‘Buffalo News’ Scraps Afternoon Edition

By: Miki Johnson

The Buffalo News is getting rid of its afternoon edition to focus solely on its morning editions, Publisher Stanford Lipsey said today.

The changes are scheduled to take effect May 1 in Niagara County and Spring 2007 in Erie County.

This change is likely to have the biggest effect on Buffalo News delivery staff, but Lipsey said so far none of the independent contractors have said they would drop their route after hearing the news.

The earlier delivery time will undoubtedly make it more difficult for those independent contractors to employ youth delivery staff, as a New York law prohibits minors from beginning work before 5 a.m. But Lipsey said the number of minors delivering papers had already been dwindling, from 4,400 to 1,300 in the past five years, because “kids are just too busy.”

Lipsey also said he is sure the paper will have to cut some truck runs, but it is working on this extended schedule to be sure these and other changes are “done right.”

Readers have expressed a growing preference for morning editions, according to Lipsey, who also pointed out that most morning editions were sold on the newsstands. “A lot of people are too tired or too busy when they get home from work,” Lipsey said. And considering the News is one of the last top-50 papers to go all-morning, they just thought it was time.

While advertisers have not been specifically asking for a switch to morning delivery, Lipsey said many were happy that the paper’s Friday entertainment tabloid would now be distributed in the morning, when their ads would have more impact. Ad rates will not be changing with the switch to mornings.

The paper has been studying the possibility of a switch for well over a decade, Lipsey said, and has talked recently with papers that had made the same switch. The Detroit News was especially helpful, having made its first morning-only delivery Jan. 9, while most papers had made the switch so long ago they had trouble remembering how it had gone. What the Buffalo News heard over and over again from these papers was that they didn’t think they could build circulation on evening editions — morning was clearly the way to go.

“No one we talked to were sorry they went morning,” Lipsey said.

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