Letters (6/28-7/05)

This newspaper has a short memory

Remember those reading comprehension tests when you were a kid? Did you ever think they were absurd? Why wouldn’t you comprehend what you just read!

There’s a web site called www.fultonhistory.com where you can search archives of New York State newspapers going back to the early 1800’s. A 1962 article in the Freeman on an article in a 1828 issue of the Palladium, a paper from Saugerties’ early years as an industrial center, comments on the difficulty in reading the high level of language. Obviously a commentary on the declining capabilities of that writer in 1962.

My father was from that generation, had just a high school education and graduated in the Depression years. He had a higher vocabulary than I’ve found in the average college graduate of my generation. What would my generation expect of the average reader of a newspaper using 1828’s way of presenting content?

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In a recent go-around on a local newspaper’s need for information, it is more than obvious that there is a problem with the editor’s comprehension of the content of his own past articles. That’s from a member of the most recent generation that grew up on search engines, so all he needed was key words.

I’m miffed because I created a specialized search publication that a number of those articles were about. I specifically designed it for this most recent generation: lots of pictures and for the computer. Yet, when asked, no one remembers reading the several articles written about it. The editor and reporter of the newspaper don’t even know that what they wrote about less than a year ago has all the content they are now asking for.

Good reader, did you comprehend what you just read?

Michael Sullivan Smith
Saugerties

Editor Will Dendis replies: Good reader, you can be forgiven for not comprehending what you just read. Perhaps once again I’m being obtuse, but I don’t think this letter provides much in the way of background or specifics. Mr. Smith is miffed because a reporter from this paper contacted the town to request information on local stone houses for an upcoming series on historic local homes instead of going directly to his “specialized search publication,” available at the library. Because the paper published several articles about this last year, we should therefore be aware that all research should henceforth begin and end there. He concludes that the only explanation for our asking the town for this info was an inability to comprehend or remember articles that appeared in this paper.

Though in this case Mr. Smith’s attack against me isn’t accurate because I don’t manage this particular reporter’s research process, I stand by what we did. I believe documents are important but interviews with local experts are much more illuminating. Our writers are generalists who have to go from local history to planning board jargon to school labor law, writing numerous articles at the same time to earn a living. That’s why we prize the input of a good local expert who has pored over the primary sources who can put the raw data into context. This results in much more interesting stories.

In any case, putting aside any disagreements over this newspaper’s methods, Mr. Smith’s letter is a good reminder of the presence of great information on local history at the library.

 

Don’t fear the food truck

I’m writing in response to the article about the food truck controversy in the village.

Get with the times, people! I love the hip, artistic and culturally rich edge our little village has and am disappointed in the local merchants that they can’t coexist with the food trucks which are the newest food phenom on the scene today. They seem to be afraid these trucks are going to affect their business. I don’t see it that way. Food truck patrons are looking for something different than what you get in a sit-down restaurant. Maybe McDonald’s should be shaking in its boots, but I doubt they’re worried.

On the contrary, food trucks may get visitors to hang out in the village longer rather than head for the drive-thru on the way to the Thruway. I hope more food trucks grace our streets and bring more people out to enjoy our unique and friendly village!

Dianae Weeks
Saugerties

 

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