Dan’s Place 2

December 11, 2009

Hidden among apartment buildings of a residential area in midtown Albany, NY is a small diner resembling a train car called Dan’s Place 2. If one can figure out where the place is, they will discover greasy-spoon-perfection at an inexpensive price. From mouthwatering burgers to hot, hand-dipped French toast, Dan’s place serves comforting food that makes first-timers become one of the many regulars. In addition to satisfying meals, Dan’s Place serves up a comforting atmosphere as the business has been built on a foundation of family and friendship since the first location opened in 1977.

A little history…

Daniel Mahoney and his partner Donna * first opened Dan’s Place on Madison Avenue in July of 1977. Dan had been a short order cook for a long time. When he decided to lease the location, he had worked there for a couple months under someone else. The owner spoke about selling, so he offered to buy it out resulting in the choice of Albany as the location to open his business.

The diner was a success for 10 years until they were forced to leave after the building was bought and their lease was not honored. In January of 1988, Dan and Donna bought a small building of their own on Washington Avenue, renaming the 1939 Wister style diner Dan’s Place 2.  The original structure of the diner was made in 1954 on Hudson Avenue and was transferred to Washington Avenue.

Dan and Donna worked together to run the new business until he passed away in 1992. Donna continued to run the business but upon becoming ill, two of her children named Donna and Tom, supported her in helping her at the diner. In 1996, Donna passed away and left Dan’s Place 2 to her four children. Although all four children have part-ownership of the business, the diner’s success is owed to Tom and Donna’s hard work and dedication working as both managers and cooks. “It was my family’s business– my sister, my mother and Dan and you just kind of flow into things,” Tom said.

Currently, Donna lives in Troy and Tom resides in South Bethlehem. Everyone in the family was basically from Troy and the business became available. “We own it so there is no sense in going anywhere else,” Donna said.

Location…

Located at 494 Washington Avenue, the diner is nearby Albany’s “college student ghetto” making it a favorite of students looking for a cheap bite or “hangover food” after a night out at local bars. “Guys come in and are stuck on burgers for two years. Other kids are stuck on breakfast,” Tom said. He admits that the rush of customers often depends on the academic schedule of SUNY Albany. They most definitely notice a quiet in the diner when the university is on break. However, the clientele does vary keeping the diner busy. “Customers are common folk to way up there and they all mix in well and make friends and its fun,” Donna says. You can fine judges lawyers, doctors, firefighters, policemen, students, bummers, reporters…basically anybody and everybody eating at this diner.”

Although the location of their business works to their advantage in many ways, it also has its disadvantages. The location has been the cause of a change in their hours of business. Donna recalls that in the past they would be open all night long on Friday and Saturday nights. Today, they are only open on Friday nights.

When opening a business in what is considered a ghetto, owners must be prepared to deal with crime. The owners of Dan’s Place 2 have been fortunate in only being robbed once. Donna explains that their one robbery was at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday just a couple of days before Christmas. “It was a man who had been released from prison the day before, got off a bus in Albany and was looking for a quick buck,” she says. Thankfully, he got next to nothing and the police had him before he was two blocks away from the diner. Besides this once incident, Donna, who comes to the restaurant at 2:30 a.m. and opens the door at 5:30 says that no one has bothered her.

What makes it worth while…

There are many aspects of their business that make managing it enjoyable for the two siblings. Although this was not what she planned on doing as a career after going to nursing school, Donna, who makes the soups, salads, and prepares many of the meals has come to find satisfaction in pleasing customers with her cooking. The fact that the diner is family run with a small staff of waitresses is something she often appreciates. “Some days it’s a bonus and other days it might not be,” Donna says. While the owners of this diner are related by blood, it seems that many of their customers have become their family as well. Through the years, the majority of their customers have become regulars many of them from years ago at the first location.

Tom enjoys the opportunity to meet new people and takes pride in the quality product that he is serving. “You meet a lot of people in a business like this. You are at a level where..some jobs you would never meet this many people. Its good home-cooked food, fresh and its nice to know you are giving someone a nice product especially when they appreciate food,” Tom said.

