Jul 16


Monday Morning Read

Jim Heaney's recommended reading has a lot to do with the news media, The Buffalo News and otherwise.

WeeklyPost, emailed to subscribers every Sunday morning, includes Jim Heaney’s recommended reading, which we republish the following day in Monday Morning Read. You can subscribe here.

The decision by The New York Times to do away with its sports staff was a big deal in journalism circles last week. Many were aghast. As a sports fan, and loyal Times reader, I can see their point.

Then again, it’s kind of refreshing to see a newspaper opt to focus on real news. Compare that with The Buffalo News, or shall I say, The Buffalo Sporting News.

You don’t learn nearly enough about what’s going on in the community by reading the paper, but boy, The News will keep you informed to the NTH degree about the Bills, Sabres and high school sports. The amount of space devoted to sports dwarfs that committed to local news. It’s a disservice to the community, and a recipe for the paper’s nose-diving circulation, as surveys show readers value local news above all other content. 

Elsewhere on The News front:

  • Lee Enterprises, the paper’s chain owner, has largely done away with its coverage of the arts. Into the void has stepped reviews penned not by critics, but by institutions hosting said events. On Friday, the paper print and website editions published a review of a new exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. It wasn’t authored by a journalist, but rather Burchfield Penny. As Colin Dabkowski, the paper’s former arts critic tweeted, “Do you want an art review of your important exhibition in @TheBuffaloNews? Ok, no problem. Just write it yourself and pay for it.” This isn’t the first such affront to journalistic standards. For some time, The News has been passing off advertising by online gambling outfits as legitimate stories. Simply unethical.
  • The move last month to outsource the paper’s page design is off to a rocky start, as noted by Jon Harris, health reporter and president of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild. Harris noted in a tweet that the remote design desk had failed to place bylines on two of his recent stories. “​​I’d say Lee’s decision to outsource our designers is going great,” he wrote, tongue firmly planted in cheek. In another tweet, Harris noted that The News had given formal notice of its intention to shutter its printing presses and lay off 130 workers. Wrote Harris: “Reason for layoff: Corporate stupidity.” Ouch.

Not that we don’t need newspapers, as noted by Bob Confer in the Niagara Gazette.

Our country cannot survive without the local press, whether in the traditional print version or in the modern online style.

The strength and character of our constitutional republic is contingent upon an informed citizenry, which is why the forefathers found it necessary to recognize the value of the press in the First Amendment. News agencies — large and small, national and local — keep all levels of government in check by investigating improprieties, shining light on policy both active and proposed, and sharing the socioeconomic issues that force government and civic action. A good newspaper will educate, and hopefully inspire, the electors and the elected alike.

A key phrase here is “good newspaper.” The trouble is, most newspapers aren’t very good anymore. That’s due in large part to the collapse of their business model, including a precipitous drop in circulation. The number of print copies sold during the first three months of this year dropped by 14 percent at the 25 largest dailies in the county. That’s a staggering loss of 400,000 copies in just 90 days.

Another sign of distress: Last week, the once-prestigious McClatchy newspaper chain laid off three Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonists. A few decades ago, more than 100 daily papers employed an editorial cartoonist; it’s fewer than 30 today.

There’s a glimmer of hope for newspapers in Maine with the announcement that a nonprofit is taking control of five dailies and 17 weeklies. I say “glimmer” because nonprofit status doesn’t change the economic challenges facing the industry. But it’s better to have media in the hands of civic minded people than hedge funds or corporate chains.

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The Washington Post reports that Elon Musk’s Twitter is paying right wing zealots big bucks to post to the platform.

More and more of our neighbors north of the border are having a hard time finding a doctor.

Meanwhile, down south and elsewhere, red states, for all their griping about the federal government, receive more money from Uncle Sam than they pay in taxes. Kind of like family values: divorce rates are higher in red states than blue ones.

Think Florida is some sort of paradise? Not these days, and I’m not talking about Ron DeSantis. As the Associated Press reports, real-feel temperatures could reach 110 in the coming week, ocean temperatures are well into the 90s, and dust from Africa’s Sahara Desert is headed to the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, out in California, another paradise lost, a sea otter has taken to stealing surf boards.

Investigative Post

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