WITH 1990 DRAWING to a close, it's time to take inventory of the newsroom's achievements and product enhancements during the year.
Without doubt, the highlight of the year came the afternoon of April 12 with the Associated Press flash to newsrooms throughout the United States that Tom Toles, editorial cartoonist of The Buffalo News, had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work.
The reaction in our newsroom was spontaneous and absolutely genuine. Many of us for years had felt that Toles was worthy of Pulitzer Prize recognition, and the fulfillment of that dream sparked an outpouring of positive feeling that is rarely seen in any newsroom. It was a wonderful afternoon.
An editorial cartoonist for the most part works in an almost-isolated environment, even in a busy newsroom. The work is his and his alone and not part of a cooperative process, as so much of what is created in a newsroom generally is. But Toles is one of us, a colleague we all respect and admire, and so in a way we felt that the great honor bestowed upon him also did honor to The News and all of its employees.
Year's best investigative efforts
One series of articles, actually started in the latter part of 1989 and still continuing, is The News-initiated probe of the city's Parks Department when Robert E. Delano was its commissioner. A federal grand jury is expected to complete many months of hearing testimony shortly and return indictments resulting from the FBI's and the U.S. attorney's investigations instigated by The News articles.
Staffers Michael Beebe, Rose Ciotta, Tom Dolan and Dan Herbeck produced dozens of stories over a prolonged period on the Parks Department. Hundreds of hours of work by reporters and editors were involved in the massive effort. It was a classic case of a newspaper's role in placing the spotlight on suspect activities by a public official.
Another fine example of investigative reporting was produced in 1990 by Ciotta and Susan Schulman with a series on the shocking abuses in State Division for Youth facilities here.
Jerry Zremski of The News Washington Bureau uncovered startling information on the federal government's loss of about $40 billion through its handling of farm loans.
Changes in product
The most visible change in The News product itself came on Sept. 14 when the completely redesigned version of the ever-popular Gusto was introduced. The Friday entertainment tabloid's new look was aimed at making it easier on the eye, with more white space, more photographs, much improved layout of the vital Calendar feature, and introduction of a few new specialty areas.
Ten days later, on Sept. 24, the Lifestyles section added six additional columns of food news, with the emphasis on more recipes. The new food page has proved to be a popular Monday feature and really was added to meet continuing requests of readers.
For the increasing number of readers interested in the stock market, The News on Jan. 30 became one of the first newspapers in the United States to introduce Select Stocks. The News had been an Associated Press test site for the improved tables, and work on it had been started here in November 1989.
Select Stocks enables us to select the issues listed in our various stock tables. We now customize these for our readers instead of just taking what the AP sends. Additionally, and probably more importantly, we now highlight stocks of local interest, indicate which issues have been most actively traded and which ones have undergone more than a 5 percent change from the previous listing.
In summary, the introduction of Select Stocks has made our tables much more meaningful than those found in most newspapers in the country.