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Media Musings From Cincinnati and Beyond

By Ben L. Kaufman · June 18th, 2014 · Curmudgeon Notes
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An inaccurate Page 1 story in Saturday’s Enquirer blew a chance to discredit popular, irrational opposition to measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations. 

The paper attributed those celebrity-fueled fears to work by a “discredited scientist” whom the reporter later described as a “researcher.” Both terms are wrong. 

Andrew Wakefield wasn’t a scientist. He was a physician. He wasn’t a researcher unless that covers anyone who wonders about what he sees. 

A Brit, Wakefield lost his license for fraud after a London reporter investigated his claims that linked MMR to autism. 

Lancet, the British medical journal that thoughtlessly published his original observations in 1998, belatedly retracted the article after those revelations. 

No valid studies reproduced Wakefield’s observations; no demonstrable causal relationship exists between MMR shots and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

No medicine/vaccine is 100 percent safe for everyone, but unvaccinated children are at greater risk than those who get MMR shots. 

But it’s not just unvaccinated children who are risk. 

When they’re infected, those youngsters and unvaccinated adults can infect others who for any reason have not been immunized or whose immunity has waned. 

American journalists who write uncritically about Wakefield’s discredited MMR-autism relationship have blood on their hands.  

• Journalism traditionally asks the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where and Why. I’ve always add a sixth W: So What? 

An Enquirer story last week inspired a So What? The headline read “Candidate for House had $112 in unpaid taxes.”

Unless this is a libel-finessing hint of bigger stories to come, it’s mean-spirited journalism that inspires many thoughtful adults to shun public office. 

Why did The Enquirer ask the Greene County clerk of courts to document the state lien on Jonathan Dever’s property in 2009? Five years ago? Yeeeeehaw. Stop the presses!

“This is an everyday issue that involves a lot of middle-class families and small businesses,” Dever told the reporter. “As soon as my wife and I were notified that there was an extra $112 assessed, we paid it.” The Enquirer says the lien was lifted soon after. 

Dever is a Republican hoping to succeed Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery).

It’s an open seat; she’s running for state treasurer against incumbent Josh Mandel.

• Another puzzle: Why do some local news media ignore the racial element after young blacks assaulted Jonathan Deters and his companion near Taste of Cincinnati? From what I’ve read and heard, the attack was unprovoked except that the victims were walking while white. 

Some news media reported that an African-American woman intervened and called police on her cell phone. She reportedly told police that the attackers shouted racial slurs as they beat and kicked their victims.  

• Have you noticed that the Throne of Authority at The Enquirer is no longer a male seat? The editorial board is female and one of the strongest, clearest voices is writer Julie Zimmerman. Here’s the start of Monday’s editorial: 

“Let us be clear: We are really frustrated that Cincinnati City Council approved $350,000 — more than two-thirds of the money available city-wide for blight removal — for an earmark for just one community, inserted at the last minute, to a volunteer organization with no experience or track record and no specific plan, while a very partisan Democratic supporter is there with his hand out for his personal project. This is not the way the city should spend taxpayer dollars.”

Then she gets into the particulars and names names. No more “come let us reason together” or general calls for virtue. 

• Ted Diadiun, a columnist with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, taught a journalism graduate course at Kent State. Poynter.com says he now has a better understanding of his industry’s future:

“… (U)ntil very recently, when people would ask me what I think about the future of newspapers, I would always say that things will be different, but I couldn’t imagine a world without them. After spending considerable time hanging around a college campus during the semester just past, I have learned to imagine one. And the students I encountered are already living one. Newspapers are simply not part of their experience.”

• It’ll be another three years before Americans celebrate our entry into the War To End All Wars, aka World War I, the First World War, the Great War. If you want a sense of what WWI meant to the Brits who fought for four years in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, go to independent.co.uk for daily vignettes from combat and the home front. Britain lost more than 900,000 men — about one in seven of the men mobilized — from a population of about 46 million. 

• I wonder how many references to Vladimir Putin’s presence at D-Day commemorations early this month mentioned the Red Army’s horrific losses in World War II and its pivotal role in the Allied victory? Or that the invasion was in large part a response to Stalin’s demands for a “second front.” He didn’t wait. By June 6, 1944, the Red Army had turned back the Germans and their allies at Kursk, Stalingrad and Moscow and were advancing toward Berlin. 

• I knew two men who landed at Normandy, albeit not on D-Day but soon after: my father, a combat surgeon, and a friend’s father who was a Royal Artillery officer. My dad never spoke to me about that part of his service. That’s typical of many WWII vets, I’ve learned. 

The Brit, however, had a wonderful story that flowed as we knocked back a bottle of Armagnac. During the breakout at Caen, he was given a driver and Jeep and told to find the Germans. They found him. 

He was wounded and captured with his driver. Bilingual, he realized that the German officer and his squad of men were alone and quite possibly left behind by retreating Germans. 

The Brit addressed the German officer in English, suggesting that he and his men surrender rather than be overrun. The German agreed, took the front seat of the Jeep next to the driver, put his wounded “captor” in the back, and ordered his armed squad to follow on foot back to British lines. 

• What must Boko Haram do to qualify as “terrorists”? They murder, they kidnap, they terrorize. BBC calls them “militants.” So does NPR. This is political correctness carried to insane lengths. 

• The online version was fine but The New York Times print story about the Roman Catholic sister who won Italy’s version of The Voice had the day’s dumbest headline: “What’s Next for a Viral Sensation? Some Wonder if It Might Be a Detour from Faith.”

Obviously, this headline was written by one of those Ivy League elitist secular humanists who rule our mainstream news media. 

There was no suggestion in the story that she would lose her faith, and the story said Sister Cristina Scuccia promised to do what convent superiors tell her to do. 

Oh, those wondering “some”? Probably sucked out of the headline writer’s thumb.


CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: letters@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

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