Media Musings From Cincinnati and Beyond

If overwhelming talentand performance aren’t enough to outsell “slender, blonde,” that’s the story isand the Times missed it.

• Jack Cannon was a good man and a fine editor at the Enquirer. He was a copy editor, a member of a talented group of otherwise nameless journalists who spent their years trying to make us reporters seem accurate and error-free. 

Anyone with any sense was content if Jack were editing their work before it went to the printers.

Copy editors knew stuff.  At any moment, there could be three generations around the horseshoe-shaped copy desk. For them, Clifton was not University Heights and East Walnut Hills was not Walnut Hills or O’Bryonville. Actually, they knew how to spell O’Bryonville.

Jack retired 14 years ago, among the corps of copy editors who took early retirement or stayed until they were fired as cost-conscious Gannett outsourced much of its local editing to regional centers.

However, Jack’s obituary on July 20, a Monday, suggested why the Enquirer has more errors and sloppy writing/language. Here’s what it said:

The Enquirer even had an annual copy editing award named for Mr. Cannon. In December, departing copy editors took the award, which had hung in the lobby, to Mr. Cannon at Arnold’s. He was delighted.”

• The main story on The Enquirer's page 1 on July 21 dealt with a traffic stop turned deadly. The victim was an apparently unarmed black man; the shooter was a UC cop.

However, the first paragraph quotes “Johnson” without a first name. Who is Johnson? Copy editors would never have let that reach the printers but as the recent obit for former copy editor Jack Cannon noted, they’re gone. Editing is outsourced. 

• Online, the Enquirer story on the traffic stop shooting was preceded by a Volkswagen video announcing, “More bang for the buck.” Perfect. 

• We’re fortunate that the Enquirer’s Amber Hunt stayed with her story about a local firm offering what it said was effective treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). You know guys read it; you know wives, girlfriends, partners, boyfriends, prospective dates read it. She documents doubts about the treatment efficacies and criticisms of sales practices among staff. 

Equally important, she follows the career of its founder from one scam after another as documented by the Fair Trade Commission. Now, maybe she’ll find time to look at “diet clinics” with their sales practices, claims and the underlying science of unhealthy weight gain and loss.

• As I read Covington lawyer Arnold Taylor’s letter to the editor of the weekly Economist magazine, I said, “Huh?” He was writing about dueling bans in 19th century America and referred to the 1850 “US” Constitution. Huh?

I asked him whether he was the victim of a zealous but ignorant copy editor at the Economist? Taylor responded by email, saying, “Right. The Brits stuck the ‘US’ in.” He was referring to the 1850 Kentucky Constitution. 

My second reaction was “God, this must be embarrassing,” but when he said I could use his response in this column, he wrote back, “Well, 3 of 4 people I know read it didn’t even notice the reference to US, so I really don’t care.”

• Will others follow the HuffingtonPost.com lead? Here’s a recent post from Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim and editorial director Danny Shea:

“After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won't report on Trump's campaign as part of The Huffington Post's political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump's campaign is a sideshow. We won't take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you'll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.”

• In all of the coverage of the 20th anniversary of the religiously inspired murder of an estimated 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica by Orthodox Christians, I didn’t read or hear reference to the Serbian killers’ religion. You know the religious identification of the killers would have been clear if the roles were reversed. It always is when jihadis murder Arab Christians or Muslims kill non-Muslim Americans. This selective squeamishness was why I was surprised by the religious identification of accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof; Lutheran. 

• In a reversal of the common anti-Israeli accusation of bias, BBC is accused of censoring comments by Palestinian children in Gaza. Here’s the London Jewish Chronicle report on the broadcast and BBC defense:

BBC’s chief international correspondent “Lyse Doucet has stood by the decision to translate ‘yahud’ as ‘Israeli’ in subtitles on her hour-long documentary Children of the Gaza War. ... The correct translation for ‘yahud’ from Arabic to English is ‘Jew.’ ”

She said “that Gazan translators had advised her that Palestinian children interviewed on the programme who refer to ‘the Jews’ actually meant Israelis. In one instance, a Gazan child says the ‘yahud’ are massacring Palestinians. However the subtitles read, ‘Israel is massacring us.’ "

Doucet said, “We talked to people in Gaza, we talked to translators. When [the children] say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis’.

We felt it was a better translation of it. ... We are not trying to cover it up — we took advice on it and that was the advice we were given by translators.”

• A reporter and her editors shared a stunningly flawed history in a Daily Beast column about renewed interest in the 1961 death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold.

The first mistake was an unwillingness to check out so-called facts. Dailybeast.com said Hammarskjold was flying to “Rhodesia.” It was Southern Rhodesia in 1961. That matters, lest people confuse “Rhodesia” with the “Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland” or “Northern Rhodesia.” 

Then came the reader-stopper: “Soon after Hammarskjöld’s death, President Harry Truman reportedly told the press that Hammarskjöld ‘was on the point of getting something done when they killed him.’ ” Truman left office in January of 1953. JFK was president when Dag’s plane went down. 

• Days after the initial agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, NPR interviewed an Iranian on the likely commercial/economic impact. Most of the trade ban remains but there is an exception: commercial aircraft. 

The reporter and the Iranian noted this could be huge for Boeing because most Iranian civilian airliners are  at least 25 years old and need replacing. So why did the Iranian interviewee recall a scary flight 12 years ago on a Russian jetliner? 

• Big story in the New York Times during the Wimbledon tennis championship: female players comfort/discomfort with their bodies. Is it really news that Serena Williams sometimes dresses to disguise her muscular arms?

Ironic, isn’t it, that in a country where “like a girl” usually means awkward or physically unskilled in sports, Williams is damned for appearing like a guy to some fans. 

Forget the famous remark attributed to an American divorcee, the Duchess of Windsor, “You can never be too rich or two thin.” 

The article further advanced women’s self confidence with an interview with Maria Sharapova, “a slender, blond Russian who has been the highest-paid female athlete for more than a decade because of her lucrative endorsements.” She  said with a laugh, “I always want to be skinnier with less cellulite; I think that’s every girl’s wish.”

Further, the Times report that “slender, blonde” Sharapova is the highest paid female athlete for more than a decade ... during which Serena Williams has regularly whipped her ass and did again at Wimbledon this year. 

For all of the attention the Times’ male reporter paid to women’s bodies, he and the Times missed the larger issue: A “slender, blonde” female tennis player makes more money than a muscular, stunning and regularly triumphant black female opponent. 

If overwhelming talent and performance aren’t enough to outsell “slender, blonde,” that’s the story is and the Times missed it. 

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