Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meet The Record bloggers

On Wednesday night, we hosted a "soft opening" for The Record's new Community Media Lab.

Guests of honor at the event were people many of you have come to know: Our community bloggers.

The program, which was organized by Tom Caprood, The Record's digital specialist, included some light refreshments and two videos, one featuring some of our bloggers, the other Record employees talking about the newspaper's "digital first" philosophy and its impact on our news cycle.
You can check out both of these videos on our website.

Probably the best part of the evening was the conversation we started with our bloggers. It was a good exchange of ideas and blogging tips, a discussion about how we can all support each other and work together, and ways we all can do a better job serving this community.

I personally enjoyed meeting some of our bloggers for the first time, and I look forward to many more conversations with them in the future.

My thanks to Tina Urzan, who writes "The Way It Is," Sean Wilkes, "Fishing Out Loud"; Peggy "The Dart Lady" Kownack, "Unique Perspective"; Rod Aldrich, "Shamrock Road"; Vito Ciccarelli, "Community Thoughts" and Marcie Prey, "Hellions of Troy Roller Derby," for taking the time to get together with us Wednesday night.

Kudos to Tom for putting together the videos and leading the discussions with me.
By the way, stay tune for details about the official grand opening of our Community Media Lab. We hope it will be a place to be for this community.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Peeking at the Dinosaur

Despite winter's abrupt arrival Monday, hundreds of people turned out for the "Sneak Peek Open House" at the new Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in downtown Troy hosted by the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

What a fantastic event it was!

A certain restaurant critic I know and respect (our very own Bob Goepfert) had lunch at the restaurant Friday during one of the practice sessions held prior to Wednesday's grand opening and told me he had high expectations for the restaurant, but his meal managed to exceed all of his expectations.

How correct he was! My entire experience was top notch.

Monday night, the place was packed with jovial people ready to enjoy a night of good food, good music by Super 400 and good conversation.

From the moment I was greeted at the door by the Chamber's Laura Amos, Claudette Thornton and Kate Ollier until the moment the hostesses wished me good night, I had a terrific time.

Seen in the crowd conversing and juggling plates of delicious pulled pork, ribs, corn muffins and a variety of tasty side dishes were Record Publisher Jim Murphy and his wife Mary, Troy Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Sharon Smith, public relations consultant Chris Golden, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, attorney E. Stewart Jones, Arts Center of the Capital Region's Amy Williams, TRIP's Patrick Madden, Record blogger and Troy Parks and Recreation employee Vito Ciccarelli and his son, attorney Mike Ginsberg of Pattison, Sampson, Ginsberg and Griffin, RPI's Charles Carletta, Mayor Harry Tutunjian and his spokesman Jeff Pirro, musician Ernie Williams, and former city of Troy spokesman Jeff Buell and Elizabeth Young, owner of Living Room Antiques and director of the Troy Downtown Collaborative.

Thanks to Linda Hillman, president of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, for sponsoring the event and for introducing me to John Stage, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's co-founder. It gave me the opportunity to welcome John to the Collar City and wish him well.

Don't forget to check out the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for yourself.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chat with Coach Appert

Since the start of the RPI hockey season, Record sports reporter Ed Weaver has been hosting "Blueline to Blueline," a weekly video show on our website with Engineers Coach Seth Appert.

How does this feature work?

Each week, Ed takes five questions from readers to Coach Appert and does a video interview with him that goes up on The Record's web site every Friday afternoon.

We thank those who have suggested questions and encourage RPI hockey fans throughout the world to send your questions to Ed at or add your question directly to the "Blueline to Blueline" feature on our website at

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They aren't extinct here

Dinosaurs may be extinct in the rest of the world, but the city of Troy is about to become home to its own dinosaur.

On Monday, about 300 regional business professionals, community and cultural leaders and public officials are expected at an invitation-only, "sneak-peak" for the new Dinosaur Bar-B-Que restaurant, according to Claudette Thornton, director of marketing and communications for the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, who is hosting the event.

My boss, Publisher Jim Murphy, and I were pleased to be invited to the event and we can't wait to check the newest business to locate along Troy's waterfront.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Day 2010

You could feel the excitement building in the newsroom Monday afternoon: Election Day 2010 was less than 24 hours away.

