September 20, 2007

Rumor Alert

After all the intensity over primary elections, I thought a little rumor mongering might be fun. I've heard the following from three different, unconnected sources: Buffalo Sabres Owner and former candidate for Governor Tom Golisano is interested in buying Greater Niagara Newspapers.

Mr. Golisano is upset with coverage in the Buffalo News and believes the Gazette, properly funded, could be a viable alternative.

We all know how deep Mr. Golisano's pockets go, and the financial problems that have plagued GNN, so this doesn't seem so outlandish.

Then again, does a billionaire CEO really want to be in the newspaper business?

Just some fun speculation at this point. I'm curious if any of our loyal readers have heard this rumor and what you think GNN would be like under new, local ownership.


Scott Leffler said...

Then again, does a billionaire CEO really want to be in the newspaper business?

Do you mean to be ironic?

Rupert Murdoch ... Warren Buffett ...

Interesting rumor to say the least. My standard response when someone asks me about GNN. The employees there are some of the best people on earth. The upper management wouldn't know news if it bit them.

Clemenza said...

If Golisano would really invest in putting people back in the newsroom, it would be great. It's clear that GNN is undermanned and there are way too many rookies running around who have no historical context for much of what they cover.

I'd love to see this happen.

Pirate's Code said...

Have not heard the rumor, but...

...If he were to buy it simply to improve coverage of his sports team, don't bother. If there is one thing GNN currently does pretty well, it is cover local sports -- high schools particularly. It is, frankly, one of the few reasons to get any of their papers. It won't win circulation or advertising based on its coverage of the Sabres.

...If, however, he were to make a commitment to improve the quality of GNN publications as a whole, then my response would -- "Puh-leeze, Mr. Golisano, do this quickly." I get the Tonawanda News, mostly out of habit. Every time I finish reading the editorial page, including sound-off, I have to remind myself that I am now dumber than I was before reading it.

...The current managing editor (or whatever they call him) of the Tonawanda News is 24 years old. TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OLD!!! There is certainly a place in journalism for up and comers, the younger crowd or whatever euphemism you care to use, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is probably bright. But what sort of life experience does a 24 year old have to make value judgments when crafting an editorial, or deciding what makes the front page, and so on? Give me a couple of older, ink-stained wretches any day for balance.

...Regardless of who owns GNN, it needs to decide what it wants to be. Do we really need more "in-depth" coverage of the Buffalo Bills, when most of it can see it with our own eyes on TV every week? Do we really need anonymous "opinions" copied verbatim off an answering machine as the pulse of a community? (That's what the internet is for.) Can or should GNN compete with the Buffalo News on regional, state and national news? With so many options available for information gathering, GNN needs to pick a niche and fill it. Right now, it is a mish-mash that, at times, is unreadable. There are some quality staffers, to be sure, but they need better leadership, better direction, and -- for God's sake -- better editing.

If this rumor proves true, for a six-figure salary and the occasional opportunity to play left-wing during a "value" game, I'd be happy to foist my opinions on how to run a newspaper as his editor. Where do I apply?

Mr. Pink said...


What's next, yelling at the young editor to get off your lawn?

Actually, I agree with you about the need for experience. It seems to me too many of these reporters merely transcribe public meetings rather than actually report what is going on.

Like Clem said, they have no ability to put context around what they are covering.

I think if the paper were sound financially, they'd find quite a bit of talent willing to work for them.

Frank DeGeorge said...

I think 90 percent of the writer's on this site are better than what I read in those papers.

Virtual Unreality said...

I have not heard this either, but not that I would; no one I know has any juicy stuff.

But the concept is somewhat intriguing. I know Golisano ran for Guv twice, and if memory serves, he ran on a minor party line. I'm not sure if it was Conservative of Independence.

The one thing that I do know is that Golly is is not a Liberal, which is what we are damned with right now at GNN. They're so disgustingly biased that they may as well be a state-owned paper in a communist nation. Tim Marren makes Jese Jackson look Conservative.

You'd think after years of plummeting subscriptions, they'd take a different approach. As we've all heard before, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Well, GNN keeps spewing the same Liberal crap and wonders why its numbers aren't going up.


Pirate's Code said...

Pink -- Young Mr. Editor would be welcome on my lawn if it meant that reporters and editors were getting out of the office and talking to real people.

There is a place in the news biz for simply "transcribing" what transpired at a public meeting. I have less trouble with that than the painfully apparent blending of news and opinion on various GNN pages. I'm old enough (and, apparently, old-fashioned enough) to remember when papers made a better effort to clearly delineate between news and opinion. Now, the Tonawanda News runs opinion columns on the front page. No offense to Joe Genco, who is a former staffer at the Tona News, but his opinions on how the world ought to work carry no more weight than anyone else, and should not be on the front page of a daily newspaper.

Somebody with some experience would know that.

However, I'm guessing that the overall youth evident in GNN staff makes its softball team potentially more formidable than a bunch of geezers.

VR -- Making GNN less liberal or more conservative or whatever will not necessarily make it better.

What will make GNN better is more experience, better writing, much better "quality control" editing, a mix of straight reporting/ enterprise writing/ and broad, meaningful editorial copy, including a diversity of liberal and conservative oopinion. That costs money which, apparently, is in tight supply with the GNN owners.

Oh, and they need to upgrade the comics. The Sudoku puzzle is a nice touch, though.

Larry S said...

PC said, "Give me a couple of older, ink-stained wretches any day for balance."

Dan Kane is, THANKFULLY, long retired.

And to this day I wonder how Jill Terreri, a Columbia grad, is working at GNN. That doesn't say much for the Columbia journailsm program.

Clemenza said...

Larry S, remember, every graduating class at Columbia has someone who finished ranked last.

Anonymous said...

Caution to all of you bloggers, remember that sage adice to "never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrell"......or have to fill air time from 11:00 'til 12:00!

Scott Leffler said...

I would say that's good advice, Anon.


Larry Castellani said...

Who knows? A Golisano owned paper couldn't be any worse. The locals of GNN probably do as well as they can with what they have. But I don't think its a matter of getting a more conservative owner as opposed to the supposed liberals we have now, as "virtual unreality" suggests. No matter what the persuasion of the owner if the paper is going to be a real paper and not a mouthpiece, then its going to be educational and not merely rhetorical, or worse, sophistical. Or, I'd be happy if a new onwer just got rid of half of the sports pages. High school football? Really? Surely small town life is more than that. Or maybe not. After all, the tire burning event seems to draw a crowd. Go figure. But I digress. But until the paper does change hands, possibly such as yourselves could write to editors like Eric Duvalle, who seems to be open to new ideas, and help him create a good paper with what he's got. After all, why can't a paper lead a community as opposed to catering to its lowest common denominator?

Anonymous said...

I love Golisano and think he has been great for the WNY community. Let's face the facts, at his stage in life he didn't need to buy a hockey team - he has all the money in the world.

Although, if his interest in politics is as strong as it used to be - owning a group of newspapers could be right up his ally. WE all know at GNN there is no such thing as objectivity now. I think Golisano would do a great job there!

And maybe he could recruit some good reporters too!