Friday, April 30, 2010

Can you describe Troy in 140 characters or less?

How do you feel about Troy? Are you a lifelong Trojan beaming with pride? Or have you had enough of the Collar City?

The Record wants to know.

Tell The Record what you think of Troy in 140 characters or less (including spaces) and we’ll share your feelings with the world.

Send a direct message on Twitter to @TroyRecord and we’ll send them out to all our followers as they come in. Additionally, you can send an e-mail to with the subject "TroyNYis".

We plan to expand the project over time by adding video interviews, photographs, comments from area officials and business leaders, and more.

We will even print a number of responses in The Record and post them to our website in the near future.

However, we ask that you be honest and courteous with your responses. Personal attacks, as well as the use of vulgarities or profanities, will not be allowed.

Questions? E-mail The Record's digital specialist, Tom Caprood, at

Follow along with us - @TroyRecord on Twitter with the hashtag #TroyNYis

Stable of voices writing blogs at grows to 27

The Record is expanding the quantity of "voices" in its products, starting with our Web site.

We have added 11 bloggers to our site in the last seven weeks, bringing the total number to 25; we have two more polishing up their first blogs and they should go live later today or over the weekend. This brings us one blogger shy of my previously stated goal of having 28 bloggers on our site by today.

Here is just a sample of some of the new voices at blog central at
- Clinton Ballinger, founder and CEO of Evident Technologies, is taking the mystery out of technology without techno-jargon in his fun, relevant and educational blog.
- Marcie Pry, aka Short Temper, rocks and rolls - literally - as a member of the Hellions of Troy Roller Derby. She chronicles her adventures in roller derby, from bragging about bruises received at practice to attending roller derby events.
- Three women - Margaret, Jenn and Amy - from Troy's Some Girls boutique share writing duties for a style and lifestyle blog.

Why our effort? Jay Rosen, New York University professor and a Journal Register Company (our parent company) advisory board member, states the case succinctly: "Journalism - to be fully legitimate - needs to present a plurality of voices, not just one. I don't mean to invoke the gods of balance. They are false gods. I mean to suggest that journalism isn't a monologue. More than one person speaks in it. More than one angle is taken on the object."

Beyond blogs .... From the recent addition of our SeeClick Fix tool to our commenting functions, we're committed to a "plurality of voices" on our Web site. Coming soon is the ability for site viewers to upload their videos to all of our company's Web sites.

Also look for more bloggers. When I set the goal in mid-March of adding 14 bloggers by April 30, I also committed us to adding another 14 by June 30, to bring the total to 42. If you have the expertise, time and interest to blog for us on a particular subject, send a brief bio, contact information and a sample blog (or link to one) to and we’ll review and get back to you quickly.

The Record expands Clothe-A-Child to help send kids to summer camp

The Record announced this morning that we have expanded our Clothe-A-Child Fund to a second annual campaign to raise funds to send children from low income households to summer camp.

Clothe-A-Child is expanding from a narrow mission of buying clothing for needy children to a broader aim. The winter campaign will continue to raise monies to purchase winter clothing for children while the summer effort, called Camps-4-Kids, will focus on funding summer camp scholarships.

The summer campaign will run through mid-June; a goal of $35,000 has been set. This year, Camp Barker, operated by the Boys and Girls Club of Troy, is recipient. The funding couldn't have come at a better time according to the organization's Executive Director Sharon Smith. She reported that two major funding sources for camp support have “dried up completely” recently.

“We were in serious danger of not offering a camp program this summer until The Record came to our rescue,” Smith stated.

More info here.

Donations may be sent to Clothe-A-Child/Camp Fund, The Record, 501 Broadway, Troy, N.Y. 12180.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A look at John Paton's first 90 days as CEO of Journal Register Co.

John Paton will celebrate his 90th day as CEO of the Journal Register Company (parent company of this newspaper) this weekend. It has been a whirlwind three months for John and for the 3,100 employees of JRC, including those working here.