After months of candidate announcements, charges and counter-charges, primaries, press conferences, and endorsement interviews, the "Big Day" was almost here.
For journalists, news junkies and politicians, Election Day is like Christmas in November.

City Editor Jim Franco and I spent late Monday going over our "tentative" Election Day coverage plan: Making sure we had enough space in Wednesday's edition for results, checking with Chief Photographer Mike McMahon to see if we had photo coverage for all the important races, and perusing the Associated Press Election Day digest for the state and national stories we'll need for our post-Election Day edition.

Campaign staffers had flooded our email accounts all day with advisories about where their candidates would be voting, making last-minutes campaign stops and hosting victory parties Tuesday night. It was a matter of matching up reporter and photographer with the local races and leaving the state and the national contests to the capable staff at the AP.

We even came up with the answer to that all-important question: What to feed the newsroom staff on Election Night. (Pizza and wings unless some quick, healthy inspiration hits me between now and 7 p.m. Tuesday!)

Thanks to coverage support from the staff of our sister newspaper to the north, The Saratogian, it looked like we had a plan that covered all the bases.
And then it happened ...

"We should have an easy night," concluded our city editor, effectively dooming us to an Election Night of upheaval and unpredictability. Everything that can go wrong will now go wrong Tuesday night.

He made the same declaration on Primary Night in September and we were in chaos less than an hour after the polls closed. Results came in late and stories were either short or in bulletin form that required a lot of rewriting and merging of information. The Internet was slow. The Paladino victory speech photo came into our computer system 44 minutes after deadline, although we had watched the event live on television more than two hours before.

Suffice to say, it was "organized" chaos.

And now he's doomed us again.

Actually, the key to covering any major event is to have a plan, but be flexible enough to deal with whatever breaking news develops.

The Sports staff kindly got the World Series over Monday night so their task Tuesday is to get their pages done as quickly as possible and leave the late deadlines for newsside.

We have a good team working Tuesday: Copy Desk Chief Siobhan Connally will be running the dayside operation, while Night Editors Rebecca Eppelmann and Lianne Webster Kim, Copy Editor Cliff Marble and photographers Mike McMahon and Jim Carras will be joining me and Jim Franco on the nightshift.

Here's hoping for the best Tuesday night. And if all else fails, we'll put tape over Mr. Franco's mouth next year.

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Thank heavens they weren't frightened!

Thanks to all who participated in our "Fright Night 2010" photo and video contest that concluded on Halloween.

It was the first online contest for me and Record digital specialist Tom Caprood, and we're grateful to all who submitted entries and to all who voted on the winners. Thanks to Tom for putting together the contest promos.

Thanks also to the Black Cat Ale House on White Street in Cohoes for co-sponsoring the contest and providing gift certificates for the weekly winners.

In the often used words of former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, stay tuned for future online contests sponsored by The Record.

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Meet the candidates

One of the most exciting times to be a journalist is during the election season.
You get to meet the various candidates during editorial board meetings and learn what propels them to run for public office.

Working Election Night is a whole other story for another entry.

During this past campaign season, we held editorial board meetings with some of the candidates seeking state Assembly and Senate seats and one gubernatorial candidate.

I should clarify that the gubernatorial candidate we met with, Carl Paladino, stopped by The Record in late August, prior to his surprising victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary. I say surprising, but Paladino was pretty confident the morning we met with him that he would be the GOP nominee for governor once the ballots were counted in his battle with former Congressman Rick Lazio.

In the aftermath of some of Paladino’s problems on the campaign trail, several people have asked us what he was like when he met with us. I have to tell that you we found him to be intelligent, witty and blunt. He didn’t mince words about how Albany operates, what he wants to do to solve the state’s problems and what he thought of his then-future Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo.

He was definitely angry about the state’s woes, but it wasn’t an anger exploding at us. We had an enjoyable, thought-provoking session with the Buffalo businessman that left us wishing we had more time to speak with him. A campaign stop in Clifton Park called, however, so he was on his way.

Suffice to say we were surprised when he started to encounter problems on the campaign trail. That wasn’t the Carl Paladino we saw.