0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I began this column wondering, “With so many search engines and online sources available, how much is enough?” Before the Internet, phone calls and checking clippings often sufficed.
by Ben L. Kaufman
91 days ago
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
VanBenschoten’s reporting on both sides of the river has won her the
new position of Northern Kentucky news columnist at the Enquirer. We’ve
been friends since she was an undergrad in my ethics class. I had the
pleasure of holding up a copy of the NKU’s paper, The Northerner, and
showing our class her first page 1 byline. She was editor of NKU’s
paper, The Northerner, and worked for a Northern Kentucky weekly where
she regularly broke stories ahead of daily reporters. I warned the
then-editor of the Kentucky Enquirer to follow Amanda’s work because,
“she’ll eat your lunch.” Soon after, that wise editor hired Amanda. I’m looking forward to Amanda finding her own voice after years of
Aiken died this month. We’ve been colleagues and friends for more than
four decades. My wife and I moved to Cincinnati in 1967 and subscribed
to the Enquirer. I called Scott to compliment the analyses of foreign
events for which he’d been hired on the Enquirer editorial page. After
swapping tales about our work overseas and people we knew there, he
offered to introduce me to Bob Harrod, the local editor, who hired me
for weekend reporting. It was the perfect antidote to grad school. That
began 30-plus years at the Enquirer for me. Scott and I stayed in touch
after he left daily journalism for corporate public relations. Our
friendship survived my reporting of accusations of illegal wiretapping
by Cincinnati Bell; Scott was head of the telephone company’s public
relations. Our last lunch shared stories of his and Anne’s visit to
Rome. Sheila McLaughlin’s obit on March 9 covers his career admirably,
including Scott’s accidental matchmaking for a young
• Urbi et orbi.
Accusations of omission and commission by Pope Francis when he was a
priest and Jesuit leader during Argentina’s murderous “Dirty War”
demonstrate how religious leaders risk charges of collaboration when a
dictatorship falls. Recent examples taint the Russian Orthodox Church
and South Africa’s Dutch Reform Church. But it’s a rare priest who rises
to the modern papacy without the historians, news media and others
questioning their careers. Pius XII is accused of being too close to
Nazi Germany as diplomat Cardinal Pacelli before World War II. John
XXIII was the subject of debate whether, as a chaplain sergeant in World
War I, he gave Italian troops the order to leave their trenches, “go
over the top” and attack. Fourteen-year-old Joseph Ratzinger was drafted
into the Hitler Youth near the end of World War II, something everyone
learned when he became Benedict XVI.
200-plus complaints about papal coverage moved NPR ombudsman Edward
Schumacher-Matos to admit he, too, was “pope-ed out.” One listener
wondered if NPR stood for National Papal Radio? Schumacher-Matos blogged
that “NPR aired 69 stories since Pope Benedict
XVI announced his resignation Feb. 11 and Pope Francis was selected as
his successor Wednesday. That averages out to about two radio magazine
or call-in segments per day, not including the steady drumbeat of
shorter items delivered by hourly newscasts that are not transcribed. Most
of the complaints have concerned the 47 stories that aired in the four
weeks between the day after Benedict announced his resignation and the
morning before Francis was announced — a period during which there was
less major news about the subject and more ‘horse-race’ speculation
about who might be selected.”
course, there was a Cincinnati connection to the papal election: Janice
Sevre-Duszynska, a contributing writer to Article 25, Cincinnati’s
street paper dedicated to human rights, was detained by Italian police
for demonstrating at the Vatican for women’s ordination. The French news
agency, AFP, missed her connection to Article 25, identifying her only
as “an excommunicated female priest” from Lexington, Ky., and a member of
the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. It was unclear whether
Sevre-Duszynska was arrested or removed as a distraction when cardinals
assembled to elect a new pope. AFP did not respond to CityBeat
questions about her detention. She was dressed in liturgical robes and
carrying a banner, “Women Priests are Here.” AFP quoted Sevre-Duszynska
as saying, "As the cardinals meet for their conclave to elect the new pope, women are being ordained around the world! There are already 150 female priests in the world. The people are ready for change."
as I would have loved to be back in Rome covering the election of the
pope, there was an even better assignment that kicked my envy into
overdrive. The Economist sent a reporter on 112-day road trip through
and around Africa. I once hoped to travel the mythic Cairo Road from
Capetown to Cairo. Not going to happen. The Economist’s reporter did
that and more. He found more cause for cautious optimism than is
reflected in typical stories of rebellion, massacre, poverty, disease
and stolen elections.
did Cincinnati Business Courier take down its online story about Henry
Heimlich’s attempts to save his reputation and that of his Heimlich
Maneuver? Granted, it wasn’t flattering, but it didn’t go beyond what
Curmudgeon has reported. Reporter James Ritchie forwarded my request
for an explanation and editor Rob Daumeyer responded, “Thanks for asking, but we don't have anything to add for you.”
like the tabloid Enquirer. I worked on daily and weekly tabloids
overseas; it’s a familiar format. Whether readers enjoy turning pages to
find stories promoted on section covers is uncertain; with logos, ads
and visuals, there’s little else. Inside, long stories jump from page
to page to accommodate reduced page size. I hope Enquirer editors
recognize the power of the back page in each section and treat it as
prime news space. And I’m looking forward to reporters and editors
learning to produce sharp, short stories suited to tabloids; it still
reads like the old Enquirer.
