Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Princess Leah extends a Happy New Year greeting - and a pizza recipe

Princess Leah Remington
Since being named Rensselaer County Dairy Princess in July, Hoosic Valley High School junior Leah Remington has religiously emailed The Record every week with her dairy princess update. Between preparing her update and her personal appearances at places such as the Altamont Fair, the Washington County Fair, The New York State Fair, and the Schaghticoke Fair, as well as her duties on the family farm, she must be busy young lady.

We weren't able to publish her writing in the paper each week so we tried to get Leah to blog for us this fall to no avail .... but I have had so much fun getting to know her through her writing I thought it appropriate to end my blog for the year by recognizing her hard work and sharing her most recent dispatch and season's greetings.

From Princess Leah:

I hope you had a wonderful, safe New Year's Eve celebration. May 2011 bring you good health and happiness. I am sure your holidays were crazy, so take some time for yourself and relax. My mom and I love to go to stop for hot cocoa and then go shopping to use our gift cards. There is so much less pressure when you're not trying to buy the perfect gift for someone.

I hope all the little ones had a tremendous vacation and fun playing in all the snow from last week's storm. Good thing the kids were off of school so, hopefully, you didn't have to travel in bad weather. I stayed at my Uncle Matthew and Aunt Sue's house during the storm. We watched movies, baked cookies and watched the snow fall and blow around from our cozy couch in front of the fireplace. It doesn't get much better than that!

Now that the kids are back in school, you have to get back to a normal schedule. So here is a quick and easy dinner recipe. Who doesn't love pizza!? This recipe is packed with dairy products, helping you get your recommended 3-Every-Day of Dairy!

Four Cheese Margarita Pizza
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
8 Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 (12 inch) pre-baked pizza crusts
8 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 ounces shredded Fontina cheese
10 fresh basil leaves, washed, dried
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Stir together olive oil, garlic, and salt; toss with tomatoes, and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush each pizza crust with some of the tomato marinade. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with Mozzarella and Fontina cheeses. Arrange tomatoes overtop, then sprinkle with shredded basil, Parmesan and feta cheese. Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

If you have an event that you would like Princess Leah to attend, or have any questions or comments, please contact her at rens_princess_leah@yahoo.com

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oneida Daily Dispatch readers can look for big changes in 2011

After I became publisher of the Oneida Daily Dispatch in March, we had hoped to implement some big changes to improve the quality of our product. And while we made strides over the last nine months, a little thing called technology (or more accurately, the lack of it) got in the way.

Let me explain.

Before personal computers became commonplace and affordable in the late 1980s and early 1990s, journalists primarily wrote and edited copy and there was a separate team to compose the paper - in other words, to layout the copy and photos and ads for the press. But with the advent of PCs and computer programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Quark Xpress that easily allowed editors to paginate the paper, newsrooms everywhere took over production functions - compiling and designing the various elements that make up the newspaper. Fast forward to 2010 with a couple of downturns in the economy that shrunk newsrooms in between, and today upwards of half to two-thirds or more of the manpower in newsrooms can be spent on these pagination functions. This severely impacts the quantity of news produced - particularly at smaller newspapers such as the Dispatch.

So while it been my hope that we move quickly to outsourcing the news production of the Dispatch in 2010 so the journalists here could focus on writing stories, shooting videos for our Web site, etc., the going has been slower. Much of the issue has been technology - the incompatibility of some of our outdated computers/systems to interact correctly with a source outside the paper that might oversee the news production for us. We have taken steps to fix this - the entire newsroom will be equipped with new computers in the next couple weeks. The second phase is new software and finalizing plans to outsource the news pagination function.

However, technology aside, we did make a number of improvements in 2010:
- We gave all of our journalists flip cameras in March to shoot video. We now average over 40 videos posted to our Web site each month. (See some of our 465 videos posted including excerpts of local high school sports contests, community events such as fund drives and parades, and more.)
- We engaged our audience more using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. If you haven't already, please sign up to receive our Twitter feed and join the other 412 people who have "liked"' the Oneida Daily Dispatch page on Facebbook.
- We have also done a better job of posting stories to our Web site throughout the day in recent months as part of our corporate Digital First strategy.
- And we have opened up our Web site to community bloggers.
- On the print side, in the last few months we have localized the front page of our "Life and Times" section that appears each Saturday, and have added an Oneida Chamber of Commerce page on Saturdays as well.

