Sep 19


Monday Morning Read

From bad to worse: Not only is daily newspaper print circulation tanking, but online readership is also declining. Plus, Canada might be ready to lighten up on COVID mandates at the border.

Here’s what caught Jim Heaney’s eye last week. Subscribe to his WeeklyPost and you’ll receive his recommended reading, along with a recap of the previous week’s reporting by Investigative Post.

Updated: 2:10 p.m.

Newspaper print circulation is tumbling in Buffalo and across the nation. The hope of the industry is to make up for that lost ground by growing online readership. Now, Rick Edmunds, the media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, reports that, too, is shrinking.

He wrote this last week:

Pageviews and uniques are not the favored digital metrics they used to be, but as they fell roughly 20% earlier this year at local newspaper sites, the decline sent a chill through the industry.

I’m happy to report traffic to Investigative Post’s website is up 37 percent over the same period a year ago. I attribute most of that growth to us publishing fresh content more frequently, usually every weekday.

I wrote several weeks ago that the daily print circulation of The Buffalo News has fallen to 56,000. That’s down from a peak in the 1990s of more than 300,000. I don’t know what the paper’s digital subscriber list is, but I think it’s safe to say it’s well below that figure.

In 2018, then Editor Mike Connelly wrote in an internal memo to News management: “At an average of $10 a month, it takes 83,000 subscribers to cover the cost of our newsroom.” These days, you can purchase a digital subscription for as little as $1 for six months. Compare that with a seven-days-a-week print subscription of $936 per year and you can appreciate what The News is up against financially.

I don’t know how this plays out in the long-run. Personally, I question the strategy of charging readers more and giving them less. In the short run, the News continues to cut costs, as is evident by downsizing of newsroom staff and the cutting of content. Just last week, the paper cut three-quarters of it comics and several crossword puzzles. And there’s another downsizing in the offing.

Numerous people I talk to at The News say the paper is abandoning its downtown offices in the near future, perhaps as soon as this fall. I’m hearing Larkinville is the likely destination. (Print production would remain on Scott Street.)

Why the move? The News used to employ more than 1,000; it’s a fraction of that now. Staffing in large departments, starting with the newsroom, has been slashed. Work in some departments has been outsourced altogether. As a result, much of the paper’s five floors stands empty.

Update: The News announced Monday it has sold its building at Washington and Scott streets to Uniland and relocating to Larkinville. Howard Zemsky will be their new landlord.

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Elsewhere, the Toronto Star reported over the weekend that the Canadian government is giving serious consideration to ending its COVID protocols at the border. Which is to say, no more ArriveCAN, no more random testing, etc.

Ken Kruly offers all sorts of facts and figures on the upcoming November elections. Interesting stuff.

New York Focus reports most state prisons are violating a new law intended to scale back the use of solitary confinement.

More Hochul corruption, as reported by The Albany Times Union. Bottom line: you can sell the state products at inflated prices if you donate to the governor’s campaign.

Insurance companies, tired of paying out on settlements involving police misconduct, are pressing for reforms, The Washington Post reports. In Buffalo, the city does not carry such insurance. Misconduct settlements, of which there are many, are paid for by taxpayers.

There’s been an escalation in attempts by right-wingers to ban books. The New York Times reports the hard numbers. Bloomberg, meanwhile, reports on attacks by the right on candidates running for local office.

Business Insider reports on the dangers of having so many elected officials in their 70s and beyond.

Wired has a security section on its website that’s loaded with good stories.

Enough with the coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s death. Trevor Noah puts it in perspective.

Investigative Post

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