Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Upstream Reader Comments On The Amsterdam Recorder.

Note: This comment was posted today on a post that is now buried in Upstream's archives. Since the writer took so much time to write it, I thought it deserved some attention.

Like the city it represents, the Amsterdam Recorder is a flailing visionless publication that, as this blog opines, has a staff lacking even a hint of fire or taste for journalism. The responder Kevin seems to think that these shortcomings in staffing should allow the paper’s top journalist, the editor, to shirk some of his duties. Well, I can say from a reader’s perspective, Kevin Mattison has failed to fulfill even an ounce of his duties as the main steward of this publication. If the waning interest in advertisement continues along with the daily drubbing by competing newspapers, the Recorder will go the way of the dinosaurs, along with its wayward sister paper, the Courier-Standard-Enterprise.

First off, any editor worth his or her salt would actually edit the paper, rather than taking a happenstance approach to running a newspaper. There are frequent grammatical errors, which are often compounded by misleading headlines and articles that simply miss the mark altogether. If not for that, then one would assume that a managing editor, after watching his staff be routinely trounced by a competing newspaper with only a bureau in the city of Amsterdam, would shake things up a bit, maybe charge his reporters –many of them news veterans –to find the news before it ends up in someone else’s headlines. Well, in my one year reading the paper, it doesn’t appear as though Mattison possesses those abilities as a leader.

The local page is dominated by police briefs and feature art, seldom do all the reporters at the paper have a by-line, and, more often than not, the articles that do make it to press are either disorganized prattling stories or of such miniscule interest there’s little since in reading them. Simply put, this paper is a news buff’s nightmare.

But why criticize when there’s a simple solution? It’s called getting a leader in the newsroom to take a step forward and create a vision for the paper before dips in circulation drop it off the face of the earth. First, fire the editor. Second, hire a motivated chief, who will tell the reporters to clean it up or ship out. Third, abandon all Fulton County Coverage. And lastly, cover the city of Amsterdam more aggressively. Then there’s option two, which is to merge with the Leader-Herald.

And Kevin, speaking from a point of knowledge, if the Recorder has Mattison and three other editors, then he’s got just as many as the Leader-Herald. Also, editorials DO NOT take 30 hours a week to write, unless you’re writing something that might get the paper sued or you're handicapped. A good editor will read his or her paper each day from cover to cover and have a good handle on the events happening within the circulation; a good editor should be able to produce an editorial in under a couple of hours. But then again, it’s tough to buy anything you say, seeing as though you state in your first post, that you’re a loyal reader, and then in the second, you insist you don’t read the Recorder. Sorry for calling for your job, but it’s time for someone to lead that paper out of the dumps.


  • They should make a run at one of the other good journalists from the Recorder or the Leader Herald and see if they can't turn it around. Charlie Krabel, Bill Ackerbauer, Mark Robarge, just to name a few. Or maybe Tim Fonda at The Leader Herald would come for a lot of money. I think most of them worked at the Recorder at one point in time.

    By Anonymous nynewsguy, at 5:00 PM  

  • As a former reporter who covered Amsterdam, I agree with your assessment completely. The Gazette (which has its own problems)may only have a bureau in Amsterdam, but it has as many reporters working in Montgomery County as the Recorder, and is actively trying to put the Recorder out of business. The Gazette's reporter's are better educated and more motivated, so what do you expect? I

    By Anonymous valleygadfly, at 9:56 PM  

  • Let me throw out some other names for possible candidates for editor.

    - Shawn Tomlinson, a Leader Herald editor, was a Recorder reporter.

    - Will Springstead, now at the Glens Falls Post Star, was the best sports guy the Recorder ever had. He'd be different but certainly a refreshing change,.

    - Mike Goodwin, a TU reporter, got his start at the Recorder and could help train the Recorder's pitiful writing staff.

    - Jim Harris, a city editor in Utica and Gloversville, last seen in Connecticut.

    By Anonymous Jean, at 4:05 PM  

  • Worth noting that nobody on the sports staff now should have a shot at that job. DuNeuville, the sports editor, doesn't like to actually work. Antonelli is always sick, and he's got that unethical side businesses anyway, and Collar has been around way too long to want the hassle.

    By Anonymous Jean, at 4:07 PM  

  • Ackerbauer is out of the market completly, as he's gone back to school. Not sure about Krabel, but last I heard he's no longer in the area either. Fonda has his own concerns with the Leader, which has basically been short no less than one reporter since last summer. Don't know Robarge or Harris off hand and Springfield only in passing, which would lead me to personally recomend Tomlinson, simply for the fact that he's a layout expert who's underutilized at the Leader and also who's fairly good with reporters. Anyone who does take on the job has to have motivation, that's for sure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:15 PM  

  • I worked with Robarge. He's quick. Or maybe they could lure Kathy Smith out of her real estate job, Bill Pitcher from Bergen, New Jersey or Jessica Smrtic from parenthood or Glen Puit from Las Vegas.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:32 PM  

  • No way Goodwin would take the job (and have his salary cut in half), and Ackerbauer has never been a reporter to my knowledge (although I'm sure he would be a very good one). Jessica Smrtic is an interesting possibility (and she's hot)!

    By Anonymous valleygadfly, at 11:13 PM  

  • I was amused and somewhat concerned to find my own name pop up here. Yes, I'm mostly out of the newspaper business and on my way to becoming an academic (though I'm teaching journalism this summer at UAlbany). I'll probably keep my hand in the business as a freelancer, but at the moment I'm not interested in jumping back into the fray.
    To set the record straight, I was indeed a reporter, for The Leader-Herald, for about a year at the beginning of my career. And no, I've never worked for the Amsterdam Recorder.

    By Blogger Bill Ackerbauer, at 10:53 PM  

  • I had to laugh when I read the comments by "anonymous" and "valleygadfly" about my becoming an editor at the Recorder. It would have been an interesting prospect. I loved my time as a reporter, designer and city editor, and never did the days roll by faster (or the bills get paid 'slower').

    However, I am contentedly employed at Community Health Center in Johnstown, working on the "dark side," in marketing, public relations, fundraising (cringe) and graphic design.

    As for my being "hot," I can only say thank you, and hope in all amused sarcasm that this important factor contributed to my performance as an editor. Regardless, that particular adjective made me smile. In fact, I might just put it on my next resume...

    By Anonymous Jessica, at 9:04 PM  

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