After a year of uncertainty as the company went into, and later emerged from bankruptcy and conducted a search for a leader, JRC has not only been reporting the headlines but making them almost weekly for a series of announcements about the bold steps it is taking to transform to a digital company.

Here are some highlights:
- John started work on Feb. 1; his first two days on the job were attending an already-scheduled meeting of JRC publishers, a handful of editors and corporate executives. He told those gathered the company's current business model was broken and that "all employees must recognize we have to change. And fast." He explained that the company must be "digital first and brands first" and set goals for significantly increasing operating cash flow from the digital side of the business over the next 3 to 5 years. He also charged those in the room with ensuring that the company is the "number one choice" for news in all of the communities that it serves. He restated these and other goals to all employees later in the week in both a companywide phone conference and in a letter.
- An advisory board was named in mid-March. Paton said in the announcement that the board "is charged with helping us assess the changes we need to make (to participate in social media and other digital innovations) and pushing us to experiment in new ways of news creation and delivery." Named were: Jeff Jarvis (an author and associate professor and director of the Interactive Journalism program and the new business models for news project at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism; Jay Rosen, PhD (a professor and former chair of the journalism program at New York University and a member of the Advisory Board of Wikipedia); and Betsy Morgan (a former CEO of the Huffington Post and former senior vice president and general manager of
- Earlier this month, Paton announced the launch of the Ben Franklin Project. Two JRC newspapers are empowering their communities to decide what information readers would like to see covered, and to become active members of the news-gathering process by submitting tips, personal stories, photos, videos and more using tools found for free on the Internet. Part of the project's mission is to create a web and print publication for one week that uses only free tools widely available on the Internet to demonstrate just how easy it is for citizens to become 'citizen journalists'. One newspaper had a community forum this week to field ideas of what readers would like to see the paper cover as part of the process.
- And last week Paton announced "a major citizen journalism initiative" with a partnership with SeeClickFix that allows Web site visitors to observe, report and follow issues - from poor road conditions to blighted buildings - in their communities.

Other changes include giving EVERY reporter in the company a digital Flip HD camera to contribute video to our Web sites (these were quickly paid for through new digital sales initiatives); the establishment of community media labs at six JRC newspapers (to encourage citizen journalism); restructuring at corporate to flatten the company and give more decision-making powers to the field; a considerable amount of training through Webinars and corporate conferences (touching more than one-third of the company's employees); and announcement of an employee profit-sharing plan.

Paton and JRC have been garnering considerable press for this recent activity. From trade industry magazines such as Editor and Publisher, to bloggers such as Judy Sims, a former vice president of Digital Media for the Toronto Star Media Group, the industry is eagerly watching the transformation at JRC.

But much more change is coming - most importantly, developments that will radically improve all of our print and digital products. You can follow these here on my blog and/or on John's blog.

My gut tells me the activity in this company in any 90 day period over the next few years will equal or exceed the pace of the past three months. Employees are on notice this transformation isn't for the faint of heart, and readers have been encouraged to expect more - and engage more - with the various products that comprise this emerging leader in U.S. community journalism.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oneida digs SeeClickFix feature at

The Oneida Daily Dispatch announced Tuesday it launched a SeeClickFix feature on its web site, whereby local residents can identify issues of concerns in their communities. In 48 hours, viewers have already raised nine issues in Oneida and Verona about everything from potholes to disruptive teens to a zoning dispute. The latter - over a vacant Oneida lot where a planning board has nixed the design for a proposed restaurant - has drawn the most responses.

The mapping/social networking feature has drawn written comments, but also allows for videos and photos to be uploaded.

Our site also has a video from the founder of SeeClickFix, with more information on the possibilites of the product, and another video showing a few of the sites viewers there have complained about, including one of the nastiest poholes I have ever seen (at Oneida High High School).

