by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
a story for local health/medicine reporters: why is Christ Hospital
reducing service at its outpatient cardiac rehab center? Recently,
patients received this bizarre letter:
“In order to continue the highest level of care for our growing patient volume, we have adjusted our office hours. Effective January 2nd, 2013, (sic)
hours of operation for Phase II cardiac rehabilitation will be Monday,
Wednesday and Friday, 6:00 AM through 4:00 PM. Hours on Tuesday and
Thursday will be 6 AM to 2:30 PM. Thank you for choosing The Christ
Hospital Health Network.”
significantly shortens the afternoon/evening hours daily for a “growing
patient volume.” Didn’t anyone read this Orwellian language before it
went out over an exec’s signature on hospital letterhead? To continue
the highest level of care Christ will provide less, especially if
patients need outpatient cardio rehab after work?
outpatient rehab has too few clients, are cardiologists and cardiac
surgeons at this aggressively marketed heart hospital urging patients to
work out at the Mount Auburn facility? Aren’t these docs telling us to
quit smoking, lose weight and exercise more?
not a question of the quality of the care by therapists and RNs at the
outpatient rehab center; if it were, it would be closed.
Sunday Enquirer carried a valuable column on Dec. 30 on what Ohio laws
passed in 2012 mean. Picked up from the Columbus Dispatch, it’s a marvel
of brevity and clarity and it proves there still can be substance
inside the Sunday Enquirer Local section.
the Good Old Days, the Enquirer would fill local pages with “evergreen”
stories written before holiday slow news days. If these timeless trivia
weren’t used, they could be spiked or recycled for future fallow news
days. Today, evergreens apparently have been tossed on the editorial
pyre while this metropolitan daily’s diminished staff is filling its
shrunken news hole with staff and reader pet photos.
help the Enquirer photographer who brings in a horizontal (“landscape
format”) photo for page A1. It won’t fit. Formulaic layout has ads and
promos bannered across the top and bottom, a deep multi-column vertical
photo or graphic on the left and a little bit of news beside and beneath
that photo or illustration. It seems to be the same every day,
regardless of events. It hardly qualifies as design. Cover pages on the
Local section fare no better. My guess? The format saves thinking every
day about how best to present the news (“content” or “product”) for
remaining page editors at some central Midwest location.
Nation offers evidence-based insights into school shootings from
Katherine S. Newman, coauthor of Rampage: The Social Roots of School
Shootings and dean of arts and sciences at Johns Hopkins.
starters, teach kids it’s right, good and potentially life-saving to
tell adults when other children or teenagers talk about killing,
shooting, etc. Peers of potential killers are our best early warning
research also rebuts NRA’s grandiose goal of an armed “guard” in every
school; most schools are unlikely to become killing grounds. She wrote:
shootings tend to happen in small towns with no history of background
violence rather than in big cities which suffer almost every other kind
of brutal attack except this one. There has been only one example of a
rampage school shooting in an urban setting since 1970. All the others
have taken place in rural towns miles from places like New York or
Chicago, or in suburbs in the Western states.”
was one of the towns that her team studied after Goth-wannabe Michael
Carneal shot five Heath High School classmates: three died, one is
paralyzed and another was badly wounded.
research reflects that of many others in describing Carneal as typical
of school shooters. He was a nerdy young white male who couldn’t make
lasting friendships and never fit in at school or in his
football-worshiping community. He was looking for acceptance and
“shooting people is drawn straight from the Hollywood playbook that
equates masculinity with violence.”
talked a lot about shooting and killing but no one risked being called a
snitch by alerting his parents or adults at school.
Were They Thinking? Gannett’s Journal News in suburban New York went
online with the names and addresses of handgun permit holders in two
counties in its circulation area. The paper says it will sue to force a
third county to provide that information. The paper claims the list and
accompanying interactive map showing permit holder’s locations are a
public service. Malarkey. Horse puckey. Madness. So what if the data
come from public records? So do names of men and women who claim to be
victims of sex crimes. We don’t publish that. So what is a reader
supposed to do with the handgun information? Cui bono?
spin wild fantasies about burglaries to obtain handguns from permit
holders or burglars hitting homes where no one has a conceal/carry
permit. My problem is different:
it’s hard enough to wrest public documents from dim and self-serving
officials. Decisions by the Journal News can’t help but undermine
remaining public support for investigative/database reporting.
Enquirer, Louisville Courier Journal and Indianapolis Star also are
Gannett papers. I hope the Journal News' perversion of First Amendment
assertiveness doesn’t become a route to Gannett corporate rings for
editors and publishers. (My name will appear if the Enquirer identifies
permit holders in its circulation area. I took the class, passed the
exam and obtained my permit for a cover story a year after Ohio allowed
counties to issue conceal/carry permits.)
over the Gannett paper’s online posting of names and addresses of
handgun permit holders (above) quickly morphed into online retaliation.
