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August 20, 2019 - 8:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, news.

In 1919 Arthur and Alma Davis, with their baby daughter Leoma, traveling by covered wagon from Nebraska to Southeast Colorado, staked a claim to a piece of land outside of Walsenburg.

One hundred years later, the Davis family still runs the ranch and will receive a Centennial Farm award from the State of Colorado at the State Fair in Pueblo on Friday.

Leoma was my grandmother so I will be at the State Fair with my father.

I fly to Denver today, where I will spend a couple of days visiting with my brother, two nieces, and a cousin, then my dad and I will drive down to Walsenburg.

While in Huerfano County, my dad and I will also visit La Veta, where my grandfather was born. My dad and I haven't been to Walsenburg together since I was a teenager, though we've both been back there in the interim (when I worked for GateHouse Media, I arranged for a visit to the company's paper in La Junta so I could visit Walsenburg).  

As is our practice, I'm telling you all this because obviously, when I'm out of town, it affects news coverage.  

Billie is remaining in Batavia. We've made sure the people who normally help us with coverage -- Mike Pettinella, Alecia Kaus, Jim Burns, Steve Ognibene, and the fine folks at WBTA -- are all aware and available to help out while I'm gone.

My laptop finally got tired of the rigors of being my laptop last week and quit. Marc Johnson at Millennium Computers was kind enough to hook me up with a loaner so I won't be completely out of the loop. It's Windows but I can make do, I guess.

July 5, 2019 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, thebatavian.

The popularity of videos from The Batavian increased in June, when we published 47 videos.

Video viewership was up 39 percent, to 31,200 total views in June, and total minutes viewed was up 106 percent, which means more people are watching our videos and for a longer amount of time.

Last month, I wanted to share the message that we're working hard to produce quality videos that are worth your time to watch. It looks like a lot of people tuned in and found out that is true.

Our average views per video increased from 497 to 663.

Our five most viewed videos:

David Bellavia Hall of Heros Induction Ceremony

Stabbing on Ross Street Batavia         

Recalling Michael Paladino         

Press conference with David Bellavia Medal of Honor nominee   

Over the Border Mexican Food Truck opens in Batavia

Here are four of my personal favorites:


Video Sponsor




LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS: You can sponsor our videos. To find out more contact our sales rep Zach Lee at [email protected]

June 21, 2019 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, Facebook, news.

This will be the first post on The Batavian where comments are powered by code from Facebook and tied to Facebook's registration system. To comment, you will need a Facebook account.

Starting with this post, the website will display the Facebook commenting system. Older posts have the old commenting system and will retain the old comments.

Why the change? 

Because Facebook has better moderation tools than are available through our old commenting system. Also, practically the whole universe has a Facebook account now and sites that use Facebook comments get more comments on stories.

Why not? Because it feels a little like giving into the Borg. "You will be assimilated."  

I think it's the right move now but we'll see.

Facebook has other projects in the works to help local publishers like me, mostly through the trade association I helped create, Local Independent Online News Publishers, that makes me a little less wary of Facebook.

So, we'll see. In business, if you're not trying new things, you're dying. So we try new things.

June 3, 2019 - 1:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, thebatavian.

You may have noticed, since last fall, we've been ramping up our video production.

Last month, The Batavian published 46 videos.  

In the past week, I've received several favorable comments about our videos.  It's always helpful to get feedback so I appreciate hearing what people think.

I hope you've been enjoying them, though I know not all of you have been watching them, which is kind of the point of this post.

Longtime readers know I worked hard over the years to become a better photographer. I'm taking the same approach with video. I'm working hard to learn how to shoot and edit videos that don't waste your time, that are worth your time to watch.

My concern is that many people who consume online news have come across, over the years, a lot of poorly produced video from local news sites. My concern is that you associate local online news video with something that isn't worth your time so you don't even bother with it now.

I hope to convince you that the videos we're publishing on The Batavian are worth your time. And I do believe I've gotten better -- though I still have a lot to learn -- over the past several months; heck, even over just the past month.

So, please, if you haven't been inclined to watch our videos until now, give them a little time.  

Here are four videos from May that you might have missed.

May 7, 2019 - 2:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, news.

Sometime after 2 p.m., we noticed the site was running slow. At a little before 4:30, I opened a ticket with our hosting service. That is pretty much the precise moment the site went completely offline.

Servers going down is part of the business and I wasn't too worried. They go down for a bit, get a swift kick from a tech, and start running again. After a couple of hours, I thought it really unusual that it wasn't up and running again but still expected we would be back online soon.

When we weren't back up after five hours, I was pretty unhappy and stopped dealing with support by email and got them on the phone. They got two senior engineers on the phone with me and I got my IT guy on the phone.  

The four of us were on the phone together for more than four hours. We can't find the problem. There are no errors in any of the logs. Individually, every component of the server is handling requests as expected.

We did notice that pages with a single story load immediately. Pages with just a few stories load slow but they load.

