Thursday, February 22, 2007

Guilty of exploitation

Who is Tristan Bowman? He was a 1-year-old who died Oct. 20 in Kenton County from massive swelling of his brain. His mother and her boyfriend have been indicted in his death. You may not have heard of this case, because the Enquirer has only written two brief stories about his death.

Who is Cartier Denson? He was an 8-month-old from Colerain Township, who died February 5. His mother was charged in the death, and charges were being considered against her boyfriend -- as of the last time the Enquirer wrote about the case on February 6. The Enquirer has written all of 242 words in two briefs about this case.

Who is Christopher Beck? The one-year-old was beaten to death in September 2005, By Enquirer standards, he was luckier. They wrote three stories about him, and one brief, when his mother's boyfriend was convicted in his death.

The Enquirer didn't cover Beck's killer's trial, to try to answer the question of what on earth would possess a 19-year-old man-boy to pummel a one-year-old to death. So it's hard for me to understand why the death of Marcus Fiesel rates more than 160 stories in the Enquirer since he disappeared in August.

My favorite story so far is "Marcus' story got no national play" on August 30, where the Enquirer seemed to ask the rest of the media what the hell was wrong with them, that they wouldn't cover this. (Call Howard Stern and ask him. He is, after all, the king of all media.) My favorite duh! headline was " 'Who did it?' key for Carroll jury" February 16, as if the headline writer had never seen "Law and Order".

Though the Enquirer somehow saw fit to question why the rest of the media world didn't rush to Cincinnati to cover this, they've not seen fit to explain why they've gone so far overboard on this death.

There's no question this story has had some unusual elements -- the early reports that he wandered away from a playground, the dozens and dozens of volunteers who searched through the night for him, Liz Carroll's pleas for his return, and then the bizarre circumstances of his death. I found myself checking the Enquirer's web site often to see if he'd been found. I think tens of thousands of other people did the same thing, and it's those numbers that continue to drive the Enquirer's obsession with this case.

But that was August. I don't see that the Enquirer's coverage for the past few months has been is too concerned with making sure justice is done here, or that whatever flaws there were in the foster-care system that led to Marcus' death are repaired. This huge February 11 story weighed in at more than 5,000 words. Enquirer editor Tom Callinan hates long stories. You have to go back to a series in 2002 about care for Ohio's mentally retarded and the riot coverage in 2001 to find anything in the Enquirer as long as that.

In media you have to feed the beast. When people want something, you have to give it to them. You can say, "they're only trying to sell newspapers," and you'd be 100% correct, because newspapers are for-profit businesses and they have to make money. There's nothing wrong with that.

But 160-plus stories looks like exploitation. 20,000 words in one week on this case? The Enquirer has lost all perspective. There are bigger stories in the region that haven't received this level of coverage -- the stagnant economy, the flight of population from the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the crumbling public schools, the high infant mortality rate. If Tom Callinan had to explain to Tristan Bowman, Cartier Denson and Christopher Beck why their deaths received so little coverage, he'd probably say, "sorry, kids, but your numbers sucked. You're just not box-office." It's shameful, but I've said before, Enquirer editors have no shame.

UPDATE: Do you need any more evidence that the Enquirer has lost all sense of right and wrong, up and down, left and right? Tom Callinan never explains how the decision was made, who made it, or his own role and responsibility in the decision to publish the names of jurors. If he really wants to make this right, somebody had better lose their job over this, or his apology is worthless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... what race are Tristan Bowman, Cartier Denson and Christopher Beck?

5:25 PM  
Blogger Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

I'm wondering if there will be an written introspection/explanation from the Enquirer about how they were slammed repeatedly today in Court. First Judge Ringland excoriated them for publishing the jury's names and employers. Then the prosecution basically accused the Enquirer of colluding with the Carrolls to spread stories that were lies. It was very, very harsh.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Sloat is linked up. He admires what you said. Good work. People around the state will see the crap served here.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very brief, three paragraph story online says of them running the juror names: “Of course we don’t routinely report this level of detail, but the overriding public interest in this case caused us to consider a rare exception,” Callinan said. Overriding public interest or the Enquirer going overboard? The article also says more than 30 people canceled their subscription over it. Bet that's 30-plus more than the number of people who called today to subscribe to the paper because they included the names.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fortunately Callinan has "We at The Enquirer" to keep him straight.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much Gin was involved?

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

too bad the enquirer didn't dispose of callinan outright instead of demoting him from executive editor to editor. one wonders how much longer they can afford to carry his salary when they desperately need to hire editors and reporters with real talent.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By publishing the particulars of the L. Carroll jury, it's obvious to me that this was the method the editors chose to enact their revenge on the prosecutors' for subpoening their "star" reporters. A bonus for the Enquirer would be if an unbiased and unafraid jury could not be seated for the D. Carroll trial. Their manipulation of the news has reached a new low. Could someone explain why this was a "late night" decision when the jury was seated two weeks prior?

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Callinan was not demoted. And, let's not forget that the budget he gets to run his department (which she cuts often) is set by Margaret E. Buchanan, president and publisher.

Her on-going quest to drive revenues and profits has clearly impacted what and how editorial covers events. She's the one that ultimately dictates and approves what direction the company takes, yet she has yet to respond...publically anyway.

Gannett should take a close look at her as it's her paper. Though, smart money says that she'll hold herself blameless.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame. What use to be the community "watchdog" now needs a community to watch over it to keep it honest. And all because Gannett didn't keep up with the rabies shots.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Enquirer does it that they have a monopoly on all print news in the in the metro question is: do they really care about what they publish? Do they only care about the ad dollars? What say you? I believe M.B. is there to bring in the bucks, but it takes just as much effort to write a bad story as a good one...look how much of their paper is off the wire or from news services or PR releases...remember she's a former admin assistant; does anyone out there know if she ever wrote a news story or worked on the editorial side? I am so bitterly disappointed by what they about you?

8:58 AM  
Blogger Newsache said...

M.B. came up through advertising sales. That's not unusual among Gannett publishers.

1:22 PM  

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