The Record in Troy, where I am also publisher, launched SeeClickFix in the past month and viewers have opened way more than 50 issues on our site. Among the reports there is a brand new "fake red brick crosswalk on Central Ave in the Village of Colonie, at Vly Road, (which) is falling apart already". The viewer continues, "So much for DOT's new 'fancier', 'cobble-stone look' crosswalks!"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This newspaper wants to partner with you to 'fix' issues in our communities

The Record and the Oneida Daily Dispatch - both papers at which I am publisher - are part of a major citizen journalism initiative to empower citizens to improve their communities.

Starting today, all 18 Journal Register Company daily newspapers and online publications in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan and Ohio - including in Troy and Oneida - are partnering with in the communities they serve.

The partnership provides SeeClickFix portal pages on our websites that allows users to observe, report and follow issues - poor road conditions to blighted buildings - in their communities.

This benefits our community by:

- Encouraging our audience to utilize the SeeClickFix platform to alert fellow residents of impact issues.
- Empowering residents to work with our journalists to address the needs of the community.
- Highlighting those who participate and make a difference through news reports.

We all have some issue - a broken sidewalk or a graffiti-marred public sign - near our home or workplace that drives us a little mad. Chances are someone shares our frustration, and experience has shown that municipalities and others will generally respond to those who shout the loudest. This tool is as effective a way as I know to 'shout' pretty loud.

Visit Oneida Daily Dispatch's or The Record's Web sites and look for the SeeClickFix information on the front page. Troy has had dozens of viewers participate in recent weeks; Oneida just launched theirs today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Conventional wisdom: Young people do not read newspapers. Except studies show a fair amount do

News reports last week of a new survey of news consumption in Britain shows adults under age 35 significantly increased their consumption of news in the past three years. And more are getting their news from print newspapers.

A McKinsey survey says average daily news consumption in the U.K. increased from 60 to 72 minutes in three years - "an increase driven almost entirely by people under the age of 35", according to a McKinsey spokesperson.

While young adults "overwhelmingly prefer to get their news from television and the Internet," the report says, newspapers remain the most trusted medium. The report said 66 percent of respondents describe the paper as "informative and confidence inspiring" compared to 44 percent for television and just 12 percent for the Web.

"This suggests that newspapers have further scope to go beyond news, to drive reader interest and advertising revenues at the same time," a spokesperson wrote.

And "interest" in getting news from newspapers has grown, the survey found. Among people aged 16 to 24, interest in newspaper news grew from 53 to 64 percent since a 2006 survey. Among 25-34 year olds, interest grew from 51 to 61 percent.

A study released last month from a 2009 survey of Canadian newspaper readers found print newspaper readership among young adults roughly the same as the general population.

A study by NADbank reported that 71 percent of adults ages 18-24 read a print version of a newspaper in the past seven days, nearly identical to the percentage of all adults age 18 and older (73 percent). Young adults were less likely than the general adult population (37 percent vs. 47 percent) to have responded they read a newspaper "yesterday" however, mirroring historical trends which show younger adults tend to be more often consumers of single and pass-along copies (and therefore not reading every day).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Record's coverage of breaking news story Tuesday sets site traffic record

On Tuesday I blogged about how The Record newsroom executed coverage that day of breaking news story – Troy’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute locked down its campus after an alleged armed robber was reportedly sighted near one of its buildings - exemplified our paper's digital first strategy.

I also said readers responded to our tweets, blogs and e-mail alerts and scoured our coverage in large numbers. The traffic stats are in and we set a one-day site record for visitors, crushing a record set a week earlier. Some 26,343 visits were recorded, up 46 percent over a previous one-day record of 18,028. Wednesday's coverage also drove an audience near the size of the previous record: 17,422 visitors. We also set a one-day record for page views on Tuesday (70.556). And, we set a record for two-day views of a single video (4,156) of the sound of an RPI alert shot from our newsroom window. Another video from the same package also recorded the second most views over a two-day period (2,743).

Our use of social media to drive site traffic also drove registration for our main Twitter news account; 45 new followers signed up.