So we've cut The Batavian's home page back from 20 stories to just 10. The fact that you're seeing this post shows that, yes, you can once again get to the home page. But it does have only 10 stories on it. It's not possible, it seems, to use the "next" button at the bottom of the page to get past that point.

One of our most popular sections is obituaries and that section is loading just fine.

We're all going to bed and will work on this issue more in the morning.

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: The issue appears to be resolved. It turns out there was an old, no-longer-used connection to facebook.com, that was timing out.  It's been disabled and everything seems back to expected performance.

April 7, 2019 - 5:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, news, notify.


Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, received three awards in the annual Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the New York Press Association.

Owens won first place for spot news photography and education coverage and second place for elections/politics coverage.


The five stories submitted for education coverage where:


The five stories submitted for elections/politics coverage were:

Mark Gutman, photographer for the Batavia Daily News, was also honored with two awards, including second place for photographer of the year. He also received third place for sports feature photo.

Mallory Diefenbach, staff writer with the Batavia Daily News, won second place for health coverage. Jessica Dillon received first place for agriculture coverage. John Anderson and Zach Lyman won first place for best use of video. John Anderson placed second for best column. John Anderson, Scott DeSmit, and Matt Leader received first place for in-depth reporting. 

The Batavian was judged in Division I. The Batavia Daily News in Division II.

April 3, 2019 - 8:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia's best businesses, thebatavian, news, Business.

Today we're excited to debut a new video series exclusive to Genesee County: Batavia's Best Businesses.

We are producing this series in partnership with WBTA AM/FM.

The series offers local businesses an opportunity to promote themselves through a short documentary-style video about their business hosted by Nici Johnson. Our goal is to make short videos about a business that both informs and entertains local viewers and further encourages them to support all of the great locally owned businesses we have in Genesee County.

The videos will be distributed on The Batavian, WBTA, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter. Businesses owners can also download a copy of the video to distribute their own social media channels. Soon, we will also have a website dedicated to Batavia's Best Businesses (bataviasbestbusinesses.com, of course).

Local business owners interested in more information: Call Lorne Way or Jim Ernst at WBTA at (585) 344-1490. 

February 23, 2019 - 6:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, news.

I'm catching a plane for Miami this morning. I'm attending a conference there related to my involvement with Local Independent Online News publishers.

I'll miss the big windstorm but we have people to help Billie with coverage of that event as well as other coverage while I'm out of town, plus I'll be checking in and doing what I can remotely.

February 5, 2019 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.
Video Sponsor

Over the weekend we started using a new custom-made video player for The Batavian's videos. Here is an example.

We have video sponsor positions open for local businesses. If you would like more information about becoming a video sponsor, contact Lisa Ace at [email protected]

January 21, 2019 - 10:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

In an effort to improve the response time of the server that hosts thebatavian.com, the host company performed a software upgrade overnight.

Instead of improving the response time, it's made matters worse.

Technicians think they've identified the problem and are working on it.

If they are unable to fix the problem, they will rollback the software to the previous version. I've instructed them to do that at any point today they've reached the conclusion that is necessary, which would take the site offline for an hour or so.

I'll update this post as needed.

UPDATE 10:53 a.m.: That problem appears to be resolved. 

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: According to our tests, the server response time is now twice as fast as it was in similar tests a couple of days ago.

December 31, 2018 - 3:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, top posts, news.

Most viewed stories of 2018:

Here are the 10 stories I wrote during 2018 that I like the best:

From all of us at The Batavian, Happy New Year. Thank you, readers and sponsors, for your support of our effort to provide news coverage of our community. Billie and I are grateful for the opportunity and pleasure of living here and being able to do what we love, which is local community news.

November 17, 2018 - 10:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Billie and I will be away from the scanners for the next 24 hours.

We're driving down to Binghamton for Batavia High School's football state championship semi-final game.

The game is today at 3 p.m. and you can listen to it live on WBTA.

October 10, 2018 - 12:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

It's time for the annual Local Independent Online News Publishers' conference in Chicago (an organization I helped start) so this afternoon I'm catching a flight to O'Hare.

I'll return Sunday.

Billie will be holding down the fort and we have some stories in the pipeline and will continue coverage of our community, though I'll be busy and won't be around to cover events.

September 24, 2018 - 8:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

We've always had a policy of disclosing when things going on in our lives might disrupt news coverage, even when those events are medical in nature.

This is one of those times.

Since August of last year, I've had afib and this morning I'll be admitted to Unity Hospital in Rochester where, after some tests and if those tests go well, doctors will administer a medication that may correct it. The potential side effects of the medication require that I remain in the hospital where I can be monitored for at least three days.

So, until perhaps Thursday morning, I won't be in town. Billie will be here monitoring the scanner as usual. We have some coverage lined up. I'm expecting some documents that will enable me to write a couple of stories while I'm in the hospital and I can do any other stories that come up that don't require me to travel, but I won't be available for breaking news or event coverage. We'll do our best to get these covered through other means while I'm gone.

