Jay Moran

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The truth hurts. Just ask Bucky Gleason. Two years after leaving his job as a Buffalo News sports columnist, he remains attuned to the wobbling foundations of journalism. In a lengthy interview with WBFO, Gleason raised important questions about what we read and why we read it.

Lieutenant Governor Hochul's twitter account

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul dismissed as "fearmongering" the concerns raised by local officials regarding the possible transfer of ventilators from local hospitals to New York City. 


For those considering the drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for a COVID-19 infection, Dr. Nancy Nielsen offers emphatic advice: "I can't stress enough, please don't try to play doctor on this one." In a weekly segment with WBFO, Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, warned of the side effects of the drug. She also assailed some healthcare professionals regarding their approach to chloroquine. "Doctors and dentists who are hoarding this medicine for themselves and their families are behaving unconscionably."

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Often painful and dramatic, change continues for the newspaper industry. Fueled by the internet, consumers have rushed to information outlets beyond their city’s daily print publication. Sportswriter Tim Graham has worked through the whirlwind. Nominated three times for a Pulitzer Prize while at The Buffalo News, Graham’s work now exists exclusively in the digital world at The Athletic.

Niagara County Department of Health

The spread of COVID-19 in Niagara County serves as an another example of the impact of the virus.


Just Buffalo Literary Center had been planning to release its Lit City Voices video series this month, long before the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the nation and altered modern life. Produced last summer, the series highlights local poets "out in the community inspiring other people about what this great city means to us," said Barbara Cole, Artistic Director and Associate Executive Director at Just Buffalo Literary Center. "I think this is one of those moments, too, where you realize that we really do sometimes need to seek out some wisdom, and writers are there to offer it.”

Photo from Darius Pridgen's Facebook page

With over 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Erie County, the presence of the virus is threatening all segments of the local population. Now, it is touching a well-known religious leader and political figure. Common Council President Darius Pridgen took to Facebook Sunday to announce he had tested positive.


When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 40,000 healthcare professionals had volunteered to help in the state's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nancy Nielsen was not surprised. "Doctors and nurses run to where trouble is. We always have done that." That's personal experience. Though she no longer has a private practice, Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has volunteered for the effort.

University at Buffalo

From the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 to the Influenza of 1918, there are lessons available as health officials and the general public deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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What does it say about a sportswriter who retired three years ago but spent a week this winter reporting on six different sporting events? “It’s still fun to go to games,” said Budd Bailey, who retired from the Buffalo News in 2017. “As I tell people, I’d like to think I see more games in Buffalo than anybody else in town.”  While he clearly hasn’t grown tired of sports after four decades of coverage, he did share concerns over how sports journalism may be losing out in a changing marketplace. 

"There's really only one story now," says Jim Heaney of Investigative Post. "And that's the virus." 

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Restrictions on public gatherings have silenced Buffalo's dynamic music scene at clubs and bars. "Part of the reason I chose to live in Buffalo all those 30 years ago was because I was blown away by the resiliency of the people in this music community and they're totally displaying that now," said Jeff Miers, the Buffalo News music critic whose coverage and reporting are now confined to his home. He's adapted as have many local artists who are performing "virtual gigs."  Performed without a live audience, the shows are offered free of charge with the hope viewers will respond with in-kind donations. Miers says a collective effort called Band Together Buffalo is having success with the model. 


Federal prosecutors are taking proactive steps to stop fraud schemes associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Wyoming County

Officials in Wyoming County are reporting that two residents of the county-operated skilled nursing facility have tested positive for coronavirus.


New York State is heading to a virtual shutdown as officials organize their response to the spreading coronavirus. Governor Cuomo announced just after 11 a.m. that he is ordering "100 percent" of all employees at non-essential businesses to stay home.

Jay Moran/WBFO

Before the spread of COVID-19, when the country was still consuming sports at its typical, voracious rate, some of the area's best-known sportswriters visited WBFO for long conversations about the future of sports journalism. Different perspectives were shared, but each individual offered keen insights into how journalism is being devalued. "Sports is sports," said Jerry Sullivan, former senior sports columnist at the Buffalo News. "It worries me more in the real realm, in the news world, the way news is being consumed."   

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A person who attended the Buffalo Sabres game at KeyBank Center on March 5 has tested positive for COVID-19.

File Photo / WBFO News

Since Mandy Steingasser's murdered body was discovered in 1993, authorities have been trying to bring her killer to justice. Prosecutors were hoping that day was approaching as they outlined their case during opening arguments last week against Joseph Belstadt, the man accused of killing Steingasser. The proceedings came to an end yesterday when Judge Sara Sheldon declared a mistrial due to concerns over the potential impact of the coronavirus. Rick Pfeifer, who has been covering the proceedings for the Niagara Gazette, says a new trial could begin this fall. In the meantime, Belstadt remains free on bail.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Before New York State ordered the shutdown of all bars and restaurants, concerns over the coronavirus were impacting the regional economy. According to Jim Fink of Business First, during just one day last week a major Buffalo hotel lost $80,000 in bookings due to cancellations. It's likely the tip of the iceberg for what will be mounting financial losses for area businesses.

North Tonawanda Police

After nearly three days of proceedings, a jury has been selected for the trial of Joseph Belstadt, the man accused of killing teenager Amanda "Mandy" Steingasser in 1993.  Rick Pfeiffer has been following the story for the Niagara Gazette. He says the judge and prosecutors are taking a thorough and deliberate approach in the case. With the amount of publicity the cold case has generated, some are concerned that a guilty verdict could face an appeal. While opening arguments are taking place today, Pfeiffer says over 60 witnesses may be called in a trial that will likely last several weeks.

When he answered the phone at 5:10 this morning, Benjamin Blanchet was wide awake. The Engagement Editor at the Spectrum newspaper had been up all night reporting on the changes coming to UB as it follows Governor Cuomo's edict that all SUNY campuses transition to distance learning to reduce potential exposure to the coronavirus. From how classes will be conducted to the potential cancellation of graduation ceremonies, Blanchet says students have a "lingering amount of questions."

With rents too high and wages too low, Buffalo has an eviction problem. Research from the Partnership for the Public Good pegs the eviction rate at nearly 13 percent. Buffalo Rising has joined the effort to highlight the issue and brought Orlando Dickson and Sarah Wooten of PPG to WBFO's Press Pass to outline potential solutions.

When it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak, one expert points out how misinformation regarding the virus has become equally contagious. Janet Yang, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Communication in UB's College of Arts and Science, says rumors regarding the coronavirus have been spreading through social media. "People do not necessarily spend the time to verify the sources and even if the information itself is even credible."

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Last week's NFL Scouting Combine brought draft prospects, team executives, sports agents and journalists to Indianapolis. Tim Graham of the Athletic has spent many years covering the event, an experience which has provided him with important perspective. "You need to make sure you don't get too excited about a guy because he ran a 4.3 forty (yard dash)," Graham said.

State officials spoke loudly when they announced IBM had agreed to set up in Buffalo, enticed by $55 million in public dollars. Now, their silence on the tech giant's apparent struggles here speaks volumes. As Jim Heaney of Investigative Post reports, four floors of IBM's seven-floor operation are now vacant. Inquiries--including Freedom of Information requests--have gone unanswered. The lack of transparency, Heaney says, follows a familiar pattern for many of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's economic development initiatives in Western New York.

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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he is "disappointed" Panasonic will be ceasing North American solar production and exiting its partnership with Tesla to produce solar panels at the company's Riverbend plant.

While the dangers of lead poisoning have been understood for decades, getting local officials to acknowledge the presence of the problem in this community has been slow in coming. After years of Investigative Post bringing light to the issue, local governments are responding. As Geoff Kelly reports, first, Erie County established a program. Now, the city of Buffalo has its own pilot program and the early results indicate an urgent need. In January, the program's first month, Kelly says officials inspected 68 residences. Seven of those units displayed evidence of potential lead exposure.

The diligence required for investigative reporting is often overlooked. While headlines catch attention, the grinding process to uncover important details is barely noticed. Phil Gambini's recent work for Investigative Post serves as a classic example. His reporting showed how officials at Western Regional Off Track Betting attended sporting events using tickets purchased as perks for patrons.  The path to accessing key public records was often blocked until an Article 78 lawsuit was filed. That measure provided the necessary documents and caught the attention of the state comptroller's office which is now reviewing the operations at OTB.

Pantano & Associates LLC

Since it was initially proposed, the Outer Harbor residential development Queen City Landing has sparked a number of questions from community interests.  The height of the main tower and how the complex would restrict public waterfront access have been two of the major concerns. Jim Fink of Business First says developer Gerry Buchheit has altered the proposal. While a 20-story tower remains at the heart of the plan, Fink says a 2.5-acre green space has been added to make the location "welcoming" to the public. The alterations will need approval through the city's regulatory process before becoming reality.

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Alexis Oltmer recalls how her current exhibition at CEPA Gallery originated three years ago on a visit to Emerald Beach on Lake Erie. "I started to notice tiny, little  (plastic) particles that were every single color in the rainbow. I was just really overwhelmed by them," Oltmer recalled. "When I got home I felt really bad about the fact that I hadn't done anything about that." For Oltmer, it's been angst turned into art.