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Friday, June 6, 2014 at 8:09 am

GCEDC board approves projects, including one involving sale of Daily News building

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, business, GCEDC, Oakfield, U.S. Gypsum

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for applications for assistance from 9 Apollo Drive, Inc., and an initial resolution to set a public hearing for United States Gypsum Co. at the June 5, 2014, board meeting. 

United States Gypsum Company Co. is planning to upgrade its paper mill at 2750 Maple Ave. in Oakfield, NY.  The project will include replacing and relocating equipment, stock cleaning and enhanced manila production to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of the facility.

The upgrades will consist of three phases and are expected to commence in 2016. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million. The investment will retain 98 manufacturing jobs and create 12 new production jobs.

9 Apollo Drive, Inc., is a business that manufactures doors and windows. The company plans to purchase the building located at 2 Apollo Drive in the City of Batavia to accommodate its growth and expansion. 9 Apollo Drive, Inc., will make a capital investment of approximately $750,000.

In 2002, the company was granted a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the building located at 9 Apollo Drive, Inc., by the GCEDC and pledged to create eight new jobs. According to PARIS reporting submitted to the GCEDC in 2013, the company has created 29 jobs at this location.

“It is very encouraging to see existing businesses in our region invest resources to improve production and operations and, just as important, retain existing jobs and create new jobs,” said Wallace Hinchey, GCEDC board chairman.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 8:03 am

Daily News selling Apollo Drive building; buyer asking GCEDC for assistance on business expansion

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, business, GCEDC

Press release from GCEDC:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider two projects at its June 5, 2014 board meeting.

U.S. Gypsum Company is planning to upgrade its paper mill at 2750 Maple Ave. in Oakfield, NY.  The project will include replacing and relocating equipment, stock cleaning and enhanced manila production to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of the facility. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million and will ensure employment retention of 98 existing manufacturing jobs and the addition of 12 new production jobs.

9 Apollo Drive is planning to purchase the former Daily News building at 2 Apollo Drive in Batavia. With the purchase, the company anticipates further growth and plans to expand its business and manufacture more doors and windows. The projected capital investment for the project is $750,000.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, NY, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College. 

UPDATE: John Johnson, CEO of Johnson Newspapers, says that the Daily News hasn't sold its building and has no plans to move.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 9:38 am

Batavia Daily News names new publisher

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, business

Watertown-based Johnson Newspapers has selected the former publisher of Portsmouth (Ohio) Daily Times to head its Batavia-based news operation, which includes the Batavia Daily News and the Livingston County News.

Michael D. Messerly led the 12,000 circulation paper for three years. His prior experience includes time in the digital divisions in two other newspaper companies, Morris Communications and Gannett.

Messerly claims to be a digital publishing expert who has grown revenue and audience in his previous jobs.

According to Quantcast, the Portsmouth paper, with a slightly larger print circulation than the Daily News, has 70,000 unique visitors monthly compared to 98,000 for the Daily News. Quantcast measures 129,000 monthly unique visitors for The Batavian.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Batavia Daily News publisher shares thoughts on book about the future of journalism

As part of the Richmond Memorial Library's regular series, "Books Sandwiched In," the publisher of the Batavia Daily News spoke today about his assigned book: "The Death and Life of American Journalism," by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols.

As Turnbull explained, the book examines why commercial journalism has declined in the United States and what might be done about it.

The authors take the position that robust journalism is essential to a functioning democracy, and if there are fewer reporters and fewer media outlets, the public will be less informed and more susceptible to be misled by the government.

The book opens with some sobering statistics about circulation declines for newspapers (broadcast news is hardly mentioned in the book) and correctly notes that the declines started well before the advent of the web.

While the authors place some blame on free online news and loss of revenue to sites such as Craigslist, the real problem, according to McChesney and Nichols, is corporate journalism.  

Conglomerates, not merely chains, that owe a greater allegiance to shareholders than readers, started depending on higher and higher profit margins in the 1990s, leading to cuts in news rooms and a decline in journalistic quality at many newspapers.

Not satisfied with the 15 percent profit margins many family owned newspapers maintained throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, shareholders and CEOs beholden to them upped the ante to 30 and 35 percent profit margins.

