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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Times Union Changes

The Times they are a-changing: The Times Union launches it's new "Communities TU" section today. I actually went out and bought a hard copy of the paper this morning so I could see how it looked. Let's do a walk-through breakdown of everything I noticed:

1) Page A1, banner headline, letter from Rex Smith: Rex describes the changes to the paper - expanded local news coverage of neighborhoods, local government, and people (including "hyperlocal" news such as "school honor rolls"), a format shifting that moves some news to different sections, a "Communities TU" section that will apparently - although it's never clearly stated - be tailored to where you bought the paper (i.e. you don't get the 'toga section if you live in Albany and vice versa), and increased staffing at the TU for coverage of such things. Sounds pretty good. I like expanded local coverage, god knows I'm not reading the TU for it's national reporting. Albany Eye and Dave Lucas have already put in their two cents about this as a general issue, i won't say more. Instead I want to...

2) Open up to section B, Capital Region: Feels thicker than normal, that's a good start. Lebrun's still on the left column of front page, check. No other noticable changes, excpet the littler banner in the top left directing me to...

3) B3, Communities TU: Ok, now I bought my TU in Latham, and it's apparently the Albany county "community." The whole communities TU section is 3 pages long. Sounds good.I see a lot of "hyperlocal" stuff, which is definitely a good sign. The left column has a "meetings" list that today is highlighting the Watervliet City Council meeting from last Thursday. Good. Below that we've got some "local notes" type stuff you might see in the Colonie Spotlight. Good. And then we've got the following community stories: Bethlehem voting on master plan. Good. Revised zoning laws. Good. Kids playing chess in the park. That works too, I guess. Overall, very nice. But wait a second...

4) It's actually only two pages of "community" stuff: What's this caving story doing in the Albany community section? And parking in Troy? In the online edition, those are Capital Region and Rensselaer stories, respectively. But they are under the "communities TU" banner in the print paper. Ok, I get it. The hyper-local stuff is not quite as big as they want it to appear. That's fine. So they threw some regular local stuff into the "communities section." I see.

5) Overall, I'm not sure what to make of this: Since I read the online edition, it's disconcerting to pick up the print edition and know that i'm not getting everything they published today. Then again, they've been doing that for years with the 'toga and Rensselaer 'metro' editions. I like the thrust toward more local coverage, that's great. I'm not sure about the bulletin boards and meetings postings - that's seems more the job of the hyperlocal papers, like the Spotlight or Loudonville weekly. But i'll take it.

I don't say this much, but good effort, Times Union. I hope you can keep it up.
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