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Talking to New Readers About Murphy and Other Scoops


Many of my regular readers were amused by a line I put in italics after breaking the story Friday that Channel 4 sports director John Murphy is leaving the station June 1 to work for the Buffalo Bills and host a nightly show on WGR focusing on the team.

Melissa Holmes: Move to Channel 2 broken here

Here’s the line: Note to Buffalo News. Please credit stilltalkintv if (or when) you rewrite this report.

It was a joke. Sort of. I would like to get credit, but I know the paper is never going to acknowledge my existence in the same way they give gawker.com, espn.com or cbssportsline.com credit when those sites break stories. (On Sunday, a News blog credited a blogger for cbssportsline for breaking the story of Jim Baron agreeing to become the Canisius College men’s basketball coach and linked to the story).

Many readers have told me in the past two years that I’ve been embarrassing my former employer by beating them on local media stories. My answer is that I’m not embarrassing the paper, it is embarrassing itself.

Which brings me to how it handled the Murphy story Saturday. Naturally, it didn’t give me credit when it “confirmed” the story, unlike many other media outlets in town that still live by the philosophy that one gives credit to news organizations when credit it due.  Stilltalkintv was credited for the story on WGR radio’s website, Belowthefalls.com and Niagara Hub and I was interviewed Friday afternoon about the story by Tom Puckett of WBEN radio.

So I picked up the paper Saturday and looked for the story. I missed it on my first skimming of the paper before discovering it on my second read in the daily dish section in a six-paragraph item with the headline “Murphy leaving Channel 4” without a byline. It wasn’t even the top story in the daily dish. The top dish story was about rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis and had the headline, “Rocker weds for 7th time.”

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire, who made that decision? Murphy is the radio voice of the Buffalo Bills. With Ed Kilgore now a part-timer over at Channel 2, Murphy is the biggest name covering sports on TV. I could be wrong, but I think when I broke the story in 2007 that Murphy was leaving Channel 7 for Channel 4 the newspaper put it on the front page.

Now Murphy’s plans to leave a station that is losing high-profile personnel and it gets the daily dish treatment, just ahead of celebrity birthdays. And a reader is bound to have a harder time finding it online than in the paper. And I’m the one embarrassing the paper?

What happened? I could just hear any editors who still care about getting stories first going “Pergament did it again. What should we do? Should we bury our story and try and minimize its importance? Or should we pretend he doesn’t exist and put it on the front page or the front page of the sports section where it belongs?”

My Murphy story gave me a yearly-high in page loads Friday. My site had about 4,700 page loads directly and usually gets another 1,000 or so daily that aren’t counted. The story continued to drive people to the site Saturday, which I usually take off. My site had more than 2,000 page loads directly and an unknown number indirectly. That’s a lot of page loads for a weekend, when blog reading often goes down because people aren’t in their offices. Those numbers may not mean much to most readers but I’m told the figures are higher than the average for my talkintv blog in The News when I was still at the paper. The numbers also are an indication of how popular the site has become via Facebook, Twitter, and word-of-mouth.

The site is growing by the day. As the numbers for the Murphy story indicate, I have a growing number of new readers who probably missed several stories I have broken over the last two years about local TV personalities (who are Buffalo’s celebrities along with sports stars). They were usually followed a day, a week or a month or two later by stories in The News. (I also have a monthly media column for Buffalo Spree so please give the magazine a look).

So for those new readers, here’s a Top 20 list of stories (besides the Murphy story) broken on stilltalkintv since May of 2010 in no particular order.

1)      Anchor Lisa Flynn leaving Channel 4.

2)      Channel 2 sportscaster Ed Kilgore being replaced on the 11 p.m. news in favor of Adam Benigni.

3)      Reporter Michele McClintick leaving Channel 4.

4)      Sports anchor Paul Peck leaving Channel 4. (Gee, do you sense a pattern?)

5)      Weekend anchor Mylous Hairston leaving Channel 4.

6)      Stefan Mychajliw replacing Bill O’Loughlin on Channel 2’s noon debate show.

7)      Anchor-reporter Marissa Bailey leaving Channel 2 for chance for job in Chicago (which she later got as reported here).

Marissa Bailey: Move to Chicago Broken Here

8)      Anchor-reporter Melissa Holmes leaving Channel 4 for Channel 2.

9)      Channel 2 anchor John Beard dropping the midday newscast from his duties.

10)   Amelia Segal replacing Mike Cejka as the meteorologist on Channel 4’s “Wake Up!”

11)   Reporter Lorey Schultz leaving Channel 4 (back to the pattern) to work in Mayor Brown’s administration.

12)   97 Rock morning man Larry Norton doing his job from Florida.

13)   Donn Esmonde (who is now a part-timer), Jim Heaney and Dan Herbeck (who is now a part-timer) taking buyouts from the Buffalo News and Jerry Sullivan deciding against taking one. (OK, you can’t expect The News to do that story).