The explosion of the Internet only added to the woes of newspapers with an abundance of free content -- most of it supplied by newspapers -- and competitors that robbed newspapers of vital classified advertising revenue. The recession made things worse, and in 2009 more than 15,000 newspaper employees lost their jobs.

If journalism is going to be saved, according to McChesney and Nichols, it won't come from a free-market approach with Internet entrepreneurs inventing a new news industry, and it won't come from the government allowing newspapers to form a cartel to protect their interests.

Instead, the authors argue that the solution is some form of government subsidy -- from vouchers for readers to direct handouts -- and the ability of newspaper ownership groups to more easily form nonprofit entities.

As Turnbull notes, even the authors acknowledge none of these solutions are perfect. They're all expensive, and Turnbull indicated he didn't see politicians -- or the public -- supporting subsidy solutions.

"The authors make a really strong argument at the end of the book that subsidies are not only necessary, but worth it," Turnbull said. "I think when you look at this book, it's not really a blueprint for the future of journalism, but a series of talking points."

While Turnbull didn't offer up his own version of what the future of journalism will look like, he did express concern that it isn't possible yet for a news operation the size of the Daily News to generate enough revenue online from advertising sales.

Turnbull is also skeptical that readers will pay for their news online. While there are various experiments in "pay walls" being conducted by newspapers around the country, Turnbull noted that none have yet proven successful.

Meanwhile, Turnbull said, subscription fees for the print newspaper are an important part of the Daily's revenue pie.

"Almost everybody reads everything on the Internet," Turnbull said. "And like I said, we can’t find a way to make money on that."

In an audience of mostly retirees, they all indicated they are avid Daily News readers.

"You're my favorite group (to speak to)," Turnbull said with a smile, and one audience member piped up with, "The day’s not complete without a good solid reading of the Batavia Daily News."

UPDATE: Tom Turnbull sends along a couple of clarifications. Regarding the quote "Almost everybody reads everything on the Internet," Turnbull said. "And like I said, we can’t find a way to make money on that." 

Turnbull said to be clear we should note that comment was in response to somebody in the audience talking about the media habits of the "younger generation." Also, " we can't find a way to make money on that yet."

Friday, March 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Award-winning series on farm labor now available in a book

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Daily News, agriculture, business, Tom Rivers

rivers_farmhands_cover.jpgTom Rivers is a reporter of boundless energy. He's run in marathons and worked day-long shifts in local farm fields.

Now he's published a book.

The Batavia Daily News staff writer wrote an award-winning series 2008 about his laborious research into just want it takes to work at local farms in Western New York. Those articles are the basis of Farm Hands: Hard work and hard lessons from Western New York fields.

"Books have a little more permanence," Rivers said. "You can read about the titans of industry, such as Dean Richmond, in books, but there aren't a lot of books about the people doing the work. I just think the farmworkers make a great contribution to our community. They deserve the recognition (of being in a book)."

The stories of Tom's days and nights in the fields of Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties picking apples and chopping and throwing cabbage give the reader a great sense of just how hard farm work is.

Although he knew it would be challenging, Rivers said he was surprised by how taxing it really is. And it takes training, experience and dedication to ensure that the produce isn't damaged before it's delivered to market.

"There's this feeling that we can just throw anybody into farm work, but not just anybody can do this," Rivers said. "Buyers could reject 40 tons of cabbage if it's not just perfect, if the heads are bruised. There's more pressure on the workers than there is in my job or in most people's jobs. They have to aim for perfection."

The book contains additional material not included in the original newspaper series, Rivers said.

Rivers self-published the book and had it printed at Hodgkins Printing in the Harvester Center.

The full-color book came out looking great, Rivers said. Daily News Publisher Tom Turnbull didn't hesitate to give Rivers permission, without fee, to reprint his own articles as well as the color photos that ran with the series.

"I like that it says, 'Printed in Batavia,' but I don't feel like I was working with a second-rate company," Rivers said. "They were great over there."

The book is for sale locally at the Holland Land Office Museum and Present Tense Books on Washington Avenue.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 11:14 am

Daily News printing press losses power, publication delayed

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Daily News

The Daily News printing press is without power this morning. Publication of the paper has been delayed "indefinitely" according to an announcement this morning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

July a stellar month for The Batavian, but room to grow

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Daily News, thebatavian

daily_news_ad.gifJuly was big for The Batavian -- we signed our 48th sponsor (the goal was 50 by the end of July, so we didn't quite make it, but maybe we'll do better in August (our goal for August is 60 total by the end of the month)  -- and more people visited The Batavian more often than ever before.

