Update on yesterday's plane crash news

As mentioned yesterday.

About the mid-air collision near Boulder, Colorado, it now appears that the two planes involved -- a Cirrus SR-20, and a Piper Pawnee that was towing a glider -- actually ran into each other. Early reports suggested that the Cirrus had hit the line connecting the Pawnee to the glider. In either case, the Cirrus apparently lost most of one wing. More on this later today.

About the exemplary Buffalo News coverage of the Colgan regional airline crash in Buffalo, I had written: "I assume that the Buffalo News, like most newspapers, has all sorts of financial problems; therefore it is all the more worth recognizing the valuable info that professional reporters produce." A reader who is familiar with the Buffalo News and some better-known regional papers writes:

"The Buffalo News is one of the few newspapers of any size not owned by a chain.  It's owned by Berkshire Hathaway, has been profitable, and remains at least relatively profitable (caveat, Warren Buffet has stated recently that newspaper ownership may not be rational).  It's a very decent newspaper, with a much better than average web site, at this point, far outshining the N&O [Raleigh News & Observer], something I would have been shocked to even think a decade ago...

"One clear factor or interest; while the N&O has been mightily affected by the general downturn in the fortunes of newspapers, by far the greater impact in recent years flowed directly from the stupendous debt resulting from the McClatchy / Knight - Ridder merger. Both the N&O (former McClatchy) and the Charlotte Observer (former KR)... have been profitable, albeit much less so than in past years, during the huge shrinkage of staff, news hole and number of pages.  The dramatic layoffs have resulted from cost cutting which were, in turn, driven by the overwhelming debt (something like 4 billion, of which lots remains) paid for a property now worth ... well, you couldn't get even one billion for the whole thing now, needless to say.  The other driver was and is the giant bleeding represented by a few major properties (the Miami Herald, for example); most of the cuts at the N&O and Observer were apparently made to throw money down those deep, deep holes.  While ad revenue shrinkage is certainly a factor at these papers, free of the debt represented by the buyout (and, in the case of McClatchy, free of the Herald, which came over in the KR deal), there would have been a decade in which to deal with 'what's to become of the paper?'  Instead, there's this mess.  The N&O still has its moments, but they are few and far between."
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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