Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blazing a trail of local innovation

By Suzanne Kashuba
In 1998, after living in Ohio for more than 15 years, I decided to move back home to Western New York. As I announced my decision to colleagues, the anticipated question was posed: “Why would anyone want to live in Buffalo?”

Everyone knows the stereotype: Buffalo is a snow-bound, beaten-down, old-hat, rust-belt kind of town. But few out-of-towners know the reality.

 Inno_TrailYou’ll get a much different perspective if you follow the Innovation Trail, an Upstate New York public broadcasting collaborative designed to provide in-depth news coverage about the economic impact of research and technology.
You’ll find out about pockets of activity that are beginning to make a difference for the economic future of the community. You’ll see that some are moving forward with fresh, far-sighted solutions to deep-seeded problems. You’ll wonder why these stories don’t seem to surface much.

Take these recent examples by Daniel Robison, the reporter hired to cover the Innovation Trail beat for Buffalo’s WNED-AM 970:

The Innovation Trail is a two-year project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to foster multi-media, regional news reporting. Reports are shared through broadcast and digital media among five participating upstate New York stations.*

Robison sees his role as covering “transition in motion.” He strives to satisfy people’s curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes in business and government, and how the money flows.

“The challenges are enormous,” he adds. “Yet, there’s no shortage of people trying. People are coming up with better solutions today than in the recent past.”

The reports are not all rosy or positive. Many new business ventures fail. But, collectively, they defy the stereotype of a stagnant, decaying region. They offer examples of creative attempts at -- if not actual -- success. They bring hope.

What are your story ideas for “The Innovation Trail?” What’s happening out there in Western New York that deserves coverage?

* In addition to WNED-AM 970, WXXI Rochester, WMHT Schenectady, WRVO Oswego and WSKG Binghamton are participating.

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