Jul 31


Monday Morning Read

The new editor of The Buffalo News assumes command of a paper that is rapidly losing circulation

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The Buffalo News has a new editor. The paper is making a big deal out of the fact Sheila Rayam is the first person of color to serve as editor, and it is noteworthy, particularly  given The News’ lack of diversity, especially in its management ranks.

Rayam joins The News after a 15-month stint at the daily newspaper in Utica. The Utica Observer-Dispatch has a newsroom staff of only a dozen journalists, so she faces the challenge of managing a much larger staff at The News, some 80 or so employees.

Coverage in The New York Times included this interesting fact: The News’ daily circulation has dropped to 56,000. A reader followed up by sending me this chart that confirmed that number.

Yes, newspapers across the country are losing circulation, but the pace of the losses here is especially quick. The News’ daily circulation peaked at about 310,000 in the mid-90s and stood at about 140,000,  if my memory serves me correct, when I left the paper in 2011. It has fallen exponentially since.

A small portion of that loss has been made up with digital subscriptions, but they fetch considerably less revenue than does the print product.

All in all, not an encouraging picture. The community needs a vibrant daily newspaper, so I wish Rayam well as she takes command of a ship that is, if not sinking, at least listing.

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Rod Watson wrote another good column last week, this one asking if a neighborhood with five drug treatment clinics really needs another. But Rod, it’s our way in WNY! I mean, we have six different industrial development agencies, five school districts in Cheektowaga alone, and three different community college campuses. How else are we going to keep taxes high and patronage mouths fed?

The Washington Post offers its take on Chris Jacobs and his decision to not seek re-election.

Ken Kruly looked over the latest campaign finance filings and offers an assessment. Of particular note: State Sen. Tim Kennedy has $2 million on his coffers. That’s an awful lot of money, more than just about any elected official in the state government.

The Albany Times Union did another deep dive on bail reform and finds the critics are overstating their case.

It figures: the states leading the charge on restrict abortion rights are the least supportive of mothers and children. A story well worth a read from The New York Times.

Oil companies are making more money than ever, while the rest of are paying record-high prices at the pump. It’s no coincidence.

Another third party is forming. Will it be any more successful than its many predecessors?

Norman Lear turns 100 and offers his take on Archie Bunker and Donald Trump.

Finally, on the light side, a movie review. Elvis, which is still playing local theaters. I give it four out of five stars. Smart and entertaining, although it does play loose with the facts at points. The film drives home the point that Elvis was a cultural game-changer. Austin Butler nails his role as Elvis. Tom Hanks is Oscar-worthy playing Col. Tom Parker. You can check out the trailer here. Or one of the King’s early appearances on Ed Sullivan.