by Danny Cross
90 days ago
Posted In: Media
at 12:18 PM | Permalink
A few years ago, a friend and I were walking down the street
in Over-the-Rhine from Neons to somewhere north on Main Street — maybe
MOTR, maybe our friend’s place at 13th and Clay, might have been heading back
to a car. I’m not really sure — it’s been three or four years now since people started
coming back to the (mostly nighttime) amenities in the neighborhood.
Just before we turned the corner from 12th onto Main, gunshots popped off behind us. We turned around and saw some dude running south on
Sycamore. We bolted onto Main and jumped into a storefront
doorway until things calmed down, called the police and then continued on our way. I followed up and found out that the man we saw running away neither died nor killed anyone.It was a scene that has grown less common in recent years in the area, as the push of development has moved much of the drug dealing and related violence outward into other neighborhoods. In January WCPO reported that violent crime in OTR was down 74 percent since 2004, in part due to development and evolving policing tactics. Such facts didn't deter The Enquirer from freaking the hell out yesterday when one of its reporters witnessed a shooting in front of a bunch of popular OTR restaurants. Reporter Emilie Eaton was on the same block when 30-year-old Gregory Douglas was shot around 9 a.m. near Vine and Mercer streets, fled a short distance then collapsed and died. Police today issued a warrant for the arrest of Darnell Higgins for the murder.It's been a sad day for a lot of people: families and friends of the deceased and the accused; those who witnessed such violence up close. It’s also a sad day to consider the
state of local media, considering the response we've seen so far to The Enquirer's collection of coverage. It started with the reporter's first-person account of witnessing the shooting. Then came a news story questioning the neighborhood's safety, for some reason quoting the Hamilton County Republican chairman and a lone neighborhood resident saying he didn't feel safe these days. Soon afterward, a more formed version of the story was updated online — this time the headline tried to cleverly play on the word "dead" (“Gunfire in OTR brings
morning to a dead stop”). The headline was later changed, “After fatal shooting, no easy answer in OTR," though the insensitive quip lives on in the story's URL. The Enquirer’s
decision to frame Douglas’ death as a question of whether or not OTR is
safe for those of us unaccustomed to witnessing violence is generating the type of
online debate (/clicks) the "newsroom of the future" was meant to induce. It has also been heavily criticized. Here’s former Cincinnati mayor Charlie
Luken on Facebook:
Here’s Derek Bauman, an OTR and mass
transit advocate/suburban police officer, who wondered on Twitter why the first
source in an early version of the “Is OTR safe yet” story quoted the county GOP
chair before anyone else. Alex Triantafilou’s take? “There is more work to be
done to make our city as safe as the suburbs."
Eaton's first-person story was published just hours after the shooting occurred. "A stray bullet
could have easily missed the victim and hit me," she wrote.
"The gunman could have come around the corner for me. I'm lucky to be
writing this story right now."The story elicited strong response from readers, but perhaps not the kind the Enquirer was picturing. About 20 wrote comments questioning the appropriateness of the piece, many along the lines of this:As writers molded dispatches from the
scene into The Enquirer’s larger
collection of reporting on the incident, debate continued on social
media. Enquirer writer John Faherty took to the comment section of Eaton's article to defend her. Those
of us in the media don’t enjoy criticizing each others' work, and we realize most
people in the industry are dedicated and passionate. We respect
colleagues at other media companies, especially when their dedication to the
craft is evident.Eaton clearly had a shitty morning. Her decision to immediately get back to doing her job is admirable. Unfortunately, the collection of work to which she contributed was misguided, made worse by
the classlessness with which Enquirer editors showed along the way. Publishing right-wing digs at inner-city neighborhoods has been a longstanding tradition at The Enquirer. Using a play on the word "dead" in a news story about a murder is the type of move that would get a college newspaper in trouble. It shouldn't be OK at any self-respecting daily. There's no way to tell which “content
coach” might have shaped yesterday’s
coverage. Any number of web editors could have written such an offensive headline — the newsroom of the future isn't set up to catch these things. Newsroom morale has been known to be low at Gannett papers across the country, and many of us actually feel bad for the many talented people struggling to produce quality work under such restrictive guidelines. Ultimately, reporting that might have culminated in an articulation of how opposite worlds intertwine in front of our eyes every day instead became a question of whether it's smart to eat and shop near poor people.Later versions of the story noted that the lunch rush on Vine Street continued as usual just hours later, suggesting that maybe the question of whether or not Vine Street is safe had already been answered. "I'm not worried about it," said Mike Georgitan, a general manager at
Pontiac BBQ on Vine Street. "It might affect lunch today – maybe," he
shrugged. "But then it will pick back up."
