News & Opinion » Editor's Notebook

Fulfilling the promise of CITY


Ever since CITY reported that Leah Stacy would succeed me as editor, I’ve been inundated with letters from readers offering their condolences on my demotion.

They went something like this:

“I’m sorry to see you go. I hope it’s what you wanted.”

“That’s too bad about your job. What are you doing next?”

“Do your bosses know what they’re doing? Where are you going?”

These sympathies, while sincerely appreciated, reinforced for me the inconvenient truth that few people read beyond the headline.

For crying out loud, the second sentence in the article announcing Stacy’s hiring read, “Stacy succeeds David Andreatta, who will become the investigations editor at WXXI News, a new position in the newsroom.”

RELATED: Leah Stacy named next editor of CITY

So, to answer your questions, readers of headlines only, yes, this is what I wanted, and as my new title suggests, I’m going to oversee investigative reporting for WXXI, and I’m going nowhere.

I’m not even changing seats in the WXXI newsroom that overlooks the third floor of the High Falls Garage with its outdated signage advertising attractions that no longer exist, like “Frontier Field” (Innovative Field), “PAETEC Park” (That was five naming rights agreements ago), and “Lodging” (Um, where?).
CITY Magazine April 2022
  • CITY Magazine April 2022

As for whether my bosses know what they’re doing, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of journalism at WXXI and, by extension, CITY. The commitment to investing in journalism here is real.

While newsrooms around the country are shrinking, ours is growing. In case you missed it, my position of investigations editor is brand-new.

I started my new job in earnest in late April, after overseeing much of the editing for the May edition of CITY to help Stacy ease into her new role and plan for the June edition. The May issue will be the last with my fingerprints on it.

Next month, the fingerprints will belong to Stacy, a friend and journalist whose aptitude for forging her own path in this fickle industry I have long admired. I believe she is the right person to lead the magazine, at the right time.

When WXXI acquired CITY in 2019, it said the point of the merger was to not only preserve and expand the quality and depth of WXXI’s local reporting, but also to prioritize coverage of the arts, culture, and life in the Rochester region.
CITY Magazine October 2022
  • CITY Magazine October 2022

CITY has been evolving to be all about the latter. It has endured a bit of an identity crisis along the way, to be sure, thanks in no small part to a pandemic that upended its business model as a weekly newspaper.

But the identity crisis has ended. CITY is poised to fulfill its promise as WXXI’s source for arts, culture, and life news, and Stacy, who has a background in arts journalism and coordinating media for the local food and drink scene, will get it there.

She will get it there with the help of talented and committed journalists and designers and support and sales staff, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. They have been at various times over these last four years my confidantes, my inspiration, and my saviors in equal measure.


Editing CITY has been a tremendous honor, but not without its challenges. When the painful decision was made to cease publishing CITY as a weekly newspaper, my heart sank.

I had been in the job for six months, and we were humming. I came to CITY looking to make it more relevant to more people by doing a few things differently.
The final issues of CITY Newspaper. CITY ceased publication as a weekly newspaper in March 2020 and rebranded as a monthly magazine in September 2020. - FILE PHOTO
  • The final issues of CITY Newspaper. CITY ceased publication as a weekly newspaper in March 2020 and rebranded as a monthly magazine in September 2020.
First, we started aggressively pursuing “scoops,” the industry term for exclusive stories that can’t be found anywhere else. The best scoops break new ground and are of such import that they are shared by readers and followed by other media outlets.

Secondly, we began publishing our stories online immediately, instead of waiting to publish them in the weekly newspaper.

Lastly, and this dovetails with the second point, we sought to meet our readers where they increasingly were, which was on social media on their phones.

The impact of implementing those changes was immediate.

In those six months before the pandemic, CITY had broken stories that were picked up by local and national news outlets, from the Democrat and Chronicle to The New York Times. Our internal metrics showed year-over-year increases in visitors to CITY’s website of 60 percent and 40-percent growth in page views.

