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Media Musings From Cincinnati and Beyond

By Ben L. Kaufman · July 23rd, 2014 · Curmudgeon Notes
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Fox’s WXIX 19 had a bizarre “investigative” report which not only rehashed an earlier story at unseemly length but also repeated itself during the rehash. City departmental managers are supposed to live in the city, according to Cincinnati City Council. Some apparently don’t. Good story. But how many times do we have to see the same video of a reporter talking to unidentifiable women in front of non-Cincinnati residences where the managers reportedly live? Or the same video of a broken window in a University Heights apartment building where one of the managers reportedly lives? 

The seemingly clear “gotcha” of the investigation blurred with new content at the end. I’m waiting for WXIX to tell me if individual managers have binding residency deals with the city administration that allow them to live outside the city or whether they’re bound — regardless of earlier understandings — by council’s rule. If side agreements are valid, there was no story. 

• How did The Enquirer miss the opening of Clifton Natural Foods next to Graeter’s on Ludlow Avenue last week? It wasn’t a stealth event. Clifton Natural Foods is an established business moving from Clifton Heights. 

For co-owner Aline Craig, it’s a return after decades to the natural food business on Ludlow. That’s good news for neighbors who grieve the failure of Keller’s IGA and welcome the opportunity to walk to a store for fresh fruit, veg and dairy.

You’d think with the attention given to the hopeful efforts to create a co-op across Ludlow from Clifton Natural Foods, the opening of a grocery would have been news in our Sole Surviving Daily. But Searching Cincinnati.com and Google after the opening, all I could find was an Enquirer story about the pending move from February. CityBeat did better, anticipating the opening by a week while the co-owners waited for Duke to flip the switch. 

• A promo on WVXU for the opera Madame Butterfly was jarring. It must have been written by someone who knew nothing about the opera. The promo says the geisha falls in love with an American “soldier.” Wrong. I don’t think there were any American soldiers in Japan when Puccini wrote the opera. Pinkerton was a U.S. naval officer and no gentleman. 

• Has any local news medium talked to Cincinnati-area teens and young adults in Israel now that Hamas missiles can reach the urban centers? Some are at Hebrew Union College’s branch in Jerusalem. Others are visiting in the Birthright program that takes young Jews to Israel.  

• Celebrity-obsessed news media seem oblivious to dangers posed by convicted vandal Justin Bieber.

A Canadian, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vandalism for throwing eggs at a California neighbor’s house. 

If his names ended in vowels or he came from the Middle East, he’d have been deported and singing in a Churchill bar to Manitoba’s last polar bear. 

The New York Times printed a riveting photo of a man carrying a dead or wounded child on a Gaza beach with the body of another child lying in the sand. Both were victims of an Israeli air strike moments earlier. It’s an unusually graphic image. Inside, photographer Tyler Hicks describes how he got the photo. 

• In interviews with BBC and NPR, some Palestinian spokesmen referred to the three murdered Jewish teenagers as “settlers,” not youngsters or young men. It was an important choice of words in the propaganda battle. Similarly, few reporters note that rockets fired from Gaza are aimed at Israeli civilians, although they note the comparative paucity of Israeli victims. Coincidentally, journalists rarely fail to relay the latest Hamas estimate of Palestinian civilians killed and wounded by Israeli attacks. 

• Where were the adults? Jimromenesko.com reports that The Columbia Missourian celebrated the first man on the moon with this tweet: “Saturday marks 45 years since Lance Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Where were you?”

Where was I? I was in rural Indiana wondering how Lance Armstrong got his bike up there. 

Another tweet followed, correcting the Armstrong identification and apologizing for the error. The paper’s website describes it as “a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.”

• Just as “breaking news” rarely is breaking on local TV, so network “exclusives” often aren’t exclusives. Jimromenesko.com reports this dustup.

On July 11, Romenesko wrote, ProPublica posted an exclusive report on the Defense Department inspector general’s “stinging rebuke of the Pentagon’s struggling effort to recover the remains of missing service members from past wars.”

Five days later, Romenesko wrote, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley sent a release to its email list touting the “first look at a Pentagon investigation into why so many American troops remain missing in action.” 

The CBS promotion said that “the findings of the Pentagon’s investigation have not been seen until this report.”

Megan McCloskey, author of ProPublica’s story, tweeted Pelley: “by ‘1st look’ Wed did you really mean ‘2nd look’ & to credit ProPublica? I had IG report last week.”

When she heard nothing, she tweeted CBS News publicist Lance Frank: “Haven’t heard back from you re: CBS error, claiming to have ‘first look’ at IG report when I had it last wk. Correction coming?”

Romenesko adds, “I’m told that the two news organizations are now discussing the matter.”


• Early photos from the MH-17 crash showed unidentifiable bodies in the jetliner’s wreckage. That didn’t bother me. Too much violence is sanitized for audiences that throng violent movies and play violent computer games. 

But Sky News went too far, proving that it’s possible to lower the bar for bad taste. Its reporter went through one Flight 17 victim’s luggage and showed viewers each of the contents. Then he stopped, and said, “We really shouldn’t be doing this, I suppose.” 

I caught his ghoulish uncertainty about the impropriety of his actions on HuffingtonPost.com. It also carried Sky News’ apology:

“Today whilst presenting from the site of the MH-17 air crash Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims’ bags. Colin immediately recognised that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused.” 

Note that Sky didn’t apologize for the reporter’s actions, only for giving offense. That’s as slimy as the reporter’s “I suppose” when he stopped rooting around a dead passenger’s possessions. 

None of this is surprising. Like Fox News, Sky News is a creation of Rupert Murdoch, who closed the tawdry News of the World when that London weekly tabloid was drowning in criminal phone hacking. 


CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: letters@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

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