Donna explains that there are many second generation customers. “We have kids come in here and say “oh our father or our mother came here” and some you can pick out who their mother or father might be,” she says. She is grateful for the friends she has made along the way whether they are customers or employees and that she can take them with her even though they go. Certain “regulars” come in and eat the same thing everyday while other people come in and you never know what they are going to have. “I have one guy come in and he sits down, he gets his meal. He probably wouldn’t even know what to ask for I just make it for him and sit it in front of him,” she says. One of their regulars named Harry admits to coming everyday often eating his favorite breakfast of eggs and home fries. When asked what keeps him coming back he explained that it was both the food and the people.

Meanings behind the meals…

Known for their Emmy burger, part-owner Tom claims, “It is the best deal in town.” For $5.85 you can get a half pound burger with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and French fries. The Emmy burger is named after Tom and Donna’s sister Emily. In 1977, Dan and Donna were trying to come up with a hamburger for the restaurant and at the time there were not many half-pound burgers around with bacon and cheese so they created that by themselves and it needed a name. It was going to either be called the Donna or the Emmy and they decided that Emmy flowed better.

The Emmy Bull burger got its name from a college student from Long Island who asked for an egg put on their burger. Their mother and this student came up with the Emmy Bull. The chicken pull is also popular with a chicken patty and the bacon egg and cheese.

The beat the house breakfast was something that their mother and Dan came up with. It was on the pretense of trying to get a meal where you can get so much for your money that you are beating the house. It’s a big meal with three eggs, seven strips of bacon, or three big sausage links, or a nice piece of ham with home fries and toast. “They always want to know what you get for beating the house and I say a full belly,” Donna said.

AD Attack

November 15, 2009

‘AD Attack’: How easily are today’s consumers being persuaded by the advertisements they see in the media? Competing companies within a specific market such as phone service providers often use commercial advertising as a way to sway consumers’ opinions about their competitor’s products.  Recently, Verizon Wireless has used commercial advertisements as a platform for a public attack of the products and services provided by AT&T. These current ‘Ad Attacks’ are proving to be causing damage to the profits of the company being targeted.

Verizon Wireless has attacked AT&T through their ad campaign for their new Google Android smartphone. These advertisements make direct comparisons between the Droid and the Apple iPhone which is exclusively carried by AT&T. One of these commercials lists negative statements about the iPhone using the phrase “iDont” in order to make it clear they are targeting the product without mentioning its name. The tagline “Everything iDon’t…Droid does” is used to persuade one to believe that Verizon’s  product is superior to the one provided by AT&T. Verizon’s most recent commercial consists of an animated version of an iPhone being placed on “the island of misfit toys” in reference to the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” TV special. The purpose of these ads is to convince consumers that Verizon Wireless has more 3G coverage than AT&T and to suggest that the new Android will eliminate the demand for the iPhone.

AT&T’s exclusive contract with the Apple iPhone has placed the success of the company far beyond that of Verizon, but as a result of advertising attacks against the iPhone, buyer intentions are trending back into Verizon’s favor.

vielkind The event that would spark 24-year-old Jimmy Veilkind’s undying passion for reporting took place during the summer that followed his high       school graduation in 2003. He landed a job as a reporter in Glens Falls, NY for a small newspaper called the Glens Falls Chronicle making $8 an hour.

Veilkind was the least bit excited about his first major assignment; to report on the grand opening of a roller coaster at a Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George, NY. He was among the first group of riders to try the new coaster…and  it obviously gets stuck at the very top. So he’s sitting hundreds of feet in the air on the first run of this roller coaster sitting behind a grown man who is completely hysterical. As it turns out, this man was a Times Union newspaper reporter named Dennis Yusco who would be a colleague of Veilkind’s  years later. After they were finally helped down, Veilkind was given the chance to speak with the president of the amusement park about the incident. He took this opportunity to ask the guy what the HELL he was thinking when he allowed customers to ride the coaster without testing it first. Hmm, good question.

So after being a part of this roller coaster disaster, yelling at the park’s president, and writing all about it for the newspaper, Veilkind recalls thinking, “this is the most fun job in the world!”.

