Monday, February 28, 2005

See You in the Funny Pages

From Romenesko: The Chicago Tribune nuked today's installment of The Boondocks,telling readers it "presents inaccurate information as fact. Please enjoy this substitute." Pardon the copyright violating, but here's the original:

Censored Aaron McGruder comic.It's not the first time a paper has pulled Aaron McGruder's controversial strip and probably won't be the last. You can find The Boondocks in the TU, on the comic page, where it belongs.

The MacGuffin

Through the 1800's, Kingston, Ontario girded for an attack from the United States that never came. The fortress and gun towers that protected the harbor were never used, but today there's a different sort of barrage directed at the city, one aimed at former UAlbany President Karen Hitchcock.

The State Ethics Commission's inquiry into Dr. Hitchcock's alleged dealings in Albany have made headlines on both sides of the border. This is obviously an awkward situation for her employer, Queens University ---but also for WAMC. Hitchcock co-hosts the station's Best of Our Knowledge show, a program about education heard on about a hundred radio stations across America. Alan Chartock says that for now, Hitchcock remains host. "Quite often these charges turn out to be baseless and unfair," said Chartock. "In some cases they even lead to civil actions that lead to libel and slander suits. She is the head of one of the leading educational institutions in the world ---if something further develops we always have the option of taking appropriate action at that time."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Shout Out

Unlike many blogs, I'm not here to write about me, but there are a few things worth mentioning. Glenn M. Heller has put up some of my posts on his anti-Chartock manifesto, www.wamc.net. It's pretty entertaining. I won't be laughing when I wake up with a horse's head in my bed.

Then, you know you've really made it when when somebody starts a website about your web site. That's the case with AlbanyEye.net (I own that URL, buy the way), which is a blog about my blog. AlbanyEye.net calls itself Visine for the Albany Eye. If blogging about a blog is lame, what's blogging about a blog about a blog?

I'm walking, talking proof that any idiot can have a website.

Speaking of URL's, you can now find Albany Eye at http://www.albanyeye.org/ and http://www.albanyeye.net/

Web Weview

The Capital Region is hit city for local TV websites. One area webmeister claims to get an unbelievable amount of traffic ---especially when there's a big local story, severe weather, or school closings. Lots of it is said to come from state agencies; Go figure.
We decided to take a closer look and rate the web sites based on content and usability. Albany Eye invited several news and internet professionals from outside the market to participate. Scoring was on a scale of 1 to 10 in relation to one another, not the wwwww (whole wonderful
world wide web).

Capital News 9 9.0
Capital News 9's web site provides the most comprehensive and easiest to use content. It's diligently updated and serves up lots of news from all over. Open their page and you're looking right at the top stories. Click to see video and it plays ---every single time. Search an older story and you find it. It's pretty much bulletproof. CN 9 has obviously made a big investment in being webby. I don't know if they'll ever make money on what they're doing over there, but they're fanatically committed to doing it right.

NewsChannel 13 8.5
WNYT's recently redesigned homepage is a huge improvement over that thing they had up before. One thing's for certain: the writing is head and shoulders above all the other local TV station web sites. I'm not saying it's the New Yorker, mind you, it's just better than the other web sites. In terms of delivering sheer news value they fall a bit short of CN 9, but they're
disciplined enough not to clutter the homepage with endless crap. On the other hand, just try finding your way off that front page. It's nearly impossible to locate things some viewers might find interesting, like an email directory, staff bios, and information about regular features. Is my browser (IE 6.0) not seeing something? Some sites can be faulted for offering too much. WNYT may have swung a skosh too far the other way.

WRGB 7.0
WRGB would have scored higher, but sometimes it looks like they have seventh graders writing their web stories. Maybe that's their audience, I don't know. They do a great job of giving you access to all the stories they've covered recently right on the front page. They also get good scores for the nav bar at the top that makes it easy to get around ---but again, the writing is absolutely atrocious.
(Fort Edward - CBS 6) Residents in a small Fort Edward community recently found out that they may be living in a house filled with toxic vapors. CBS 6 News spoke to some of the residents who
live near the General Electric plant in Fort Edward, who say they're shocked. Starting on Monday, dozens of homeowners that live near the plan
(sic) will have their houses tested for toxic vapors.
Residents tell CBS 6 it's too soon to panic, but they answers they're looking for can't come soon enough.
Sheesh!

Fox23 6.1
Give me news, not gimmicks.
Don't assume that just because I can watch video on my computer that I want to. I don't ---unless it's some great video, like a train hitting a truck full of strawberries. That I'd watch over and over. Nor do I want to build my own newscast. More often than not, it doesn't work. You have the responsibility to dumb your website down to my level, not the other way around. One of the things Fox 23 does pretty well is personalize their talent in the bio section
---though it could be improved by mentioning that Ann Hughes has pet chickens. That's the sort of thing that pushes you from liking the talent to loving the talent.

