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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!

Gazette online edition

Online Newspaper Access: In the wake of the New York Times deciding to take some of its online content and make non-subscribers pay for it, it's worth remembering that the Schenectady Gazette does the same thing. That's right, you can't get any content in the Gazette online unless you sign up for a subscription. Predictably, the results of this policy have been the same at the NYT and the Gazette: few people subscribe and no one references the articles on the internet. Blog references to the pay-for content in the Times have dramatically fallen off since TimesSelect went live. And no one ever links to a story in the Gazette. It's a silly business model in the exploding age of Internet media, because so much of a paper's relevance is tied up in the degree to which the chattering class discusses it. The chattering class is now significantly online. The Times pundits, and the Gazette, for all intents and purposes, are not.

That's a shame, because the Gazette online has one thing going for it: it's a model of how online newspapers should be structured (you can peruse an example here). It looks like a regular newspaper. You can quickly browse it like a regular newspaper. You can search it rather intutively. It's not perfect, but it does offer a rather striking alternative to the Times Union site, which has the entire paper for free but is cumbersome to navigate.** Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the worst local newspaper website: The Troy Record, hands down. Seemingly designed to frustrate the reader.

**Two points here that warrant mentioning:

1) The Times Union site is not a bad website. It's a bad newspaper website. As it turns out, I don't think the natural way people read the newspaper is anything like the way they naturally read the internet. The TU site makes sense as an internet site - it's just that everyone wants to read it like a newspaper. Thus the headaches as you try to get to the part of the paper you normally head for with your print edition.

2) The Times Union does offer a pay-for service that rivals - or even exceeds - the Gazette structure. It's called the e-edtion, and it delivers the goods...but again you have to pay. You can get old issues, however, which trades $2 for a trip to the library if you need a back issue.

Update: A knowledgable reader writes to inform us that back issues of the TU can be had online:
Good analysis, but a correction to your last point: No need to spend $2 or make a trip to the library for back issues of the T-U. You can access them online for free with your library card number. Go to www.albanypubliclibrary.org and use the online databases. Full text of the T-U is available from 1995 to the present.
Beyond 1995, you're still heading to the library, though.
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At 5:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

Good analysis, but a correction to your last point: No need to spend $2 or make a trip to the library for back issues of the T-U. You can access them online for free with your library card number. Go to www.albanypubliclibrary.org and use the online databases. Full text of the T-U is available from 1995 to the present.    



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