Tag Archives: Buffalo News

Group aims to help mid-career journalists, students

Amy Moritz, sports reporter and blogger for the Buffalo News, was voted president-elect of the Association of Women in Sports Media recently. The Amy Moritz headshotAssociation works to promote diversity in sports media, including offering scholarship and internship opportunities. (FYI: This year’s scholarship/internship deadline for applications is Oct. 31.)

Moritz took some time to talk to Journajunkie about ways she hopes AWSM can help both mid-career journalists and young journalists starting out and why a group like this is still needed in 2009.

Q:  What would you like to do as president-elect?

A: I would like to get involved in our mid-career grant program. With so many changes in the world of journalism (and public relations for that matter) many of us in our 30s and 40s are needing new skills. While there is no replacement for good writing and good reporting, the nature of HOW we tell the story is changing. And while that landscape is a bit unclear, there are ways that I feel AWSM can help its members be better equipped to use multi-media.

Q: I see that AWSM does a lot to help students interested in sports-related communication careers. Can you tell us  a little about what you do and why?

A: We think it’s so important to reach out to young women who want to get into sports communications, whether it be a form of journalism or public relations. In part, it’s our way of paying it forward because along the way, someone helped us out with an internship or scholarship. But also, we want to help talented young women get their foot in the door and get the experience they need. To that end, we’re working on grants to fully fund internships at media outlets as the industry feels the economic pinch and can’t afford to hire as many interns, if any at all.

Q: What would you say to people who think and/or would argue that in 2009, we dont need a group like Association of Women in Sports Media?

A: Just because things are better doesn’t mean that they’re good. Women still are vastly under-represented in management positions (especially as sports editors). And sadly, issues still do arise over the treatment of women in sports media. The case of Erin Andrews demonstrates that women still face barriers which can be not only detrimental to the ability to do one’s job but brings up safety issues as well.

Q: What advice would you give journalism teachers about helping to prepare women and men for careers in sports media?

A: Sports journalism is still journalism. The explosion of sports talk radio and various opinion and sports/entertainment shows can blur the line for students who think being loud with an opinion is the way to go. You have to have experience and credentials. Don’t succumb to the lowest common denominator. This would be the same for aspiring political journalists who watch the attack shows on cable news networks.

At the end of the day, we’re telling stories that entertain, inform and perhaps inspire. The cliche that sport is a microcosm of society means that there are plenty of stories, and types of stories, to tell. And not all of them will be the ones that lead SportsCenter. In fact, the best ones are usually the ones that would never make SportsCenter.

Q:  Is there anything youd like to say to journalism students or teachers?

A: The advice I give is the same as the advice I received as a journalism student: Read as much as you can and write something every day. The medium is not as important as the ability to communicate what you have learned and observed, but take advantage of learning as many skills as possible.

Why can’t online newspaper link?!

I love the Buffalo News.  I really do.

But give me a break.

In an ONLINE story about how the city of Buffalo government is releasing salary data online, the readers were given this direction.

The address for Buffalo’s Web site is http://www.city-buffalo.com. The salary data was originally posted on the home page under “Mayor Brown’s Transparent Government Initiative.” Late this afternoon, the title for the posting was changed to “City of Buffalo Employee Salary Information.”

NO hypertext. NO links. NO joke.

In essence, I view this as sending the following message:

“Dear Reader,

We know you understand all this newfangled web stuff, but we don’t. We’re going to try to help you, but this is the best we can do.

Or, if you don’t accept that explanation, how’s this? We’re too lazy to update the story for our web site.

Oh, but trust us to get details right.

Sincerely,

Your Newspaper”

I don’t think newspapers are dead. But they can’t bury their heads in the sand. They’ve got to keep up. Links are not too much for a reader to expect.

Shame on you, Buffalo News.

Newspaper fined for reporter’s fall?!

Let me get this straight.

According to a Buffalo News story by Michael Beebe, inspectors at the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration want to fine the News $31,500 for allowing its sports reporter to go to an unsafe press box while covering a game.

What?!

Sports reporter Tom Borrelli died last year from injuries he sustained when he fell while climbing stairs to a press box at Buffalo’s All High Stadium. The Buffalo school district has since been cited by New York state investigators for five safety violations involving those stairs.

But an OSHA inspector tells Beebe in the story that because the News did not “prevent” its reporters from using the press box it should be fined.

Under this rationale, does it not seem logical that the government should/would fine media outlets for not “preventing” their reporters from reporting in unsafe conditions like — oh, I don’t know — WARS?

Areas where there are a lot of crimes?

Fire and crime scenes?

The list could go on and on. And this case could set a chilling precedent for news organizations. Do they decide to risk potential fines or do they decide to not cover a story because in these tight economic times they cannot afford the risk of OSHA fines?