Some critics posted what they said was the home address and photo of
Gannett corporate CEO Garcia Martore. Other Gannett execs’ home
addresses have been posted and bloggers have listed home addresses and
contact information for staffers at the Journal News. The paper has
hired guards for its Westchester headquarters. If guards aren’t active
law enforcement officers, they must have handgun permits and could be
included in lists published by the paper.
daily Brattleboro Reformer bannered this headline across page 1
recently: “Let is snow, let is snow, let is snow.” Executive editor Tom
D’Errico told romenesko.com
that it was a “terrible, terrible typo. The night crew was
short-staffed and we had an unusual last-minute early deadline with the
storm marching in.” Later, he wrote in his blog: “I kept running over
the reasons in my mind . . . of how or why a mistake like this can and
does happen. But everything just sounded like an excuse. And the truth
is: there is no excuse.”
former President George H.W. Bush had one of those “greatly
exaggerated” brushes with eternity recently. (That now-a-cliche
expression originated in Mark Twain’s response to a reporter who
confused him with ailing cousin James Ross Clemens. Snopes.com says Twain actually told the reporter, “The report of my death was an exaggeration” but added “greatly” in a manuscript.)
to Bush the Elder. Houston’s WBAP-AM blasted an email saying, “The
Death of a President: George H. W. Bush.” Romenesko and Texas Observer
reported that news director Rick Hadley blamed the error on a common
practice among news media: “We get our obituaries ready to go for people
who aren’t doing well.” When Bush entered a local hospital’s ICU, WBAP
prepared an email blast for his death. Hadley said a problem with the
email system sent the death message to about a third of the station’s
subscribers. Thirty minutes later — after callers alerted the station to
its misstep — WBAP quickly sent out a corrected email. Hadley said the
bulletin was not read on the radio.
was typical of smart news media: It updates obits of prominent men and
women to avoid being unprepared when the inevitable occurs. Unfailingly,
that’s on deadlines when staff is short and sources are unavailable
because of holidays or late/early hours. These advance obits have blanks
for timely details: age, cause of death, where the person died and a
credible confirmation of death. Then they are filed in ways meant to
prevent all-too-common premature release.
That caution didn’t prevent Germany's respected news weekly Der Spiegel from mistakenly publishing Bush’s obituary in late December. AP said, “The
unfinished obituary appeared on Der Spiegel's website for a few minutes
before it was spotted by Internet users and removed. In it, the
magazine's New York correspondent described Bush as ‘a colorless
politician’ whose image only improved when it was compared to the later
presidency of his son, George W. Bush.” A Der Spiegel Twitter feed
said, "All newsrooms prepare obituaries for selected figures. The fact
that the one for Bush senior went live was a technical mistake. Sorry!"
ago at UPI, we put out HOLD FOR RELEASE obituaries of leading figures
worldwide. Some of our client media saved the incomplete obits to await
news of the death. Others removed mention of death and often published
them as space-filling weekend feature stories.
Associated Press doesn’t send out advance obits as a practice but Dan
Sewell, AP’s correspondent in Cincinnati, noted a different problem:
the subject outlives the byline reporter. Last year, New York Times
ombuds Margaret Sullivan wrote generally about obits after talking to
obit editor Bill McDonald and touched on that problem: “Occasionally,
the author of the obituary was already dead by the time the piece ran – Vincent Canby on Bob Hope and Mel Gussow on Elizabeth Taylor,
for example. Mr. McDonald said that in most cases when an obit subject
outlives the writer, The Times does a new piece. ‘But in select cases,’
he added, ‘we feel the obit is too fine to discard, particularly if it
is by a writer who brings a certain authority to it.’ The Times assigns a
live body to update the obit and, in the case of Mel Gussow, offered a
note to the reader acknowledging the status of the author.”
all won another battle to hold cops accountable. The American Civil
Liberties Union sued to preempt Chicago police who object to an ACLU
project on police accountability. ACLU wanted to make sure its employees
wouldn’t be busted for recording officers’ words. The federal appellate
court in Chicago said we all share a First Amendment right to record
what police say to us. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the
Chicago police appeal, affirming the lower court ruling. Earlier last
year, federal courts said we have a right to photograph police in
public. My guess is dimmer, bolder police everywhere will continue to
arrest reporters who record their words and others who photograph their
actions. That’s not futile. The possibility of an arrest record — even
knowing the charge will be tossed by a judge or prosecutor — can be
intimidating and leave cops free of scrutiny.
Congress obscure methods and goals in naming legislation but reporters
should challenge any legislator who talks about “preventing” gun
We can’t prevent it. With some nuts among
the 300-plus million living in this country and almost nonexistent mental
health programs, some killers will find and use firearms on other
people. We can’t prevent it. That we have hundreds of millions of
firearms makes massacres even likelier. Reporters should press
vote-seeking legislators on how their proposed restrictions will limit
casualties from inevitable firearm violence. That brings us back to the
1994 restriction on high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons.
Hunting weapons and pistols for self-defense don’t need or use them.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The pension fund for municipal workers is in trouble. The workers want City Council to pay for a one-time cash infusion, while council wants workers to accept benefit reductions. Qualls has proposed changing the Pension Board so two-thirds of its members would be independent and have no ties to City Hall, unlike now.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 26, 2010
We at WWE! are admittedly afraid of many things: Rollercoasters, angry PR representatives and our fathers after Bengals games are all pretty high on our lists of things to avoid. But there is one entity that scares us so badly even the mention of its name strikes fear into the most brave part of our hearts: North Korea.