Get to Know: Elizabeth Licata, editorial writer

Editor’s note: Get to Know is a feature introducing new members of the Guild.

One of the newest additions to the newsroom at The Buffalo News is editorial writer Elizabeth Licata.

Licata, who worked as editor-in-chief at Buffalo Spree from August 1999 until she started at the News in late April, has been an Allentown resident since the early 1980s. She was born and grew up in Lockport.

The Guild is the first union she’s ever been a member of, and her father was active in his teachers’ union.

Q: What made you want to write editorials for The Buffalo News?

A: I had always thought about writing for the News, but imagined I might be an arts writer or something like that, as I do have a lot of professional experience in that area (and was a stringer for the News for 7 years or so in the ’80s-’90s). However, I’ve also blogged for more than 15 years and blogging is mainly opinion writing. I was thrilled to be approached by the News; I really needed a new challenge. I love researching and writing about the various issues we take up. It’s great to be working with such smart people. It might seem odd to go from having your name at the top of the masthead to anonymity, but I actually like it. Local newspapers are so important. This work is important.

Q: What was the hardest part about being the editor-in-chief of a magazine?

A: As an EIC, especially one with only a half-time associate editor, you’re responsible for everything – all planning, all assigning, all copyediting, all typos, all inaccuracies, all complaints. You also have to keep your costs down and manage a big group of writers and photographers. You need to work closely with the designers and keep the suggestions gentle and collegial. But a lot of those things are also the best parts of the job.

Over my 23 years at Spree, I learned so much about Buffalo and Western New York. It really increased my allegiance to the area. I especially love the very complex and often contentious planning, preservation and development scene here.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A: I am an avid gardener, which is also part of my writing – I have blogged at, a widely-known (mainly to gardeners) team blog, since 2006. I also read constantly. I’ve been involved with Garden Walk for many years. As an art writer and curator since the ’80s, art is a big part of my life. We have a decent collection, mainly local artists.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a member of a union?

A: Unions are essential and I am honored to finally be a union member. If there had been one for magazine workers I would have joined it. I’m heartened by the small resurgence of union activity we’re seeing now and would like to see it grow stronger.

Are you a new (or relatively new) Guild member interested in being the subject of this feature? Do you know someone who would make a good subject? Please reach out to Guild mobilization VP Aaron Besecker.