Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not even the best in Ohio

The Associated Press Society of Ohio awards prizes in five classes, based on the circulation of the newspaper. The Enquirer competes against just five other newspapers for prizes -- the Akron Beacon-Journal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Columbus Dispatch, the Dayton Daily News and the Toledo Blade.

The competition gives three awards for General Excellence, so each paper has a 50-50 chance of getting at least a mention. It's a coin flip.

When the awards were handed out this weekend, the Enquirer lost. First place for General Excellence went to Cleveland, second to Akron and third to Columbus.

In all, there were 109 awards in 31 categories. The Enquirer won 19 awards, including six first-place awards, including Best Business Writer (Alexander Coolidge), Best Investestigative Reporting (imagine that, for a package on eminent domain) and Best Web Site. The Enquirer was strongest in photography, where it won three firsts for Best Spot News Photo, Best General News Photo and Best Photographer -- all for Glenn Hartong, who deserves the recognition.

That's the good news. The big winner was the Columbus Dispatch, which won 30 awards and eight firsts. The Cleveland Plain Dealer won 28 awards and 11 firsts. The Enquirer was shut out in 14 categories, including General Excellence, Best Columnist, Best Feature and Best Community Service.

In 15 categories where writing and reporting were most important, including "best section" awards, the Enquirer didn't do well -- just two firsts and eight awards overall. The Dispatch received 16 awards and seven firsts. The Plain Dealer: 14 awards and three firsts. There were four awards given for Best Community Service. Columbus won the top two, followed by Akron and Dayton. Cincinnati's over-the-top Marcus Fiesel coverage -- clearly the paper's highest priority story since August -- got an honorable mention for Best Breaking News. The Enquirer also won a second in that category for its coverage of the shooting involving rapper T.I.

I point this out to show just how weak the Enquirer's news operation has become. Start with 19 awards. Take out seven that went to photo, four to sports, and one each to the web site, Borgman and the recently departed Byron McCauley. That means the heart of the news operation won just five awards, and two of those were honorable mentions. There were zero for features, graphics and headlines.

This is a newspaper that doesn't know how to excel. I'm not sure it wants to.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the scoop on a reporter that won a Gannett’s Best of the Year then got suspended the next day for plagiarism as reported on the Whistleblower?

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And was an IRE runner-up award, too, right?
This news travels fast. Someone in New York just emailed me with this gossip.
Enquiring minds want to know the FACTS in this case. Hard to imagine this quality reporter doing something so egregious. But, then, we remember Jack Kelley.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing that this paper wins any awards at all, from what I see of it. It goes long periods of time without doing anything worth reading. Then it loads up, overkill-style, on subject material that is obvious or predictable. I like to be surprised once in a while. The Enquirer seems incapable of thinking outside the box.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "plagiarism" was copying from another Enquirer reporter, according to newsroom gossip. It was caught on the copy desk and not published. The reporter was briefly suspended, but has been reinstated.

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonder if the top editors are now looking into other stories by the reporter -- the usual procedure when plagiarism is discovered.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sidestory on the AP awards: The Enquirer last year won 1st place in general excellence. This year, nothing. So what happened between then and now?

8:03 AM  
Blogger Newsache said...

I deleted a comment that named names. This is a tricky matter, and I can't have anything on this board that approaches libel.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone if planting a bug in your ear about libel, it has gotten to be the cheat and the thief. If anyone in the newsroom is threatening to sue you, we are passing the hat as we speak.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not about libel. After all, who can sue anonymous voices in cyberspace? It's about Newsache's standards, which we appreciate greatly. He/she has been a strong and articulate critic of The Enquirer but has shown there is a line between criticism and personal attacks. By the way, The usually inept Enquirer brass took whatever transpired seriously and involved outside ethics experts from Poynter...not to say it was nothing but it was not a big conspiracy thing. The reporter in questions has enemies, mostly those who can't convince the top dogs to invest in their big stories. I say, quit whining and find better stories. Then let Newswache pick them apart. I wish Newsache ran the paper.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The moderator at one of the Enquirer's readers forums I attended assured us that the paper would be getting away from inner city crime stories and would spend more time on important stories like how people out here in Deerfield Twp. refuse to use their turn signals and the difference in how youth soccer officials interpret rules. Both have gotten really bad. It's all people talk about, but the Enquirer doesn't know or care. We could also use a White Castle while I'm at it.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Phantom Girl said...

A friend of mine stood up at one Enquirer forum and pointed out that in its rush to report all the good news in the community the Enquirer had yet to report on the rampant drug problems in the local school system.

She was so serious, it caught the Enquirer people embarassingly off guard. They didn't appear ready to talk about hard issues and I guess thought everyone in the audience would just bubble about the crap they were passing off as news.

What the lesson could be is that Enquirer editors and reporters are losing the ability or desire to spot and report real news, for fear it will keep them away from the White Castle story (or even better, news that Gold Star is opening across the street). Couple that with staff reductions that put more pressure on everybody and the word around the newsroom that more cuts are coming and you have a dangerous brew.

I'm being hard on them, but after watching the parade of non-news on the front page month after month, unsophisticated and shockingly thin reporting, especially in the local news section, there has to be something more going on than just bad judgment.

