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Cincinnati Newspapers Ignore Religion News

By Ben L. Kaufman · July 5th, 2006 · Media, Myself & I
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Why, in God's name, didn't the Post and Enquirer send reporters to the Episcopal general convention in Columbus last month?

Editors knew the convention might shatter the stained-glass ceiling by electing a female bishop as presiding bishop for the first time in the history of the denomination and worldwide Anglican Communion.

Editors knew the denomination faced issues that bedevil secular politics: tradition versus demands for "progress," same-sex marriages, gays/lesbians and/or women in authority, Christian-Muslim confrontations, responsibilities and reparations for participation in slavery, etc.

In any venue but religion, those are news. Finally, two of the seven candidates were from Kentucky. How much more "local local" can it get about "real people"?

To confirm the papers' misjudgment, Episcopalians did elect Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first and only female candidate, as presiding bishop. AP's story made Page 1 in the Post and an Enquirer inside page.

It's not news that Cincinnati dailies never have examined the growing and changing roles of women in religion: in short, sex, power and money.

Not many years ago a churchgoing Enquirer editor physically recoiled when I proposed just that story after the first female bishop of the United Methodist West Ohio Conference dropped the hammer on a suburban Cincinnati pastor accused of improper behavior with women in his congregation.

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Curmudgeon notes
· Dayton Daily News reporters Russell Carollo and Mike Wagner prove again that a local daily can punch above its weight. In June, they exposed deadly rollover problems with after-market armoring of the military's workhorse M1114 Humvees. Using Army ground accident records through November 2005, reporters found that 60 of the 85 soldiers killed in Humvee accidents in Iraq -- or 70 percent -- died when vehicles rolled. Of the 337 injuries, 149 occurred in rollovers. Wagner said the armor is made and installed at Armor Holdings in West Chester Twp. in Butler County.

· Persistent Enquirer journalists and attorneys finally extracted hidden information about brain-damaging lead paint from uncooperative Cincinnati Health Department officials. Reporter Sharon Coolidge used those data and lots of legwork to expose the department's timidity, confusion and failures to protect overwhelmingly poor and minority children in lead-tainted rental properties.

Cincinnati pursues litter and weed complaints much more aggressively.

· The Enquirer's look at nearby, sustainable cities with coherent governments is another example of what only a newspaper can do when it deploys experienced reporters. Their stories were a welcome sequel to breathless Enquirer reporting of Cincinnati's oft-documented and continuing population loss and self-serving coverage of responses to the paper's invitation to comment on the latest census data.

· Quackwatch.org, edited by Dr. Stephen Barrett, posted an article on its Consumer Health Digest about the Enquirer's refusal to retract/correct its pool safety advice that the Heimlich maneuver can be used when someone is pulled from the water and isn't breathing. Experts say the maneuver is appropriate only to clear a blocked air passage so CPR can be used. It is not, as the Enquirer "clarification" suggests, an option instead of CPR.

· White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is in trouble for calling Chicago Sun-Times columnist Greg Couch what AP says is "a derogatory term that is often used to describe someone's sexual orientation." Other news media were as obscure. The word is "fag." If the word is so awful that it brings a fine for Guillen -- and, poor sod, sensitivity training -- why won't news media tell us what he said? Anyone still reading a newspaper is old enough to handle it. The whole quote, at the end of a Guillen rant, was, "What a piece of shit he is, fucking fag. He is a stupid fucking idiot."

· Two reasons to read The Nation's July 3 issue: the map of interlocking entertainment-news media ownerships and a scary look at why Canada's daily National Post ran a false story saying Iranian Jews must wear a yellow badge reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

· Reporter Amanda Van Benschoten posted her story on widening Turkeyfoot Road on Gannett's weekly Community Recorder Web site June 15. Gannett's daily Kentucky Enquirer posted essentially the same story eight days later. It's an old trick: when scooped, wait a while and run the old story as new. Real fun begins when an attention-challenged editor who praised your scoop later sees the catch-up story and asks why you don't have it.

· Dull or duplicitous Republicans again accuse journalists of treason. The Boston Globe says, "Public records ... describe how U.S. authorities have openly sought new tools to track terrorist financing since 2001. That includes getting access to information about terrorist-linked wire transfers and other transactions, including those that travel through SWIFT." Added Roger Cressey, a senior White House counterterrorism official until 2003, "There have been public references to SWIFT before. ... The White House is overreaching when they say (The New York Times committed) a crime against the war on terror. It has been in the public domain before." Before that, Bush falsely claimed Osama bin Laden escaped in 1998 because news media reported that he was being tracked through his satellite phone. As The Washington Post noted, "It had been widely reported as early as 1996 that bin Laden communicated via a satellite phone; bin Laden himself admitted as much to a CNN correspondent in 1997."

· Maybe it's genetic. Last month's Little Gem News Service challenge was to write a story to go with Post's headline, "Tributes to Human Sacrifices." The winner comes from Sean Halloran, grandson of LGNS founder Ed Halloran:

New York (LGNS) -- The struggling NHL New York Islanders yesterday reassigned veteran goalie Pierre Luc Tributes to the Human Sacrifices, the club's minor-league team in Altar, Minn.

It is believed to be the first of many key decisions the Islanders' new owners, Bob and Marcia Gahd, will approve in the coming days. Team manager Mitch Doctor expects to send several players to Altar in attempt to reverse the team's baffling string of bad luck and to please the Gahds. The Islanders are 0-10 so far this season, and trail the league in nearly every statistical category.

"Between the unexplained failure of our entire crop of rookies, to the plague of injuries among the starters, I just can't figure out what else to do," said Doctor, one of the many New York natives on the team. "There's a curse on the Islanders. We've got to get rid of some bad karma by maybe changing up personnel, and sending some players to the Human Sacrifices seems to be the best option."

Replacing Tributes at goalie is Jean Paul Harbinger, recently acquired from the Devils.



Ben L. Kaufman teaches journalism ethics at Northern Kentucky University.
 
 
 
 

 

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