Veilkind went on to major in Urban Studies at Columbia University where he earned his undergraduate degree in 2007. Although he did not major in Journalism, he spent time writing columns and editing for his university’s newspaper, The Columbia Daily Spectator. He strongly advises current  college journalism students to write for their school paper. After graduating, he chose  to work towards a career in journalism.

In July of 2008, he was hired as a reporter at the Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY. He soon left in October of 2008 to join The New York Observer, a newspaper based in New York City. His reason for making the switch was being given the opportunity to write about politics– a topic that always excited him. “Being at the vanguard of internet politics was very appealing,” Veilkind says. He has now been a working reporter at The Observer for one year, one week, and two days in an office located in the New York capital of Albany writing weekly narrative stories about New York State politics. This position has also given him the opportunity to write numerous posts each day for The Observer’s ‘PolitickerNY’ blog (www.observer.com/politics). That’s pretty impressive considering that in 2004, the ‘PolitickerNY’ was the first blog to create a forum of discussion about New York State politics. At this point in his career, Veilkind has the skills to interview, write articles, draft his own headlines, shoot video and photos, and embed sound clips and links into blog posts. Veilkind discusses that these are the necessary skills that every journalist must have in today’s industry. Although he has not taken any courses to master his various skills, he feels that all  journalism students would be well served by taking classes in web development, video editing, and photography in order to compete for positions in today’s stuggling job market.

Having the privilege to work for such a major publication does not seem to allow this young reporter too much free time. Veilkind works about 45-50 hours per week and admits that he sometimes has to be prepared for 20 hour work days. Ouch! Somehow, he still finds the time to enjoy hiking, running, reading, and going out with friends.

For the most part, Veilkind loves his job. He enjoys the setting of his workplace and that he is surrounded by his colleagues while being many miles away from his boss who is stationed in New York City. He takes pleasure in writing for The Observer describing it as a newspaper that allows “objectivity with sensibility”. This means that they allow for their reporter’s voice to come through in their writing. He has also come to value the purpose he serves as a journalist in being able to present politics for what it really is and being able to help New York citizens choose their vote in elections and that he is allowed the opportunity to present a political situation exactly as it is without being censored.

But he doesn’t love it all. Veilkind explained that most if not all people that he comes across in politics are fakers with a “put-on” persona. “I miss people who are people. Who have actual lives that they will share with you,” he says. He also feels that he is at a disadvantage being the youngest reporter in his workplaces because as compared to his older colleagues, he does not have a large context of experience within the journalism field. On the other hand, he admits he has learned most of what he knows from the veteran journalists he works with. “I get older everyday,” he says.

For his future, Veilkind plans on continuing a career in journalism. In the next 30 years he  hopes to be able to write his own general interest column  as he admires the work of New York columnists such as Mike Daly (http://www.brooklynron.com/mike-daly/) and Fred LeBrun at the Times Union. No matter where or who Veilkind is writing for 30 years from now, he is sure he will be doing just that. “I’m gonna be a writer until I die,” he says.



2008_humbertomartinezI find it difficult to be a journalism student today as my professors are constantly reminding me of the struggling job market in the field. This can become frustrating and it is always encouraging to hear the success story of a peer. 

The students of my Web Publishing class at SUNY Albany were given the opportunity to speak with Humberto Martinez; a 23-year-old who has already earned the knowledge of a journalist who has been in ‘the biz’ for years. Martinez spoke about his recent accomplishments in the field and shared what he feels are the skill sets and tools that an aspiring  journalist must be familiar with in order to succeed in journalism.  

Martinez owes his own successes to hard work and acceptance into the Hearst Fellowships Program. He graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in Journalism and Photo Communications from Texas Tech University located in Lubbock, TX…nice. What’s even nicer is that  in the Fall of his senior year, he applied and was accepted into the competitive two-year Hearst Fellowships Program. His acceptance  put him right to work as a top feature writer for the Beaumont Enterprise in Beaumont, TX. Currently, he is working as a visiting reporter for the Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY. Sounds like a lot of responsibility and traveling for a young journalist huh? “The traveling can get rough but its fun, you learn as you go”, Martinez says.