An extraordinary identity crisis seems in place. Reporters seem to be lost in an atmosphere of conflicting priorities and uncertainty of what to cover and how. It's simply a leadership issue, and it explains why once in a great while they do somethingly surprising well and in between the reader is left to wonder whether anybody there completed the eighth grade.

And did the Enquirer have to consult the Poynter Institute about ethics? Doesn't the company have policies to deal with alleged plagiarism? Whatever happened to good judgment -- you know, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck......

My advice to Enquirer editors: don't step in the duck dung. It's slippery.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Newsache said...

I removed two more posts that named names. Though this may seem hypocritical because I choose to remain anonymous, I won't have anonymous commenters naming names in that fashion on this board. It's my blog, I set the rules. You can discuss the issue, discuss the impact, but using names on an event that hasn't been publicly disclosed, I can"t allow it.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standing ovation to NewsAche for standing on principles, again!

Honorable mention to Phantom Girl for comments!

Honorable mention to the comment concerning standards with the time-stamped of 8:29.


I, too, wish NewsAche ran the News!

Three award just for doing your thing...

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does a disservice to the Enquirer staff and to readers, as well, not to name the person who was suspended for plagiarism. It casts suspicion on too many other reporters and does not alert readers to news about the people it trusts to report the news ethically.

The Enquirer's media reporter has not reported this story - guess he was too busy with the lame and watered down reissue of WKRP in Cincinnati - even though he regularly reports by name on, say, the suspension/firing of local TV news anchors.

In fact, the paper itself has not reported this story even though it has reported such incidents by reporters at other newspapers. Reporters who were named.

The staff was not told about this. Well, not the entire staff. Many still do not know it happened, let alone who it was.

A Poynter Institute ethics person was not brought in for this - although one is coming to talk about ethics in the new fast-paced media environment. Wonder how those are different than ethics in the old fast-paced media environment of multiple editions and rewrite in which papers did exactly what they are doing now - reported news in a timely manner?

No, NewsAche, you owe it to your readers to not be bullied into hiding the truth - otherwise, why have this blog?

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the disservice noted previously wholly a disservice of the Enquirer to both employees and readers? The suggestion that NewsAche is responsible is misplaced.

As stated, this is NewsAche's blog and he/she sets the rules for it. This hasn't been public ally reported by the one for-profit media source that has the information and facts.

Isn't it the Enquirer's responsibility to maintain and/or restore it's own credibility and standards? Shouldn't the demand for accountability be focused there? Or is this to be another Chiquita debacle that will leave doubt and speculation?

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, profits come well before credibility with this publisher, else we'd be reading about a number of issues in the Enquirer that would raise a few eyebrows.

Hopefully, the Courier or one of the television stations will jump on this one. Remember, it's their all important Sweeps Week and beating the Enquirer with this story would be good for ratings.

A little nudge with some details of the event would appear to help.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It won't be picked up. There won't be any credible source. A credible source would have to come from a "named" source within. There won't be one. It is a symptom of the pervading climate of retribution fear at the Enquirer. It hurts when the truth is said, in very personal ways.

If, indeed plagiarism happened, it was a symptom of the same problem. Too few people to fulfill unrealistic demands combined with constant second guessing and loose double-standards.

You go Phantom Girl! You go NewsAche! At the end of the day you will be alright due to your anonymity. Unless there is someone on the "inside" willing to take a risk, this conversation is gone to the wind...

Who is ready to retire?

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, please. who really cares how many awards any given member of the media win? isn't this the industry that passes out more awards among its peers than any other? is an award from a state AP organization worth more than it cost to buy the plaque?

has anyone ever actually been in the enquirer newsroom? there are dozens of awards hanging everywhere. but do they prove a damn thing? nope. if newsache wins, or doesn't win, any awards for blogging, would that mean it's a good blog, or a bad one? nope.

the only award ever won in connection with work in the enquirer was Borgman's Pulitzer - and that was Borgman himself, not the enquirer.

all journalists and ex-journalists everywhere - and a few bloggers, too - need to get off the narcissistic award navel-gazing once and for all.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the reporter pulled a couple of grafs of background from the Enquirer archives and included it in a Web item reporting a new development. Not ideal, but I wouldn't call it plagiarism. The Enquirer is repeating itself all the time -- reusing breakouts, timelines, etc. -- is it OK to copy unbylined material or your own but not a fellow staffer's? That seems like a pretty flimsy basis for hanging a scarlet "P" on a damn fine reporter.

I'm also disgusted by those on the inside who are knowingly making a mountain out of this molehill and pressing for the reporter to be outed.

This doesn't even make the top 50 least ethical acts committed at the Enquirer. (No. 1: Newsroom management forsaking its responsibility to watchdog journalism in favor of fluff targeted to the area's wealthiest zip codes.)

Let it go.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewsAche is obviously NOT a copy editor. He/she is the squeaker and an eloquent speaker. AND, on vacation... or otherwise having a health issue...

The Enquirer is doing things. It shows.

NewsAche isn't Al. If Al had a million in reserve... MaYbE he stand up before retirement. Didn't happen, no doubt and he is likely watching this but... "Al" ain't NewsAche.

NewsAche is the SUM of the problems. Look for single problems at the Enquirer, you will be looking for a very long time. OH, there are many...

10:24 PM  

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