It is not the fault of the press that reporters sometimes do their jobs in unsafe conditions. The responsibility lies elsewhere. Perhaps the government should focus on the cause of the problem instead of the press.

Buffalo News full-time editorial employees safe from layoffs

The Buffalo News and the Buffalo Newspaper Guild have reached an agreement that will mean only two part-time sports clerks will lose their jobs in the newsroom. Outside the newsroom, at least seven jobs are proposed to be cut.

Guild members have to vote on the plan — which includes giving up raises, bonuses and higher Sunday pay — on Thursday, according to the Guild.

While the news that full-time newsroom employees won’t be facing the chopping block is good, it’s hard to take any kind of pleasure in this. The fact is the Guild is giving up a lot to save the jobs. And the News has lost several experienced, brilliant reporters to its cost-cutting buyouts. Case in point:

  • Sharon Linstedt, News business reporter recently lauded by the paper’s Editor, Margaret Sullivan, for her coverage of the crash of Flight 3407, which killed all aboard the plane and one on the ground. Sullivan wrote: “By 4 a. m., Linstedt had become a major source of information for the world, providing audio interviews for NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CBS. Linstedt was also the first to report that 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert was one of the victims.” That grit, expertise and experience will be gone from the paper by month’s end.
  • Fred Williams, perhaps best known for his business reporting. Recently, he’s been covering community news, including the beheading of a prominent Orchard Park woman.
  • Howard Smith, managing editor and former sports editor, who ended up in the media spotlight himself when News Sports reporter Tom Borrelli died last year from injuries sustained in a fall while covering a game and Smith was asked to comment on Borelli’s accomplishments.

While I’m happy that it appears the News might avoid newsroom layoffs of full-time employees at this time, my heart goes out to the folks in the Buffalo News newsroom, who in the past six months have dealt with the tragedy of the Flight 3407 crash, the unexpected death of a colleague who was covering a game, and the threat of losing their jobs.  Hang in there. Better days are coming.

Buffalo News layoffs won’t start for at least a week

No layoffs will happen at the Buffalo News until the end of next week at the earliest, the Buffalo Newspaper Guild states on its web site.

The Buffalo News says it may have to lay off up to 52 employees.  The Guild, which represents about 325 News employees — including newsroom/editorial staff — is trying to find $2.9 million in cuts to prevent that from happening. In total, the News is looking to cut $15 million in expenses, the Guild says. The paper lost money in November, December and January, with the greatest amount at $714,000 in November, the Guild reports.

The Guild is asking its members to “be prepared to do your part if future workplace actions are necessary.”

There was a day when I would read “workplace actions” from a union statement and think “strike.” Sadly, in the current newsroom environment, I think the phrase “workplace actions” can now be translated as “sacrifices.”


Multiple platforms mean great journalism on crash

Like many, I’ve been following coverage of the crash of Flight 3407. And like many, I have a special interest — I live an hour from Buffalo, I lived five minutes from the crash site until six months ago, and I know many people in the Buffalo region.

To say I have been impressed with the coverage done by Buffalo journalists would be an understatement. It’s Sunday at 1:40 and the manifest with the names of those aboard Flight 3407 has yet to be released by the airline or the authorities. The Buffalo News, however, has been updating its list of victims since Friday. The list is simply a list of names now because The News has done short vignettes on the victims it knows about. But on Friday, that list inc luded a sentence or two about each victim and was updated throughout the day and night. It was powerful, personal and, it goes without saying, great reporting.

Editor & Publisher noted that “CNN cited updates from the News online reports, starting two hours after the crash.”

How did the News gather all of the information for its stories? Editor Margaret Sullivan told E & P that 50 to 75 people were working the story Friday. Some of those people came about there information the old-fashioned way:  talking to people face to face or working the phones. At least one reporter, Stephen Watson, turned to social media like Facebook and Twitter, where he issued a polite, sensitive request for any information about the victims or family of victims.

The News also did a terrific job with multimedia, putting up photos, videos, audio and slideshows of the people and the crash.

The News was not alone in its stellar coverage of this tragedy. WGRZ-TV Channel 2 in Buffalo, a Gannett company, also did superior work. The channel streamed its broadcast live Friday so those unable to get the Buffalo coverage on their TVs could see and hear what was going on. When I was watching it Friday afternoon, some 5,000 people were watching the streamed broadcast along with me. Amazing. The anchors, Jodi Johnston and Pete Gallivan, spoke directly to the web audience during commercial breaks, often reading comments that were posted online and talking about them.

I cannot close this praise of the work of Buffalo journalists without mentioning WIVB-TV‘s Lisa Flynn‘s insightful, probing questions. She asked at least five questions, all of them wonderful, at yesterday’s press conference with the National Transportation Safety Board, which was aired live here in Rochester, NY.

While I praise these journalists for all their fine work on this tragedy, I’m sure they, like us, would rather they had not had to cover this at all.