Thursday, August 31, 2006

Whose life is more important?

The choices are a.) a soldier in Iraq, b.) a soldier from Cincinnati in Iraq, or c.) a three-year-old victim of child abuse.

The Enquirer's answer is clearly "c", based on their choices for front page stories. It's clearly not "a", because Iraq news has disappeared from the front page of the Enquirer. And it's clearly not "b". The Enquirer gave the death of Marine Cpl. Tyler Warndorf of Burlington, Ky., the small lower right corner of the front page. The story is just 20 paragraphs long, nearly one for every year of Warndorf's life.

The tragic death of three-year-old Marcus Fiesel, however, get's the lion's share of the front page. And, as I write this, there are a dozen more links dated today about this death on the Enquirer's web site.

I'm not arguing that Fiesel's death isn't an important story, not only because of the tragic way he died and the bizarre coverup, but also because of the flaws it exposes in the foster care system. The Enquirer isn't giving much attention to the flaws angle however, choosing instead the more sensational one, with a NY Post-ish headline "They'll get what they deserve".

But clearly, the most important story in the United States is the war in Iraq, but the Enquirer only gives it front-page play when a local soldier dies, and then only grudgingly. The small-minded editors at the Enquirer are clearly bored with this story.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I'm not talking about baseball. I'm talking about the senseless Cincinnati cheerleading that substitutes for news judgment at the Enquirer. Today's story about the Cincinnati Art Museum hiring a new director begins like this:
"Aaron Betsky has an international resume, is a fan of the Cincinnati Reds and the architecture on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and has a taste for Cincinnati chili."
Why is it so important to know, up front, that this guy likes the Reds and like chili? Is that some important litmus test of anyone's ability to lead an arts organization? No, but it's what makes the shitheads who run the Enquirer happy. This hiring is important, no doubt, but the treatment of it is weak, and the story barely mentions the challenges facing the museum.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Low quality in Get Published!

I frankly don't know what to make of the Enquirer's Get Published! effort. This apparently is their scheme to publish more local news by getting average folk to submit their own material, which the Enquirer then compiles onto Get Local! community pages. It has only been up for about a week, but so far it's not very exciting. The Deerfield Township page -- a big target area for the Enquirer -- doesn't seem to have any "Get Published!" material on it, which must be a disappointment. And the Mt. Washington page has this item (written by a PR woman of some sort) about something at the Kenwood Towne Center, which, as far as I know, isn't in Mt. Washington.

But take a look at this item. "This is the subject of a book published by a Cincinnati
resident, Pritam L. Ahuja, under the title 'KARMIC CYCLE'. It has been selected by the Forbe's Book Club as a recommended reading for business leaders." The item itself is written by Pritam Ahuja, and note he misspells "Forbes." The same thing happens here, where a John Wallace writes about a radio program in which a John Wallace appears to be involved.

This is crap. The Enquirer thinks it's going to build volume, but there are apparently no standards being set, so what we end up with is people hyping themselves. This won't work unless the Enquirer draws a line somewhere.

A dull Monday

Not worth the price of admission here. The Lexington plane crash coverage was okay, but didn't tell me anything I didn't already know when I went to bed last night. And when you can't do real reporting, just talk to people and print what they say. The crash did, however, push the sad story of Marcus Fiesel story off the front page for the first time in almost two weeks. The Enquirer kept it on the front page, though there's been nothing new in the case for more than a week.
One story that the Enquirer continues to keep off the front page is Iraq. Eight US troops died in Iraq over the weekend, but only one death earned one sentence in the third brief on page A8 Monday.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The same boat as Detroit

Read this, about the newspaper situation in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press is owned by Gannett, the same corporate morons who own the Enquirer. It seems Gannett is mismanaging the Free Press as badly as it is the Enquirer.