Here is some of what is coming in 2011:
- A redesigned newspaper.
- More local news coverage (after we free up our newsroom from pagination functions in the second quarter).
- Smart phone and iPad applications.
- Establishment of a Community Media Lab to better integrate the community into our newsroom and vice-a-versa.

Many of these changes are part of an overall strategy our parent company Journal Register Co. has engaged in. I recommend those interested in the transformation at JRC, read my blog on the subject and also read our CEO John Paton's blog and see a video released last week on our progress in 2010.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers, advertisers and employees the merriest of holidays; we look forward to engaging our community even more in 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Journal Register Company ends 2010 the talk of the newspaper industry

This blog was updated Dec. 23.

I published my year-in-review/2011 preview on The Record (Troy, N.Y.) today, and in the next week, will write a similar piece about our sister newspaper, the Oneida Daily Dispatch.

Alot of similar year-end pieces are publishing recently on the state of the newspaper industry ... and media in general. Here are what industry insiders are saying about our parent company, Journal Register Co. and our CEO John Paton in year-end stories:
  • Joshua Benton announced the results of a Neiman Journalism Lab poll on what industry participants thought were going to be the big stories in the journalism field in 2011. To the question, "Who do you think is the smartest thinker about the future of news inside the working world of journalism?" he announced JRC CEO John Paton as the winner. Voters could choose any editor, publisher, or other executive at any news organization. "John Paton’s efforts to turn around the moribund Journal Register Co. have gotten noticed: he led the way with 14 percent of votes, far outpacing The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger and CUNY’s (and JRC advisor) Jeff Jarvis," he wrote. "(Personally, I would have put Jeff in the Clay/Jay outsider category, but he wears enough hats that he could probably fit anywhere.) Others getting mentions: WaPo/TBD-ex Jim Brady, New York’s Adam Moss, Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, Gawker’s Nick Denton, and Rupert Murdoch."
  • In another article at at Neiman Journalism Lab's web site, Martin Langeveld, who spent 30 years in the daily newspaper business working for a variety of New England papers, wrote: "Is there another newspaper company CEO who agrees with (John) Paton’s mantra, 'Be Digital First and Print Last'? I doubt it, because what it means, in Patton’s words, is that you 'put the digital people in charge, and stop listening to the newspaper people.' Most newspaper groups pay lip service to 'digital first'." See his full post here on his prediction for JRC in 2011.
  • emedia.com staff writer Ellie Behling named Journal Register Company alongside Sports Illustrated, Gourmet Live, National Public Radio, and The Atlantic as the top 5 digital makeovers in media in 2010.
And in related news:
  • Suburban Newspapers of America announced a North America Innovation Tour in May 2011 around the continent for newspaper leaders which includes a stop at JRC's Torrington, CT newspaper, the Register Citizen, to visit its open community newsroom. "While there, the group will also spend a half day meeting with JRC corporate executives learning more about their digital-first strategy with a particular focus on revenue strategies that are working," the SNA release reported.
  • The New York Times wrote about our sister paper, The Register-Citizen in Torrington, Ct. last week that has opened its newsroom to the public.
  • emedia.com also recognized two JRC advisory board members - professors/authors Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen - among the top five most influential digital media tweeters.
  • JRC CEO Paton wrote a year-end blog to employees lauding them for their digital first efforts in 2010: "In 10 months this company has gone from nearly zero video to producing about 1,000 videos a week and 2 million video streams monthly. From almost no digital ad orders to more than 1,000 orders per month." Read the blog and view a related video on JRC in 2010.  
It used to be said that journalists wrote the headlines, not dominated them. But times have changed as folks openly fret about the future of the media business. Some headlines reflect a glass is half-full outlook and some reflect the glass is half-empty; it is terrific to be working in a company where the headlines about it are all the former.

