More From Chris Mathiesen On The Decline of the Saratogian

[JK:

The decline of local newspapers seems to be the result of a perfect storm. There is the rise of the internet where people get information for “free.” Newspapers have struggled to find a business model that provides a sufficient stream of income in this new environment. Then there is the shift of economic power from the industrial sector to finance. Traditionally the industrial/agricultural sectors represented the largest areas of wealth. Now it is banks and hedge funds. Our own local paper is part of a bundle of papers owned by a hedge fund. Journalism is the last thing on these new owners’ minds. Finally there is the atomization of the public square. People now seek their news from a source that will parrot their own thinking. Facebook friends are regrettably more and more the most trusted source of information. Whatever tribe you belong to there is a cable channel or website or blog that will reinforce your view of the world. There is less and less room for a community resource like a newspaper.

Chris Mathiesen sent a follow up comment to his earlier observations. It appears below.]

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How did it get to the point where I was paying $273.50 for 13 weeks of the Saratogian (not including a gratuity for the very reliable delivery person)? It was partly out of habit. I was reading the Saratogian since I was a kid. It used be a good source of information about our community, especially during the Fred Eaton/Gannett days. There used to be a staff of locally based reporters and editors who understood Saratoga Springs. I relied on other papers for coverage of regional, state, national and international stories but I was confident that the Saratogian provided reliable local news.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, John. Kennedy was assassinated. His death was announced at 2:00 PM EST. The Saratogian, which was an afternoon newspaper in those days, had their front page hitting the streets by 3:00 PMthat day with a short story in bold letters announcing the president’s death. Compare that with today’s paper which is printed in Colonie and includes fewer local stories on topics that took place days earlier.

There was a time when most Saratogians read the Saratogian. I know because I used to help my friend with his paper route when I was a kid and I used to have to take over my son’s paper route for six weeks every summer during the nineties so that he could attend an academic program. Nearly every house received the paper. Reading that paper was a community experience. That’s no longer the case and that’s a shame.

Many communities across the country have lost their local paper. We haven’t actually lost ours yet but the Saratogian no longer provides the coverage of our community that it used to do. This ‘local news desert’ has terrible ramifications. Without news, how do residents stay informed about local government and other important community issues? How do citizens stay informed so that they can make responsible decisions when they go to the polls? How do you find individuals willing to make the commitments necessary to become involved in their community or run for office?

Albany and Schenectady both have good sources of local news with the Times Union and the Daily Gazette respectively. But, as Rex Smith said recently, the TU staff is not large enough to adequately cover Saratoga Springs. We live in a City which is one of the most successful in the entire northeast with one glaring deficiency-local media coverage.

Chris Mathiesen

11 thoughts on “More From Chris Mathiesen On The Decline of the Saratogian”

  1. Good comment, Dr. Chris.
    If we had really good, free-flowing blogs, we wouldn’t need the paper.

    JK is excellent but strict moderation confines the unbiased free flow of information.
    Interests don’t get posted that do not directly relate to posted material.
    IE: The subject MUST be properly predicated!

    It would be beneficial (and encouraged) to host a free-form blog or forum to which citizens can communicate about anything that comes to mind without fear of biased moderation.
    Anyone Black-Irish enough for starting up a forum?
    (Snicker here…)

    And, to facilitate reading online subscriptions, older versions of Firefox have add-ons available (Quick Java–no longer supported); allows the deactivation of java script; bypassing the subscriber-check algorithm.

    Some find the Daily Gazette a better bargain for the money.
    The Local section and Comics pages are worth the expense.
    Especially if you’re a puzzle junkie (lol).

    Happy Turkey Day all,

    -JC 😉

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  2. But, as Rex Smith said recently, the TU staff is not large enough to adequately cover Saratoga Springs.

    I think that’s because of all the journalists the TU has laid off over the past ten years.

    And the one they’ve got inadequately covering Saratoga Springs politics is a dance critic.

