by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings on Cincinnati and beyond
• I was in the Pacific Northwest and the three-hour time difference disrupted my already lousy sleep patterns. I dozed and listened to the BBC World Service on a local FM station when a familiar growl awakened me: WVXU’s Howard Wilkinson. You don’t work with a guy for a quarter century and not know his distinctive voice. BBC was in Cincinnati for an Obama visit and it wanted the best local politics reporter. Howard got up early. BBC got what it wanted. I eventually went back to sleep, lulled by BBC’s Humphrey Humphrey Humphreys reporting from some slum street in Dontunnastan. • Enquirer Publisher Margaret Buchanan quit the UC board last week. It was a conflict of interests from the day she took her seat in 2006. She told the Enquirer, “My news team is reporting aggressively on the departure of UC President Greg Williams and the search for the next president. The credibility that is so important to our news team’s work is my highest priority, and I did not want my involvement with UC to make it uncomfortable or confusing for them or for the community.”The conflict existed when she helped spend taxpayers’ and students’ money for six years or hired Greg Williams as president. Her Road to Damascus moment apparently came in the fallout from Williams’ surprise resignation without explanation and curious $1.3 million parting gift. Now, to avoid another conflict of interest, she should resign from the executive committee of 3CDC where she has more than a passing interest in how her paper covers the private redeveloper of the city’s urban core. These are the kinds of conflicts of interest that compromise the paper’s integrity and long have been unacceptable for reporters. Buchanan isn’t the first Enquirer publisher or editor to ignore a conflict of interest that raised questions about the integrity of related news stories. She probably won’t be the last. It would be ideal if everyone on the paper were bound by the same ethical standards. • Enquirer use of Freedom of Information Acts continues to pay off. Friday’s Cliff Peale story about the surprise resignation of UC President Greg Williams draws on information obtained through FOIA. Granted, there is no smoking gun; whatever Williams’ reasons for quitting, he was smart enough to keep them out of memos and emails subject to FOIA. What Peale is learning from documents and interviews suggests an irreparable breach between UC’s board and president on how each should do its job. • Sunday’s Enquirer devotes two pages in Local News to sell its various media services. Most Enquirer services look to newer ways it can provide news to readers (viewers?). Pay walls are there, too. Now, if the bean counters at Gannett would allow the Enquirer to open its archives to subscribers, the deal would be complete. • Sunday’s Enquirer also exhibited a rediscovered spine with a major editorial opposing the streetcar project for Cincinnati. The reasoning, as far as it goes, is sound: there is no coherent plan to finance construction and operations and Cincinnati has more pressing infrastructure needs. • For a related look into the Enquirer’s future, check the New York Times business page on Monday. It reports changes ordered by Enquirer owner Gannett at its Burlington, Vt., daily. They’re slightly ahead of our paper and reactions there are not as upbeat as those in memos to readers from the Enquirer’s editor and publisher. • Fox News should not have apologized for broadcasting the suicide of a fleeing police suspect last week. Fox blamed inept use of its delay on live coverage. Lisa Wells, on WLW 700 Saturday, argued that Fox let it run for ratings; Fox knew what it was doing and there was no mistake. I can buy that. Ratings are why TV follows police chases live. In the video shot from a helicopter that followed the chase through traffic and on foot, the guy stops running, puts a handgun to his head and fires. His arm jerks and he slumps forward, away from the camera. So why apologize to a country where violent games and films are top earners and homicides generally are treated as a cost of urban living? If TV doesn’t expect something dramatic, why the live coverage from helicopters following fugitives and cop cars? • Maybe vivid writing explains why Brits continue to buy daily papers. I culled this from the home page of London’s Telegraph: Chill wind blows for Mitt Romney in Ohio: As late September gales blew his dyed black fringe free from its gelled moorings, Romney's tanned face crumpled into a frown.• A friend found this on NPR’s website. It promotes a broadcast by Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR’s Africa-based correspondent. In part, the promo said, “She also describes the stories that have been exciting, including the U.S. presidential race of the Kenyan-born Sen. Barack Obama.” The promo was dated Oct. 9, 2008. Does that make NPR the most authoritative news medium to buy the “Birther” conspiracy? • It’s a dead horse, but I have to beat it. Why do local news media tie unrelated homicides to nearby institutions? Killings on Over-the-Rhine’s Green Street unfailingly are described as “near Findlay Market.” Last week, Local 12 repeatedly linked a Corryville street shooting to UC although no one except Local 12 made that connection. Why didn’t the TV folks link the shooting to the University Plaza Kroger store which probably was even closer, or to Walgreens and CVS? • Winston Churchill is one of the people credited with this or a similar aphorism: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Today, he’d probably say, “A lie gets around the world in seconds after it’s posted on YouTube and it can’t be recalled.” So much for Madonna’s onstage lie that went viral after an audience member posted her line, “We have a black Muslim in the White House.” Now, she says she was being ironic. I don’t know what’s