Newspapers: The Changing Medium

Discussion about changing media landscape with media professionals

Mike Baggerman
July 26, 2018 - 3:00 am

AP Photo


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – The decline of newspapers and the changing media landscape took another turn this week as the New York Daily News announced that it slashed its reporting staff in half.

The changes in the newspaper industry trickled down to Western New York, too, as The Buffalo News this summer offered optional buyouts to several of its staff.

“I was not surprised but you could see a lot of it coming,” Elmer Ploetz, a professor at SUNY Fredonia, who also spent 23 years as a reporter for The Buffalo News, said. “Some of the strategies they’re using: Encouraging some of their more marketable people to leave. That surprised me.”

Ploetz said, though, that The Buffalo News is in a better position than a paper like the New York Daily News because the local newspaper is owned by Warren Buffett and the paper locally does not have any debt, compared to the Daily News, which is owned by Tronc.

From left to right: Mike Igoe, Elmer Ploetz, Felice Krycia, Annemarie Franczyk (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

The old method of receiving a physical copy of the newspaper and reading it is shrinking while the digital age is growing. With alternative sources of media such as independent blogs and social media rising, it’s taking away business from the once-reliable newspaper medium.

“The main appeal of (newspapers) is that you have people out there every day,” Ploetz said. “If it’s Twitter or a blog, people go when they can around their other jobs whereas with a paper like The Buffalo News, which still has the largest reporting staff in the City of Buffalo, they’re the ones that should be going out and going places. That’s their job to go to it.”

Ploetz explained that The Buffalo News provided quality investigative work because it could afford the staff to do the long-term work.

“Everybody can go to a press conference and report who just got announced as the Buffalo Bills new coach,” Ploetz added. “One of the things the news did that was pretty good before Tim Graham is they sent him out to California to talk to people in (Josh Allen’s) hometown and talk to his college coach and do something nobody else had.”

Graham was one of the reporters from The Buffalo News who took the optional buyout. He joined the sports website The Athletic a short-time later.

In a discussion with former WGRZ reporter Mike Igoe, who now teaches journalism at SUNY Fredonia, there is still a wave of college students who are interested in joining the journalism industry. This, despite the cuts.

"If a student wants to be a journalist and they know what's going on in the world, that you're going to be expected to do a lot, and you're going to work very hard, I say 'God bless you'," Igoe said. "That's why I have to prepare them now in the rush of the battle and the rush to be first. You have to be sure you don't commit any ethical lapses because that's the main problem."

He said even honest mistakes can hurt a lot of people's lives, so journalists need to be sure they follow all the steps.

Ploetz and Igoe were just some journalists who spoke in a panel of reporters on Tuesday at the Erie County Legislature. You can hear their entire session below.



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