been far too long since my last entry. I'll try to be more faithful to the blog. For now, a few things:

*Yes, the print edition of the Freeman looks a bit different since we've narrowed the width of the pages. No sense, sugar-coating it: In a bad newspaper economy, we're always looking for expense efficiencies. The little bit of newsprint we cut from our pages represents a rather sizable savings over the cost of a year.

*We've tried to minimize the negative impact on content. But we have heard from loyal crossword puzzle readers who can't deal with the slightly smaller boxes. So we're returning the puzzle to full size next week.

*Another major step in our Digital First! climate is texting news bulletins even before we've tweeted them or posted the breaking news on our website. To sign up, text DFNews to 22700. (If you're a texter, you'll understand what that means.) As they say in the commercials, standard text message rates apply.

*If you've been visiting our website and not checked out the wide selection of videos, both locally produced and those from our sister papers in which our editors believe you'll have particular interest, do us and yourself a favor and give them a try. Remember, our newspaper is truly a multi-media company.

*There are plenty of excellent reasons for your business to be advertising on our site, too. Our people are in the field making their pitches (backed up with excellent demographic and readership data). But don't wait for their phone call. Contact Digital Sales Manager Soren Schamberg and you're on your way.