Archive (2008)

First Massa TV Ad

The first Massa TV ad is embedded below. (via Rochesterturning)

Update: The Massa campaign has announced that they will run the ad for one week on TV stations across the district.

Leader Oil Column

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader editorial page [pdf], which contains Managing Editor Joe Dunning's column about oil and the election.

Dunning's point is that Randy Kuhl may have an edge because Democrats have not taken action on a comprehensive energy plan, and they don't have a short-term strategy. Much of what he says makes sense. Even Nancy Pelosi's own summary of Democratic action looks pretty piecemeal.

Dunning's also right to say that taxing big oil won't lower the price of gas. However, Obama's recently released plan to use the oil tax to pay for a $1,000 rebate to taxpayers shows a clear connection between oil taxes and consumer relief.

But Dunning's mistaken when he classifies oil drilling as a short-term solution, and contrasts it with the new fuel mileage standards, which won't kick in until 2020. He's right that the deadline for the fuel mileage standards is too far in the future. But the drilling advocated by Republicans won't come on line until almost 2020, either.

Once you separate spin from reality on the drilling issue, it turns out that there's no short-term solution to the high price of gas. That's a politically unpalatable truth. If Democrats had a bold long-term plan, I think they'd be in better shape politically. But Randy's not going to win this election promising to drill. That one-trick pony doesn't have legs to make it to November.

Also, it's interesting to note that Dunning's column is the only piece on that whole page that says anything positive about Republicans. The editorials criticize McCain's negative campaigning and discuss Ted Stevens' indictment. The syndicated column criticizes Bush, and the commentary piece talks about the upside of higher energy prices.

The Leader editorial page has been traditionally conservative, and I think it still is. Real conservatives aren't happy with the direction of the supposedly conservative Republican party.

S-CHIP, Foreclosure and Retirement

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader story [pdf] (and jump [pdf]) about the new Republican S-CHIP extension bill. This bill is an extension of the current bill with no change in benefits.

The story covers Kuhl's attempt to inoculate himself against his opposition to S-CHIP expansion last year. It includes the statement that Kuhl voted against the original expansion because it "included illegal immigrants and adults." The adult provision was unchanged from the original S-CHIP bill, and I've debunked the illegal immigrant charge. Unfortunately, the Leader didn't get a response from Massa, though I'm sure one will be forthcoming.

Yesterday's Hornell Evening Tribune included a story about the Foreclosure Bill.

Finally, Kuhl has an op-ed in the Steuben Courier about a new bill he co-sponsored with John McHugh [NY-23] creating retirement health accounts similar to 401(k) and IRA accounts.

Massa Endorsement and Boating

Reader Elmer sends two stories from today's Corning Leader [pdf] (jump [pdf]). The first is "2 big endorsements" given to Massa, according to the Leader headline. The story also mentions Massa's Veterans' plan.

The Kuhl story concerns the Clean Boating Act, which was recently signed into law by President Bush. The bill is a response to a court ruling that all boat ballast had to be regulated in the same way as commercial ships.

The story mentions an infestation of zebra mussels in Keuka Lake. According to the University of Rhode Island Sea Grant, the vector for spreading those mussels is often recreational boats. Kuhl believes that the bill cuts "red tape" by not regulating recreational boaters.

The Batavian: An Interesting Experiment

In the past few days, some local blogs have been linking to pieces in The Batavian, a new media experiment from local media company Gatehouse Communications Media. Gatehouse launched The Batavian four months ago, and it's been slowly growing into a fascinating example of what can happen when a newspaper company throws the old rules out the window.

The Batavian has a number of differences from traditional newspaper Internet properties. First, it has no printed counterpart. Batavia has a daily newspaper, the Daily News, which has no real website. The Batavian leaves the more lucrative print market to the Daily News, but it also avoids the expensive investment of a printing plant.

More importantly, The Batavian lets any registered reader contribute posts, and it treats all registered readers as equals. One full-time reporter, and a couple of other Gatehouse employees who contribute occasionally, make sure The Batavian has new posts every day. The rest of The Batavian's content comes from residents.

Even the pros at The Batavian approach their stories differently from traditional print journalists. For example, one of the most commented stories concerned Jack Davis' fake Jon Powers website. The story was reported by Philip Anselmo, The Batavian's lone full-time reporter. Philip's story links liberally to local blogs that first broke the story, but it also includes some research about the political consultant behind the site, Erick Mullen. (Mullen produced some ads for Eric Massa in 2006. Massa has a new, local consultant this cycle.)

Philip invited Mullen to respond to the story, which he does in the comments. Other commenters have it out with Mullen in a respectful, yet pointed argument. The whole experience is refreshing. Philip doesn't pretend blogs don't exist, he expresses his opinion (while stating the facts), and Mullen has an opportunity to respond completely to the charges made in the piece. This isn't "traditional" journalism -- it's better.

There are other things to like about The Batavian. Locals post videos of spot news events, like fires. When everyone has a cell phone, it makes sense and saves money to let town residents report breaking news themselves.

The Batavian makes little effort to cover news from outside the area. It includes a number of feeds from area news sources, which means its staff doesn't have to duplicate the effort of others. Traditional newspapers, which have to fill a certain number of pages every day, run the same wire stories as every other newspaper in the state. The Batavian's list of links avoids that cost entirely.

The big question for The Batavian is how it will make money. It doesn't have ads, though an "Early Bird Special" offer indicates that they're coming. The good news is that The Batavian costs a tiny fraction of what a "real newspaper" costs, so it can afford to charge less for advertising. Traditional newspapers are struggling mightily to make money from cheap Internet ads. Perhaps The Batavian won't struggle so hard.

Like every other media company, Gatehouse has its share of financial troubles. We'll see if they're able to get past those and launch more sites like The Batavian. Here's hoping.