Jeffrey Haff, who has been at The Gazette since 1990, directs the paper’s daily features coverage, which includes the weekday and Saturday Life & Arts pages, the Sunday Life & Arts section, the weekly Ticket entertainment section and other special publications. Previously, he held positions as a copy editor and online editor.
Haff’s goal in coordinating coverage of the local art, music and theater scene is to educate readers about what’s happening around town.
“We’re so fortunate to have world-class entertainment come to our city — and region — and through stories and photos, we help bring that excitement to readers,” he explains.
When asked about memorable stories, several stand out in Haff’s mind.
“Over the years, I’ve been involved in coverage ranging from Hurricane Irene flooding in 2011 to the filming of ‘The Place Beyond the Pines.’ From The Travers Stakes to Union College winning the national hockey championship. From local performers now on Broadway to the demands and joys of being a New York City Ballet dancer,” he says.
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There is one story, however, that Haff will never forget.
“On the morning of the 9/11 attacks, then-managing editor Tom Woodman called all editors in early [many editors work at night]. After watching events unfold on TV, we met in a conference room, the mood somber. Tom opened the meeting by asking for a moment of silence before starting the discussion about how we would cover the story. I’ll never forget that,” says Haff.
Haff also has a passion for going after the hard-to-get stories and digging for stories where most wouldn’t look, “forgotten or tucked away in places like nursing homes.”
He shares an example of the latter that resulted in much more than a story.
“We received a tip in July 2010 that a man living in Kingsway Manor Assisted Living in Schenectady had been a member of an expedition to Antarctica with Admiral Richard Byrd in 1939,” Haff recalled. “Reporter Sara Foss, photographer Barry Sloan and I headed over to Kingsway to meet Anthony Wayne, then 95, and his niece, Lorraine Zorichak. As it turned out, Wayne, a Schenectady native, was at that time, the only living member of the crew that accompanied Byrd to Antarctica and the only person alive to have set foot on the continent prior to World War II [he later served two years in the Pacific during World War II].”
Haff remembers that Wayne’s “recollections were still sharp, and he had photos as well. We knew this would be a Page 1 story. And as we were leaving, his niece added, ‘Oh, and he also took video when he was there.’ We were amazed.”
The online version of Foss’s “fine” story was accompanied by photos and video from that historic expedition that happened 71 years earlier.
While memorable stories have been a large part of Haff’s career with The Gazette, there are other reasons he’s stayed put.
“The many friendships I’ve made and the quality of the company have kept me here for nearly three decades,” he says.
“Being family-owned for a century and a quarter, The Gazette has strong local roots and is keenly attuned and responsive to the concerns of its readers/communities.”