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      1. Saratoga in decline was the rubber hitting the road not Simon SEZ,it was raw but had a loyal following and covered topics a to z.

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  3. To answer Chris’ question: “How do citizens stay informed so that they can make responsible decisions when they go to the polls?”

    Answer: John Kaufmann’s blog. Thank you for your service – today and everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John,
    I understand the position that these commentators feel. Being a local myself, I too understand the value of a local newspaper. Having grown up in Glens Falls, I was an avid reader of The Post-Star ever since I was young. I absolutely remember the days before school reading the paper, hoping that my last name was listed from a field hockey or basketball game or track meet. If it was, the Vice Principal at Glens Falls High School at the time, Mr. Stanley Rummel would have printed out and taped to all of the athletes ,musicians, artists lockers, doesn’t matter what- if the students name was in the paper, there it was- a copy taped to the locker with a congratulatory note.
    Still to this day, many local families seek the Local or Sports section in The Post Star as they take care to always highlight the local school districts, including Saratoga Springs. The oddest thing to many is why not welcome The Post Star into the news space to cover Saratoga Springs stories. They are local and understand the complexities of being north of Albany and they also covet local news stories. Many local (What I mean by local is Saratoga Springs to Lake George- as that is what is commonly understood as “local” for my demographic) kids from the 80’s and 90’s and 00’s had unwillingly move away for their first job after college, which was hard because this is home. The local kids move far away, miss home, and work hard to elevate to a point where working remotely (like myself) is an option or find a good job in Albany to begin 15 years plus of a highly detested commute. No one in Albany seems to understand a inflection point has passed of commuters highlighting a public transportation (train) need from Lake George south to Albany. It’s hard to transition to this commute (and missing hours with our young families) coming from Boston, NYC, or Philadelphia and beyond, but it’s worth it because we are home. I digress.
    Moving back to the area, we chose Saratoga Springs to raise our family. It’s close to the mountains (we are avid skiers and hikers), Saratoga Springs is a vibrant community providing abundant opportunities for children(which we love) and 15 min from my hometown and family. The papers I read? The Post Star and Saratogian. I only read the Saratogian, because it’s offered for free to parents at my children’s elementary school. However the quality and content is a bit slim compared to the Post Star and certainly not as locally focused as I would have expected from a hometown newspaper.
    Would Saratoga Springs welcome The Post Star? It’s editors, writers, and photographers are all local. The paper already covers Saratoga Springs events but why not elevate it even more? Instead of relying on Albany-centric papers, try a paper that represents more of the qualities of the Saratoga Springs region.
    I am not suggesting to scrap the Saratogian, but I am asking to at least think about it. Ken Tingley has ran a great paper with the Post Star for many years. Let’s highlight this beautiful region (Lake George to Saratoga Springs according to locals to had to move – its this regional draw that calls us home) with a strong paper that highlights our beautiful city as well as the little gems to the north- Glens Falls, Lake George, Bolton, even up to Lake Placid.
    Just a thought….

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    1. Amy–

      Did you say; “Local?”
      First of all: The Post Star is not locally owned.

      The paper has a strong bias that does not serve the best interests of it’s subscriber base.
      And the comics are no match for The Daily Gazette.

      Oh, and they no longer print the paper in Glens Falls.
      The Gazette prints the Post Star.

      -JC

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      1. Agreed, they don’t print on Lawrence Street anymore, but I do encourage you to at least read it once. You may see how many articles are based on local news; there is no other way I would know how the local communities are faring if I didn’t read. I’m not sure what the bias you are speaking of however, if you wish to elaborate, it would help me understanding your position.
        Dr. Mathiesen, I encourage you to check them out online someday. It may be intriguing.

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    2. I haven’t read the Post Star in a while. It has been a good newspaper that covers Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties very well. It also has a nice mix of state and national news.

      Chris Mathiesen

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