The final traffic numbers surprised me. Our previous audience record was set in June. It was such a big jump over May that I figured that unless some would-be robbers again miscalculated and picked a bank in Genesee County as an easy mark, July traffic would fall short of June.

Now, you may be thinking, "But Howard, there was that tornado last week -- that had to boost traffic," and it did, but as I watched the numbers come in even before that big news story, I realized July's traffic was getting a lot closer to June's traffic than I anticipated.

Thank you to all the new and established readers who make The Batavian your first choice for local news.

The Batavian is the #1 online news source for Genesee County.

Now, that last sentence surely just made a few people over at our cross-town rival a little red faced. They don't believe it's true. That's fine. They don't have a lot of experience in looking at online audience data. I've been doing it for nearly 15 years, so I'm happy to explain why and how I make that claim.

Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 6:37 am

New D&C printing plant helped Rochester paper land USA Today printing contract

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, business

A story in the Democrat and Chronicle indicates the D&C is getting the USA Today printing contract, which for a generation has been with the Batavia Daily News, because the paper will finally have a plant capable of handling the job.

Ambor said USA Today had been printed for regional circulation outside the company for 24 years because the Democrat and Chronicle's presses, then located at the downtown building, weren't equipped to handle the extra work.

Construction of the Canal Ponds plant, and the current need to find economies within the company, made the switch possible and practical.

I can't believe a good reporter wrote "find economies." What he really means is "cut costs."

Gannett, which owns both the D&C and USA Today, is struggling like all newspaper companies, but it's problems may be more severe than some. This week the conglomerate announced yet another round of layoffs, reducing work force across the company by some 1,400 people. It also faces a huge debt payments due in 2011 of more than $700 million. There's much speculation in the industry that Gannett won't survive as a company beyond the date that payment comes due.

Meanwhile, Watertown-based Johnson Newspapers has little to say about the fallout in Batavia.

Harold Johnson II, president and chief operating officer of Johnson Newspaper Corp., which owns the Batavia Daily News, declined Wednesday to say how much loss of the contract would cost the company. He said there likely would be pressroom job cuts in Batavia because of the change.

"It's been a mutually beneficial relationship over years," Johnson said, referring to the contract with Gannett. "But there are other possibilities we will explore."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Batavia Daily News faces new challenge: Loss of USA Today printing contract

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Daily News

printing-press.pngWhen William Allen White bought the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette in 1895 for $3,000 he probably didn't even dream that one day he would be America's most popular and famous small town newspaper editor.

Long before White became nationally known as a leader of progressive Republicans and the "Sage of Emporia," his immediate concern was: Survival.

There were at least three other newspapers in Emporia when he bought the weakest, least profitable of the group.

One his first tasks was landing some lucrative printing contracts. It would be some years before the Gazette made much money from advertising. White could afford to pay himself and his editorial staff largely because of piece-work printing.

White's experience is hardly unique. Most of the newspapers that survived the early tumultuous days of printed journalism relied heavily on outside print jobs.

Those big, bulky, dirty presses are expensive to run and maintain. The big iron is part of the mythology of journalism, but those presses are not really earning their keep when they're sitting still.

Fewer and fewer newspapers these days print their own editions, but those that still retain a printing operation aggressively seek print jobs. It's an important part of their cash flow.

In that light, our friends at the Daily News received some disturbing news yesterday. Gannett informed the company that it is moving the regional print run of USA Today from Batavia to Rochester, where Gannett prints and owns the Democrat and Chronicle. The Daily will print USA Today for 12 more months.

By its own account, the Daily has done a fine job of printing USA Today. There's no doubt that's true. Print quality is exceptionally important to a graphic-oriented paper like USA Today. The Daily could not have kept the contract for 24 years without delivering quality results. The team that worked on USA Today -- and I've met a couple of them -- should be proud of the work they did.

This move is certainly a financial consideration by Gannett.

But surely it has a tremendous financial impact on Batavia's only daily print publication.

