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ACTIVIST WEBSITE GALVANIZES WESTERN NEW YORK RESIDENTS
By Gary S. Howell
Nov 13, 2003, 15:38
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Early this year, Tony Fracasso went to a Cheektowaga town board meeting. What he saw there made him mad. Afterwards, when he read about the meeting in the newspaper, he couldn't believe how many important issues went unreported. He decided that it was time to do something about it.

A few days later, Tony met with Buffalo Sports maven Art Wander. They started discussing local politics, a subject Mr. Wander takes great interest in. Tony raised the idea of starting an alternative website for local residents to report on issues that are important to them.

But Tony doubted that he could find local residents who would be willing to write for the site.

The resourceful Mr. Wander suggested that Tony contact Gary Howell (myself) and Lee Chowaniec. Art Wander told Tony about the Lancaster Review and what it was trying to accomplish in Lancaster.

Tony not only acted on Art Wander's suggestion, he took it a step further. He started scouring the web for other local, politically oriented websites. His search lead him to James Tricoli, webmaster of the Amherst Times.

Tony Fracasso, Gary Howell, Lee Chowaniec, and James Tricoli met together in late May to form the nucleus of Speakupwny. The website went online July 1st, and has been covering politics in Western New York ever since.

Speakupwny contains sections on politics, development, government waste, and other political issues. It's articles are written by local residents. Speakupwny also includes a popular message board, that is visited by hundreds on a daily basis.

In the future, Speakupwny is planning to cover issues coming out of city and county hall.

Speakupwny is now one of the most visited sites in the area. According to Alexa.com, Speakupwny is the second most visited site in the region. For instance, on the day this article was written, Speakupwny received hundreds visitors. Ninety-seven percent of visitors go straight to the news articles.

Based on Alexa's data, Speakupwny is ranked 2nd in Western New York regional news and media, with an average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is also ranks 2nd in New York State regional activism.

Many people feel that they can't change the political landscape by themselves. Tony Fracasso is not one of them. His simple idea gives residents a venue to express their thoughts on what is really happening in Western New York. The success of Speakupwny proves that individuals can make a difference.


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