Martinez made sure to spend time speaking about the recent tools that are being used in news reporting. He was enthusiastic about the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and emphasized on having the ability to use sound clips and video . Martinez explained the ways that Twitter can be used to help a reporter. He finds that Twitter is one of the easiest ways to network and collect sources for news stories. He often attends Twitter meet-up groups labeled “Tweetups” where he can meet and further connect with the people he follows in his surrounding area. Martinez recalls saying “I’m never going to use that!” when he first heard about Twitter in 2007 but he admits that since he began using the networking site in August of 2008, he has multiplied his number of available sources. He explains that the best thing that Twitter can do for a journalist is to get outside their group of friends and meet people from all different areas.

Martinez admits that Twitter can sometimes be a bit much. “You have to really dig and find what you want and what you need”, he says. He shared some of the ways to make it easier to navigate on Twitter such as using the popular “hash-tag” in which you can search a word or phrase that appears in all Tweets that have been posted. Through reading the varying opinions of different people on one topic, the reporter can receive views from all angles. He feels that this can be especially helpful when trying to find information on a story topic. 

Following his Twitter talk, Martinez explained that current news editors love a reporter who can put together sound clips and video streams. “In today’s journalism, that is where everything is going—know a little bit of everything,” he says.As far as using video, Martinez admitted to having no prior knowledge of creating video streams before the Hearst Fellowships program put him through an intensive training program.  “I never thought I would be doing video”, Martinez says. Now he finds himself often creating video projects in order to attract audiences with the use of moving images and sound.

I valued the information and tips that Martinez shared but what I appreciated most was his optimistic outlook on the current job market within journalism. Martinez ended his conversation with the class by speaking positively about the current lack of jobs in the field. He feels that people are becoming much more hopeful about job opportunities in today’s newsroom. Instead of discouraging us with job market statistics and depressing facts about the decline of the newspaper, Martinez reminded the class of why we were sitting there; for the love journalism.

Twitter Trends

October 5, 2009

Twitter has become so popular that this media trend has developed its own set of trends.

Twitter, which was created for the use of social networking is being used by celebrities and athletes as a way to self-promote and reach out to their fans. Through tweeting, celebrities can allow their fans the opportunity to get to know them as people and stay updated on events and important promotions. While there are many fake celebrity Twitter pages, the blog and website entitled ‘Valebrity’ was created to verify which pages are the real thing.  

Brand names and companies are now using Twitter to self-promote as well. Companies such as Starbuks have created Twitter pages to communicate with their customers, get their opinions, and remind them about promotional events. The website entitled Tracking Twitter is useful in finding the pages of all of your favorite brands. Links are provided to directly bring you to the company’s Twitter page!

Twitter has allowed millions of users the opportunity to make network and make new friends. The term TweetUp was invented because groups of people who follow eachother but have never met in person are arranging events where they can meet face to face.

Just as AIM did, Twitter has begun to develop its own slangs in tweets. An example is the use of “w00t” (the o’s are zeros). This is a way of cheering or showing that you are excited about something. Other examples are “RT” meaning reTweet, “OH” meaning overheard, and “HT” meaning heard through.

Clay Shirky Lecture

October 5, 2009

          The story that Clay Shirky shared about the reporting that was done in the investigation of Father John Geoghan was a good jumping off point to discussing the importance of accountability reporting and the consequences of its dissapearence in newspapers. He links the newspapers’ lack of ability to produce this type of reporting to the decline of newspapers being used for commercial purposes. Before sites like CraigsList.com were created, newspapers held a monoply in advertising. At this time, newspapers were the best and one of the only sources for companies to display ads and coupons. The power that these newspapers held over these companies forced them to overpay for their advertisments which, in turn financially allowed newspaper reporters to spend long amounts of time investigating major stories.

           Before reading this lecture, I had not made the connection between the amount of money newspapers were making in advertising and their capability of conducting in-depth reporting. The rise of the Web has made the need to use newspapers as a source for advertising non-existent and the prices that the companies were paying to place an ad in a paper are not comparible to the inexpensive advertising that the internet offers. What really hit home with me was that as Shirky points out, this change is irreversable. Newspapers will never again have the protection that their power over advertisers provided and will never again have the capital to support the reporting of high risk stories that require long term investigations. While advertising on the Internet is useful and easy for both the companies advertising and the consumers, it is blindingly clear that as a result, the quality of the news we recieve is suffering.

