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Links of the Day:

– Should Gannett sell the Democrat and Chronicle building on Exchange St.?

The sale of newspaper buildings is happening around the country, as newspaper staffs shrink and owners need money. The Democrat and Chronicle building is assessed at $4.27 million.

The original portion of the building, erected in 1927, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It served as the world headquarters for Gannett until 1986.

Certainly the building has tremendous significance to the newspaper and the community. But the facility is not utilized as it was in years past. The printing presses are in Greece and the staff is much smaller.

Just as Kodak is struggling with its legacy costs, so are newspapers. That includes excess space.

– Tear down the wall. After news broke of Gannett’s paywall plans, I searched for stuff written by MediaNews Group CEO John Paton. Just days before the Gannett announcement, he warned media companies to abandon the gatekeeper model. He gave this speech last year:

Paywalls, if you have them, should come down. And any walls between you and the communities you serve through your journalism need to come down as well.

Going forward, I think it is clear that smart, original content, tagged with advertising will gain value by being shared through networks. Jeff Jarvis at CUNY in New York is doing important work around this very concept. He says this very clearly:

“In the future content will go to the audience rather than the other way around.”


Good journalism today that does not link is not of equal value to good journalism that does. Walls stop links and walls stop networks and destroy value.

Shared Content has to be of the highest quality whether created, curated or aggregated.

And you must invest in a process that provides more of the only competitive advantage we have left – the mass creation of compelling, original content.

The bit about “shared content” resonates with me. I share a lot of news items every day. Paywalls don’t reflect how people consume news in the digital age. We can’t pay 100 news sources for information. If I can’t share an interesting article with you, I’m much less inclined to read it.

Finally, paywalls don’t respect customers. I don’t think any of the 80-something comments on my Facebook page support Gannett’s move. Paywalls create barriers between journalists and the public in an age when the barriers have collapsed.

– Where’s your paywall money going? Gannett says the paywall will raise $100 million. But the company also announced it’s paying a dividend. So some of your money will go directly to shareholders and not be reinvested back into the product. However, financial analyst George Conboy points out dividends attract investors, which leads to higher stock price, which leads to access to capital markets. Conboy says a lot is riding on the paywall’s success.

– Syracuse is trying to figure out what to make of Bob Lonsberry. In an exhausting recap of his career in the Post-Standard, the highlight was Bill Johnson’s take on his one-time nemesis:

“He’s not a flame-thrower,” the former mayor continued. “He’s a nice, mild-mannered guy. That’s why it’s so distressing — that this guy, who I know is capable of so much better, allows himself to be dragged down to this level. I can only say he’s doing it because — and I’m going to use this word knowing that it will be disparaging to him — he’s an entertainer. He’s not a journalist. He’s an entertainer. And he says what he says not because he necessarily believes it, but for shock value.”

Johnson compared Lonsberry to Keith Olbermann, the left-wing commentator who moved from MSNBC to Current TV, with a far smaller audience.

“Basically, they both just rant and rave,” he said. “Olbermann is now broadcasting on a channel where nobody can watch him. For him, it must be like purgatory. He can talk all he wants, but nobody can hear what he says. I wish they could find a place like that for Bob Lonsberry.”

– We’re very lucky to live in a place with so many independent restaurants. City Newspaper has a rundown of some new offerings. Park Ave. is a bakery destination now?

– There’s a science to waiting tables. The server sizes your party up quickly.an

4 Responses to Should Gannett Sell 55 Exchange St.?

  1. The gaping holes where the presses used to be will make the building a tough sell. Putting aside the fact that the metal pulled out when the presses were taken down was probably classified as toxic waste, we’re taking about perhaps 60,000 square feet over three levels that must be heavily renovated by a new owner.

    You’d be sinking an awful lot of money into an old building, so I don’t think there would be many takers.

    The D&C looked long and hard circa 2000 regarding a possible move, and disposing of 55 Exchange was considered a huge obstacle.

  2. When we were giving our Chill The Fill tours in 2005 (the above-ground tours, after Ed Doherty had the subway tunnel posted), the Gannett building was my favorite stop. I loved showing folks the windows into the former printing plant (most on the tour would remember when you could look in and watch the presses run), and the little metal box by the sidewalk where the ink truck would pull up and plug in.

    A year later I arranged for a local history group to get inside for a tour. It’s an amazing building. We saw Frank Gannett’s office preserved like a shrine.

    Whatever happens with the building, I always had a dream that the former printing plant area could be converted to an amazing restaurant space.

  3. I used to love working in this building.

    Sometimes, on my lunch breaks, I would just wander around hoping to find some secret room. This place was abound with so much history.

    If they do sell it, I hope the city turns it into a library or museum to preserve the legacy that the D&C built there…

    I understand that selling would be beneficial…over half of the building is unused…but isn’t history worth holding onto sometimes?

  4. Relative to that article on Lonsberry, there’s a Salina St in Rochester too, off of Chili Ave, by Thurston. But Lonsberry would probably call the people who live there “monkeys” which explains why he had no idea how to pronounce “Salina.” Shows how much he knows the Rochester community though. I know that street and I’ve only lived here 4 years.

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