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Links of the Day:

– I got a little teary-eyed reading Bob Lonsberry’s tribute to Bob Matthews. Lonsberry rails against Gannett for forcing the retirement of a Rochester legend:

…Bob Matthews was a legend.

He was Rochester.

He was the Times-Union’s sports columnist and had been since shortly after he got back from Vietnam. As that paper died, and we were its last two columnists, we got rolled over into the Democrat and Chronicle, where he has been all these years since.

Until yesterday.

He said it was the worst day of his life.

They took away his dream job.

They took away his family, his brothers on the sports staff, and they took away his purpose. In a way, they took away his life. The only life he has ever wanted.

The gutless corporate bastards….

It has gotten rid of Mr. Rochester.

Matthews is incredibly humble and doesn’t want a “big deal” to be made of his departure. But it is a big deal for him – and for us.

Most readers are baffled about how the paper can start charging for online content and raise subscription rates while simultaneously decreasing value. It’s the vicious cycle of today’s broken journalism model: Declining revenue means cutting costs and people, which leads to cutting quality.

Where’s the investment in people and product? Where’s the risk-taking? Where’s the innovation?

Update: Matthews says he wasn’t pushed out and left because he lost something on his “fastball.”

– The Democrat and Chronicle analyzed the city’s proposed funding of a major University of Rochester development. The city wants to finance the College Town project with a $20 million loan that would be paid back with payments in lieu of taxes. In other words, the city is giving the developer money. James Goodman crunches the numbers:

The city would borrow $20 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at no more than 1 percent interest.

These funds would then be loaned by the city to the College Town developers, with the city adding another 1 percent in interest.

Over the course of 20 years, say city officials, College Town would generate about $34 million in property taxes, which would be distributed under a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program.

About $25 million of this total would go toward repaying the federal government for the principal and interest on the loan, with the city getting $2.3 million for its share of the interest charged.

The city also would get $6.6 million in payments in lieu of taxes. The county would get $1.9 million over the repayment period.

College Town could create almost 600 permanent jobs, along with 985 construction jobs, and generate $2.5 million in annual sales tax revenue. It is described by city Corporation Council Robert J. Bergin as “transformational for that area and for the city.”

It’s good to see the community having a discussion about the costs and benefits of this project. It would be good to also have a discussion about whether the U of R should pay more to the struggling city.

Wegmans gets to keep its earnings private.

Wegmans was rated #1 supermarket by Consumer Reports.

10 Responses to “Mr. Rochester”

  1. I normally don’t get emotional over media matters. However, I felt like I was losing three good friends, when the D&C announced the departure of Mark Hare, Bob Marcotte and Bob Matthews.

    I am not a big sports fan. However, I always appreciated the commentaries and insights offered by Bob Matthews. Mark Hare became a voice of conscience for me, because he always seemed to find the right pulse on a variety of social issues. Bob Marcotte became my local historian, whereby I always looked forward to learning more about Rochester’s past via his columns. How does one go about replacing these brilliant people?

    The D&C will soon charge for its on-line presence. Whether or not this strategy works will depend upon the quality of its
    content. The departure of Bob Matthews, Mark Hare and Bob Marcotte will leave a huge hole that will be hard to fill.

    Rachel Barnhart is perhaps the best of the current crop of local reporters/telecasters. I appreciate her daily blog posts and her ability to combine straight reporting with her well-balanced and thoughtful commentary. The D&C would be wise to offer her a regular column.

    My thanks to Bob Matthews, Mark Hare and Bob Marcotte for providing a wonderful reading complement to my morning coffee for many years.

  2. April 3, 2012 at 9:43 am ben Campanelli responds:

    So, do something about it Bob L, Rachael and Bob M.

    Set up regional intern-net writer’s guild page that assenbles all the best we have to offer around here in sports, culture and hard news on an umbrella web site that gives approved writers and columnest thier own space or links to other proprietary space, youtube based video stream space w/advertising, and contracted and shared advertising space using Amazon Associate or other (preferably not Info link-type ads) block advertising like commission-based interactive auto sales thru ebay or a specialized proprietary sysytem to be shared by the news page contributors.

    Use you brands in collegial effort. Now, everyone has the idea.

  3. The decision to start charging for local news is laughable.

    I’m more than happy to pay for access to world-class newspapers. I’m not going to pay to read an online newspaper whose articles clearly have never passed in front of an actual editor.

    Sure, I’ll miss those hard-hitting stories about how some guy stole concrete sidewalk forms, but I’ll manage to survive without that kind of knowledge… somehow.

    • April 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm Dave Garretson responds:

      Someday, something will happen locally and we will demand to know what happened. Something bigger than the shootings, fires and press conferences and puppy dog stories that typically fill the day’s news. On that day, I hope there will be somebody to report the news to us. The way things are going with downsizing of local media, I’m not so sure. Yes I pay, and I’ll continue to pay… but I wish I was getting more for my money.

  4. April 3, 2012 at 11:22 am jeanne responds:

    I share those tears, Rachel. If the D&C thinks charging for internet access while eliminating seasoned professional journalists will increase their profitability, they exemplify groupthink. This not only eliminates people readers respect and care for, it irritates them. I don’t know sports yet I listen to Bob Matthews on the radio. I like him. I don’t necessarily read his column (no sports knowledge) but I respect him and his integrity. The D&C is making it next to impossible to want to subscribe

  5. Well, with those three gentlemen leaving, I now have absolutely zero reason to buy the D+C. Good job Gannett.

  6. April 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm ben Campanelli responds:

    MrR: there’s still going to be editorials about needing more “community” around the region. Not enough to keep you in the fold?

  7. Bob should’ve given ClearChannel the same reaming when it let Beth Adams et al go …

  8. April 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm Lynn E responds:

    So sad about the paper and the loss of staff. I used to get up early on Sundays so I could get the paper first before anyone else got their dirty little hands on it and read the comics. Over the years, it seemed that the paper was becoming more AP and Reuters articles and I moved on to the NYTs and other big city newspapers. But it all began with the D & C and the Times Union. My family got both for years. It developed my love of newspapers which stands to this day. Unfortunately I can’t pay to get all the newspapers I enjoy reading and I feel I am being cut off from valuable information. Don’t know what to do but choose one and that was the NYT.

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