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Today's Daily News: Roll of Honor in Pavilion

By Howard B. Owens

More than 120 young men from Pavilion went off to war in the 1940s, and a proud town honored those soldiers with a plaque that hung in the high school for decades -- until it fell in such a state of disrepair that it was put in storage.

School board member Sarah Moag didn't forget about the Roll of Honor plaque, however, and one day she called on Stewart Whitney, a local woodworking hobbyist, to see if he could restore it.

He said he would give it a try.

Please be sure to pick up a copy of today's Daily News and see a picture of the stunningly restored Roll of Honor.

Writer Roger Muelig unravels the gripping narrative of the restoration project.

Also on the front page, Joanne Beck captures the magic of the moment -- when the sun came out just long enough yesterday -- for the dedication of a new nature trail at Genesee Community College. It's really a restoration of a trail that "seemed forgotten" after the 1970s/80s. There are 21 markers identifying plants along the trail.

We already linked in Regional Headlines to another front page story -- that Buffalo stations Channel 4 and 9 have been pulled from the cable lineup by Time Warner due to a contract dispute.

The County has named a new IT director -- Steve Zimmer, who has 30 years experience in the IT field, both in the private and public sector, and will earn $72,000 per year.

On the inside of the paper, one of the more interesting pieces that caught my eye was an op-ed column by Dan Radmacher, an editorial page editor in Roanoke, Va.  Radmacher writes, "Newspapers are vital to the functioning of democracy."

This is the typical arrogance of many newspaper people.

A free press -- broadcast, print and, now, online -- is essential to democracy. Ink on paper is just a delivery format. It does not magically imbue the words and pictures with any weightier meaning. In fact, the limited format does more to constrict information dissemination than help it.

Radmacher correctly points out that online newspaper sites have helped newspapers reach readers they might otherwise miss, but it's also true that newspaper web sites have contributed some to circulation declines over the past four years. Giving away all your newspaper content online is not a long-term winning strategy. Meanwhile, even the most successful newspaper web sites have not been able to generate enough revenue to support their current news operations. Many experts fear that the gulf between the newspaper model and the online model may be too wide for the typical print publication to survive the transition. If you're interested in this topic, read this post about Steve Smith, the former editor of the newspaper in Spokane, Wash. -- one of the real thought leaders of the industry -- and why he quit his newspaper this week. If you're a newspaper person, it's not a hopeful note.

However, because independent, thoughtful journalism is important to our nation, it is vital that we find a sustainable business model in online news. And that is why The Batavian exists. We see a bright future for online journalism and are thrilled to be a part of helping define what tomorrow's journalism will look like.

Of course, there's still a lot of life in print, and print does indeed remain an important part of sustaining a community, which is why we continue to encourage you to subscribe to the Batavia Daily News.

John Roach

Maybe Radmacher can explain to you why many newspapers are going under? Could it be too many of them took sides on issues and tried to make the news rather than report the news? I think one reason the Daily News in Batavia has lasted is that for the most part it reports news and tries not to make news up.

Oct 3, 2008, 5:06pm Permalink
C. M. Barons

Actually readership has little to do with newspapers going under. Lost advertizing revenue hurts newspapers.

And regarding the Batavia paper not "making up" the news... I worked for the Daily, and fudging wasn't unheard of. I don't think the Daily ever was malicious; the paper took a proactive stance in protecting Batavia's public image. ...say when a race riot broke out at the Middle School in 1977. The City Police told Al MacWilliams exactly what to write- a two-inch piece denying that the meter-maid's Cushman vehicle had been tipped over. It had. I know; I was there. City Editor, Paul Bostwick explained why my report was 86'd, "We were worried about the 'haanuhfis.'" After several hours it dawned on me: he meant the Hanafi Muslims who had taken 143 hostages in Washington, DC that Spring.

Oct 3, 2008, 7:14pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

I think the only reason The Daily News is still around is that it also prints the USA TODAY...that helps off set any loses the daily might have..I think there news reporting sucks..never seem to ask the tuff questions when needed to..Right now there are alot of unsolved crimes in batavia. Were are they ,to ask the police what is going on..Newspaper s are spose to be a voice..Tell us the good with the bad..i hear sirens all day,never anything in the paper about what might of went covers a three county area and they have one or two pages of local news..There is no independent writing in that paper..its all fluff..

Oct 3, 2008, 7:46pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

@C. M. Barons

Number of daily newspapers in US peaked in 1915.

Household penetration peaked in 1930 (130 percent).

Penetration per 1,000 residents, peaked in 1950.

Absolute circulation peaked around 1970.

Prior to the 1980s, vast bulk of newspaper revenue was from display ads. A combination of declining readership and changes in society/economy caused loss of revenue from department store ads (most significantly). Continually raising rates to make up for this lost revenue drove a wedge between newspapers and small business advertisers. In the late 1980s, newspapers discovered that for years they had been under selling classified ads, so they began to significantly raise rates. Throughout most of the '90s until 2004 or so, newspapers made HUGE profits off of classifieds, even as circulation declined. Then the Internet, which is far more efficient for classified advertising, began to cut into that revenue.

Currently, newspaper circulation declines are real and persistent, but mostly large metros are the victim of <a href="… declines</a>.

The Internet is taking its toll on both revenue and circulation, but weakness in both of these areas began to emerge well before the Web was invented.

The biggest challenge newspapers face started 80 years ago -- the inability to appeal to younger readers. Each new generate reads newspapers in numbers significantly less than the previous generation, to the point today where millennial readership is in single digits. If you can't replace readers who are dying off, eventually, you run out of readers.

That said, it's likely the daily newspaper as we know it today, will likely be around for another 20 years, at least.

Not everybody agrees. Here's a Simpson snippet that suggests otherwise:


I think there are three reasons newspapers have been in decline since the early 20th Century:

-- Changes in society, especially post WW II when people became more mobile and families more dispersed.
-- Changes in technology ... TV and radio, and now the Internet, offer alternatives
-- Journalism that has lost touch with readers. In a post Walter Lippmann world, journalists tend to see themselves as part of an elite class who don't have to listen to reader concerns.

Oct 3, 2008, 8:14pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

So they say ... Tom told the Rochester Business Journal "very, very soon" and that it was in the works before The Batavian launched. That's an interesting comment, since it took us three weeks to launch, and they've been promising "very, very soon" for several years. He said the hold up is "technology problems." I know what his problems are, at least based on what his staff tells me, and we solved the same problems in Ventura in 1999. Tom told a local group they will launch by the start of the new year, and he hopes in November. I hope that is right. We look forward to the Daily coming online. It will help us a lot.

Oct 3, 2008, 8:35pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

I agree i get alot more answers to what going on here in Batavia than i do thru the newspaper.The people on here make it so..Howard and staff great job.

Oct 3, 2008, 10:06pm Permalink

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