scarier, listening to Madonna ranting on politics or True Believers hearing her as affirmation of their deeply held fears about Obama. • Recently, Fox and Friends showed Obama talking with an actor dressed as a pirate. Fox said “The White House doesn’t have the time to meet with the prime minister of Israel, but this pirate got a sit-down in the Oval Office yesterday.” Later, Fox used the image as its “Shot of the Morning,” according to the AP and jimromenesko.com. Fox host Steve Doocy said, “Here’a quick look at what President Obama is up to, making sure he didn’t forget to mark International Talk Like a Pirate Day.’Uh, no. As the AP explained. The photo “was taken as a punchline for a joke Obama delivered to the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2009 about the administration talking to enemies as well as friends.” Fox & Friends admitted on a tweet that the photo was more than three years old but there was no evidence Fox told its cable audience about the partisan network fraud. • National Review, a long respected conservative magazine, proved it’s no better than Fox. It Photoshopped the Oct. 1 (Monday) cover photo to underline the wider GOP accusation that pro-choice Democrats are the pro-abortion party of death. Reuters/Newscom disowned the image, saying its original photo “was altered by National Review” in print and digital editions. Charlotte Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, who provided his shot from the same angle, told jimromenesko.com, “I was on the photo platform directly behind the President at the Democratic National Convention . . . (P)osters the North Carolina delegates are holding were changed from ‘Forward’ to ‘Abortion’.”• It’s not clear who promised what to whom but the family of murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens says CNN used his journal without permission. CNN found the journal in the ruined Benghazi consulate and relied on it for some reporting without saying it was Stevens’ private thoughts. My gut response: don’t promise anything and use it. His journal contained information relevant to the attack that killed him and three more Americans. The only reason I can see for State Department objections is that the journal might have been more revealing than officials wished. • I’m grateful to Eric Alterman, The Nation’s media columnist, who reported that when “asked about the film that seemingly inspired the riots and attacks, (Romney) echoed exactly the same sentiments contained in the Cairo embassy statement that he and his putative champions had previously found so contemptible. ‘I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think [that] making it, promoting it, showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths . . . I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment — the good judgment — not to be, not to offend other peoples’ faiths’.”As Alterman put it, “There you have it: Mitt Romney, terrorist apologist.” And if you think Alterman’s indulging in partisan hyperbole, here is the embassy statement issued before riots:“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” • Off-the-record always is tricky. Can you ever use what you learned? Can you use it if you disguise the source? Nothing is farther off the record than anything Britain’s reigning monarch says in private. Quoting her Just Isn’t Done. Now, Britain’s press is trying to assess the damage from the most tempest in a porcelain tea cup: a BBC reporter quoted Queen Elizabeth’s impatience with efforts to deport a radical imam to the United States to face terrorism charges. One does not say what, if anything, the Queen says to One. Talk about blowing access to a source. BBC and its reporter are new nominees for Golden Grovel Award. • Then there is Andrew Mitchell, the sneering conservative parliamentary official who dismissed London bobbies as “fucking plebs.” He was outraged when they asked him to ride his bicycle through a side gate rather than the front gate at the prime minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street. Damning police as his social inferiors is perfectly in tune with the traditional Conservative Party but it’s Bad Form for a guy whose governing party is trying to dump its elite and elitist history and image. Mitchell’s fiercely upper class insult resonates through British society. The minister is posh — the right family, schools and universities, if not a Guards regiment. Constables are not. “Fucking” isn’t the problem. “Pleb” is. The New York Times explained that Mitchell’s slur implies that the London Metropolitan Police — also known as Scotland Yard — are “worthless nobodies” in class-conscious Tory Britain.
by Jac Kern
Jac's favorite recent pop culture and Internet findings
White House Correspondents’ Dinner was Saturday, and while CityBeat’s invitation
must have gotten lost in the mail, the event brought journalists, celebrities
and famewhores from across the country to Washington, D.C. What began in the
1920s as an opportunity to recognize journalists is now more of a “Washington
goes Hollywood” event, usually hosted by comedians and attended by celebs who
have little (if anything) to do with politics or reporting. Although the event
gets criticism for becoming a schmooze-fest,
I’m a fan of what has become a Washington roast, where politicians stop taking
themselves too seriously, at least for one night.
Obama kicked off the night with a dig at his recent “hot mic” incident, and
continued by poking fun at other politicians, odd celebrity guests and other
evening was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who took the stage like a true equal
of diminishing journalistic integrity, how ‘bout the rise and (immediate) fall
Gawker’s Fox News mole? Earlier this month, Gawker announced
a new column by a Fox News employee, who was prepared to share the deepest,
darkest secrets from everyone’s favorite conservative channel — or something.
