Matthew Ricchiazzi, the 29 year old founder of The Buffalo Chronicle, is stepping aside as Managing Editor, less than twelve months after the launch of the politically focused publication. He is stepping aside after controversy surrounding the platform’s speculative posture.
The Chronicle’s readership has grown rapidly, and it’s political influence has been felt in local, congressional, and key state legislative races. In February of 2015 the digital platform provided content to 26,256 unique readers. By December, monthly readership levels hit 253,493 unique readers.
Going forward, Ricchiazzi will have “no operations or content production role at The Chronicle.” Ricchiazzi released this statement:
In pursing a strategy of rapidly growing the audience and regional presence of The Chronicle, our tone was provocative, perhaps even salacious at times. While that tone was suitable for a tabloid brand, it’s not suitable for the brand we wish to build.
This platform was founded on the principle that citizen journalism can create the change that we wish to see in the world. To that end, we do not shy from exposing corruption among our elected officials; ineptitude in our government; and pettiness in our politics.
But to fulfill that mission and create the democracy that we wish for our city, we must meet the standard of accuracy that Western New York deserves. We must produce the absolute highest quality content of its kind found anywhere.
For that reason, I’m stepping aside.
The Chronicle’s next Managing Editor will be Terrence Robinson, a graduate of Princeton University. Robinson sits on the board of Preservation Buffalo Niagara and is one of the city’s most prominent civic intellectuals.
“Terry Robinson is the wiser, calmer, more measured voice — precisely the tone and temperament — that this publication needs at this moment,” Ricchiazzi said. “I’m very excited to see what he does with it, albeit from afar.”
“I know that the political, cultural, and development communities are eager to work with him in promoting their brands,” he added.
Robinson is expected to intensify the publication’s focus on Western New York politics. Observers agree that the platform will be pivotal in State Senate, Assembly, School Board, and Congressional races in the 2016 election cycle.
Although he will continue to retain a controlling equity interest in the publication, Ricchiazzi will not be listed as Publisher in print or digital editions. A source familiar with his thinking says he has decided to “actively distance himself from the brand for strategic reasons.”
Ricchiazzi intends to pursue new ventures in California.
A graduate of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art & Planning, he also holds an MBA in private equity from Cornell’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management. While founding The Chronicle, he was widely criticized for his lack of training in journalism.