14)   Anchor-reporter Laura Gray leaving Channel 7.

15)   Anchor-reporter Bridget Blythe leaving Channel 7.

16)   Reporter Tricia Cruz leaving Channel 4.

17)   Anchor-reporter Erika Brason leaving Channel 2.

18)   Anchor-reporter Lia Lando turning down a Channel 4 offer to stay to work in Rochester, which paid her more.

19)   Anchor-reporter Jericka Duncan leaving Channel 4 (back to the pattern) for a job in Philadelphia.

20)    Channel 2 overtaking Channel 4 as news leader from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Excuse me, but I have to pause now because I hurt my shoulder patting myself on the back.

In addition, stilltalkintv tries to put into perspective numerous complicated local television stories like Time Warner Cable’s battle with the Madison Square Garden Network that kept Buffalo Sabres games off the air for several weeks, and cover trends like the number of women who have left Channel 4’s news staff.

My goal also is to review as many new broadcast network and cable shows that I can, like I used to do when I was the newspaper critic and the paper cared more about the beat. The broadcast networks and cable make it relatively easy to review shows by giving bloggers like myself the same access to shows as they give the dying breed of daily newspaper critics.

I also am free now to critique the Buffalo News, which has made me real popular over at One News Plaza. Kidding. The truth is I can now focus on critiquing all media and The News demands it because it remains the most powerful and influential outlet in town. It also continues to do a decent amount of very good journalistic work.  

So thanks for reading. And if you just found the site, please read the old blogs (it adds to my page loads) and pass the word about how to find it.



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14 responses to "Talking to New Readers About Murphy and Other Scoops"

  1. Doug says:

    This was also the first place I heard Ryan Fitspatrick may have been playing injured the second half of the year. It was just speculation at the time, but the news came out a few months later.

  2. Gman says:

    This is why this column in the “go to ” place to come when you want to find local broadcasting & radio news. I know Jeff Simon knows!

  3. zeedeetee says:

    I’m a regular reader of your blog and will probably continue to be, but I’ve just got to say this: Get over it. Yes, you’re kicking your former employer’s butt and you’ve mentioned it about a thousand times. It’s beginning to sound like sour grapes and becoming really annoying.

  4. Chris Smith says:

    On Mar 29th, Jane Kwiatkowski wrote that Murphy may be leaving Channel 4, did you cite her reporting in your blog post?


    It might be fair to assume that you saw Jane’s article the day before and then followed up on the lead for your story.

    • alanp says:

      Seriously? Why would I? I wrote in on March 22, a week before she did. My entire blog that day was about it, including speculation that Murphy would work for the Bills or WGR. She was just repeating what I wrote. You know what they say about people who assume things.

  5. Matt says:

    Hi Alan. Wasn’t aware that you had continued writing on TV after leaving the news until I found the blog a few weeks ago. Glad to see you are still at it. You and I exchanged some emails regarding the MAC’s regional package of games on Empire when it still existed. I live in Cleveland (where we have a few Buffalo alums on local TV news) and continue to pay attention to Buffalo media, particularly with sports.

  6. Dan says:

    Hi Alan. I always used to read your columns in the paper. In defense of the News, keep in mind that you have a lot more leeway now. You reported on what people had been whispering in your ear early in the Murphy story. The News has to be a little more careful than that. I do think they should be smarter and put someone on your old beat (news not commentary). That’s just my take. Good luck with the site and the new readers.

    • alanp says:

      Thanks Dan. You are right. I do have more leeway. But I would have reported what I heard in the newspaper if I still worked there. The whispering was that loud.

  7. KristineS says:

    Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate all the hard work you have put into writing this blog. But I also took a course taught by one of the brightest reporters at The Buffalo News and gained a new level of respect for the newspaper.
    The thing is The Buffalo News is the only major print newspaper in town. You are making it harder for truly bright students to want to work in print news.
    Your blogs remind me of one of the first lessons I learned at Buffalo State: That news in conflict-driven. This is why TV news features crime stories in the first segment. Why some suburbanites are afraid of going into the city. Why people thought my teacher was crazy to send me to the West Side to find stories with a slightly more positive angle.
    The point I’m trying to make is that your observations about what The Buffalo News is doing wrong is what appeals to some readers. It reinforces stereotypes associated with print news. You have written about the good reporting in the Buffalo News in the past. I wouldn’t mind learning a little bit more about what you still like about the newspaper.
    I still enjoy the blog and I admire your level of commitment to writing quality work. But the image of you pounding nails into a coffin labeled The Buffalo News pops into my head every once and while.

    • alanp says:

      Thanks Kristine. I actually am planning a blog about all the things I like about The News. Because the News is so influential, its plusses and minuses deserve to be covered by a media reporter. This story demanded coverage. I did not enjoy writing it.

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