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On Second Thought
 

Government Bailout of Newspaper Business a Terrible Idea

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Some veteran and excellent journalists are suggesting a taxpayer bailout for financially floundering (and possibly foundering) daily newspapers. My objection is an old one: "If you accept the Queen's shilling, you dance the Queen's tune." Lower postal rates for newspapers and magazines are a good idea, but direct government financing would be toxic, whether it involved our national dailies, local papers or the Associated Press, a cooperative owned by daily papers.  

Whom Would a Federal Shield Law Shield?

0 Comments · Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Congress is considering a federal shield law for journalists whose sources, notes, unused images and testimony sometimes are demanded by federal courts and officials. At its most basic level, a shield must protect reporters' promises of confidentiality to sources. Otherwise, reporters will have to choose between breaking their promise or jail. State laws provide some shield but not in federal proceedings. Still, I'm no fan of shield laws.  

Analyzing the Media's Lazy Reporting on ACORN

0 Comments · Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Last fall ACORN's alleged promotion of voter registration fraud and voter fraud got lots of media attention during the 2008 election campaign. The right wing's assault on ACORN and news media complicity are the subjects of an independent media study by Peter Dreier and Christopher Martin: "Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN was in the news and what the news got wrong."  

Does Free News Content on the Web Still Make Sense?

0 Comments · Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Let's make this column local local or, as the new conventional wisdom sometimes puts it, hyperlocal: How much would you pay to read The Enquirer online if it quit being free? Or, if the main news section remains free online, which features would you pay for: Op-ed columnists? Tweets? Blogs? Moms? Are you willing to give The Enquirer your credit card and let them nick you for every article you pull from behind the pay-to-read wall? Lots of other dailies are gingerly sticking their toes in the roiled water of paid online content.  

Why the American Media Sanitize War Coverage

0 Comments · Tuesday, September 15, 2009
During the 1976 persecution of Larry Flynt for violating our hypocritical sense of decency, the pornographer mailed 400,000 brochures to Hamilton County residents. The 12-page flyer asked, "What Is Obscene?" His answer: war. The gory color images of civilian and combat casualties made his point. I don't know how many people he persuaded, but similar questions of taste arose with angry vigor in the past couple weeks, starting when the Associated Press distributed a color photo of a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan after a rocket-propelled grenade tore off his leg.   

Jim Adams and the Death of Religion Reporting

0 Comments · Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Jim Adams set a high standard for religion reporting in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Post was strong in those days, and Jim was one of those strengths. He died recently. At important press conferences and events, Jim would be there, writing with a pencil stub on folded sheets of newsprint. If he ever had a notebook like mine with REPORTER printed on its cover, I never saw it. A pencil stub (useful for editing as well) and the paper on which his words would be printed sufficed.   

AP, Daily Newspapers Trying to Make Web Freeloaders Pay

0 Comments · Tuesday, August 18, 2009
However you get your news online, you have an interest in moves by the Associated Press and others to prevent other online sites from using their content without paying. Fittingly, AP plans to use the technology that promotes wide freeloading to a general crackdown. It will tag and track its online content. That should discomfit aggregators and others who use AP stories, summaries or links to draw eyeballs and advertisers without paying or sharing ad revenue.  

Avoiding the Appearance of Bias, Writing for the Web and Local 'Non-Believers' Get Noticed

0 Comments · Tuesday, August 4, 2009
The New York Mets rarely make news here, but a recent stink reveals a conflict of interest that affects all mainstream news media: reporters looking for work with the people we cover. Cincinnati is sprinkled with former reporters doing public relations for people they covered: teams, companies, public bodies, etc. Other reporters, inclined to see evil in every human enterprise, often wonder if these former colleagues pulled their punches rather than piss off people for whom they might someday work.  

Putting Journalists in Danger, Enquirer Firings and the Death of Robert McNamara

0 Comments · Monday, July 20, 2009
NBC's show 'The Wanted,' unites a reporter with a former U.S. Navy Seal and a former Army Green Beret in a hunt for fugitive war criminals and terrorists. Dumb. Too many people already see journalists as the enemy to be kidnapped, taken hostage or killed.  

The Whole World Is Watching Iran

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Go to YouTube and watch Neda Agha-Soltan die. She's on the Tehran pavement, shot by a government theological thug. It wasn't a gunfight. Not even the Iranian government claims that demonstrators shot at police, soldiers or militias. In our celebrity-obsessed era, she has achieved the ultimate: known by one name. Neda.   

Three Stories the Local Media Need to Cover Better

3 Comments · Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I call it "reporter's remorse," the notion that there were important stories we know we screwed up, missed or pursued with insufficient energy or smarts. Every one of us has that secret list. Three recent stories brought reporter's remorse to mind: shortfalls in Cincinnati municipal employees' pensions, the wild disparity between reality and UC economic consultants' tax revenue projections and the possibility that Duke Energy will build a nuclear power station in Ohio.   

Newspapers and the Web Try to Work out a Reasonable Relationship

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 10, 2009
There is no unanimity among publishers about the best response to the parasitic relationship with web sites like HuffingtonPost and Google. Some news media enjoy or accept unrelated sites that draw readers with brief summaries and link to their original stories. Meanwhile, papers with significant web traffic are trying to figure out how they can begin (or return to) charging for what readers have learned is free.  

Maureen Dowd's Plagiarism, Cincinnati's Connection to a British Scandal and Problems at NPR

2 Comments · Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I no longer regularly read the New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd. I take no delight in her Pulitzer-winning nastiness, even when I applaud her target being skewered. For sheer vitriol, she has few rivals outside cable TV. So it was with schadenfreude that I read about her passing off an entire paragraph, almost verbatim, from Talking Points Memo blogger Joshua Marshall as her own and offering an explanation that further undermines her credibility.  

A Flu by Any Other Name Wouldn't Be As Interesting to the Media

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Let's call it Flying Pig Flu to honor the birds and hogs that contributed genetic material to the new influenza. Why not? For the news media, finding the right name was the larger crisis. Flying Pig Flu is more politically correct than the Israeli decision to call it "Mexican" flu because observant Jews and Muslims who abstain from pork are offended by "swine" flu.  

Potential Closing of Hebrew Union College Deserves More Media Coverage

2 Comments · Wednesday, April 29, 2009
In the past month, The Los Angeles Times and The Enquirer have reported the possibility/likelihood that Hebrew Union College will close its historic Cincinnati campus on Clifton Avenue. HUC, founded here in 1875, is the oldest continually functioning Jewish seminary in the world. It trains Reform rabbis in New York, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. The L.A. campus might also be up for the chop, according to the California paper.