Notes on Feb. 20 shouldn’t take credit for Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster
over Obama’s assassination by drone. However, the Kentucky Republican
echoed Curmudgeon’s anxieties whether Obama will use drones to kill
Americans in our country. To his credit, Paul’s almost 13-hour standup
routine forced an answer from prevaricating Attorney General Eric
Holder. Holder’s letter repeated and answered Paul’s question: "Does the
President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an
American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that
question is no.” Perfectly clear? No. Who defines combat? Deadly
confrontations with feds at Ruby Ridge, Wounded Knee, or David Koresh’s
Branch Davidian Ranch near Waco, TX?
Cliff Peale is probing the costs of post-secondary education and how
many recent debt-burdened college grads can’t find full-time employment
requiring their costly degrees. Coincidentally, Cincinnati Business
Courier reports how local vacancies for skilled workers threaten the
region’s economy. Is the conventional wisdom — everyone must earn a BA
or more — undermining our economic security? Maybe Peale can probe high
school curricula and counseling to see if capable students are being
steered away from well-paid blue collar careers and into crippling debt
for degrees of dubious value. Maybe it’s time to interview welders,
carpenters, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, etc., to find out
what their ROI (Return on Investment) is.
• It’s an old problem: courtiers mistaking their privilege of emptying the king’s chamber pots for royal power. Poynter.org reports this example from the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service:
Rosenzweig, a staffer for Vice President Joe Biden, ordered Capital
News Service student reporter Jeremy Barr to delete photos he took at an
event in Rockville, Md., when Biden announced an anti-domestic violence initiative.
quoted Rosenzweig, saying, “I need to see your camera right now.” She
called Barr’s presence in the non-press area an “unfair advantage” over
the other members of the media (whatever that meant). Rosenzweig watched
him delete the photos, Barr said, and then she looked at Barr’s iPhone
to make sure no photos were saved there.
assumed that I’d violated a protocol,” Barr told Capital News Service.
“I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she was following proper
Dean Lucy Dalglish complained in a letter, saying, “Rockville is not a
third-world country where police-state style media censorship is
expected.” Biden press secretary Kendra Barkoff responded with an
apology to Dalglish and Barr.
My comment: Dalglish is a lawyer. Before taking the dean’s job she was executive
director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It’s
ironic that her student reporter didn’t know there is no “protocol” or “proper
procedures” that required him to give up his images. He should have
held on to his images and phone and told Rosenzweig to fuck off.
• Intimidating a student reporter (above) wasn’t a first for Biden’s staff, jimromenesko.com added. “After the vice president made a remark during the presidential campaign that Republicans would put voters ‘back in chains,’ Politico’s Jonathan Martin reported the veep’s staff ‘tried to edit media pool reports for any potential landmines that could be seized on by Republicans and even hovered at close range to eavesdrop on journalists’ conversations with attendees at Biden rallies’.”
evince an unnatural fascination with our dead ambassador at the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi. Often, in their frenzy of blame, Obama critics
mistakenly call the torched facility the “Embassy.” Ignorance now
appears to be nonpartisan. Maybe repetition has warped liberal minds.
For instance, in her blog on the thedailybeast.com, Caitlin Dickson repeated the error. In Libya, our embassy is in Tripoli, the capital.
says media worldwide were suckered by a satirical column on the
Internet about Nobel-winning economist, professor, columnist and blogger
Paul Krugman declaring bankruptcy.
The Boston Globe’s boston.com wasn’t immune. Under
the headline, “Paul Krugman Files Chapter 13 Bankruptcy,” someone using
the nom de plume “Prudent Investor” wrote that “Paul Krugman, the king
of Keynesianism and a strong supporter of the delusion that you can
print your way out of debt, faces depression at his very own doors.
According to this report in Austria’s Format online mag, Krugman owes
$7.35 million while assets to his name came in at a very meager $33,000.
This will allow the economist and New York Times blogger to get a feel
of how the majority of Americans feel about their dreadful lives . . . “
says Globe editor Brian McGrory told Washington Post’s Erik Wemple,
“The (Krugman) story arrived deep within our site from a third party
vendor who partners on some finance and market pages on our site. We
never knew it was there till we heard about it from outside.” The paper,
McGrory says, did “urgent work to get it the hell down” from boston.com.
McGrory adds, “The idea that we’d have a partner on our site is
actually news to me” and the Globe plans to “address our relationship
with that vendor.”
comment: the editor of New England’s dominant daily has a “third party
vendor” who provides content for business pages and the editor doesn’t
know what that content is?
• Paul Krugman, who isn’t bankrupt (above), responded tongue in cheek on his New York Times blog, The Conscience of a Liberal. “OK, I’m an evil person — and my scheming has paid off. On
Friday I started hearing from friends about a fake story making the
rounds about my allegedly filing for personal bankruptcy; I even got
asked about the story by a reporter from Russian television, who was
very embarrassed when I told him it was fake. But I decided not to post
anything about it; instead, I wanted to wait and see which right-wing
media outlets would fall for the hoax. And Breitbart.com came through! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go give a lavishly paid speech to Friends of Hamas.”
Standard senior writer Matt Labash’s March 18 column suggests he’d be a
great guy to meet in a bar. Here’s a sample: “ . . . there are enough
headline-hunting researchers making enough questionable discoveries
(about health) that the four shakiest words in the English language have
come to be, ‘a new study shows’.” And here’s another: “I am a
professional journalist. It’s my job to pretend to know things that I