If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?
The Buffalo News recently began another round of cutbacks in staff, and this time, in its product. Since this a sensitive subject the News management is pretending that that fallen tree didn’t make much of a sound. But it did.
The sound was a bit muffled. Some coverage has been pieced together by Business First, The Public and the electronic media. Politics and Other Stuff noted the planned cutbacks. Elmer Ploetz’s article in The Public (he’s a former News reporter) is particularly insightful. But none of the articles have told a complete story.
And as so often is true, the backstory is more interesting and informative than the original one.
Ploetz notes the tweet from the now former sports columnist for the News, Jerry Sullivan:
I accepted a buyout today after the News took away my column. They felt my voice was becoming bad for business. It’s been a privilege to cover Buffalo sports for 29 years. I wrote for the readers, who deserved a fair, objective and passionate perspective, even when it stung.
Bucky Gleason, another News sports columnist, is also gone. His comments on Twitter were not as direct as Sullivan’s:
Whether you agreed with my opinions or not over the years, I always understood and embraced the fact that people cared. I must say, for a Buffalo kid who started with taking bowling scores to becoming a columnist at his hometown paper is a pretty cool story.
Like most Buffalo sports fans I have a lot of opinions about the teams, the players, the leagues, and the ownership. I’ve watched the depressing stories about the Bills and Sabres over the past couple decades, shaking my head about how badly they were led and performed.
Like most sports fans in Buffalo I looked on the day after the game (or more recently, the hour after the game, online) for an interpretation of what I saw. I rarely read the actual stories about the game; I just saw it myself. I want some analysis.
Sullivan and Gleason certainly offered that, as did Larry Felser in days gone by. I never agreed with everything they wrote, but most people who read columns of any sort, political, business, or in the sports world, read them to get a perspective on things and do a little chewing on it.
Ploetz’s article hints about the possible backstory about the terminations in the News’s sports department:
So why would the News push two of their most recognizable assets out the door? …Either the leadership at 1 News Plaza really is that stupid. Or perhaps pressure was coming from someplace like One Buffalo, where they seem to be a bit twitchy about criticism. And if the News, which has been making an increasing amount of its income from printing, was to pick up, say, printing of Buffalo Sabres game programs or Buffalo Bills materials…well, that would be good for business, right?
The observation is interesting. But then if you are a News subscriber who looks at the sports section, think about this too. In recent weeks the newspaper has gone out of its way to do an extensive series of stories about the Bills’ first round draft choice, quarterback Josh Allen. The puff pieces appeared (I didn’t read past the first paragraph or two) to be designed to promote excitement about the kid. I hope he is the second coming of Jim Kelly, but nobody knows whether or not that will come true. Excitement about the draft choice might, of course, sell tickets at New Era Field.
And there was a second series of puff pieces about Pegula Sports and Entertainment co-owner, Kim Pegula, telling readers about all the wonderful things that she is doing. And, oh, by the way, what can we do about the football stadium, and the hockey arena which is old and falling apart?
And then Sully and Bucky, who have often criticized the Bills and the Sabres, were shown the door.
This all to some might seem like collusion, but alas, there is no local Robert Mueller available to look into that. It was the sort of thing that once happened in Buffalo, back when we were a competitive two newspaper city.
I was never much interested in the original Roseanne Barr television show when it ran in the 90’s. But with the high volume of attention the second coming of the show attracted with its potential Trumpified political slant, I decided to take a look. Heck, I occasionally watch a little Fox News to see how things are being presented there.
The fact is that the new Roseanne show was about more than Trump. In fact in its short life, the series made good notes about all the struggles that many American families endure as they try to balance their budgets while also trying to maintain their health with adequate medical coverage.
An episode or two highlighted things like splitting pills to make prescriptions last longer, or deferring needed knee surgery because deductibles and co-pays are very high. That isn’t comedic, but it is reality, the kind of reality that millions of Americans deal with every day.
The irony, of course, is that the TV show that burst on the scene as a celebration of Trump in fact highlighted the damage that Trump and company have done to the health care of millions of Americans. The Republicans were not successful in repealing Obamacare, but its replacement, Trumpcare, has, by regulations, promoted things like the high deductible, high co-pay insurance plans that are the next best things to not having medical insurance at all. It is probably the type of insurance that Dan and Roseanne Conner had.
So goodbye to Roseanne and all her racist twittering. You cost a hundred people their jobs and shot down a good demonstration of how Trumpcare is hurting people. Don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out.