A person is dead, and the cycle of poverty, crime, drugs and violence that gripped Over-the-Rhine long before a Japanese gastropub opened at 15th and Vine is still occurring all over this city.
The Enquirer would be wise to demonstrate an understanding of these forces rather than following the path of least resistance to Internet debate.It would be a lot more compelling than a description of how witnessing violence makes a typical white person feel.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Pointing out Enquirer errors — mistaken information that local
copy editors would have caught in the Good Old Days — used to be a guilty
pleasure. Today, repeated lapses raise a serious question.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:22 AM | Permalink
Council passes streetcar plans; Northside's Mayday bar goes up for sale; tell me where the chili is
Before we get to news this morning, I have a query for readers. I want to venture away from the safe world of our ubiquitous chain Cincinnati chili restaurants for a day, lovely as they are, and try a smaller, more obscure chili parlor in town for lunch. Where should I go? I’m thinking about this place, but I’m open to suggestions. I’ll report back my findings tomorrow morning.Ok, on to business. A bunch of stuff happened yesterday in City Council, but it was all stuff we sort of expected would happen, right? Council passed a streetcar operating agreement and funding mechanism, a bit of a landmark achievement for the project. After a couple years of fighting, hand-wringing and politicking, it seems like this thing is actually going to happen, funded by a roll back on property tax abatements in Over-the-Rhine, a parking meter increase there and of course rider fares. “Three months ago, I didn’t know if we’d be here today with a revenue stream,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, who chairs Council’s transportation committee, yesterday during the meeting. Murray was opposed to the project originally, but voted for the measure along with the rest of Council minus Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman. Smitherman said he still had serious concerns about the project’s financial prospects, saying no one is sure what ridership will be like.• Who will be greeting those riders is still in question, though. A fight had been brewing over whether to employ SORTA’s unionized employees to run the streetcar or bid the work out to a private company. Consultants for the transit authority say a private company could save the city as much as $300,000 a year, though Democrats on council and representatives from SORTA’s union debate that number. Council sidestepped the argument for now by passing a resolution stating that SORTA should bid the job out to see what kind of offers it can get, but that the final decision on staffing will be voted on by council, which has so far leaned toward hiring SORTA employees. One possible arrangement: SORTA workers do the actual driving, so to speak, while a private company performs the managerial side of operating the streetcar. • Council also voted to co-name Third Street downtown Carl H. Lindner, Jr. Way. The vote was unanimous, but not without its own bit of controversy. Councilman Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati’s first openly-gay councilmember, said the vote required some deep soul-searching on his part. Lindner was a big funder of Citizens for Community Values, a group that pushed for Cincinnati’s harsh Article XII anti-gay charter amendment in the 1990s. Lindner also had some other dark moments during his career, though those didn’t enter into the street-naming conversation in Council.“As a gay person, I don’t want to be judged solely on my sexual orientation,” Seelbach said. “There’s a lot to me besides my sexual orientation. And there’s a lot to Mr. Lindner besides his anti-gay history and positions. And a lot of that is really wonderful, from the jobs he created to the nonprofits he supported. Those things make me see him as a more whole person than just his anti-gay past.”Despite Seelbach's yes vote, his comments drew an angry response from Councilman Charlie Winburn, who said Lindner was something of a mentor to him.“I think it’s shameful of you to make a comment like that when a man has died and has given so much to Cincinnati.” Winburn said. Lindner passed away in 2011. “You should keep your vote. Your vote is not received." • Well then. On a less awkward note, Council also approved a liquor license request for Nick and Drew Lachey’s Lachey’s Bar in Over-the-Rhine, which is hoping to open before Thanksgiving. So there’s that. • A judge has turned down suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s first two requests for a new trial. Hunter filed three motions asking for a new trial after jury members recanted their guilty verdicts. The jurors said they were pressured into their decisions. Those motions would have been heard in court today."Once a jury has returned a verdict, and that jury has been polled, a juror may not rescind their verdict," Judge Norbert Nadel wrote in his decision. Hunter was tried on nine felony counts last month, and convicted on one — a charge stemming from her allegedly passing on documents about her brother, a court employee accused of punching a juvenile inmate. The jury hung on the other counts. A judge will hear Hunter’s final motion for retrial Dec. 2. • Business opportunity alert: did you know Mayday is for sale? For $285,000 you get the bar and all of its inventory. Not a bad deal. Owners Vanessa Barber and Kim Mauer are moving on to other opportunities after five years of running the bar, which was known as the Gypsy Hut prior to their tenure there. I have a lot of fond memories playing music and billiards there, as well as climbing onto the roof of that building under both its names, so I hope someone snatches it up. I’d buy it, but I’m just a little short on cash. About, oh, $284,000 short. No worries, though, the bar will stay open until a new owner comes along.