Obama, the Media and Us

America has spoken. Our next president is Barack Obama, and although I didn't vote for him I accept him as my president and hope for success unprecedented in the history of the United States. God knows we need success right now. I hope he's up to the tas

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America has spoken. Our next president is Barack Obama, the Democratic contender who beat up the early favorite in the party primary, Hillary Clinton, before taking on the Republican standard-bearer John McCain.

Although I didn’t vote for Obama, I accept him as my president and hope for success unprecedented in the history of the United States. God knows we need success right now. I hope he’s up to the task and leads all Americans to a renewed prosperity and continued safety.

The media coverage of the election, both in the primaries and in the general election, embarrassed me as a quasi-journalist. In the old days when I started in the newspaper business, I remember news coverage being relatively balanced unless something stupid or catastrophic occurred.

Our 24/7 news cycle now has led to the demise of real reporters. Instead we have media stars who are more concerned with writing their next book than filing a straight news story that will be judged on its accuracy rather than its feel good appeal. We’ve lost a valuable resource, the journalistic profession.

The ombudsman — a position many major newspapers established to monitor the accuracy and fairness of their newsrooms — for The Washington Post, one of the great newspapers in this country, admitted that their coverage of the election was less than fair. Their response: “Oops, sorry.”

The Pew Research Center for Journalism Excellence compiled numbers on the media coverage of McCain and Obama. The numbers pretty much indicate that Obama got a hall pass and McCain got a thumping in the wood shed.

I’m not bitter — it is what it is. Let’s move forward and not play a whining Democrat like in the last election.

You won, I lost. Let’s call Americans “us” instead of “you” and “me.” Agreed?

Obama is in a unique position for a president-elect. He’s following George Bush, who’s had one of, if not the most, unpopular runs in recent history. I still like Bush and think that all things considered he’s not the demagogue many people have labeled him — but he’s about to be history, and history will judge him. The question now is Obama.

In the days after the election, television, radio and print were giddy with excitement about America electing the first black man in our history. I understand the pride.

When John Kennedy won in 1960, he was the second youngest man to be elected president and remains the only Roman Catholic to hold the office. Catholics were proud, and Irish Americans were jubilant — but very quickly it was understood that what the populace had elected was just a man who now had the fate of the nation in his hands. Not Catholic hands, not young hands, not Irish hands — just hands.

Let us now accept Obama as a man. Not a black man, not as the only Hawaiian ever elected, but as a man who represents us all without regard to anything other than commitment, ability and honor.

• • • • •

It was announced a couple weeks ago that the print edition of the successor to The Downtowner has folded. It’s sad for downtown Cincinnati that the only media voice that spoke specifically for its residents and merchants will no longer be visible on the streets of downtown. It’s also a sad day for print media.

The Downtowner was founded almost 30 years ago by Rick Hines to address the news and advertising needs of the community growing downtown. It was a vibrant community that had many locally owned stores and workers who crowded the streets every day to eat and buy and enjoy the vibrancy of downtown Cincinnati.

Life is cyclical, and downtown wasn’t immune to the cycle. The suburbs grew, malls sprung from the cornfields and downtown went through a difficult metamorphosis.

In the late 1990s, downtown was starting to rebound. The Downtowner reflected this change and was a successful enterprise.

When I purchased the paper, the wave was coming in and business was good. Then civil unrest hit the city in 2001, and many of those who looked at downtown as a safe place to visit and recreate decided they were risking life and limb to come down. I disagreed, but when you lump surrounding neighborhoods with the central business district, it was a fair decision to stay away. And they did.

The next few years were lean. The Downtowner survived on the mom-and-pop merchants of downtown until Mom and Pop said “The hell with this” and fled to places unknown. The paper struggled but held on with a loyal and dedicated staff. Finally, we could hang on no longer.

I made a decision to enter into a business agreement with a purported white knight and sold my interest. Life goes on.

To the former employees of The Downtowner and its successors, Pulse and CinciPulse.com (and whatever comes next), thanks for a wonderful and mostly great 10 years or so. You fought hard against difficult odds and you didn’t lose. We didn’t lose.

But when a long-time advocate for downtown residents and merchants disappears from the street, it’s hard not to think that downtown Cincinnati has lost something important.

CONTACT DOUG TAYLOR: [email protected]

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