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Ben L. Kaufman
 

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.  

Despite Bashings, Enquirer Continues to Move Forward ... to a Tabloid

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Celebrating Reds Opening Day might be the only local tradition whose popularity and numbers exceed badmouthing The Enquirer. Hostility to the morning daily is amazing, as is critics' frequent admission that they don’t subscribe or read it regularly. As it moves through uncertain times, I'm betting that The Enquirer is going to embrace a tabloid format.   

Holy Bad PR! Vatican Changes Pope's Press Remarks About AIDS and Condoms

2 Comments · Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The Vatican doesn't get it. I don't mean condoms, Islam or a Holocaust-denying bishop. I'm talking about the Internet. When Pope Benedict XVI asserted that condoms worsen Africa’s HIV/AIDS plague, bumbling Vatican aides corrected him, either ignoring or unaware that accurate news coverage was everywhere forever on the Internet.  

Debating the Media's Responsibility When Covering Suicides

1 Comments · Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Editors generally avoid news and images of local suicides, reflecting our awareness of historic religious stigma and communal sense of shame that can burden survivors. Exceptions generally involve suicides where lots of people see the act and/or body, as when someone jumps from a downtown building or hangs himself in a school gym. Taboos continue to affect our discussion of suicide as a way to end an intolerable life or unbearable physical or emotional pain. This is most intense when a young person commits suicide.  

Covering Race, Closing a Paper and Photos of Caskets

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Americans under age 50 probably would notice if a local news story starts off with "the black killer" or "the Jewish scam artist." It's a practice that largely died along with such conversational expressions as Paddy wagon, Welshing or Jewing, Polack, Dago, Spic, Coon, Wetback, etc. With rare exceptions — where race, ethnicity or religion are central to a story — we don't do that any longer. Such historic racial/ethnic identifications have morphed into code words meant to carry the same message.  

Olympian Smokes Weed, Bored Media Have a Field Day

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps offered a classic celeb apology: Admit behaving badly while really not admitting he smoked marijuana. Blame youth/inexperience/Satan. Promise to reform. Something short of "I didn't inhale." His semipublic embrace of a bong is news if he presents himself as the anti-drug athlete. Otherwise, no, it isn't. However, the aftermath is news: renewed and canceled endorsements, suspension from competitive swimming and Mayberry cops investigating whether to charge him with a crime (they ended up not charging him).  

Buy an Ad, Save a Newspaper

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Ads determine the news hole in a ratio meant to show a profit; the news hole includes everything not an ad: photos, illustrations, headlines, comics, recipes, weather map, etc. Editors get page layouts with the ads blocked in. They work around them.   

Joe the Journalist, Palin's Whining and Other Media Developments

2 Comments · Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Joe the Plumber is reporting about the Israeli-Hamas fight for the conservative web site pjtv.com. Sarah Palin again whines that she's a victim of news media sexism, class discrimination and accusations of diva-ness while getting her facts wrong. Again. I won't even get into the resurrection of Cincinnati's Ken Blackwell as candidate for RNC chairman except to say that he and 'Sarah Oh-Twelve' would be a Democrat's dream.  

Special Skills Required for Early Morning Newscasts

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Monday through Friday, WVXU News Director Maryanne Zeleznik cheerily announces it's a minute before 5 a.m. and leads into NPR's 'Morning Edition' and local programming. No spouse or roommate could be so chipper, and she doesn't flag audibly during the next five hours. It's not the perkiness of an ingenue but the confident sound of a village Wise Woman who enjoys her special knowledge and role.