• Speaking of opportunities… if you’re a fellow scribe, heads up. The Cincinnati Enquirer is hiring in tons of positions, many of them reporters to replace those it lost during a Gannett-wide restructuring process.• Finally, our most esteemed Twitter friend John Mattress is at it again. Bacon is expensive indeed.For chili tips, or heck, even if you want to throw some news my way, hit me up on Twitter or at email@example.com
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:56 AM | Permalink
Enquirer's innovative new layoffs drive reporter exodus; petition circulated to name the Norwood Lateral after Carl Lindner; Kanye or Cruz?
Halloween is here. I’m taking an informal poll: how many folks are dressing up as Union Terminal and/or Music Hall tonight? I’m not knocking ya. I just wish I’d thought of that in time. Instead I have an Abraham Lincoln mask, American flag aviators, and a bow tie for a costume, so I will probably look like a very unappealing, election-themed male stripper. Procrastination is lame, folks.These are painful times for the Cincinnati Enquirer. A reorganization has been happening for a while now, but recently, news broke that a number of newsroom veterans are leaving the paper, including No. 2 in command Laura Trujillio and social issues reporter Mark Curnute, whose stories I've always been impressed with. Over the past couple months, employees have been asked to reapply for their jobs under new, more digitally-oriented job descriptions. That's definitely ruffled some feathers, and has caused the biggest shake-up in the paper's history. The departures probably have something to do with the fact Gannett brass have been wrapping layoffs at the Enquirer and other papers in the disingenuous corporate speak of an exciting new opportunity to create "the newsroom of the future", but who knows?• Right now the Ohio Department of Transportation is having its Southwestern Ohio town hall meeting on the future of public transit in the state. In Lebanon, because everyone knows that is the absolute hub of public transit in the region. You can watch the proceedings live here if you’d like to follow along at home. It’s standing room only there, maybe because I spread a rumor that there’s an ODOT party bus shuttling folks to some killer Halloween parties right after the meeting. That’s false, as far as I know. • You’ve probably already heard about the controversy over a proposal by outgoing State Sen. Eric Kearney to change the name of State Route 562 from the Norwood Lateral to the Barack Obama Norwood Lateral Highway. I bet you can guess some folks’ reaction to that idea. Norwood Mayor Tom Williams doesn’t want a name change, but did throw out another, much different suggestion: naming it after Norwood-raised business magnate Carl Lindner, who died in 2011. Williams called Lindner, who owned Chiquita, Great American Insurance, and a number of other businesses “a beautiful individual” and said the several times he got to hang out with him were “an absolute thrill.” Hm. Maybe let’s just keep calling it the Norwood Lateral. • More than 400 people in eastern Ohio were forced to leave their homes this week after a fracking operation there began leaking and “shooting an invisible gaseous discharge into the air.” …no, I’m just not even going to go there. The blowout happened about 6 p.m. Tuesday. Homes within a 2 mile radius of the site where evacuated, though officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources say no permanent environmental impact was caused by the leak and residents were back in their houses by midnight. No word on the cause of the accident.• Is the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party on the way out? Could be. Some say those within the party are furious at the monumental disaster that Dem gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s campaign has become, and party chair Chris Redfern could take the heat for that. We’ll see.• Almost a year exactly after political brinksmanship and partisan wrangling ground the U.S. government to a halt, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says if voters in Kentucky choose him, it’s because “they want divided government.” It may be true, though. New polls heading into the Nov. 4 election show McConnell up five points over his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. • Finally, I want to introduce you to perhaps the weirdest online quiz ever. Can you distinguish the wisdom passed down by ornery, Texan tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz from the golden, learned lessons of rapper and self-proclaimed genius Kanye West? The Washington Post wants to help you find out.