The year in review - 2010 at The Record

This was a transformational year in the history of The Record. We took a firm step into our digital future while buttressing our legacy print business. The year in review:

Digital First
In February, Journal Register Company (our parent company) named a new CEO, John Paton. He met with JRC publishers on his first day on the job and told them to embrace a new “news ecology”, which includes the empowerment of citizen journalists to help us report what is going on in our communities. He demanded we be mobile-first in news delivery; and employ technologies to give consumers what they want, how they want it, when they want it.

To that end, the Record has changed the way it reported news in so many ways:
- All of our journalists were equipped with video cameras in the the spring; we now broadcast an average of about 70 new videos a month.
- Staffers began blogging, and we invited the community to blog on our site as well. Today we have over 30 bloggers.
- We began engaging our audiences more using social media. We launched a Facebook page, which today has 767 "fans". Now more than a dozen staffers use Twitter.
- We live-streamed all of our editorial board meetings with candidates during the election season, and our sports team has been particularly active with the above tools - regularly blogging, tweeting and posting video from games, and setting up special events such as Will Montgomery's high school football chat sessions, and Andrew Santillo's and Tretonian sports reporter Ben Doody's weekly chat about MAAC college basketball.

We promoted one of our staff writers, Tom Caprood, to lead our digital first efforts in the newsroom this spring, and he was named to JRC's Idea Lab in July. The concept is to have 15 employees companywide devote 10 hours a week for a year to helping the company "think differently about what we do and how we do it". Experimenting with technology is a big part of the charge.

We also opened the first phase of our Community Media Lab - a space designed to bring the community in to collaborate with us on all types of projects - from citizen journalism (ie. blogging) to forums on topics of interest to business owners to dialogues with local business, arts, education, government, and non-profit leaders.

And lastly, we added journalists in our newsroom in early 2010 - aiding both our digital and print efforts - and launched a few new features throughout the year. (Among the highlights were two in sports: a roundup of local athletic accomplishments each Sunday, and the presence of an in-depth sports feature that day as well.)

Our audience is growing
Our audience is larger than it has been in some time. Our digital audience is now up to over 163,000 unique visitors a month, and our print audience over the same period exceeds 93,000 adults.

The Record has been defying newspaper industry trends this year - as of last week our paid home delivery circulation was up 9.8 percent vs. the same week last December (while our overall circulation is relatively flat due to declining single copy sales).

Not only have readers have responding positively to changes in our operations; the Capital Region's alternative news weekly Metroland cited The Record in its Best of the Region announcement in late July for "Best Newspaper Turnaround". They said, in part, that we "re-imagined" our product, and "now regularly produce the most satisfying read of any paper around".

Legacy structure
None of the digital first focus represents an abandonment of our print products. In fact, this effort will enhance our newspapers as we refocus our resources to use newsprint to present more compelling journalism.

In many instances our company, as CEO John Paton has blogged about, we have outsourced to reduce our legacy costs so we could invest more in technology and journalism. Buildings, presses and delivery trucks have all been shedded. But in some cases where it  made sense, some locations were identified as printing centers in JRC. So Troy is a print hub now for our Troy, Saratoga and Kingston products. To that end, we invested in our building and printing technology here:
  •  In February we went live with new computer-to-plate equipment, which cut down on our prepress costs.
  • And in November we went live with new inserting equipment, which improved efficiency in that end of our operations in the week leading up to our becoming printer for a sister newspaper, Kingston's The Daily Freeman, on Dec. 7.
We have also invested in our building, repairing our roof and facade over the summer and fall, renovating two areas of the building for the aforementioned CTP equipment and the Community Media Lab, and installing a new T1 line.

More community engagement
We were active with a number of new community organizations during the year, and we expanded our Clothe the Child effort to a second annual campaign called "Camps4Kids". Proceeds sponsored camp scholarships for Troy Boys and Girls Club kids to its Camp Barker, which was struggling with funding.

Another exciting project came late in the year as The Record rallied to bring the 2010 World Series Trophy to Troy. After a five-week campaign, the San Francisco Giants - whose Major League roots are in Troy - agreed to bring the trophy here in May.

