Best of 2008
Let’s face it: If you can’t remember the top 10 newsworthy events of the year, you probably weren’t looking to know about them in the first place. At the very least, you weren’t looking to know about them six months after the fact. That doesn’t stop every newspaper and newscast in God’s creation from expending large volumes of valuable column space or news footage toward these hackneyed projects, which only serve as an ignorance barometer for those devoid of any interest in their surroundings.
Amazingly, the Albany Times Union has somehow managed to bring this useless proliferation of old information to the online format. The Capital Region’s media giant has been re-running their top-viewed news articles of the year as updates to their Web page and in print for some inexplicable reason. The whole concept is sort of like the 12 Days of Christmas meets Letterman’s Top-10 countdown, only with about 30,000 additional words added for your reading malaise.
The Saratogian followed ‘the year in review’ format with their 1,700-word twaddle through the events of 2008. Did you miss the more than two dozen articles about Jaliek Rainwalker? Don’t worry! Did you somehow sleep through the economic collapse of the past three months? No problem! Fluctuating gas prices, Joe Bruno’s resignation and the abrupt appearance of several new city high-rises slip your mind? The Saratogain has got you covered!
Needless to say, ‘the year in review’ approach hasn’t exactly burned up the Saratogian’s readership. In fact, the article didn’t even take a stab at the “most popular” articles listed on the paper’s Web site. To put this in prospective, the article didn’t even come close to as many reads as the obituaries.
This is not to say ‘the year in review’ or ‘the best of’ stories don’t offer a function amid the flotsam and jetsam of holiday coverage. Most newsrooms are decimated by holiday vacations, which start sometime after the turkey pops into the oven on Thanksgiving and end after the last champagne cork pops out of the bottle on New Year’s Day. Not to mention, a one-day holiday usually translates to a one-week vacation in the dialect of most state and municipal workers. In other words, there’s really no way to get news out there.
Still, the editorial crew at iSaratoga sees a greater utility for the annual New Year wrap-up. Rather than reprinting or rebroadcasting old footage, these media outlets could discuss the top stories they didn’t bother to cover for whatever reason. Sure, there’s always a reason. Maybe there wasn’t enough staff. Maybe they missed the boat. Maybe the eds didn’t see it as much of a story.
So iSaratoga has decided to take a bite of humble pie and present some of the somewhere-in-the middle six stories that didn’t make it to the blog this year. Perhaps they aren’t the best of stories, but they’re ones where the snarky commentary here simply fell short:
Proctor’s Theater – CBS 6 Albany finally replaced the respective capacities of departed anchors Michelle Smith and Nicole Forige by hiring the amicable and attractive Carey Proctor. The station’s new morning anchor more than filled the shoes of Smith, the station’s mudslinging activist reporter, and Forige, who still ranks as the most sought after television bombshell on the internet. CBS almost immediately gave Proctor her own video blog, which offers foil for the one seasoned veteran Ed O’Brien has done for several years now. The station appears to have ended the new anchor’s blog. Maybe it was because she did feel like doing the 5 a.m. video blogs anymore. Or perhaps it was because Ed’s Head saw a precipitous decline in hits.
If a chip plant falls in the forest – Will anybody hear it? Many opponents of the proposed chip-fab plant in Luther Forest are asking this question as a sketchy gang of Middle Easterners arranges shell companies and offshore bank accounts. Despite blaring warning signs from the economy, original developer Advanced Micro Devices and just about anyone with a brain, state and local legislators continue to mash the rubber stamp on all of the plans for the chip-fab plant. They even gave the company another $28 million sales-tax break on top of the $1.2 billion already going toward the project. In other words, that’s about $1.5 billion in break –about a fifth of the state deficit –for a company that could leave in a decade without doing a third of what they said they would. Can somebody say Super Steel?
Put on your flak jacket – When municipalities or school districts hire what is called a “flack,” it often goes beneath the radar in both the news and residential communities. They answer all questions from the media, rather than have the media bother the real decision makers on a regular basis. These people are harvested from the media or are appointed as patronage positions. They’re paid decent, but usually not more than some advanced clerical positions. Yet the question remains why places like Colonie, the Bethlehem School District, Schenectady County and Clifton Park –which just added the position –all need a spokesperson to say and do the dirty work of elected officials and administrators. It’s another example of how the media is being cut out of the loop from a well-oiled propaganda machine and one funded by taxpayers.
Water under the bridge – Most would say the Saratoga County pipeline to the Hudson River is already in the ground, so why should it be of interest? Well, when the supervisor of the downstream town of Waterford is freaking out about the possibility of PCBs showing up in his community’s water system from the upstream EPA-ordered dredging project, it’s probably a good time to evaluate the situation. And that’s not even considering the fact that Supervisor John Lawler is the chairman of the Saratoga County Water Authority. The true test will be if Lawler signs his town up to drink from the Hudson once the pipeline is built.
Say it ain’t so Joe – While the esteemed Hollywood Joe Bruno was announcing his abrupt retirement, iSaratoga was asleep at the switch. Actually, the editor-in-chief was basking in the early summer sun with a trough of longnecks and a bottle of rum. Meanwhile the Capital Region’s media was bursting at the seams trying to nail every angle of Bruno’s illustrious career. What they lacked was the snarky, half-baked commentary the blogosphere so roundly offers. iSaratoga jumped into the fray a week and several cases of beer later, but the Bruno story had become hackneyed by that point. Oh well. You win some, and you lose some –at least this merry scribe predicted Bruno’s retirement far in advance of his announcement.
Carpetbagging - It’s clear at this point that Caroline Kennedy is the heir-apparent for the Empire State’s number-one senatorial carpetbagger. Kennedy has met with Gov. David Paterson and remains the one vocal candidate for Hillary Clinton’s seat, which must be filled in the coming weeks. She’s also received broad praise from some Capital Region pundits, who feel she would be the perfect complement to Chuck Schumer, the state’s ranking member and a power broker in his own rite. But Kennedy’s appointment would all but hand a very powerful position to someone who simply stood up and raised her hand when the governor was asking who was interested. Kennedy’s appointment would also overlook Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who DID take off the gloves to earn her seat in office. The appointment would also further offset the balance of power so that the downstate Democrats would have an overwhelming share of influence over New York politics.
Certainly, many more issues were overlooked by this scribe in 2008. Some are worthy of mention, others will drop down the toilet of time for a flush into distant memory. Here’s to hoping we all have a merry 2009 and we all have full goblets to drink from when the ball touches down amid the chaos in Times Square. Cheers and pass the waissail!