          Another issue that Shirky discusses is what I consider to be a problem that has been caused by the “daily me”. In other words, the Internet has become a place that caters to its user. It allows one to search through and pick only the stories, games, blogs, etc. that interest them. This may seem like a positive but it is in fact a negative because the user will never be given anything outside of what they “want”. Journalism and news reporting is important in the way that it explains and shows us things we may not want to see or hear but need to. The Web has slowed the circulation of information that  is needed. In this, I see danger in a society that is uninformed and uninterested in what surrounds them. This danger both scares me and personally affects me. My generation is the future of America and we have been raised to use the Internet as our source of news with trends of citizen journalism. While the newspaper has not completely dissapeared, it is not commonly used by myself or my peers and the quality of information that it provides is not appreciated. I am positive that the lack of appreciation for in-depth reporting and well thought out and written articles will have negative affects on my future and the futures of those within my generation.

Growth of the Mobile Web

September 14, 2009

Mobile devices called “smartphones” are allowing users to enter the world of the internet. As these devices are advancing, their popularity is as well. Examples of these phones are the iPhone and Blackberry. In addition to the smartphone, applications such as Augmented Reality are major causes of the growth in popularity of the Mobile Web. I think the use of the cellphone is becoming a more important tool for accessing the Internet because of its convenience and portability. Leading internet companies such as Yahoo! and Google have been investing time and money into the Mobile Web and computer software companies such as Microsoft are now creating mobile versions of their programs like Microsoft office. Another advance is the “mo: Blog”. This allows bloggers to send and recieve messages to their followers from their mobile phone.

I feel that the time that is being spent on advancing mobile phones may make a whole new medium for news reporting. If they are not already available, I can see news applications being created. I think that a personalized news application would be created providing readers with notifications on their cellphones when an event has taken place. I think that this would be good for keeping the connection between the people and their government and would create a more informed society.

Blogs and Chats..LIVE

September 13, 2009

The advancement of having live discussions with other people through the Web with blogs, and chats has helped our nation to stay connected and informed of news as it is taking place. Twitter has recently created a twitcam or a live broadcasting application using video allowing anyone with a Twitter account to notify their followers that they will be broadcasting live on video stream. I think that this may have negative affects for broadcast journalists. With the recent growth of citizen journalism on the internet that has nearly eliminated the use of the newspaper, will the use of citizen broadcasting end the world of professional broadcasting?

Reaching the same amount of popularity as Twitter is Justin.tv and Blogtv.com. These sited provides viewers with thousands of “channels” streaming live video relating to every story topic and interest. This site also allows celebrities to communicate with their fans through live chatting. I wonder if this website will take over Twitter? This website is almost developing its own platform for reporting and sharing information.

Live blogging has become another way to discuss news. As events take place such as the debates on healthcare reform and the war in Iraq, citizens have been able to discuss their opinions with people from all over the world. I feel that this live chat will keep people interested and informed on what is happening and changing globally.

          Times are changing in the world or reporting news and I have come to agree with those who predict that in the near future, the internet will completely eliminate the use of print journalism. While this is not a fact, statistics such as the ones included in Eric Alterman’s essay have shown that newspapers have become the least preferred source of news as of 2004 with market values dropping around forty-two percent within the last three years.  With the up to the minute, speed of light access to the news that the web provides, the use of the newspaper seems passé to many of us.