by Danny Cross
at 10:19 AM | Permalink
Editor says Findlay Market pee story was an “abberation” and won’t happen again
The Cincinnati Enquirer news department has seen
some hard times this week, taking down stories about rich people
getting arrested and now admitting that it was a bad idea to publish a
trashy collection of mug shots and arrest reports about people who are
likely mentally unstable or addicted to drugs.
CityBeat reported yesterday that The Enquirer
took down a story about police arresting Robert S. Castellini, son of
Reds owner Bob Castellini, and his wife Sunday night for allegedly fighting in front of their children. Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn explained in an email to CityBeat
that the story wasn’t pulled because any super-powerful local business
leaders whose team is hosting the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star
Game complained. She says neither the Castellinis nor anyone else
contacted The Enquirer about the story. Someone
in the news department apparently used flawed news judgment and then
someone else posted the story online before it had been properly vetted
by editors. Nothing sinister — just general, run-of-the-mill incompetence.
"An editor determined — and I agreed — that it did not meet our news standards for publication," Washburn wrote to CityBeat
in an email Wednesday evening. "The Mr. Castellini in question is not a
public figure, has nothing to do with the Reds, etc. We don't report
every domestic charge in the community. But while that was being
discussed, someone posted it. We quickly took it down but not before it
began to get traction."
CityBeat asked Washburn how the alleged crimes The Enquirer
published in Monday's "arrest roundup" meet the paper’s news standards
for publication based on these general guidelines. The story, titled
“Arrest roundup: Woman pees on Findlay Market,” was published just an
hour after “Reds' owners' son, daughter-in-law arrested.” The pee story detailed arrests involving a guy spitting on people at a bus stop, a dude
masturbating on the steps of a church, a woman caught with drug
paraphernalia after stealing Fig Newtons from a UDF and another lady
allegedly urinating on Findlay Market while “acting bizarre.”The story on Castellini was deleted, but the arrest roundup lives on.
Washburn says the arrest roundup was just another news-gathering fuckup.
“That was an aberration and not something we'll be doing more of,” she wrote in an email to CityBeat this morning. “That's not the kind of coverage we want to do.”
If true that The Enquirer’s news department plans
to back off dramatic stories about poor people going to jail, perhaps
focusing more on the causes of poverty than the effects, it would be a
good day for the tens of thousands of impoverished, mentally ill and
drug-addicted Cincinnatians continually underserved by city budgets that
underfund human services.
In the meantime, someone is still covering the Enquirer pee beat with gusto, although this one seems fairly deserved — Art Modell definitely screwed Cleveland over back in the day.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Fox’s WXIX 19 had a bizarre
“investigative” report which not only rehashed an earlier story at
unseemly length but also repeated itself during the rehash. City
departmental managers are supposed to live in the city, according to
Cincinnati City Council. Some apparently don’t. Good story.
0 Comments · Monday, April 14, 2014
The Enquirer recently took down a story by a “contributor” who works
for the organization her story promoted.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
An Enquirer cover story described a
local school program that could have fallen under the old-fashioned
rubrics of “shop” or “manual arts.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Abandoning its historic and
hardline anti-abortion stance, The Enquirer inadvertently
demonstrated the case for evolution last Tuesday.
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 31, 2013
CBS’ 60 Minutes
broadcast an uncritical presentation of National Security Agency’s
justifications for its constitutionally suspect surveillance of Americans.