So far, General Manager Tom Turnbull hasn't publicly discussed what that impact will be.

Ever since The Batavian first came to town, I've heard from a number of people around the area that the Daily's profitability is tightly bound to the USA Today contract.

I've no way of knowing if that's true, but many people seem to think so, therefore it's a point worth raising. It is suggested that Mr. Turnbull act quickly to assure the community that his corner of the Johnson Newspaper chain will remain strong and intact.

Newspapers are important facet of a community's life and vibrancy. No person who cares about a community's welfare wants to see its newspaper struggle.

I've been asked what this development means for The Batavian. I hope, honestly, nothing. I'm busy and focused on building a business that can sustain me and my wife and hopefully employ a few people in the not-too-distant future. I don't see The Batavian's success dependent on, or tied to, what happens at the Daily. There's no reason both media companies, along with WBTA radio of course, cannot thrive.

Even if this news is as bad as some might assume, I wouldn't count the Daily out. The company is staffed by a group of bright, hard-working, creative and intelligent people who won't just roll over. If there is a plan to make up the lost Gannett revenue -- and we don't really know this for sure based on Mr. Turnbull's statements thus far --  we should all expect the Daily staff to succeed.

For the community's sake, we should all wish them well in that task and root for their success.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Batavia Daily News picking fight with Jason Molino over fire chief story

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, Jason Molino

The Batavia Daily News seems intent on teaching City Manager Jason Molino a little lesson after getting scooped on Fire Chief Tom Dillon's resignation. The lesson: Don't fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

Friday, Batavia's "paper of record" published an editorial slamming what they called City Manager Jason Molino's secrecy.

It was pretty harsh.

City administrator Jason Molino, isn't talking, and neither are ''his'' employees -- we say "his" because that is how he refers to them, even though taxpayers pay their salaries.

In the editorial, they say Dillon's resignation became public only because a help wanted ad was spotted in the Democrat and Chronicle. That's not, shall we say, accurate.

The Batavian broke the story and it had nothing to do with an ad appearing in the D&C. If you read the original post, you'll see, we didn't even know about the ad when we first posted our story. We got the story the good old-fashioned way -- by talking with sources.

Of course, the Daily can't give credit where credit's due -- that would violate Tom Turnbull's mandate that the newspaper never print The Batavian's name (well, they did have to take our LLC ad).

Yet, the staff there pays attention when we get stories before them, and the Dillon scoop seems to have particularly rubbed the "newspaper of record" the wrong way.

Today, the lead story is about the fire chief but it doesn't tell readers much new. We already know that Molino would handle interim administrative duties for the department and that the four captains turned down the interim position. That takes care of the first two paragraphs of the story. From there, we're treated to the details of the Daily trying to get more information from the city and Molino's unresponsiveness.

The Daily News had asked City Manager Jason Molino what the city's plan was in lieu of a chief. He did not return phone calls or e-mails. Cox forwarded questions from The Daily News to Molino, who then sent a reply to all councilmen. He still has not replied to The Daily News.

After explaining the 211 waiver situation (again, nothing new here), we get more back-and-forth on the Daily's attempts to get more information from the city. Then we read again the fiction that the public wouldn't have known about the situation if the Daily hadn't asked:

The Daily News had also sent an e-mail last week to all City Councilmen to find out why the public was kept in the dark about Dillon's departure. The news was publicized only after The Daily News asked Molino and Dillon about Dillon's employment status.

Now, I can certainly sympathize with the editorial staff's frustration at getting shut out of communication with Jason Molino and city staff. We've made those complaints public ourselves, and perhaps with a tad too much arrogance and pettiness, but some honest reporting is in order here. The Daily got beat. It happens in a competitive news town. Between the Daily, The Batavian and WBTA, we've all had our own scoops in the past several months, and we will all continue to develop our own sources and stories and get some of them first. That's the way it goes. Unless a source deliberately burns you, there's no point in getting upset with government officials because another news outlet did its job and got the information.

UPDATE: I just saw the print edition -- this story is banner headline on the top of the front page.  Meanwhile, Pagent of the Bands folding after 35 years, and the Daily put most of that story below the fold. That's a huge story in a community like this.  Nice scoop. Wish I had it.

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