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Ben L. Kaufman
 

A Man, a Dog, a 'Study' and Hurried, Gullible Reporters

2 Comments · Monday, December 7, 2009
A recent banner story on page 1 of The Enquirer's Local Life reported that Cincinnati Country Day was the second best high school in Ohio, based on passing percentage on state graduation tests and some yet-to-be revealed formula. The real story, if there was one, came later when it was mentioned that five Cincinnati area schools were in the top 10, including a public high school, Walnut Hills. I'm surprised the "study" dreamed up by a Columbus man in his basement survived The Enquirer's crap detector.  

Teachable Moment on Censoring Objectionable Messages

0 Comments · Monday, November 23, 2009
NKU's student paper was wrong to cancel ads for Resistance Records because the advertiser's racism offends the editor. And Editor Tim Owens was wrong to publish an apology for carrying the ads. If he were going to apologize, it should have been for invoking his beliefs to justify silencing an advertiser.  

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.