Monday, October 23, 2006

Enquirer editor speaks

This is interesting: I've noted before that the Enquirer doesn't do two things that many major papers do. First, they don't employ an ombudsman. Second, the editor -- in this case Tom Callinan -- doesn't write any sort of column to shed light on how the Enquirer makes decisions about what gets into the newspaper. He had a blog a while back, but he shut it down because he was getting flamed so terribly.

But for some reason, Callinan decided to jump into Andrew Warner's blog, responding to Warner's disgust at the way the Enquirer played up Blackwell's attack on Strickland on the front page. While I encourage you to read the blog on this topic here, I'll include Callinan's remarks. First:
I am Callinan and, yes Andrew you are correct that I don't have the time or inclination to blog these days. But I respect your respectful challenges of mainstream media and I will respond. We make hundreds of decisions each day and while the blogosphere may want to pick each to shreds and dig for hidden agendas....sometimes we just have to publish the news and hold our noses and wish for the good old days when public discourse was more dignified. This story disgusted many...including me. But the facts are the facts, distasteful as they may be. Several editors agonized over the play of this story...and I imagine they come from all spectrums of "agendas." In the end, news is news. End of story.
Obviously, this wasn't the end of the story, because Callinan came back with this:
I don't mean this as a defense of our decision. Perhaps it's just a commentary on our culture, for better or worse. But I checked the online traffic this morning and the governor's race turns ugly story led with 33,071 page views. Next was the gatorade bottle story with 12,278. The nude prosecuter got 7,708. Way down was a traditional high interest story....the Ohio AP football poll with 2,711.

As much as we may cringe at seeing these smarmy political stories unfold, it'd be pretty difficult for us to downplay them.

Thought you'd be interested in those numbers.

This says two things to me. First, Enquirer editors are either too stupid or too lazy or too gutless to make tough decisions. As Al Franken says, intellectual sloth is not a virtue. "Sometimes we just have to publish the news and hold our noses," he says. No, you never have to do this; you can always do something different, something better, something courageous, something smart. Callinan never says why the Enquirer put the Blackwell news in the most prime position on the front page three days in a row, when you can look at other newspapers and see the other choices that were available to him.

Second, his second entry reveals something I've suspected, that web traffic drives decisions about what goes on the front page. I don't think anyone argues that the Enquirer should not have reported what Blackwell said about Strickland. It's the prominence of the story in the Enquirer that was so troublesome, and Callinan seems to try to justify this by pointing out the web traffic. Hell, by that reasoning, the Enquirer should publish pictures of a naked Lindsay Lohan -- no doubt that would be the most popular thing on the Enquirer's web site, and thus justify the lead position on the front page. Right now on Yahoo News, the most emailed story is about a man accused of having sex with a dog. Will we see that on the Enquirer's front page Tuesday?

This is very discouraging, and I can't see it getting any better.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anybody see the attack on that idiot that puts out the Whistleblower over on the Beacon today?

It's about time that someone gave Schifrin a little taste of his own medicine!

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Callinan put a blog out for two weeks as a way to distract people from their grandma war blog scandal where they had a lady working for US government putting out propaganda without disclosing it.

He got roasted in the comment section and quickly abandoned it.

They also failed to disclose Margaret Buchanans role as the PR person for 3CDC when they write glowing reviews about them. They didn't accurately report the numbers on the Fountain Square deal.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, News Ache, for covering this. The fact that Callinan is lurking around the 22 yr. old Warner's blog, with lengthy justifications of his editorial decisions is troubling in and of itself. (No one reads Warner, and better-read blogger's questions to Callinan are routinely ignored)

Why does the allegedly busy editor of a daily have time to muse about these decisions on a student's website? Presumably Callinan has lots to do during the frantic weeks before midterm elections. Still, he took the trouble to write these justifications to Warner. Cynics might note that Warner is a 22 yr. old blonde.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second comment refers to Callinan's short-lived blogging fiasco. He did, indeed, get roasted in the comments.

One of the strangest aspects of that episode was the way that Callinan couldn't stop himself. He was like an internet ingenue, unable to pull himself away from the fray, even as he got splattered. He blogged at all hours of the day and night, he couldn't resist trying to answer his critics (even though he always got the worst of it). His attempts to show off using literary quotes backfired when blog commenters showed he didn't even have the authors' names right. (Does the man know how to use Google?) In short, Callinan made a right ass of himself.

After a couple of weeks of this, some poor Enquirer employee must have had to break the news to Callinan that he was disgracing himself and the paper. The blog was unceremoniously dumped. I believe they replaced it with the essential BenGals blog.

5:18 PM  
Blogger The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Thanks for the hat-tip, anon #1.

I had a similar take on this here.

Andrew Warner does not like being referred to in reference to his youth. And until reading anon #3, I think I had honestly never noticed the color of Andrew's hair -- but now that you mention it... I dunno... That just sounds funny, "a 22 yr. old blonde."

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Andrew is Callinan's "boy-toy." Or at least Cunningham and Blackwell would say so.

10:04 AM  

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