Sneak peak at '11
We have a bunch of new products, technologies and ways of reporting news and engaging with our readers that we will employ in 2011. I am happy to announce two projects today to provide a sneak peak:
  • The Record's Rensselaer Forum will be a regular gathering of community leaders in the arts, education, health, public service and local business to discuss issues of importance to local residents. The goal is to provide an ongoing process for residents to envision the future of their community. Topics and invited guests will vary, but the format will be the same: The public will be invited to participate in the discussion. A transcript will be published at troyrecord.com, as will stories. And video will be shot and excerpts made available on our web site.
  • We'll call it a working name for now - troyrecord.com's CML Concert Series (the CML standing for our Community Media Lab) - is also coming soon. We're inviting in music acts from the region to perform live in our media lab, and we'll post videos from each session and a brief artist biography on our Web site.
  • Electronic and mobile editions of our newspaper will roll out early in the coming year.
  • As announced this week by the Business Review, we are looking to expand our Community Media Lab into our newsroom. More on this as the project progresses.
  • And we are investing in a new front-end system for our editorial department this spring to make us more efficient, to push news more readily to mobile devices and the Web, and to make it easier to share content with other publications in our company, among other reasons.
In closing
I recommend those interested in the transformation at JRC see the video released this week on our progress in 2010.

And I want to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers, advertisers and employees the merriest of holidays; we look forward to engaging our community even more in 2011.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's coming ... San Francisco Giants' World Series Trophy coming home to Troy, N.Y.

After a campaign lasting over five weeks, The Record has done something that may have seemed a little far-fetched to some when we began it: We've convinced the San Francisco Giants to bring the World Series trophy home to Troy this spring.

The Record learned last night that the San Francisco Giants confirmed they will bring the trophy to Troy and Cooperstown the weekend of May 6-8. The stop in upstate New York will be part of a victory tour the team has set to celebrate its first World Series championship since 1958, and the first since moving from New York City to San Francisco.

Several days after the Giants beat the Texas Rangers in six games, The Record launched a Web and print petition asking the Giants to bring the trophy to Troy, the franchise’s original home. Petitions signed by Capital District residents and Giants from the Midwest and East Coast were presented to San Francisco Giants officials last week.

The back story on why the trophy belongs here, according to The Record Sports Editor Kevin Moran: The Troy City Trojans, an original member of the National League, competed for four seasons, 1879-1882. The Trojans failed to produce a winning season and struggled to attract fans, and that was a concern to other National League owners because of a threat from a rival league, the American Association. In December 1882 owners from Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Providence, Boston and Detroit decided to remove Troy and Worcester from the National League and place franchises in New York City and Worcester. The vote was illegal  because according to National League charter teams could only be removed from the league if it failed to complete its schedule. Troy completed its schedule all four years.

Troy representative A.L. Hotchikin at first balked at resigning Troy’s franchise, but eventually did so with concessions. Troy would be an Honorary Member of the National League — a distinction its holds today. National League teams would return to the Collar City each season to play a series if exhibition games to help Troy raise revenue to start a new National League franchise. Of course this never happened.

The petition drive was envisioned and orchestrated by Moran, who also labored hard to get the story picked up by local, national and West Coast media. Digital specialist Tom Caprood assisted in bringing attention to the event by marketing the effort through social media. And editor Lisa Lewis kept the project moving forward despite a steady diet of breaking stories that needed coverage. Congrats to all for their hard work. And thanks to everyone who signed our petition.

We'll keep you update on the events surrounding the homecoming, and of course, have full coverage at troyrecord.com and in The Record.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Journal Register CEO John Paton delivers frank assessment of challenges to newspaper industry

The CEO of the Journal Register Company, parent company of four NY papers - The Record (Troy), The Oneida Daily Dispatch, Saratogian and Daily Freeman - delivered a frank critique of the challenges the newspaper industry is facing at an industry event today.

John Paton told colleagues at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) Transformation of News Summit this morning in Cambridge, Mass. "(we must) profoundly change how we do business". He then spent the rest of the presentation explaining to folks the Digital First transformation he has led in JRC since he joined the company earlier this year, and the results so far. The short version is, in John's words, "the company’s expenses are down and its profits are up".

But if you have any interest in the newspaper business, the story is more compelling. Read/view John's presentation.