A tiny, unsatisfying meal

Polly Campbell's review today of Bella Luna, an East Side Italian restaurant, shows how the Enquirer shorts its readers. The review is fine for what it is, but read it and you get the feeling that Campbell had so much more to say, just nowhere to say it. The review runs a paltry 434 words. Compare this to a review of a one-star Turkish restaurant in the New York Times ran 869 words. The problem is Campbell is given no room to say anything.
Use a ruler: One page of the Weekend section is 115 square inches of usable, printable space. Campbell's short review (just measuring the type for the review) takes up just 24.75 square inches -- just over 20 percent of the page. The headline, underline, overline and byline alone take up 18.5 inches. Part of the page is useless index that actually refers people to the facing page. This is really stupid.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Warren-Boone blowjob

Today's lead story exhibits the Enquirer's complete lack of sophistication when it comes to Census data and just about anything else when it comes to numbers. "Warren, Boone lead growth" -- about growth in housing units -- trots out the old formula of get a report, find a few real people and act like it's real news. This lazy formula led Monday's paper, but they really work it here.
    Every time there's a Census report, the Enquirer only has one way of looking at it -- how badly are Cincinnati and Hamilton County losing, and how much are Warren and Boone counties gaining? They've been repeating this for years, and it's not going to change soon. But it never says anything new, and it distorts the overall picture.
    Let me put the question to you this way: From 2000 to 2005, which counties added the most housing units? The implication from the Enquirer's slant is that Warren and Boone are just kicking Hamilton County's ass, because the Enquirer only looks at percentage change.
    But the real situation is this: Warren added the most (12,502), with Butler County second (9,571). But Hamilton County added nearly as many as Butler (9,246), and more than Boone (8,066) and more than Clermont (7,054). Hamilton County is bigger than the other, with less developable land, so the percentage change is always going to be smaller.
    Why does the Enquirer do this? They don't give a shit about Hamilton County, and they think this is the way to suck up to the suburbs in hopes of selling more papers. But don't ignore the fact that the editors aren't smart enough to look at this stuff any other way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ikea mania!

The usual thin Tuesday paper:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Does the Enquirer have a "jerk" hotline?

One of my tasks here is to point out the lazy decisionmaking that seems to be rampant at the Enquirer. Today's lead story on the Bengals game basically reports that no jerks were reported to the jerk hotline. "Most of the people whose calls were answered said they just wanted to see if the jerk line worked - or just hung up without saying anything." If this is true, if nothing happened, then why is this story on the front page? Early in the day, some editor slotted a Bengals fan story onto the front page, but nobody had the brains or the guts to change it when the story turned in by the reporter lacked any news whatsoever. Terrible.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday yawner

There is actually an attempt at some real local news this morning, but the Enquirer comes up short elsewhere:
  • Peggy O'Farrell's cover story on the local nursing shortage isn't half bad, but she spends almost no time talking about the compensation deals hospitals are giving nurses. She lists the schools with nursing programs without really talking about what nurses can expect to earn.
  • The school rebuilding story is a bit overblown: Of $1.5 billion the story claims local districts are spending, $1 billion is Cincinnati alone (and officials there are continually scaling back their plans) and at least $200 million of the rest still needs to be approved by voters. This is an example of some editor getting enamored with some number and building a whole story around it.
  • Paul Daugherty's column is an experiment that failed, and his racing schtick ("Everybody knows more than me about racing") is getting old and tired.
  • Worst of all, the Enquirer continues to bury war news. Three U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, and two were killed in Iraq. The deaths in Afghansitan were relegated to three short paragraphs in "World in Brief" on page A17, and the Iraq deaths are on A19.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nobody benefits from this story

The headline says "Georgetown benefits from Bengals fever", but nowhere in the story is there any information about how Georgetown benefits from the improved attendance at the training camp. All it says is attendance is up, and (way in the last paragraph of the story) the college gets more parking revenue. BFD. A $36,000 gain in parking revenue makes this a front-page story? If Georgetown benefits, then there should be some information here about where the money goes, or what it's used for. Even more precious is the video; Mark Curnutte's deer-in-the-headlights look is the hallmark of classic sportscasters.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Still, can I have her phone number?

Today's puffy profile of Roxanne Qualls says she's single and living downtown. Hmmm. There have been past rumors about her (ahem!) orientation, but this story in 2003 said she was engaged to be married to rare-book dealer John Gunnison-Wiseman. So what happened? Jim Knippenberg's profile today selectively ignores the past. Wouldn't want to offend anyone.

Does the Enquirer's SUV run on bullshit?

The Enquirer has a bad habit of falling for election stunts, and they did that today. An overline -- which runs at the top of the front page, above "The Cincinnati Enquirer" -- plugs a story about Rep. Jean Schmidt buying an SUV that runs on ethanol. It's a worthless bit of election year trivia, but somehow the Enquirer saw it fit for a front-page mention.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


This is the first post on this blog. More to come.