I want to clear a few things up.
Yesterday I wrote a piece exploring the quiet death of newspapers and how this relates to the Buffalo News.
Apparently it stirred up some controversy.
1) Buffalo bloggers are never going to “unite”, never going to “form a coalition” and became a viable, paid media source. There are three types of bloggers: Bloggers that are fans, bloggers that are/want to be involved in their community, bloggers that want to be writers. Few bloggers want to overthrow The Buffalo News and fewer still desire to allow someone else to boss them around.
2) Jay Skurski, who is apparently a reporter at The Buffalo News, did not like that I wrote yesterday that The Buffalo News is ‘teetering on the brink of disaster (while also somehow fulfilling their promises). I retract nothing. The fact of the matter is: they are. If The Buffalo News suffers the same circulation losses (and equivalent advertising losses) in the next four years as they have in the last four, they won’t have a printed daily edition. Several people mentioned that “circulation losses don’t mean anything because circulation isn’t as important as advertising.” This is true. But less circulation equals less advertising dollars.
3) Jay Skurski was very insistent that it is important that The Buffalo News has made a profit every year. A couple of things. First, a yearly profit does not mean much of anything. As Brian Bund (@brianbund) pointed out, several banks have never recorded a loss and are still a part of an industry-wide shift. Second, a profit is not as important as revenue. Revenue is the amount of income before expenses. It is sort of like your gross as opposed to your net. The reason The Buffalo News continues to record a profit is because they spend less money. They spend less money paying for writers, they spend less money expanding and improving their print edition. When you spend less money, you can make “a profit” with less money. But this does not necessarily imply growth nor consistency. If I make 5 million dollars in 2011 and spend 4 million dollars in 2011, I have made a profit. If I then make 5 cents in 2012 and spend 4 cents in 2012, I have still made a profit. But you would probably not say that my income is consistent or healthy.
4) The assertion that writing on/commenting on people who work in the newspaper business, or saying “their work is crap” (I didn’t), and that their job is facing imminent extinction (I didn’t) is some sort of work of an asshole is hogwash. Does the newspaper not report on union negotiations with corporations? Do they not talk in earnest about record layoffs? Often times with quotes from individual employees? Isn’t a significant portion of the entire sports department based solely on the employment status of professional athletes? Should Mario Williams be upset that The Buffalo News was tweeting his bowel movements, basically? What makes their jobs, their livelihoods so precious that they are above criticism, reporting or opinions! What I wrote yesterday was an overview of the state of the newspaper industry and how it impacts people who work at The Buffalo News.
5) And I never said they were going anywhere or losing their jobs. I said their jobs would be changing. I said that as news outlets transfer more of thier content online and through mobile media, as they rely more heavily on paywalls and internet advertising, the same people who are print reporters now will keep their jobs and shift their roles. That will especially be the case for a publication like The Buffalo News who are struggling, but not at the rate of other papers. I said all of this yesterday.
6) In other words, I never said The Buffalo News was dying, but rather that their print edition is dying. I don’t expect everyone to be literate or have the time to dissect what I wrote, especially the busy folks at The Buffalo News.
7) But I do expect them to be professional. The idea that my piece was “garbage”, and then trolling me on Twitter, including saying that “Buffalo Wins gets ten readers” and mocking my freelance career (thanks for bringing that up, Joe), is exactly the kind of stuff that these people complain about when it comes to criticism of the work at The Buffalo News. I’m a big boy. If the sports department at The Buffalo News wants to act like children, that’s fine. But then don’t complain when people take issue with your work. Don’t claim they “don’t understand’. Don’t claim they are “misinformed”. Take the criticism.
8) And about being “misinformed”. The Buffalo News needs to begin doing two things. A) Being transparent. B) Backing up their statements with facts. If they’re going to let their reporters run wild on Twitter and in trolling blogs like it’s the wild west, the least we ask of them is that they come armed with information that supports their arguments. If my piece was “misinformed”, or “garbage”, then they are welcome to say so, assuming that they can do so by using citable sources instead of simply impling that because I don’t write for publications as big as The Buffalo News that I must just be disgruntled and jealous.
9) There is a segment of the Twitter population who has no connection with anything and is generally disgruntled with everything. These people are unpleasable.
10) Stop with the crocodile tears. The constant crying about what people think about The Buffalo News is embarrassing. There are two competing things here. It’s not possible for my writing to be irrelevent because Buffalo Wins is so small and insignificant while drawing the ire of reporters at The Buffalo News, because if what I says does not matter, then why do they care? And if what I says *does* matter, then why do they pretend we don’t? Here is your answer: Because blogs matter. They don’t matter in a big way, but they matter. And because there are, on this web-site and others, people who are very good writers (I’m looking at you Alex Jankowski, I’m looking at you Frank Gifaldi) it is difficult to pretend that everything that we say doesn’t matter, because it does, if only a little bit. The Buffalo News has a lot of insecure people who are very threatened by the idea that anyone with an ounce of talent or half a brain might not consider them to be the most important entity in local media. Newspapers are a very competitive and insecure business, filled with people who are trapped in that bubble.
I’d also like to point out that it’s ridiculous, that The Buffalo News should know that we can tell who reads our blog and that we know that more than one of you read it yesterday. We know you’re watching.
So here’s what should happen:
– The Buffalo News should adapt a or strength its Twitter policy. It should enforce that policy. It should ask of its employees that they represent themselves and their paper professionally when dealing with the general public.
– The Buffalo News should approach blogs with the small modicum of respect that they deserve, instead of the total disdain that they presently give. They also should consider contesting things they find to be factually inaccurate with information that supports their arguments, instead of complaining and name calling. If the Buffalo News would like to write an op-ed on this site contesting what I wrote, they’re more than welcome to do so.
– Bloggers should stop living under the delusion that we are in the midst of this grand revolution in which the entire face of media will be flipped on its head. So long as media is being created and news being reported for money, there will be someone their to manage it.
– If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Writing is a competitive world filled with self-involved assholes who are in love solely with themselves or the things they represent. It will never be different.
Here’s what will happen:
Oh, and Mr. Skurski, thanks for bringing attention to the issue of The Buffalo News struggles and the column on our web-site here at Buffalo Wins. We appreciate the continued support.
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