Let's Take a Chance, Post

As a UC student in 1981, I attended a seminar in which Cincinnati Enquirer Executive Editor George Blake -- bright, bold and arrogant -- bluntly said he would kill The Cincinnati Post if Gannett wou

Feb 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm

As a UC student in 1981, I attended a seminar in which Cincinnati Enquirer Executive Editor George Blake — bright, bold and arrogant — bluntly said he would kill The Cincinnati Post if Gannett would permit him. But alas, Blake reminded, The Post's demise would have to wait until of the end of their joint operating agreement in 2007.

So I found it curious and intriguing when, 26 years later, I was forwarded your recent cover story about The Post's final year ("Dim the Light," issue of Feb. 21). Regarding the sidebar offering last-ditch editorial direction, with the exception of maybe two suggestions, it's clear why the paper is failing editorially. The interview subjects basically suggested the same, monotonous approaches and mindsets — nary a perception of vision or nod to the obvious. And newspapers want to know why they are dying....

As far back as 10 years ago, I told my good friend and mentor, Lonnie Wheeler, now Post sports columnist, that E.W. Scripps should make The Post the nation's first full-time online newspaper. The thought of eliminating the print editions is already in the minds of many, many companies, editors and staff, but it's also a taboo subject. And even though I'm neither a Post employee nor former employee, my suggestion still stands: The Post should spend the final 10 months positioning the paper to flip over to a 24/7 Cincinnati online news operation on Jan. 1, 2008.

What does Scripps have to lose?

The entire newspaper industry would be watching, and while there's no guarantee of success, The Post would be the first major metropolitan paper to bag the print editions, go online and be the leader, if not guinea pigs, for what is inevitably coming to media.

Reporters would have to learn to do more than write their daily stories. They would be outfitted with laptops and digital cameras. They would be in the field and on the spot, updating as events happened. There would be emphasis on video and interactivity and cross-platforming articles with these elements.

Blogs, analysis, community news groups — the whole kitchen sink of online media would be the playground. If executed properly, there would be little need for readers to turn on the evening news. In conjunction with Scripps TV stations and other feeds, the local and national TV news could be streaming video with updates throughout the day and night.

Critical to this move would be changing the culture of the way readers and viewers get their news, the way advertisers can benefit, how the high cost of print and distribution would be eliminated in lieu of web designers and producers and the way news can be presented instantly in the modern information age.

This would also force The Enquirer to do things vastly differently — for example, update its site more frequently. For once, the morning newspaper and TV stations would be at a news cycle disadvantage.

Years ago I liked to say it would be a cold day in hell when the bum in the park sleeps with a computer over his head. But I'll be damned: It's getting pretty frosty out there!

So, the question remains: Which newspaper will be the first to take this Alpine dive? The Cincinnati Post, obviously, we can assume, is standing at the gate.

— Dennis Tuttle, Silver Spring, Md.

We Still Want Clooney
Your cover story on the demise of The Cincinnati Post was marvelous ("Dim the Light," issue of Feb. 21), perhaps a portent of the role CityBeat might play in providing still more in-depth investigative journalism in a one-newspaper town.

We were pleased to see that two writers mentioned P.J. Bednarski, also known as "Mr. Highlights," a truly gifted writer whose columns were always a delight to read.

We are puzzled, however, that no one mentioned Nick Clooney, whose columns are surely one of the proudest achievements of The Post. Moreover, while Clooney wrote about many subjects, he did from time to time provide original, thoughtful and fact-based political views not otherwise seen in the paper except sometimes in syndicated columns by out-of-town writers.

More particularly, while The Post might be forgiven for endorsing George W. Bush in 2000, its endorsement of him in 2004 is not forgivable. Clooney's column was unavailable in the run-up to the election because of his own run for Congress in Kentucky; had he been still writing his columns it will forever be an intriguing question as to whether he would have been able to sway the editors away from that disastrous endorsement of Bush in 2004.

Ohio was, after all, the battleground state where Bush won a re-election with a razor-thin margin.

— June and Lloyd Engelbrecht,

Clifton Heights