Jim Heaney, who worked at the Buffalo News for 25 years before taking a buyout in the summer of 2011 and starting a non-profit investigative reporting center, writes about Mike Connelly replacing Margaret Sullivan as editor. “His pending arrival — Connelly starts next Monday — has generated a sense of excitement and hopefulness that has long been missing from the newsroom,” he says.
But the best parts of Heaney’s post aren’t about the new newsroom boss; they are these tidbits:
* Warren Buffett has recouped his purchase price many times over. …A decade or so ago, the paper was clearing a million dollars a week. Of late, it’s averaging less than a million a month.
* Factoring out the three-year tenure of Paul Neville, who died while editor in 1969, the News has had a grand total of three editors since 1927.
* The saying that trends come late to Buffalo is especially true when it comes to its daily newspaper. Consider that the News was perhaps the last major daily newspaper in the country to switch from typewriters to computers back in the early 1980s, and the last to transition from a static to a live website in 2007.
* The News has a tradition of having its new presses turned on by the president —- as in, of the United States — remotely from the White House.
I asked Heaney if he cared to tell Romenesko readers more about the Sullivan era at the News. (She, of course, is now New York Times public editor.) He declined, but writes in his last paragraph: “I often told Margaret Sullivan during my tenure at the News, going from 20 to 40 miles an hour isn’t sufficient when industry changes demand 80 mph. Let’s see if Connelly puts his pedal to the metal.”
HEANEY SAID IN A 2009 INTERVIEW: “About a half-dozen reporters and critics [at the Buffalo News] have take up blogging in a serious way. But the News, like the local television stations, isn’t producing much full-blown multimedia work that the web lends itself to.” (Heaney points out that “the News has made strides in doing more digitally” since that interview.)