WTEN 3.0
What can you say about WTEN's abysmal mess of a web site? It's frequently out of date, cluttered, and crammed with garbage that isn't local content. Under the section called "Headlines" you find two week old stories. My idea of a headline is something new; their headlines are practically archives. Get with the program, or get out.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

In Camera

News directors want cameras in courtrooms for the same reason I do ---because it makes good television.

Admit it, crime is interesting. There's nothing quite like sitting in there watching the ADA work somebody over, seeing the evidence, hearing witnesses. Add the friends and family of victims and the accused and you have raw, tense drama. It doesn't get much more real ---and if you've ever stood outside a courthouse explaining what went down inside, you know it's just not the same. Spare me the dog and pony about public scrutiny and accountability. Keep your window through which we observe the judicial system. Put away the old saw about being the eyes and ears of the people. Please. We are hooked on tragedy and we always have been.

Plus, I sort of enjoy watching Patricia DeAngelis.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Remainders

PORCO UPDATE
I've been accused of shilling for the TU once or twice, but fact is, they don't just deliver the paper, they deliver the goods. Today's story on the Porco investigation is a good example. If you're not a newspaper reader, wait a few hours; The TV news will be all over it. I don't blame the reporters ---they're given scarce time and resources to compile their stories. Darcy Wells said this is one of the reasons she's leaving WRGB. Such is life when you're feeding the beast.

TURNING THE SOUND OFF WON'T HELP
And you're still not reading Sound Off in The Record?
I decided to watch "Live with Regis and Kelly." Apparently Kelly lost a bet and she had to give Regis a pedicure on TV. I found it nauseating
and had to turn the channel. Some things are better left unseen.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Visit http://d10839.u24.mhhosting.net/welcome.html for some truly tacky flash animation. That's about all you'll find because it's not quite finished. At the suggestion of a reader, I went to the survey page and said I'd like to see them post some pictures of Helen Desfosses. If anyone could brighten the Mayor's drab, incomplete web site, it's Helen.

RADIO STATION WINNER GETS UNLIMITED CHILI
Congratulations Nadine Tedesco of Stillwater...our Grand Prize Winner of FREE Gas for a YEAR from Stewarts Shoppes and B95.5!

MOVE OVER EBERT
VANDENBURGH: Today is Peter Fonda's birthday ---He was in Easy Rider...Is that the movie with Joe Namath?

The Donald

Don Rittner has forgotten more about computers than I will ever know. And more about science. And more about local history. And more about writing books. Need I go on? He's the Capital Region's Renaissance man, a local treasure ---but he is no longer a columnist at the Troy Record.
Rittner's column on local history ran in the Record since 1998 ---until they decided to "reallocate resources" to other parts of the paper, namely the Steppin' Out entertainment section. How Don Rittner's great pieces on our past were keeping down Steppin' Out is mysterious, but that's what they said. Meanwhile, Rittner's talking to other area dailies, and his archive of un-edited columns is available online; if you're interested in our rich history, it's a goldmine.

I hope the Troy Record doesn't think they can get where they want to go by sapping their paper of personality. I get worried when they eighty-six Don Rittner and keep this.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Take the Gun, Leave the Coglione

Yesterday we told you about www.wamc.net, a web site with a name amazingly similar to the one run by a local radio station. Albany Eye heard from Glenn M. Heller, the site's proprietor, who claimed Eye doesn't "have the coglione to sign his work."

Well, if coglione is some sort of computer software, no we don't have it. We can barely afford sharp pencils around here.

Crazy About the Weather

Be sure to read Mark McGuire's story about former WRGB weather guy Scott Stevens. I say weather guy because Stevens' only official credential is a weather merit badge he earned as a Boy Scout, something WRGB didn't know when they hired him. Stevens was forced to resign over misrepresenting his meteorology credentials ---although there are persistent rumors they had other reasons as well. As you know, Albany Eye does not traffic in rumors.

Anyway, Stevens has become a leading figure among conspiracy nuts who believe our weather is being controlled by Japanese criminals and Russian spys. All this while heading the weather team at the NBC affiliate in Pocatello, Idaho. Alrighty then. Maybe someone should check if Mr. Stevens ever got that merit badge.

Hunter and Me

Hunter Thompson's passing has brought on a deluge of reflection and remembrance. If you merely thought Thompson was influential, just do a Google News search. You could spend the rest of the day climbing out of the footprint he left in American journalism.
Thompson was apparently pretty tight with William Kennedy ---for more on that, check out this column from Tuesday's edition of Newsday. As your attorney, I advise you to read it right away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Your Albany River Rats

The NHL may have flaked out, but that doesn't necessarily translate to a puck buck bonanza for the Albany River Rats and other AHL franchises. The Wall Street Journal today as a piece on The Rats ---and how minor league hockey keeps chugging away while the bigs argue about salary caps. It's written by Michael Judge, but I don't think it's that Michael Judge.