More on how our digital efforts are paying off in bigger audiences in future blogs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breaking news story offers opportunity to fully execute JRC's new 'news ecology'

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy locked down its campus this morning after an alleged armed robber was reportedly sighted near one of its buildings. Police are still searching the city for an unidentified male who made off with more than $40,000 after he allegedly robbed a local business.

A few years ago, you would have first read The Record's coverage the following day.

A year ago we might have posted a short story online with a few details fairly late in the news cycle on the same day.

Today we have reported continuously as the story developed, from roughly 90 minutes after the theft occurred at 8:10 a.m., through the morning and early afternoon as police warned the community to stay behind locked doors. And more reporting is coming this evening.

I have blogged lately about our newspaper’s – and our parent company, Journal Register Co.’s – rapid adoption of a digital first philosophy. Here's a rundown of how our news staff – led by Tom Caprood - did an excellent job in reporting a breaking news story as it happened today.

Photographer Jeff Couch called into the office with a report that the robbery had taken place and that police were on the scene at 8:30 a.m. Within 10 minutes Caprood was on scene with a Flip video camera and notepad to get what very few details police would offer, and a few quick shots of the scene and a helicopter flying overhead. A brief video was uploaded just before 10 a.m. (2,118 views as of 2:30 p.m.); and another with the audio of the R.P.I. alert was posted shortly after 10 a.m. (1,536 views as of 2:30 p.m.).

And another version of the original video edited with reaction from local business employees near the robbery site was uploaded at 2:12 p.m.

In addition, a story was updated throughout the morning as it progressed. Photos were posted. By 2 p.m., reporter Jessica Pasko added more from a press conference on the matter, and an R.P.I. statement on the matter was posted at 2:37 p.m. A story was published about (and a link established to) Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian’s controversial tweet criticizing RPI’s emergency alert system (further coverage on this development will be published by reporter Dave Canfield tonight.) And city editor Jim Franco blogged about the controversy.

Some more highlights:
- All of our reporters have created work-related Twitter accounts in recent weeks, and several drove traffic to the site with their breaking news tweets.
- Many of our sources for reaction stories came from mining Tweets from R.P.I. students and others.

We gained more than 40 Twitter followers throughout the morning and had 13,000 page views on the coverage by just before 3 p.m. I’ll report out more on our same-day and next-day traffic on Thursday.

Kudos to all who wrote, posted and edited coverage, shot photos and video, and blogged. Welcome to the new “news ecology” … let’s do it again tomorrow.

Journal Register CEO ponders name change

The Journal Register Co. - parent company of The Record and the Oneida Daily Dispatch - considers a name change.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do citizen journalists need legal protection from frivolous lawsuits?

Does the First Amendment offer citizen journalists legal protection to say what they believe? Yes and no.

Companies regularly use lawsuits - which have become know Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) - to silence and punish critics, usually individuals who have posted a negative comment on the Web. Legal experts say the plaintiffs lose more SLAPPs than they win because the First Amendment is on the defendants' side, but that is not the point. The goal of the lawsuits is to get the critics to back down - or face financially rehabilitating legal action.

A bill now working its way through Congress - The Citizen Participation Act (H.R. 4364) - was introduced to protect either “petition activity and speech or conduct in connection with an issue of public interest with a set of procedural mechanisms", according to the Public Participation Project". "An 'issue of public interest' includes any information or opinion related to health or safety; environmental, economic or community well-being; the government; a public figure; or a good, product or service in the marketplace."

Twenty-seven states have signed similar provisions into law, but the levels of protection vary. According to the Public Participation Project, the proposed act "allows a defendant to bring a special motion to dismiss the lawsuit at an early stage in the proceedings. The defendant must show that the lawsuit against him arose from his protected speech or petitioning activity. The plaintiff must then demonstrate that her claim is both legally sufficient and supported by a sufficient prima facie showing of facts to sustain a favorable judgment."

One expert - speaking on National Public Radio's "On the Media" show - also suggests anyone who blogs regularly to add defamation coverage to their homeowner or renter's insurance coverage; he estimated such coverage could cost as little as $3 a year.