Media Musings From Cincinnati and Beyond

It can’t be ignorance; I introduced an Enquirer reporter to the recently reopened Clifton Natural Foods on Ludlow months ago and told him how it was a return to almost the same spot after decades in Clifton Heights exile. But according to a co-own

Jun 17, 2015 at 9:09 am

It can’t be ignorance; I introduced an Enquirer reporter to the recently reopened Clifton Natural Foods on Ludlow months ago and told him how it was a return to almost the same spot after decades in Clifton Heights exile. But according to a co-owner of Clifton Natural Foods last week, the Enquirer hasn’t written a thing about this business success story or a merchant returning to her old neighborhood.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe we all missed an Enquirer story about Clifton Natural Foods amidst uncritical boosterism about the proposed Clifton Market across from already-open Clifton Natural Foods. 

I don’t think so.

• And in case you missed it, former Enquirer reporter Jack Brennan wrote a promotional op-ed for the proposed Clifton Market in Our Sole Surviving Daily on June 7. 

Eye-catching assertions included an expectation of profits within a year. The market is to have paid staff, not the volunteers popularly associated with co-ops, and assumes people will drive past other grocery stores to suffer Ludlow’s constricted traffic.

Here’s a question Brennan and other reporters didn’t answer: Where do the 15,000 anticipated customers park? There’s  limited parking in old IGA spaces. The business district pay lot next door often approaches capacity.

And then there’s traffic flow. I live nearby and walk to Om Cafe on Ludlow for my morning coffee. If prospective customers plan to park in Market or the nearby pay lots, they’ll have to use Howell Avenue. 

Re-entering Clifton Avenue from eastbound Howell can be nightmarish. Almost as bad will be additional traffic on westbound Howell — narrow with parking on both sides — to Whitfield and then right to Ludlow (a traffic light) or Dixmyth/MLK (stop sign and traffic light).

I’m waiting for some journalist to explain how those problems will be solved. Optimism and endlessly repeated assertions are no substitute for real reporting and facts.  

The loan looks in doubt now that Mayor John Cranley has included it among the “pet projects” council Democrats tried to add to the 2016-17 budget. Cranley has threatened to veto the loan, and it doesn’t appear to have the six council votes necessary to override it.

• Last week, the New York Times reported Disney World fired about 250 IT workers and replaced them with immigrants … after requiring departing employees to train their replacements. This goes beyond tacky. It’s legal.

“Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India,” the Times reported. 

“But the layoffs at Disney and at other companies … are raising new questions about how businesses and outsourcing companies are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States. These visas are at the center of a fierce debate in Congress over whether they complement American workers or displace them.”

• A New York Times op-ed on Friday reminded me of how women and minorities get top jobs as their companies spiral down. Why destroy a white man’s career with a forlorn hope?

Carolyn Washburn became the first female Enquirer editor during the Great Recession, sweeping newsroom firings that accompanied loss of ad income and Gannett expectations of sustained profits. Four years and disruptive newsroom reorganization later, the economy is recovering and she’s been shown the door.

• Hold-for-release obits have been a staple of well-run news organizations for decades. They allow a quick response to the death of a public official or figure and more important, advance obits allow for deeper reporting and better storytelling. I remember reading how potential subjects reacted when the New York Times’ obit writer asked for an interview; their sense of mortality argued with the knowledge they were important enough for a Times obit. 

Every once in a while, someone sees one of these unfinished obits and misunderstands why there are blanks where date, time, place, confirmation and cause of death are to be filled in and they announce the death prematurely. 

After corrections and apologies, someone is bound to quote Mark Twain saying, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Given how many faux remarks are attributed to Twain — like Lincoln — this was the real thing, only misquoted.

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says this: “The expression derives from the popular form of a longer statement by the American writer, Mark Twain, which appeared in the New York Journal of 2 June 1897: ‘The report of my death was an exaggeration.’ The correction was occasioned by newspaper accounts of Twain’s being ill or dead. At the time, Twain’s cousin James Ross Clemens was seriously ill in London, and appears that some reports confused him with Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain).”

I couldn’t find it online or in my files, but I also recall some law school professor lecturing on the speed with which information — true or false — reaches the world and his example was Obama’s assassination that day. A student immediately tweeted the “news” and all hell broke loose. 

As if to make the same point about the Internet, social media and credulity, pranksters hacked Fox News twitter — assuming its security was as bad as partisan Fox News reporting — and announced President Obama’s assassination.

What surprised me the other day, however, was a similar prank by BBC producer Ahmen Khawaja. Here are her tweets on #BBCWorld:

“BREAKING: Queen Elizabeth is being treated at King Edward 7th Hospital in London. Statement due shortly.”

“Ahmen Khawaja @AhmenKhawaja” Queen Elizabrth (sic) has died.” @BBCWorld.”

“Ahmen Khawaja @AhmenKhawaja: False Alarm. Have deleted previous tweets!!”

The Daily Mail quoted Khawaja as calling her tweets “a silly prank” and said she faces BBC disciplinary proceedings. 

One can only speculate on corporate response to such colossal stupidity. Promotion? 

CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: [email protected]