Angela's Ashes

Our source at WROW says that newscaster Angela Austin has been taken off the Paul Vandenburgh show and reassigned to the second shift. Austin, who was last heard with Vandenburgh Monday morning, was best known for her girlish voice ---and for the flirty attention she got from the boss. Someone must have noticed that it was bringing the show down a notch; meanwhile, news director Mike Carey is back with Vandenburgh.

Master of Your Own Domain

The things we would do if we could turn back the clock. For example, Alan Chartock would go back and snap up the www.wamc.netdomain name. Who could have imagined that the address would be registered in 1999 by Glenn M. Heller, a shadowy figure who has made a name for himself running a one man campaign against Chartock and WAMC. His website is packed with personal attacks against WAMC's President and CEO ---and a key element to Heller's effort is the confusion he creates by holding a domain name similar to the target of his barrage.

Heller's .com/.org/.net scamming is not reserved for Alan Chartock. He also confuses web surfers with his www.berkshireeagle.net web site, and he runs a site that co-opts the name of a Great Barrington weekly, www.berkshirerecord.com ---he even does this to the tiny monthly Monterey News.

It's not just content that can be poisonous, for domain names mean power. Over the weekend we told you how WGY redirects traffic for www.jrshow.com to their own website ---after they fired Gach in 2002 they retained ownership of the URL.

Heller's WAMC attack site is long on rumors and innuendo and short on supporting documents and information ---and when reporters point this out, they get slammed too, as Mark McGuire did in 2001. This is what makes it strange to hear Heller's work legitimized by NY Post reporter Fred Dicker. Dicker has had Heller on his show several times ---most recently just last week. Among other things, Heller repeated his allegation that WAMC paid out $20,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against the station. Heller bases his accusations on email he claims to have received from people "who either formerly or currently work at WAMC."

Alan Chartock tells Eye that these charges are completely false. Why the anger? No one is sure. Chartock says Heller's complaints against the station began when WAMC aired the Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings in 1987.

I don't know what makes Heller newsworthy besides his abiding hatred of all things Alan. Maybe that's enough for Mr. Dicker.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sphere of Influence

Enough of bad Libby, let's talk about good Libby.

I've been pleased to find Libby Post's op-ed pieces in my copy of the North Adams Transcript ---I think the paper displayed some class in printing Post's bold commentaries on gay and lesbian issues in society. Good for them. On the other hand, I noticed that the paper missed one of her recent columns (February 10, 2005 - He Loves Us, He Loves Us Not), in which she takes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the woodshed for waffling on same-sex marriage.Eye placed a discrete call to an acquaintance in the Transcript's newsroom who said someone found the column "too New York." I'm not sure I agree. You don't need to know much about the Berkshires to know that sometimes it can feel like the sixth borough. And come on ---it's not like she was writing about the Yankees.

Add Some Link to Your Ink

Everybody knows him for his TV and radio writing in the TU, but Mark McGuire also files a weekly sports column, From The Upper Deck. McGuire, a huge sports fan, comes at it from where we do: The couch, the cheap seats, and occasionally the bar stool. He also strives to throw in
some links here and there to wet your web whistle. It's surprising how a couple of links spice things up ---how long before newspaper editors start requiring them?

Do the Right Thing

WMHT is again standing behind controversial programming that their PBS network partner is refusing to air. In this case, it's tonight's Frontline Reports: A Company of Soldiers. The documentary is described by the producers as bringing "the real and raw experience of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq into the homes of public television viewers." Part of that raw experience
is some rough language, which prompted PBS to edit the show. An unedited version, which WMHT airs tonight at 9pm, was also provided ---but to run it stations had to sign a waiver releasing the network from liability.

In January, WMHT decided to air an episode of Postcards from Buster that had been flagged for its profile of a child with lesbian parents.

Golden Oldies

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you notice new stuff with old dates popping up on ye olde news reader, that's because we are updating the archives. When we're done, all of the original Albany Eye posts, which ran from September 2004 to March 2005, should be available for your reading pleasure. Or disgust.

This is being done in reverse chronological order. We're going to attempt to restore the posts to their original condition, but non-working links will be removed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Thank Heavens For Little Girls

Paul Vandenburgh is giving me the willies. Newscaster Angela Austin, who joined his WROW show this week, sounds like she's about 15 years-old ---and the way he fawns over her is a wee bit creepy.
But even if it weren't for Vandenburgh's questions about her favorite bands and her pets, it would still sound weird, like having a kid on the show. This morning for example:
Vandenburgh: Gloria Steinem is 70 years-old today...
Austin: Who?
Vandenburgh says that Austin is, "Going to be a major asset to this show" ---I say how you sound sends a message in radio. The message here is we have children reading our news.