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Longtime Editors Leaving Local Papers


As local newspapers across the country are closing due to declining readership, rising costs, and a changing media landscape, two Capital Region publications are losing their longtime editors.

Sister papers The Troy Record and The Saratogian announced this week that a handful of longtime staff members would be leaving.

Among those accepting a voluntary buyout are Saratogian executive editor Barbara Lombardo and Record editor Lisa Robert Lewis. Lombardo began working at the Saratogian in 1977. Lewis started at The Troy Record in 1976.

For Lombardo, the exit is bittersweet.

“Sometimes you know that you feel like it’s time to move on and, so yeah, there’s some bittersweetness about it. But I’m 61 years old and I’m going to leave at some point, so the opportunity arose now to leave with this latest offer.”

Lombardo and Lewis are exiting along with chief photographer Mike McMahon, a veteran of 39 years. Executive Sports Editor Kevin Moran is leaving after 28 years. Also leaving: copy editor Lianne Webster-Kim, a five-year employee, and four-year sportswriter Laura Amato.

The papers have been shedding staff for years and effectively moved into a single building at The Saratogian in March. Publisher Michael O’Sullivan declined to speak to WAMC but wrote in Thursday’s announcement “We’re saying goodbye to dedicated professionals who have served their newspapers and communities well for decades. They will be missed.”

At the same time, O’Sullivan said he was pleased with the “new roles” for sports writer David Johnson, who will become sports editor, and the return of Charlie Krabel, who will come back to the company in July as managing editor.

Krabel was among several staff members let go in an earlier round of layoffs last month.

Sale of the original The Record building in Troy is still pending. Meanwhile, the newspaper maintains an office at 270 Triangle Street.  Earlier this spring The Saratogian renewed the lease on its building, which it sold in 2012. The paper will remain in the iconic building on Lake Avenue through at least June 2017.  

Both newspapers are operated by company Digital First Media and for the past year-and-a-half have been working with a combined newsroom. The parent company also publishes the weekly Community News – and also owns the Berkshire Eagle.

In January 2014, the North Adams Transcript published its last article and coverage was absorbed by the Berkshire Eagle.

The company also operates the daily Bennington Banner and non-daily Manchester Journal as well as the Oneida Dispatch and Daily Freeman in Kingston. In all, the New York City-based company lists 106 daily, weekly, niche, and non-daily publications on its website.

A request for comment to company headquarters was not returned Friday.

Rosemary Armao, a University at Albany journalism professor and WAMC contributor, said the cuts at the two papers is an example of what’s becoming common across the U.S.

“Big companies take over and then they cut back in order to continue making lots and lots of profit, and they do that cutting back by eliminating what makes papers unique and special to a community.”

Lombardo, who will work until the end of July, said she hasn’t figured out exactly what’s next for her career, but she will look back fondly on the business she’s worked in her entire life.

“I’ve loved almost every day coming to work for 38 years, and I don’t know how many other people can say the same thing about their jobs.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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