August 19, 2018 - 1:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Billie and I are heading out of town for four days. We celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on Tuesday.

We're going to take as much time off as we can, work as little as possible. There are some news stories coming in but we won't have a scanner with us.

I won't post Deal of the Day while away. I may or may not do polls. We'll see.

August 3, 2018 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GO ART!, thebatavian, wbta, news, arts, entertainment.

Tomorrow starting at 6 p.m. the place to be is GO ART!, 201 E. Main St., Batavia, where the night's guest bartenders will be Howard Owens of The Batavian and Chris Kalin of WBTA.

Billed as a competition, our goal is to raise as much money as possible for local arts, so come, be merry, enjoy a few drinks, leave tips on the bar.

June 15, 2018 - 12:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Billie and I will be out of town for the rest of the afternoon ... hopefully, all is quiet and we don't miss anything.

May 2, 2018 - 3:31pm
posted by James Burns in news, thebatavian, batavia, Business.


The Batavian celebrated 10 years of delivering news and support to local businesses at Eli Fish Brewing Company in Batavia yesterday.

Sharon White, above, representing Assemblyman Steve Hawley, delivered an Assembly Citation recognizing The Batavian for 10 years of service to the community. 

Michael Kracker, representing Rep. Chis Collins, delivered a copy of Congressional Record for May 1 commemorating The Batavian's 10 years in business and recognizing the efforts of Publisher Howard Owens and Editor Billie Owens for their commitment in preserving the First Amendment.

Jay Grasso, representing State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, delivered a Legislative Resolution, which was read into the State Senate record yesterday, marking The Batavian's 10th anniversary.

A letter from Sen. Charles E. Schumer congratulating the publisher and editor of The Batavian on the 10th anniversary of their local news business was also received before the event.

It reads, in part: "I applaud you both for the leap of faith you took back in 2009 when you moved to Batavia and garnered the support of local businesses in order to keep this news outlet alive. Thanks to your efforts, The Batavian remains a go-to source for local news and is supported by more than 150 local businesses."

Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, and publisher of the Batavia Daily News when The Batavian first startedserved as emcee Tuesday afternoon. He noted how there was an intense rivalry between himself and Howard Owens in the beginning, but now they often work together as friends with the shared mission of promoting local business in Genesee County.

Also in attendance, Dan and Debbie Fischer, owners of WBTA radio. WBTA is an official news partner with The Batavian and has been a partner and friend to The Batavian from the beginning.

Howard Owens spoke briefly and recognized the contributions of several people, including the Fischers and Turnbull, who have helped him and his wife over these past 10 years, including staff member Lisa Ace, who has been with the company for almost seven years and is critical to helping The Batavian serve local businesses.

The Batavian officially launched May 1, 2008, without an office in Batavia. The site was then owned by GateHouse Media. The editor was Philip Anselmo* and he camped out at Main Street Coffee every workday covering local news from his unofficial office. The location of Main Street Coffee is now Eli Fish Brewing Company.

On March 1, 2009, Howard and Billie became owners of The Batavian, sold their house in Pittsford and moved to a duplex on Maple Street in June of that year.

At the time, there were only about a half dozen online-only news sites in the nation. Today, there are more than 200 and The Batavian is among the most successful of the online-only ventures.

The Batavian and Howard Owens have received awards from the New York Press Association, the Inland Press Association, and the National Press Photographers Association. This news site also received the 2009 Innovative Enterprise of the Year Award from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, and the 2013 Spirit of Downtown award from the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District.

(*Former Batavian Editor Phillip Anselmo, always an excellent writer and top-notch journalist, went on to earn a master's degree in Comparative Literature at UC Irvine; he is now a Critical Theory graduate student in UC Irvine's School of Humanities. The Rochester native teaches a class in Comparative Literature at the Irvine, Calif., campus.)

Top photo by Jim Burns. Bottom two photos by Steve Ognibene.


Tom Turnbull with Howard Owens


Billie Owens, Bill Kauffman, Howard Owens

May 1, 2018 - 9:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, top posts, news.

Looking back on the first 10 years of The Batavian, here are the most viewed stories. First, by cumulative page views and second, each top story for each year.

Top 10 most viewed stories in 10 years

The most viewed posts in each year:

Reminder: We're celebrating our 10th anniversary today at 5:30 p.m. at Eli Fish Brewing Company (10 years ago, Main Street Coffee and our first "office").

April 30, 2018 - 9:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, news.


The Batavian is 10 years old tomorrow. You're invited to join us at 5:30 p.m. for a 10th Anniversary Celebration at Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Eli Fish is located at 111 Main St., Batavia. Ten years ago, that was the location of Main Street Coffee. When we were launching The Batavian, we didn't have an office, so Philip Anselmo (our editor then) and I, with the gracious permission of Rob Credi, camped out at Main Street Coffee all day. That was our first "office." So it's fun to return to that same location that is now a new business that is part of Batavia's revitalization.

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