Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned mystery to spice things up. Mysteries worked for Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the timeless character of Sherlock Homes. They also worked pretty well for the publishing houses that created Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys several decades later. They were probably the authors Barbara Lombardo had in mind when she wrote her latest masterpiece, entitled “Eatery mystery coming to the Hampton Inn.”

For those who don’t know Lombardo, she’s the managing editor of the Saratogian, who has presided over the longest mystery in newsprint history, namely the one titled “The Case of the Missing News.” Summing things up for the many infrequent readers of the Saratogian, it is an ongoing saga about a small city newspaper that discovers one day its news content has mysteriously vanished. Lombardo becomes a wraith in the newsroom and frequently disappears for long stretches of time in the narrative of this epic tail.

Her latest mystery is much better. The antagonists in this piece are hoteliers Michael Hoffman and Frank Parillo, who mysteriously build a towering behemoth off Lake Avenue after nearly a decade of wrangling and hustling. Amazingly, this duo decides to put a restaurant in their sprawling development, a practice that is ever so peculiar in the hotel business.

Now here’s where the plot thickens. Hoffman and Parillo decide one day they want free advertising for their adjoining condominium complex. So they approach Lombardo –the story’s news ferret and heroine –to offer her a clue: a “popular restaurant” making its Saratoga debut.

Update: Just in case you forgot over the past 24 hours, the Saratogian has again announced the morning news conference to unveil this perplexing mystery. In an uncharacteristic morning Web update, they've re-announced this landmark event.

Stop the presses. Another restaurant is coming to the Spa City? Well gee, Sherlock. That never happens around here; at least not every day. Maybe every other day, but who’s really counting?

Update: And who’s really counting the number of so-called “upscale” Italian restaurants in the area? It’s not like there isn’t already an half-dozen of these eateries that boast “a serious wine collection” from the Mediterranean boot. Bellini’s, welcome to Saratoga Springs. Meet David Zecchini. You’ll be sharing customers until he decides to break the knees of your head chef on Travers Day.

The sad thing through all this pandering is that these two developers are going to “announce” this new restaurant on Thursday and still wouldn’t tip their hand to Lombardo, who all but wrote front page advertorial for their condo sales. The only thing she forgot to include was a phone number and e-mail address for the realtor she listed. But fear not, inquiring readers. It is most certainly listed elsewhere in the paper.

This type of news gives cause for the sweeping layoffs and circulation dips witnessed lately in journalism. For instance, FOX 23 News just slashed 11 positions from its newsroom and other departments on a day some staffers are calling “Wednesday Bloody Wednesday.” The layoffs are no big surprise, seeing as though the newscast always seems behind CBS 6 Albany, a perennial cellar-dweller in the ratings that is so confused they can’t even identify that their station is really in Niskayuna.

Yet somehow Lombardo eludes this ax as it swings through the increasingly crowded worlds of broadcast and print journalism. In most businesses, they fire the captain when he crashes the Valdez on the rocks. But in Lombardo’s case, the Journal Register Company seems content to let her continually steer the ship aground. And perhaps that’s the greatest mystery of them all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just in... The Saratogian has eliminated the Associate Editor from its 'Spirit of Saratoga' glossy. The duties formerly handled by that person will reportedly be spread around the newsroom.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Owner for Journal Register?

Published: June 18, 2008 11:10 PM ET
PHILADELPHIA A major shareholder of the Journal Register Company says the newspaper publisher has received several offers to acquire or invest in the business.

Richard Barone, chairman of the Ancora Group in Cleveland, says he's offering to buy up to 90% ownership for $25 million.

Barone says he expects the Pennsylvania-based company to make a decision by the end of the month.

The company owns 22 daily newspapers, including The (Lorain) Morning Journal and The (Willoughby) News-Herald in Ohio, and 312 nondaily publications.

Messages left for Journal Register representatives were not returned.

Like many newspaper owners, it has struggled with declining advertising revenue. In April, the company's stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because its price fell below required limits.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read that front page story myself and wondered aloud, "Gee, look at the free ad for Scott Varley." My word that was a terrible story and lousy placement. Who the hell CARES what restaurant is going into the new brick behemoth known as the Fairfield Inn? A good journalism student would be trained to publish something newsworthy such as: number of restaurants in Saratoga, annual revenues, number of total employees, etc. Barbara's a nice woman, friendly, sweet and kind. She is NOT however, a newspaper person.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Within a year, The Suckatogian will owned by either Hearst or Lee Enterprises. It can only get better.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, throw us a bone here, at least a little speculation -- perhaps the square footage of the space, then what restaurants would fit in such a footprint are would be appropriate for a hotel.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Journal Register will be bankrupt before the last race at Saratoga this year, or maybe before the first race.

Why would anyone pay $25 million for 90 percent of a company that, today, has a market capitalization of less than $8 million?

Of course, buy the whole thing and you also buy its massive, bankruptcy-ensuring debt of $625 million.

JRC can never pay that back, given how they have ruined the brand of every one of their papers with ruthless, stupid newsroom cuts.

After bankruptcy, hopefully someone who knows how to run a newspaper (or will hire such a person) will buy the Saratogian for cheap, and rebuild the newspaper so that it's again worth buying, reading and advertising in.

The first thing the new owner will do is fire Lombardo.

That's the easy part; regaining the trust and support of the Saratoga community will take much more.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be confused with the ad/story for the pizza place or the daily ad/picture profile on page three (the news page?). What a load of crap.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at today's fish wraps, I guess everyone showed up for the free meal.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are dum.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saratogian at its best. After them screwing up an ad - making a promise to make it right - and then billing me for both ads, I was told that my bill would be taken care of... until today when I get a call from someone who sounds like the Cryptkeeper telling me that my bill has gone into collections. What the hell? Can't they get one thing right? Fricken pisses me off. I would not advertise with that paper ever again.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saratogian, more like sarasmogian

7:24 PM  

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