Media Musings From Cincinnati and Beyond

A Page 1 Enquirer story described sometime violent misbehavior in Hamilton County courtrooms and courthouse hallways. A headline said there was chaos in the judges’ “chambers.” Wrong. The story didn’t say that.

A Page 1 Enquirer story described sometime violent misbehavior in Hamilton County courtrooms and courthouse hallways. A headline said there was chaos in the judges’ “chambers.” Wrong. The story didn’t say that. Chambers is a fancy name for judges’ offices. It’s not a synonym for courtroom where trials take place. I hope Kimball Perry wasn’t kidded too badly when he showed up to cover his beat that morning. It was brutal when I covered those courts and an editor faked a story under my name. At least Perry could fall back on what used to be the complete defense: “reporters don’t write headlines.” 

• It’s always jarring when screamingly obvious minority voices are ignored by reporters and their editors. 

The World, a fine 8 p.m. program on WVXU from Public Radio International, stumbled badly on this the other day. The host interviewed a veteran Detroit Free Press reporter about public responses to the mess in Iraq. There was no mention of the opinions articulated by the large Arab and Arab-American population in the Detroit area or the many Iraqi Chaldean Christians among them. 

After New York Times freelancer Julie Alvin wrote about “A Gleam of Renewal in Struggling Detroit,” she had to admit her subjects all were white. Her apologetic if naive tweet came after Detroit painter Kelly Guillory took her to task. said Alvin initially tweeted, “Only realizing now that none of those businesses [described] were black-owned and I deeply regret the omission.” Another tweet said, “Thanks so much for reaching out to discuss. Would love to hear about minority-owned businesses in Corktown from someone who knows.”

I have no idea what Corktown is but went to Alvin’s Facebook page and learned she’s from affluent Grosse Pointe. added, “There used to be a time in Detroit when the city’s populace would be giddy about getting coverage in The New York Times, especially if the paper wrote something flowery about how things are slowly improving. These days, not so much. At least three times since the American automotive industry crash, the NYT has rewritten its ‘here’s what’s going on in Corktown’ story in various forms, focusing on how revival in the (tiny, relatively under-populated, but significantly white) neighborhood outside downtown. It happened in 2010, 2011 and again yesterday. All three make sure to mention Slows Bar B Q, often a centerpiece of any national coverage of Detroit. Yesterday’s story, however, was missing something the others had: Detroiters of color. None in the photos. None in the text.”

• Coming soon to a Gannett daily near you? Even less editing than news stories get now. quotes a report by NPR station WFPL that recent executive firings followed a rethinking of how to organize Gannett’s Louisville Courier-Journal

Executive editor Neil Budde told WFPL, “There is a role in this organization labeled as content editor. In some ways I might think of it more as content coach. Somebody who will be working with the reporters, helping them shape their stories and their ideas along the way — probably, less hands-on editing. Although, obviously, some part of it will be editing. But I think in the past we have had editors who were fairly aggressive in reworking stories for reporters. There is a little more expectation that the reporters are more independent and produce stories that are in better shape, and with some work a lot of that is also in the coaching process.”

• It’s not surprising that our views on immigration reform reflect the news media we prefer. Fox News and its viewers rate high on certainty and low on facts. Again, not a surprise. This is consistent with many non-partisan polls over the years. reported a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings Institute found that “Twelve percent of Americans who most trust Fox News for information about politics and current events correctly believe deportations have increased.” That’s a kind way of saying the rest of the Foxers got it wrong.

The survey found that “nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of Americans who most trust broadcast news, one-third (33 percent) of Americans who most trust CNN and 35 percent of Americans who most trust public television believe the deportation rate has increased.” Better, but pretty dismal if they’re also voters. 

The study says Fox News may “reinforce and perhaps harden conservative views.” Sixty percent of Republicans who trust Fox News most say immigrants “burden our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care.” Thirty-eight percent of Republicans who trust other news sources most say the same thing. 

And if you ever doubted that Republicans have internal problems, here’s another finding: “Sixty-four percent of ‘Fox News Republicans’ oppose raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but 56 percent of ‘non-Fox Republicans’ favor doing so.” Similarly, “Seventy-six percent of Fox News Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, as opposed to 57 percent of non-Fox News Republicans.”

The survey found that “a quarter of all Americans said Fox News was their most trusted TV news source — the highest rating for any TV news concern. Seventeen percent said the same about CNN. MSNBC came in at 5 percent, behind The Daily Show.” Among conservatives, the survey found, “not surprisingly, Fox is huge: Forty-eight percent trust it most.” By contrast, there is no dominant trusted news source among Democrats or liberals. 

• To some, purposeful plagiarism ought to be a journalistic capital crime. I’m not talking about writers quoting themselves from earlier publications, but outright theft of others’ work. London’s tabloid Daily Mail often is accused of using images and text without permission. 

Poynter’s Mediawireworld offers an insight into the Daily Mail’s approach to ethical journalism. It quotes Roy Greenslade, writing in London’s Pulitzer-winning Guardian. The popular Mail Online employs “relatively low-paid young staff to lift articles by journalists who have taken time, and resources, to investigate, research and write original copy.” Several Mail onliners told Greenslade they hate doing it. “I didn’t come into journalism to rip off other journalists,” one said. “But he, in company with others, pointed out that jobs are exceedingly hard to come by and they are still paid more than most local and regional reporters and subs (Brit-speak for copy editors).

• Three CityBeat pieces are finalists in the annual Association of Alternative Newsmedia awards competition: editor Danny Cross’ story on Loveland High School firing its drama instructor for producing Legally Blond: The Musical; reporter German Lopez for his collection of streetcar coverage and our photographer Jesse Fox’s body of work. AAN said there were more than 900 entries from 77 alternative publications in the United States and Canada. Judges were drawn from faculty, alumni and graduate students at Georgetown University’s Master’s in Professional Studies Program in Journalism. Winners will be named July 12 at the AAN convention in Nashville, home of CityBeat’s corporate owners. 

CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: [email protected]

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