Week in Review

I’m pressed for time of late so blog posts have been few and far between even though some interesting things going on. Let me just get a few points out on a few issues:
1) Amsterdam Our Town on WMHT: I liked the series and the stories. I thought Maria Bryce Riccio’s commentary on the Oratorio was fascinating and hopefully serves as a reminder that things exist beyond the political chatter.
I found it amusing to discuss the rich history of the City Hall mansion in light of the desire to shutter it, defund it and setup offices in the Mall. If anything was clear from the series, it was the complete avoidance of down town in any of the segments. Think about that: if you look at any other Our Towns, I am sure that they will feature a ‘downtown’ or ‘center’ to their city. The lack of that is telling in our case. And once again, the desire to ignore and defund anything historically or architecturally significant  remains supreme.
2) Zoning: I would attend the meeting tonight for the 3rd ward but due to other commitments I cannot attend. I’d like to review the document in more detail but at first glance, I thought the framework made sense. What makes me a bit cynical is that there is a cultural disregard for historic preservation here so even though historic districts remain clearly defined and articulated, I’m not so sure that in practice they will be honored and enforced.  If you look at the fate of the former Walter Elwood Museum, you will see that the approved use in both cases (day care center and 8-unit) runs very counter to said designations.
Again, the level of historic degradation and  architectural devastation is truly sad.  I’ll hope to cover the zoning in more detail as I get a chance.
3) The Recorder and Times Union enter into a distribution agreement:

The Recorder will stop publishing its Sunday edition.
In a notice to readers on Wednesday, Recorder Publisher Kevin McClary cited the poor economy — along with the struggles of the Amsterdam area — as factors in the decision.
“The population decline of our circulation area along with a significant decrease in the number of advertisers have had a significant impact on our operation,” McClary wrote. “For more than a year we have been trying to deal with the dilemma of continuing to publish a Sunday edition that was not very profitable.”

A few quick comments:
a) I’m not quite sure of the business model here as it’s apples and oranges in terms of content for the Sunday paper. It strikes me a bit like the notion of the ‘shared services’ that a cost-based argument yields the same service-based outcome and consumers will care about how you shift your cost structure versus what it means for the consumer. As a consumer, I’m not sure that substituting Good A for Good B makes me still want the product. It’s my classically cliched observation that the demand side of the equation matters here too.
b) I harp a lot on the op-ed and editorial side of the house in terms of their constant downplaying the potential for growth in the city. From failing to support residential development at Chalmers to advocating against any program or initiative to market the city, I’m loathe to point out that the growth of the city would likely enhance the viability of local businesses such as the Recorder. WHy you would advocate against growth oriented strategies confounds me in light that it hurts your bottom line. I don’t get it.
c) The deal with the TU is a distribution deal to get more papers on doorsteps and mailboxes; I’m not going to advise the Recorder publisher for free  but that gives me great pause from a business model side. Funny how the publisher will not cut-and-paste from the TU online properties instead opting for a distribution deal.
d) Like most products, consumers can always find substitutes or alternates: expect the Daily GAzette and Leader Herald to react and respond accordingly.
e) The loss of local news coverage and (perhaps?) journalists should be lamented. On the other hand, maybe we can finally let go of that thought.

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