          I personally cannot say that I have an emotional attachment to the newspaper. However, after reading about the depressing demeanor that fills today’s newsroom, I have an understanding of the sadness that print journalism’s downfall has brought to those who have respectively made a career out of reporting and writing for newspapers. I believe that it takes a great deal of skill and discipline to work as a professional journalist and I have sympathy for those who at this time are facing the reality of possibly losing their jobs. Simultaneously, the change that is taking place within the news reporting medium is one that I am comfortable with. I think that my disconnection to print journalism can be explained through a statistic in Alterman’s essay that “Since 1990, a quarter of all American newspaper jobs have disappeared.” I was born that year and by the time I reached the fifth grade, the use of the internet was in full swing. I can clearly remember printing out articles from the web to complete my current event assignments and using the internet to research for an essay. My generation did not grow up with a dependence on the newspaper and as a result, I do not feel that a complete appreciation for the print medium can be expected.

          It is clear that America’s media landscape is in the process of completely crossing over to the digital world. I feel that there are advantages to justify this change as one that has had positive affects on my life.  I find that having the news available on the internet increases the amount of stories I read as every area of interest is covered with an infinite range of story topics. How often I read the news has also increased as the internet readily available to me on both my laptop and my cell phone. I feel that for the majority, the use of the internet for reporting has improved the quantity of news that is read by the public helping to create a more informed society.  The internet has also created the medium of citizen journalism with the invention of the blog and Twitter. This medium allows anyone the opportunity to discuss and respond to news stories and current events.  Although this has caused somewhat of a breach in the level of accuracy of information being shared, citizen journalism has had positive effects by creating a stronger connection between people. For example, the U.S military in Afghanistan has adopted the use of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as a way to communicate with the public building a stronger relationship between the government and its public.  I feel that making these connections as well as giving citizens the opportunity to have a voice has increased their general interest in the news.  Although I have not personally opened a Twitter account, I appreciate its uses and have often read web articles about the vital information it has been able to share. I would consider these changes in how we read and discuss the news to be evidence of development within our society.

          With the constant growth of reporting on the web, I think that the use of the American newspaper will decrease to insignificant levels. In upcoming years, I believe that electronic, news-feeding devices such as the Kindle will continue to rise in popularity, being sold with a more reasonable price tag until they are as common as the Apple iPod. I feel that this will be the replacement of the newspaper because it is just as portable while allowing access to news from the web. From an environmental standpoint, the exclusive use of these portable devices instead of the newspaper would significantly reduce the amount of trees being cut, paper being produced and paper being wasted.  The idea that the newspaper may soon become a historical piece of the past is something that I do care about. I respect the fact that the production of the newspaper has been ongoing for close to three-hundred years and that its efforts have helped to revolutionize our country. At the same time, I feel that the change in our media landscape of using the internet has already begun to make change for the better of our society and will continue to do so in the future.

          I personally get my news from the internet and television. I mostly read stories off of network websites such as CNN and MSNBC. Using the web to read news allows me to choose the topics I am most interested in and is a quick and easy way to stay informed. I enjoy watching shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report because they are both informative and entertaining. I find that these programs take the confusion out of news stories and hold my attention longer than an average news report would.

         I think that because of the time I was born, I recieve my news differently than my parents. I have grown up with the use of the internet as a source of news where as my parents grew up with the use of print journalism. My father for example, who is not the most electronically adept, is one of the few who regularly uses the newspaper as his source of news. I cannot say that I am  invested in old media or the medium of print. I do not feel this can be expected from my generation as  advances in the use of the internet occured during our adolescense. I am much more interested in new media such as blogging and Twittering because it has proven to be a way to both inform and connect with people globally.

 

http://mashable.com/ This website contains channels and blogs discussing advances in social media. I found it to be especially helpful with it’s turtorials on using Twitter and Google as I am new to the use of the blog and RSS readers.

http://readwriteweb.com/ This site was useful and interesting in understanding the web trends of the media. I like that it has tabs at the top of the page showing the latest products being used in the media.

http://www.wkconline.org/index.php/seminar_showcase/politicsandtv_2005_story/technological_changes_make_core_journalistic_values_even_more_important/

This article discusses how advances in technology has changed the way that television news is delivered. I found this article to be interesting because I know about the effects that technology has had on print but not on the broadcasting medium.

http://www.journalism.co.uk/bestofblogs.php/ I thought that this website did an especially good job keeping up with technological advances. It provides informational blogs about new strategies that reporters are using to find information and write stories. I also liked that it has tabs for writing tips, forums and job opportunities.