Two days later, the “mole” (revealed as O’Reilly
Factor associate producer Joe Muto) was found out by the network and
subsequently fired. So that’s the end of that, right? Not quite. Muto
was served with a search warrant early Wednesday morning. New York’s District
Attorney’s office seized Muto’s laptop, cell phone and some notebooks as part
of an open investigation. Fox News is accusing Muto of conspiracy and grand
larceny, according to this warrant.
The best/worst part of the whole debacle is that Muto only managed four Gawker
posts, which included juicy Fox dirt like a photo of a bathroom Bill O’Reilly
uses and a clip of Mitt Romney talking about his horses to Sean Hannity. Yawn. UPDATE: Muto apparently grew up in Cincinnati. Represent!
Pizza Hut’s new pies with cheeseburgers instead of crusts to the Heart Attack Grill
living up to its name, junk food on ‘roids is all the rage right now! Las
Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill is known for its over-the-top diner grub, including a
“Quadruple Bypass Burger,” so should anyone be surprised that eating there
could potentially be harmful to one’s health? For the second time this year, a guest collapsed at the restaurant, which boasts the Guinness World Record for
highest calorie hamburger (9,983 — about five times the calories recommended
for one day).
People go to Vegas for the thrill of a gamble — the Heart Attack Grill just
offers a unique spin! Meanwhile,
in the Middle East, Pizza Hut is finally solving that boring pizza crust
problem (what are we supposed to do — just eat plain dough?!) by swapping it
for cheeseburgers and chicken sliders. This
came just weeks after we were introduced to The Hut’s hot dog-stuffed crust,
which is now available in the U.K. The most shocking part about these pizza monstrosities?
They aren’t served in the States (yet)! Are we becoming a healthier nation or
is our fatness just rubbing off on other countries? In
movie news, a 2007 viral comedy short is now becoming a
star-studded smorgasbord. Jay
and Seth vs. The Apocalypse starred Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogan as friends
confined to an apartment during the end of the world. Filmed in just four days
immediately following production on Knocked
Up, the short is only available as a trailer on YouTube:
the success of Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and other Rogen
comedies, the crew is remaking the short into a feature film, currently titled The
End of The World. In
the film, James Franco (playing himself) hosts a party at his apartment when
the world begins…to end. Party-goers will include Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and
Aziz Ansari, in addition to Rogen and Baruchel. It’s an Apatowpocalypse!
While these dudes are taking something scary (the apocalypse) and turning it into
something funny, this bitch is turning something from my youth (dolls) into
the stuff of nightmares. Meet Valeria Lukyanov, “human” Barbie!
this Craigslist ad:
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 30, 2011
If you know anything about integral
calculus, then you know that the area under a curve represents volume,
while the slope is the acceleration at any given point (on a different
type of curve, ha!). But if you think you know enough about integral
calculus to prove these statements wrong then, sorry, but you don’t have
any credibility because you’re probably drunk, as two new studies have found a correlation between intelligence and a
thirst for alcohol.
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Was the man who burned to death trying to stay warm in Queensgate, William Floyd, another throwaway Cincinnatian? Had he died in a house fire in a better neighborhood, we probably would have learned about his family, his education, trade or profession, his military service, health/mental problems, possible addictions or alcoholism and funeral/burial plans. We might even have learned what bank was accepting donations for his funeral. [Thanks to Kevin Osborne's Dec. 2 blog post on CityBeat.com, I do know some of that information now about Floyd.]
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 20, 2010
You start a kick-ass Blues/Rock duo, work hard building a “cult” following and become commercially successful and make music so amazing even MTV can’t ignore it. The video is so great, it wins a "Breakthrough Video" VMA> So, The Black Keys, nothing can kill the high you’re on, right? Well, nothing except finally receiving your award, only to find that the name is, ahem, “misspelled” as “The Black Eyed Peas.”
2 Comments · Monday, March 15, 2010
In today's cultural, intellectual and financial world, I can't imagine a media job with less potential than science reporter. When your sources become objects of public scorn and ridicule, what's to write? In a nation accustomed to seeking simple answers to complex questions and a culture increasingly driven by belief rather than evidence, scientists today often are trying to communicate with the willfully deaf.
0 Comments · Monday, December 21, 2009
Life can be tough at the top of the Enquirer food chain. Circulation (printed papers sold) continues to decline. The paper has retired, bought out and fired just about everyone it can to cut costs. More unpaid furloughs are likely. I have no idea how profitable The Enquirer remains. The paper doesn't say. It never does, at least publicly. Yet its slumping core paid circulation doesn't encourage optimism.
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.
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."