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The Decline and Fall of the Journal

By   /   September 3, 2013  /   Comments

by Tom Knighton

I don’t think I’m breaking news when I tell you that the Journal isn’t what it once was.  I feel I must take responsibility for much of that, though I honestly don’t know what I should have done differently at this point.  I have been at the helm of this paper for almost two years, and I have done everything I could think of to keep things going.

So what is keeping us afloat?  Sheer force of will.

In May, I was forced to turn the day to day operations over to Bonnie Jefferson.  She had effectively served as managing editor during this time, though without the title.  For what it’s worth, that changes as of today.  The two of us are heavily invested in this paper, and neither of us are willing to see that investment just flitter away.  However, we are unable to recoup our investment, much less pay back the myriad of souls we owe money to.

Yes, we are in debt.  Heavily.  An attempt to bring in investors has failed.  We don’t know what to do.

So what happened?  Well, several things.  One, some in this community saw the Journal as a means to an end, and sought advertising they had no intention of paying for.  That didn’t help one bit.  However, that was only part of it.

The Journal is a community newspaper.  That is what Kevin Hogencamp forged it into over the course of several years, and what we have attempted to maintain.  Unfortunately, we are a community newspaper that much of the community has decided not to support.  While I would like to believe that it isn’t personal, the fact that the support for this paper evaporated upon me taking the reigns of the paper seems to suggest the problem is with me.

Fair enough.  I am outspoken, and have been for several years, and there are often business ramifications for being so outspoken.  I accept that.  It would be easy to argue that someone is out there trying to silence my voice, it’s far more likely that many just don’t agree with me in the first place.  Again, fair enough.

Unfortunately, I can’t undo the past and I won’t lie and say that I don’t believe the things I’ve written.  Some of them, maybe, but damned if I can remember what those are.

I have heard rumors of at least one city commissioner who has threatened businesses, saying that if they advertised with the Journal, they would have problems with the city.  I’d like to think that is either a huge misunderstanding passed along to my source, or an outright fabrication passed along to my source.  I do not believe that my source fabricated it in any way.

However, if that is true, I want to know about it.  I want to know about a city commissioner threatening my livelihood and my means of putting food on the table for my wife and two children to settle some perceived grudge.  I’d like to see evidence that this person did this, and if so I will expose him with every ounce of media might I still possess.

Unfortunately, that can only be part of the problem if it’s true.  The community that looked to the Journal to be the watchful eye hovering over the Government Center failed to understand that there are costs involved.  A call at the end of last year got a handful of people who donated money to help the Journal, but not nearly enough and not nearly enough to account for the many more people who read the Journal each week.

However, I am not ready to make the Journal a premium news site, simply because I don’t believe that model is sustainable at this point in Albany.

So, in May, I had to get a “real” job.  It draws a great deal of my time away from the paper unfortunately, and so Bonnie Jefferson has stepped in to pick up my slack.  She has worked tirelessly as well, and for the same amount of money I had been getting: nil.

The Journal will continue in some way, and some how.  However, we have significant debts and we are asking for any help anyone can give.  The yellow “Donate” button still sits there, but hasn’t been used in quite some time.  If you own a business, email us at ajournal@thealbanyjournal.com and ask us about our advertising rates.

The Journal can be saved, but not without your help.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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