Home · Articles · Columns · On Second Thought
On Second Thought

Media Fail on Water Safety Coverage

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
We’re headed into Memorial Day weekend and I hope The Enquirer resists any inclination to repeat the pratfall when the newspaper tried to give holiday water safety advice. It was a beaut: How to use the Heimlich Maneuver to resuscitate a standing victim pulled from the water. Think about it. Your “patient” is standing. How close to drowning is that?  

Media coverage of Osama bin Laden's killing raises questions

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 11, 2011
We first saw a photo from the White House situation room with everyone looking intently at something we couldn’t see. About the same time, White House spokesmen said a live TV feed was coming from minicams atop the SEALs’ helmets. Were the president and others watching bin Laden being shot? Was Hillary’s hand-to-face gesture a response to a killing? If yes, how did we got such a phony story about his armed resistance? They would have known better.  

Public's Ignorance About the 'Submerged State'

3 Comments · Monday, April 18, 2011
Few encounters are more difficult for reporters than trying to interview people living, at least in part, in some alternate universe. I’ve dealt with otherwise seemingly reasonable people who hold beliefs or embrace misinformation with certainty and passion that are impervious to skeptical questions. It’s especially troubling when covering controversies involving public policy.  

Nukes as 'the Living Dead' of Journalism

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 6, 2011
I was The Enquirer’s environment reporter who handled stories about the partial meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island (1979) and the nuke that never was, Cincinnati Gas & Electric’s Zimmer Nuclear Power Station (d. 1980s) in Clermont County. Reporting Three Mile Island and Zimmer was hellish but perfect practice for the mess we encountered at the federal government’s Fernald uranium processing plant in northwest Hamilton County. Sorting that out won our team a Pulitzer nomination.  

Race In the South African News Media

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 16, 2011
South Africa today leaves me feeling like Rip Van Winkle. It’s as if I went to sleep in the mid-20th Century when this nation suffered under a violent, racist white minority government and its Apartheid policy of color-defined racial segregation. Each morning now, I wake up in the 21st Century South Africa, ruled by a freely elected multiracial government and its third black president. I won’t parachute in and play network anchor as instant expert on the “new South Africa.” Rather, I want to talk about some of the ways the issues of race arise or erupt in the news media. There is candor Americans could learn to emulate.  

Memories of Reporting in 1960s Africa

2 Comments · Thursday, March 3, 2011
I’m back in Southern Africa for the first time since colonial 1965, when I was here as a journalist. In the 1960s, black rule was rare, an aspiration of increasingly restive black majorities. Most publications were aimed at white minorities. Broadcast was government owned or controlled. The papers I joined set out to be different; we supported black majority rule and aimed our papers at a multiracial audience.  

Media Culpable In Vaccine Controversy

8 Comments · Monday, February 7, 2011
It’s not often that I write about journalists having blood on our hands. Our willingness to aid foes of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) childhood vaccination, however, is such a case. When, in the name objectivity, we treat all sides equally in this battle between medicine and belief, we enlist in the Flat Earth Society.   

Newspapers Scramble to Make Profit on Web

0 Comments · Monday, January 31, 2011
The Enquirer/Cincinnati.Com is joining an arrangement where a monthly fee will let subscribers read some or all of a broad selection of dailies and news sites on the Internet. It promises one-stop convenience even though much of the content is free elsewhere. Called Ongo.com, it's the latest effort to stanch losses of readers and ads and to make some money from the Internet.  

New GLBT Web Site Has High Hopes

1 Comment · Wednesday, January 19, 2011
TriStateNews.com launched this month after weeks of quietly building the Web site. It's aimed at the region's GLBT communities, and like the unrelated newspaper, 'GLBT News,' it offers everyone a portal into the interests and achievements of a significant minority. Produced by Troy May and his nonprofit firm, May Media Institute Inc., in Taylor Mill, Ky., the Web site is attractive and easy to navigate.  

A 15-Step Program to Save the Media from Themselves

0 Comments · Friday, January 7, 2011
Dump consultants. Cancel audience-counting contracts. Fire click whores. Ice eyeballs. Adopt my cost-free 12-step program (actually 15) to save surviving news media ... from ourselves. Readers, viewers and listeners know we fill space and time with meaningless words. It goes beyond verbosity. It's insulting. Start the new year by embracing virtue.  

Changes at Streetvibes to 'Broaden the Reach of the Paper'

0 Comments · Monday, December 20, 2010
After Streetvibes Editor Greg Flannery left over what I will call irreconcilable differences with Josh Spring, executive director of the sponsoring Greater Cincinnati Coalition of the Homeless, Spring says "the paper will play its role" in Coalition battles to house the homeless and oppose gentrification. Staff meetings will include new Editor Jennifer Martin, and then her job, he says, "is to do what an editor does."  

How the Media Covers the Poor Follows America's Treatment of the Poor

0 Comments · Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Was the man who burned to death trying to stay warm in Queensgate, William Floyd, another throwaway Cincinnatian? Had he died in a house fire in a better neighborhood, we probably would have learned about his family, his education, trade or profession, his military service, health/mental problems, possible addictions or alcoholism and funeral/burial plans. We might even have learned what bank was accepting donations for his funeral. [Thanks to Kevin Osborne's Dec. 2 blog post on CityBeat.com, I do know some of that information now about Floyd.]  

Media Sloppiness Leads to Guilt by Association

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Why associate a homicide with an apparently unrelated business? A recent Enquirer story said an Over-the-Rhine shooting was "a block south of Findlay Market." The headline said it was "near Findlay Market." Nothing in the story said or indicated the victim or shooter had anything to do with Findlay Market except proximity. Would The Enquirer say "a block south of P&G" in a story that doesn't tie a homicide to the corporation? Not likely.  

Tea Party Candidates Painted Media as Enemy

1 Comment · Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Partisan campaign violence and intimidation are worrying, especially when elected leaders remain silent. It's as if Republicans know the radical fringe could turn on them. Egregious examples are Tea Party favorites. Given public perceptions of Tea Party power, that suggests the next two years will be ugly as reporters try to elicit useful information from Republican winners, candidates and operatives.  

The Media's Role in Covering All Election Candidates

0 Comments · Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I'm troubled by the unjustifiable exclusion of minor party candidates from Ohio campaign debates sponsored by the news media. Criteria I've seen for inclusion remind me of the tests faced by blacks at some Southern election boards and polling places. They're designed to affect the elections by excluding persons who should be included. Stripped of other roles, that of informing voters is the foundation for our continued free press.