Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wanted: enigmatic cops reporter

Just a few days after a strange species of bipedal apes made their way out of the trees, Jim Kinney penned his try-out article for the Saratogian. By the time Sir William Johnson suckled up to the High Rock Spring in 1767, Kinney had already achieved lead-reporter status in the newsroom and wrote a brief about the whole affair along with his cop roundup.

Since that time, the Saratogian’ s police and Saratoga County reporter has literally choked the paper with his by-line. This year alone, his name has appeared 104 times in the Saratogian and 15 in the Troy Record. In other words, Kinney produced about 13 articles during the average work week; for those in the business, this is what is known as an impressive output of copy.

Simply put, Kinney is more a news machine than a news reporter. And that news machine will soon have a change of scenery for the first time this century. Saratogian managing editor Barbara Lombardo announced last week Kinney’s impending departure for Springfield, Mass., the heroin capital of the Northeast.

Starting later this month, Kinney will take up a post with the Springfield Republican, an 85,000-plus circulation daily owned by Newhouse Newspapers. The company operates 37 newspapers in 10 states, including the Post-Standard in Syracuse and the New Orleans Times Picayune, the largest paper in Louisiana.

For those who have never met Kinney in person, he’s a tall, somewhat gangly fellow with close-cropped hair, a slight speech impediment and a stiff upper lip. Probably the best description is that he’s the apple-pie eating football-loving ‘all-American boy’ type.

In as much, his politics leans on the conservative side. He was nearly a cheerleader for former Congressman John Sweeney and literally ignored a story about the Republican’s son being arrested for a brutal beating in Stillwater. Kinney also tends to gravitate to the side of cops and the legal system. Often times, his crime articles include bullshit back-slapping comments local cops espouse in an almost self-congratulatory way after a minor arrest; the ‘good police work’ garbage most reporters omit for obvious reasons.

Still, Kinney has been a bastion at the paper and his hard work is undeniable. In fact, his decade-long presence at the Saratogian has been somewhat of an enigma, seeing as though the paper routinely turns over its staff once a month. Kinney is among the last vestiges leftover from the Gannet days. Local readers have marveled about the mindset it takes to achieve this sort of longevity at such a calamity of a paper.

But as Lombardo attests in her seldom-read blog, Kinney did it all with a smile. Most of the times at least. Some former Saratogian reporters have marveled at the strength with which Kinney’s fingers hammer his keyboard. Other speak volumes about Kinney’s deadline face -sort of the expression one would make while passing a kidney stone.

Like his reporting or not, Kinney will leave behind some big shoes for the Journal Register Company to fill. In truth, they’ll probably never find a reporter to put up with the abuses Kinney has undoubtedly withstood during his tenure. Most likely, they’ll throw a few pennies at a recent college grad, who will then mercilessly stumble through the beat for several months before getting a solid footing and seeking better employment. In other words, get ready for another dip in Saratogian quality.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jim was sure a high-stress guy -- he was known for chewing on his pens, to the point that in an on-deadline moment, he could bite through one of those super-hard clear-plastic ones. It wasn't uncommon to hear groans of wired-up frustration followed by "oh, shit" -- you'd look up to see him running toward the men's room, ink running down his chin. :)

That said, he was a heck of a nice guy and a dyed-in-the-wool newshound if there ever was one, and losing him is gonna be a huge loss for the paper. He was always the one who held the city desk together amid the constant tumult of the revolving door.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


With Kinney's departure, now is your chance to... put in your application! You've been complaining about this "rag" for years now. Get in the ring!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


I'd rather cut off both my hands. The reasons for this are to numerous to list, but in summation, that paper will not improve until the JRC beast is slain.


It's funny you mention the pen story. I've heard that story several times before. It's a classic. From what I understand, he's a pretty intense dude when it comes to writing.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best of luck and congratulations to Kinney for escaping from the worst newspaper company in the country.

Those who have experienced the legendary cheapness of Journal Register say, "Nobody wants to come, nobody wants to stay."

The good news is that Journal Register is essentially insolvent, due to its consistent practice of making newspapers it buys with loans it cannot possibly repay a lot worse, journalistically and financially.

And, as a result, its stock has plummeted from its IPO price of $14 in 1997 to its $1 close Friday.

JRC will go lower than that, guaranteed.

So, sooner rather than later, JRC (or the bankruptcy referee) will have to sell The Saratogian.

Hopefully, someone who knows how to run a newspaper -- by paying living wages and benefits to reporters who produce solid, basic news coverage people will want to read, and selling ads to businesses who want to reach those readers -- will buy The Saratogian.

No matter who steps in as the new owner, it cannot be worse than what JRC has done to The Saratogian over the last few years.

And, of course, any new owner with a brain in his/her head will replace the current editor.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:04 - "Nobody wants to come, nobody wants to stay."

But people do have to eat and dream of tomorrow. This once “hometown” newspaper can be a painful insidious environment where all the fit news is not printed and in searching for one’s voice, the opportunities and rewards seem few and far between.

But like the fable of the dog with the bone, imagined opportunities can only be realized after digesting what experience and opportunity exist at hand. Good luck to Kinney, he should remember that the best cop stories never make it to the front page.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Death, Taxes and Jim was something that you thought would never change...It truly is a dark day on Lake Avenue.
We'll miss him.
I'm glad that Horatio was kind enough to put a shout out to one of the guys who rose above the fray and gave a shit on and off the clock.
Good luck in Mass. buddy.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The paper was a piece of shit while owned by Gannet. Who could have guessed that it would get even worse under JRC?

Any local prospects for buying it on the cheap? Or are the local ownership days long gone?

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You left out his most honorable attribute . . he signed his name after everything he wrote. You be the judge who is the better man.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


I also left out his weekly salary. What's your point? Are you comparing the apple of an unpaid blog to the orange of a professional career? Perhaps I'm mistaken, but this seems like a fairly specious comparison, especially when trying to "judge who is the better man." So please do avert your eyes from this corner of cyberspace and return to your beloved land of by-lined articles. There's enough room here for both of us, even if you're too ignorant to realize that.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And one last thing about Kinney that makes him an ok guy... he's Penn State proud! Good luck Jim! It's nice to know we've got decent journalists out there from PSU!

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The paper has a huge void to fill with Jim gone. He pours his heart and soul into everything he does. A true, classic newspaperman. I'm so glad he made it out. Good luck to him. He will thrive in Mass.

5:52 PM  

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