The End of a Newspaper Era…

These are newspapers.

By Greg Haymes

I love the smell of newsprint in the morning…

The first job I ever had was delivering The Buffalo Courier Express every morning in the suburbs of Buffalo. There was a big green wooden box near the curb at my parents’ house, and in the wee morning hours while it was still dark outside, a truck rolled by and filled it with newspapers that I delivered – seven days a week through rain and snow (and in Buffalo there was a LOT of snow) and whatever – on three suburban streets before heading off to school. No car – just me and my trusty shoulder bag and/or on Sundays the wagon, carting the daily news to households eager to find out what was going on in their city and around the world.

But things change…

After 18 years as a staff arts writer at The Albany Times Union, I left their employ three and a half years ago. Although I still write some freelance concert reviews for the paper, shortly thereafter, I started Nippertown.com in part to help fill what I perceived to be a void in local arts coverage.

In those short three and a half years, the newspaper business has continued to change at an astronomically rate. And none of it has been for the better. If anyone in the Capital Region doubts that, they just need to look at the developments on the local newspaper front this past week:

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John de Rosier, the political cartoonist at The Times Union, was laid off last week after 14 years on the job. So now The Times Union – the newspaper of record in the capital of New York State – is without a political cartoonist.

The Times Union also laid off photographer Phil Kamrass, a two-time National Press Photographers Association award-winner. Kamrass has always been a versatile camera-man, equally adept in the arena of politics, sports, daily living or the arts.

The Daily Gazette’s columnist Carl Strock announced his retirement in his Sunday column after a quarter century on the job.

And finally on Monday, movie critic Amy Biancolli – an Albany-based writer for The Houston Chronicle, whose film reviews frequently graced the pages of fellow Hearst newspaper The Times Union – was laid off, too.

I didn’t always agree with the work of John, Phil, Carl or even Amy – who was my office pod-mate for years when we were both TU arts staffers. (I think that if you always agree with the opinions of others, you’re probably not doing enough independent thinking of your own – but that’s just my opinion…) But I always valued and respected their point of view and commentary, and they often brought an undeniable local perspective to their work.

Now they’re gone, and with them goes decades’ worth of local memories that inform readers.

Yes, I am all too aware that things change, but that doesn’t make me any less sad, disappointed, frustrated and angry at the situation…

6 Responses to “The End of a Newspaper Era…”

  1. Michael Hochanadel says:

    You’re right, Greg. I’ll miss the work of these professionals and deplore what’s happening to the business. I love Nippertown and am glad and grateful that you and Sara produce it so faithfully, prolifically and well. But I also regret the decline of the paper paper – and, now, the paper Newsweek. My first job was delivering the Union Star, published in the afternoon; and the most famous I’ve ever felt was when my photo ran on its front page after I won a spelling bee in 8th grade and got to represent my school in the big regional bee at Union College. Of course, the Union Star only did that because I was one of its carriers, but still, that was some fame-buzz when I got to deliver an edition with my face on it.

  2. Susan says:

    Yes, there is so much that is lost and I’m not sure ceding content is the best way to transition to the web. The last time we changed platforms it was the Town Crier who gave way…

  3. J Hunter says:

    The thing is, though, there are people who are seeing the change and adapting to it. Nippertown is one, and another would be Saratoga Wire, which I just read about in (of all places) the TU:

    http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Digital-newspaper-comes-to-Spa-City-3958089.php

    The Town Crier’s still around, but he’s gotta go broadband, or nobody will hear him.

  4. Greg says:

    J-

    Glad you’ve discovered Saratoga Wire. Nippertown has been promoting Thomas Dimopoulos’ arts stories since the Wire launched:

    10/12/12: http://www.nippertown.com/2012/10/12/other-voices-other-rooms-84/

    9/7/12: http://www.nippertown.com/2012/09/07/other-voices-other-rooms-79/

    8/24/12: http://www.nippertown.com/2012/08/24/other-voices-other-rooms-77/

  5. Kate Gurnett says:

    Thanks for posting this Greg – it’s a blow to intelligent coverage that used to be standard at the TU and I hope Amy, John & Phil will somehow continue their work.

  6. Tim says:

    I was not seeing good arts coverage in the area at MoHu, so it is great that we have Nippertown to assist with local arts and music coverage.

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