More people were reading CITY than ever before, at least online. There was a buzz about CITY.

But that success was hobbled in a single week in March 2020, when the pandemic forced the closure of the businesses and cultural institutions that had historically hosted CITY newsstands. The closures proved a double whammy for CITY, because those places were also the newspaper’s most loyal advertisers.

In the blink of an eye, those operations no longer had the disposable income to spend on advertising, which was and remains CITY’s primary source of revenue. Even if they did, what would be the point? The places that hosted the newsstands were closed. No one would pick up the newspaper to see the ads.

RELATED: CITY stops the presses, but not reporting

Sure, there were more people than ever reading CITY online. But digital ad rates are pennies on the dollar compared with print ad rates. The dichotomy is one that the print news industry has been struggling to reconcile for years, with no end in sight.

It was a humbling experience. Editing a weekly newspaper with a proud history of nearly half a century that ceases printing six months into your tenure can have that effect on a person.
CITY returned to print as a monthly magazine in September 2020.
  • CITY returned to print as a monthly magazine in September 2020.

To those readers who asked whether my bosses know what they are doing, I would also say this: There would be no CITY today but for the legal and financial gymnastics that WXXI pulled off to keep CITY afloat.

The endeavor kept CITY staffers employed and searching for opportunities to return to newsstands and fulfill its promise. Reinventing CITY as a monthly magazine was that opportunity.

When the rebranded CITY Magazine launched in September 2020, it picked up where its weekly predecessor left off — holding a mirror to greater Rochester for an enlightening, entertaining, and honest reflection of life in our community.

RELATED: CITY returns as a monthly magazine

Each issue sought to blend an array of news and commentary with street-level coverage of the arts, music, food and drink, and culture, to galvanize people around shared interests and ignite important conversations.
CITY Magazine January 2021
  • CITY Magazine January 2021

We did some excellent and impactful work.

After our investigative report on the relative scarcity of public funding for the arts, Monroe County raised its annual allocation for small arts organizations to $1 million from $45,000, and the city revived its long-dormant “percent for art” program.

RELATED: If Rochester is a 'City of the Arts,' why don't we fund the arts?

RELATED: After courting artists, Bello doubles down on funding the arts

RELATED: Will Rochester's 'percent-for-art' law leave the launchpad this time?

Our deep dive into Rochester police overtime, which found that some officers were regularly logging upward of 90 hours a week, prompted the incoming police chief to cap the number of consecutive hours an officer could work.

RELATED: Rochester enters the era of the $250,000 police officer

RELATED: RPD chief says no more 30-hour shifts for officers

The city rethought its policies on permits for community gardens and testing potential employees for marijuana after we shined a light on the matters.

RELATED: City will allow community gardens to bloom after all

RELATED: Would-be City Council aide challenges drug test for pot

RELATED: City to end testing most potential employees for THC

The WXXI newsroom will continue to produce that kind of work. My new job is to see that it does.


Norm Silverstein, the president of WXXI, said of the merger with CITY four years ago, “This helps WXXI to better serve our community through enhanced coverage of arts and culture, education, neighborhoods, and events. It’s an example of what a modern media organization should be.”

CITY Magazine January 2023
  • CITY Magazine January 2023
RELATED: WXXI to acquire CITY Newspaper

Modern media organizations use multiple mediums to reach their audience. They are not just a radio or television station, or a newspaper or a magazine, or an online publication. The best of them are all of the above.

WXXI has all of those tools and uses them in ways that best meet the needs of its audience.

The merger between WXXI and CITY was always meant to be a marriage, a collaboration, and in every marriage, there is compromise and a natural division of labor.

Those types of impactful stories that I mentioned earlier can run over the radio airwaves, on television, online, and in the pages of CITY. Where they run will be determined by the people who manage those mediums.

One thing is for sure: They are not going away. Not on my watch.

Thank you for your support.

David Andreatta was CITY's editor from September 2019 to April 2023. He is now investigations editor for WXXI News. He can be reached at [email protected].