Houston Is The Villain In Nasty Newspaper Fight In Albany

Houston Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen came to town from Albany, where he was the editor of the Times-Union, another Hearst paper.

He brought some people with him, and still runs movie reviews by Amy Biancolli, who still works in upstate New York.

The Times-Union is, like many Hearst papers (and papers everywhere) undergoing financial stress. It's a union paper, though, and the Newspaper Guild is fighting back with a website calling for subscribers to protest cuts. (By canceling their subscriptions, which might just be the textbook definition of shooting yourself in the foot, or cutting off your nose, or something like that.)

Houston plays a part in the dispute.

"The Times Union has announced it intends to lay off up to a third of its staff, without any regard to seniority. It's already cut content in the paper by 20 percent, and it's just installed a computer system that will allow it to outsource local jobs to Houston, Texas," the site says.

Copy-editing jobs are being centralized in the Hearst chain -- as with the Chron and the San Antonio Express-News -- and part of the Albany union's gripe is that it they are next in line.

A revolving banner ad on the sire shows a gunslinger with cowboy hat, boots and a bandanna across his face, with the headline "What Does This Guy Know About Albany?"

Says the site:

The paper is putting the finishing touches on a system that will allow work - editing and layout of your local paper - to be done by people in Houston, Texas.

That means editors who don't know how to spell Rensselaer or Schaghticoke, or even who our local elected officials are. That means you'll be getting bill collection calls from Houston. When your paper's not delivered, you might be calling a Texan.

We can only image the words "a Texan" are meant to be said with a derisive sneer.

Of course, we're on the side of the union here -- and please don't ask us to pronounce Schaghticoke, much less spell it -- but it's always odd to, as Robert Burns said, see ourselves as others see us.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly