Welcome to The Batavian

Submitted by Howard Owens on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 11:05

"Officially," today is the launch day of The Batavian.

That may not mean much; we've been up and running for a week and a half.  The only thing that has really changed from yesterday to today is that starting this morning we're running ads on WBTA.  (Ads start in the Pennysaver this week, as well).

You might be wondering, "what is this thing called The Batavian?"

It's an online news site. It's a community site. It's an information site.  It's an opinion site. It's an online place for Batavians to meet and share information, ideas and view points.

Our one paid staff member is Philip Anselmo.  His job is to keep tabs on Batavia, post interesting stuff and help host the conversations that take place on The Batavian.

Our goal is to create an oft-updated online site that Batavians appreciate and use frequently. We intend to be a part of the Batavia community for a long, long time.  If that happens, we will grow and we will hire.  Our intention is to hire people who live in and love Batavia.  Part of Philip's job is to help recruit his replacement. 

For too long, community newspapers have lost their way because they are often staffed by people who don't feel they have a long-term stake in the community.  The best and brightest reporters and editors eventually move on to better paying jobs in bigger cities.

We want The Batavian to be different.  We want to find good reporters who understand our content strategy and who would enjoy covering Batavia for many, many years.

What is our content strategy?  Simply put, to use the Web the way it was intended.

We write in a personal voice. We share about who we are and what interests us.  A common myth about the Internet is that it depersonalizes human interaction.  People who use the Web often know this isn't true.  Web communication is more personal, more human. 

You won't see us refer to this site as a "virtual community" (a term common for sites like this a few years ago).  There is nothing virtual about online communities.  Online communities are just as real as anything that happens offline, because the friendships and alliances formed, the tasks accomplished and the good done are just as real as anything that happens on Main Street, a board room or in a Rotary meeting.

Of course, when you start using personal pronouns, you'll likely stray into the area of sharing your own opinions.

In old-school journalism, expressing opinions is a sin. In online journalism, it's a virtue.

American's distrust of the media is at an all-time high.  A big reason for this distrust, we believe, is that reporters and editors often boast of their objectivity and lack of bias, but we all know that objectivity is impossible and bias is the natural human state.

American journalism often puts on a false front of objectivity, but every reporter and editor comes to a story and its set of facts with a specific mindset, a specific context.

Facts do not mean much outside of context, and context is always subjective. That's why two groups of people can have completely different views on what facts in a particular narrative are important, and which facts can be ignored.  The debates around the Iraq War illustrate perfectly how facts can mean different things to different people, and also how different contexts can cause some people to believe things other people are convinced are not true.

We believe a more honest form of journalism is to let you know what our context is as part of our coverage.  Rather than pretend to be objective (which, again, is impossible in the common journalistic meaning), we'll share our opinions when we have them (not that we will always have them on every story).

When we don't know something, or don't understand, we'll admit it and ask for your input and help.  We've already seen an example of how this works on last Tuesday's Daily News Roundup.  Philip had questions about a story, and Council President Charlie Mallow jumped in with answers.

That's a new kind of journalism, but one we believe is much more effective in serving a community and more benefitical to civic discourse and democracy.

We ask of ourselves and everybody who participates in this site:

  • Honesty in identity and context (please register with your real name, or with your organizational name if representing a group of people)
  • Accuracy in the facts and representations
  • An abhorance for personal attacks — no name calling, please
  • Value and seek truth
  • Give credit where credit is due (we always cite our sources, and if possible, link to those sources).

We hope that you value The Batavian and visit the site often.  We promise to work hard to keep the site updated frequently with the latest news and information.  We will do our best to keep the conversation civil.

We have many new features coming — before long, you will be able to set up your own blog on The Batavian — so keep in eye out for updates and new additions to the site.

You can also help to promote The Batavian

  • If you have a Web site, link to us. 
  • If you have a blog, please tell us about it and link and comment on our posts. 
  • E-mail all of your friends and associates who would find value in The Batavian and let them know about the site.
  • Register and leave comments.  The more conversation, the better for everybody.
  • Include a notice about The Batavian in your school, organization or business newsletter (please).

The more voices heard on The Batavian, the more useful the conversations will be to Batavia.

BTW: If you don't know what a blog is — blog is short for "Web log." It's both an online publishing platform (just a tool, or technology), but also a mindset about how to communicate online.  Posts appear when the blogger has something to say (no deadlines), often (but not always) contain opinion, are written in a personal voice, appear in reverse chronological order and rely on links with other Web sites to facilitate conversation.  If you don't have a blog and want one, and don't want to wait for The Batavian to make one available to you, visit WordPress.com, where you can set up a blog for free — just let us know about it when you've got it going.

A word about news tips:  Soon, we'll have a way for you to submit your own news, or tips, on this web site.  In the mean time, send your tips to philip (at) the (oneword) batavian dot com.

Philip will post something later today introducing himself.

A photo mystery

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 09:08

I came across this spectacle during my travels around the city yesterday. Do you know where it is? Do you know what it is? (This is, of course, just one small section of a much larger artifact — if we can call it that.) I'll put up a medium cup of java from Main Street Coffee to the first person who can guess both what and where this thing is.

Downtown concert series announced

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 08:52

Jackson Square Concert Series 2008 — Downtown Batavia:

• Friday, June 20th (7-9 p.m.) Civilletto Sings Sinatra

• Friday, June 27th  (7-9 p.m.) Ghost Riders (Country)

• Friday, July 4th, (7-9 p.m.)  Pre-Ramble Concert (Ghost Riders, Sierra & Friends)

• Saturday, July 5  (11a.m. - 9 p.m.)  Ramble Music & Art Fest (Variety)

• Friday, July 11th  (7-9 p.m.) Westside Blues Band (Blues)

• Friday, July 18th  (7-9 p.m.)  Joe Beard & The Blues Union (Blues)

• Friday, July 25th (7-9 p.m.) OHMS Band (Rock)

• Friday, August 1st (7-9 p.m.)  Penny Whiskey (Celtic/folk)

• Friday, August 8th (7-9 p.m.) Julie Dunlap (Country)

• Friday, August 22nd (7-9 p.m.) Bart & Kevin (Family)

• Friday, August 29th (7-9 p.m.)  Craig Wilkins (Johnny Cash Tribute)

Major sponsors of the "Friday Night in the Square" summer music series are: M&T Bank, the Batavia Buisness Improvement District and GoArt!

The series is hosted by the Batavia Business Improvement District. Call (585) 344-0900 for more information.

"We assist new and existing businesses, locate space and provide economic incentives for businesses to locate in downtown Batavia," says Don Burkel, president of the BID. "We also host: the Downtown Public Market, Summer in the City Festival and Christmas in the City Festival."

Thursday morning news roundup

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 08:26

Check out WBTA for these and other news stories:

• Assemblyman Stephen Hawley announced his bid for re-election to represent the 139th District in the state Assembly.

• Batavia will receive nearly $400,000 in state grant funds. About $150,000 will be used to build a booking facility at the Genesee County Jail that would be shared by both county and city forces. Another $150,000 is slated for sidewalk improvements. And about $90,000 will cover the cost of a new ambulance for the city.

Chocolate and corned beef make a fine afternoon

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 17:13

Don't let anyone ever tell you that Batavia doesn't have good food. You have already heard us rave about the tacos de asada at Margarita's on Jackson Street — personally, I've already been back a few times. And, if you've entertained even a passing interest in our daily goings-on here at The Batavian, you would know that we've happily sucked down our fair share of lattes at Main Street Coffee, our current base of operations.

Well, today, I took off in search of some more unknown territory — political, edible and otherwise. After a stop at the Batavia Town Hall and the county historian's office, I made my way to Oliver's Candies on Main Street... for a taste.

Jeremy Liles manages the place these days. He smiles and jokes the way I imagine anyone would who spent their life and career in a candy store.

He told me that, though the candy is the main draw, Oliver's is sought out just as much for its roadside sign — a relic from an America few of us can even recall first-hand, back when we still danced with flappers, still spoke of Reds and fascists, still made phonecalls through a switchboard operator. But it's exactly that kitschy history appeal that landed a photograph of the sign on the Web site of a cross-country chronicler of "roadside architecture" — a fine profession or hobby, if I say so myself.

That being said, it's most certainly the sweets that run the show at Oliver's.

"People love candy," says Jeremy. "That's all there is to it."

...and from sweet to salty, my day only got better when I ducked out of the cold sun into the warm dark of O'Lacy's Irish Pub next to Jackson Square.

You could almost smell the mutton from outside. You could almost taste the bitter black porter when you're barely through the door. O'Lacy's doesn't mince words. It's as Irish a joint as they come.

And that's all well and good. I've been to plenty of Irish pubs on this side of the Atlantic and the other. They've all got the beer and the decor to make the claim, sure. But O'Lacy's has the nosh to prove that they dive further into the culture than just a few leprechaun jokes and clovers.

Chicken and biscuits were on special. Beef on Weck was likely a can't miss.

But I'm a sucker for a toasty reuben.

Mine came as thick as an elephant's ankle. It was sloppy, hot and delicious. More man than I am, no doubt. Which was fine, since I felt like more of a man having tackled it. Though I must admit that I couldn't quite wolf down the last scraps of corned beef and sauerkraut (slathered in Thousand Island dressing) that squeezed out of my grasp and onto the plate. As my waitress said: It's quite a sandwich. Maybe next time.

Cheers.

Wednesday afternoon news roundup

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 14:39

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

• Tuesday night's Batavia City School's performance of Cinemagic showcased the district's "technological capabilities," writes reporter Joanne Beck. The "musical revue" was a hodgepode of forms — including live dance, video and special effects. It foreshadowed a "Technology Site Visit" from national school representatives who will tour the Batavia schools next week to see how they use technology in and out of the classroom.

• A former Batavia resident recounts his first-hand experience of wildfires in Sierra Madre, California. "At one point, it looked like a volcano had erupted and you can see flames and embers floating down," James Monachino told reporter Scott DeSmit.

• Residents can vote on the Richmond Memorial Library proposed budget increase Tuesday at the library's gallery room from noon to 9:00pm. A potential increase of $41,000 is needed mostly to cover the cost of hiring an additional custodian and revamping the library's Web site. The article does not say who is allowed to vote. Library members, city residents, anyone who can get there?

• A former member of the Mighty St. Joe's Drum and Bugle Corps in Batavia will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. From the article (no author is noted): "Larry Darch of Buffalo has been a leading percussion figure in the Western New York drum and bugle corps community for more than 50 years."

• The YWCA in Batavia will host a brunch at noon on May 10 at Genesee Community College. It appears that the event is connected to the Fabulous Females Committee, but the article doesn't say what that is. This is the 10 year anniversary of the brunch. Tickets are $25. Call the YWCA at (585) 343-5808.

• The Rev. David Scheider was honored with the HomeCare & Hospice Founders' Award at an awards banquet held April 25.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

More about murals

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 15:30

With the help of historian Larry Barnes, I've tracked down Vincenzo DelPlato, the jazz artist who painted the murals in Jackson Square, plus a few others around town.

Larry Barnes told me that Vincenzo's friends call him Vinny. So I called and asked for Vinny — folksiness often gets you further than formality, I find. I said my name is Philip. He called me Phil. And before you knew it, we were a couple of old pals chatting about art, about life and living it big.

Vinny's up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire now. He's been there for some time with his wife and his little boy, Theo, he says. Jazz artist seems the best way to described how he paints — and how he talks: with style, a little syncopated, melodic and meaningful.

When I ask him why he paints murals, he tells me this, he says: "An old professor of mine at Buffalo once asked me: Vinny, do you want to be a Chinese firecracker or an A-bomb?"

Take a stroll through Jackson Park to see how Vinny answered that question. He started on the downtown murals in 1994, having got practice painting backdrops for a theater company in Leroy.

"I didn't want to work small," he says. "I want to make an impact with my life. So I took it upon myself to paint the walls that needed painting."

Outside in people's faces is where Vinny wants his art, inspired, he says, by a line from Claes Oldenburg, a sculptor who once said that art belongs anywhere but rotting on its butt in a museum somewhere. "He became one of my heroes," says Vinny.

He took his paint and brush out into the streets. Eventually, the city caught on that this jazz artist was doing great things, and they commissioned him to paint murals all over downtown. So he did it.

Larry Barnes laments the loss of one of Vinny's greatest city murals that was on the corner of Ellicott and Liberty streets. A photo of it can still be seen on Vinny's Web site. It was jazz art at its best: a rollicking, frenetic jam of just good old neighborhood folks, the very folks who lived around that corner, in fact.

"There's so much out there that can be brought back to life with a little paint, a brush and a lot of hard work," says Vinny. "A little sweat mixed with paint can go a long way."

A new Batavia business gets an online launch

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 12:58

Twenty-year-old Moriah Schoen just launched a Web site for his video production business, Schoen Productions. Don't let his age fool you, he's already got five years experience. Samples of his work — weddings and mock music videos, for example — are available on the site.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wj4KrVDJGs]

Moriah got his start, he tells us, when he was 15 years old and shot a video for a Batavia Youth Football Game, "and I fell in love with video editing." From there, he became the cameraman for his church, New Hope Ministries on Bank Street, and just kept on making videos, until he decided he was where he wanted to be, and it was time to start a business.

I guess you're never too young to be an entrepreneur. Best of luck, Moriah.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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