Friday, August 03, 2007

Bridge to nowhere

The Enquirer's response today to Wednesday's news of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis is terribly irresponsible. Its local bridge story is the main headline on the front page, and it places the headline "Some bridges here in poor condition" next to a photograph of the wreckage of the I-35 bridge. See the front page here. That strongly implies that the "poor" bridges here are in fact dangerous. The Enquirer hasn't proven that, not even close. All it did was review a database. There's no sign in the story that anyone at the Enquirer ever actually visited any of the bridges listed in the story and accompanying charts. Every county in Ohio has bridges in "poor" condition. That's a long way from saying the bridges in our area are either dangerous or unusually so. The Enquirer simply meant to cause alarm and I'll say it again, that's just irresponsible.

No one else in the region played the story this way. The Plain Dealer's approach is questionable. Its front page headline reads "Could this happen here?", but it's the readers themselves were asking. Its main story isn't very good, but a sidebar says there are three bridges in Cleveland that share their design with the I-35 bridge.

The Akron Beacon-Journal put its story above the fold, though it includes a photo of a local bridge. That avoids the offensive juxtaposition used in the Enquirer, and it shows that someone there actually left the newsroom to look at a bridge.

The Columbus Dispatch put its story below the fold, and seven reporters contributed to the story. The Toledo Blade also put its story below the fold, leading with coverage of the Minneapolis collapse.

In Kentucky, the Louisville Courier-Journal also put its story below the fold. The Lexington Herald-Leader also put its story below the fold, and included a photo of workers on a local bridge.

Put this together with the publishing of the names of the jurors in the Marcus Feisel case, and it shows how little journalistic sense the editors at the Enquirer have.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the a way to subscribe to this blog? While it does not tell me everything I want to know when I want to know it, it certainly puts things and events in context.

There are sour grapes in some commentary and in comments. I can get over that because the honesty, accurateness and constructive criticism in this blog (and a couple other local blogs) surpass what "established" media dares to do.

Thanks and how can we subscribe?

PS... Why didn't this and the Cincinnati Beacon win the "Best local blog" awards? HMMMMMM.....Did those blogs say something bad big brother?

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewsAche, please answer what happened to Mary Devish. She meant a lot to everyone (newsroom included) and now she SIMPLY GONE.

What happened? Is Mary OK? Are Mary and Mark (her husband) were they want to be? Please let us all know... Both Mary and Mark are incredible people.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give the enquirer a break. They needed to show they were on the ball with BridgeGate, but editors were too busy planning Goetta Fest coverage. Do they sponsor that festival or what? They cover that every year, like it's Mardi Gras or something.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

editors were too busy planning Goetta Fest coverage. Do they sponsor that festival or what?

Two words: "Hyper Local"

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of us admired Mary for being able to hang on as long as she did. The task is to find out why she left. Was it because she was tired of signing off on ever depressingly lower revenue and smaller budgets? Was it because she tried to institute change, but was overridden by the top? Was it because of differences with corporate or auditors in reporting the Enquirer's finances, which is why so many finance vice presidents leave or lose their jobs?
One of the shortcomings of being an anonymous blogger is that Newsache can't call over to the Enquirer to ask these questions, as the Dean of Cincinnati would have no problem doing (Dean, are you reading this? Sic em!) Newsache should be asking these questions himself (herself?) on the blog. When the Enquirer's top financial officer says "See Ya," that's an extraordinary event that ought to be investigated.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does "hyper local" explain the the feel-oh-so-sorry-for Jeni Dinkel crap too? What a bunch of horse shit that is.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that Dinkel crapfest really pissed me off. Dogherty *knew* and *admitted* he was being manipulated and didn't care. What was the Enquirer's excuse?

10:29 AM  
Blogger Newsache said...

The purpose of this blog is to focus attention on the so-called journalism produced by the Enquirer. The circus inside the Enquirer isn't very interesting and in the end doesn't matter. What matters to this city is what the Enquirer chooses to publish.

If other people want to add comments about what goes on inside that Enquirer, that's up to them. I will delete anything I consider to be slanderous or untrue.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, thank you NewsAche. Your focus on journalism and standards are welcomed. The topic of the CFO departure probably should be in another forum.

To anon 9:37, the Beacon has picked it up. Maybe something might get revealed there.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Behind-the-scenes reviews of this circus are good every once in a while, especially given that many of the shows being performed are often impacted by the acts being discussed.

Sadly, it appears that the Ring Master of this three-ring circus will have it’s main act performing in fewer venues, with less rings (Devish had seven), and with many of it’s journalistic performers pushing cotton candy versus performing feats that once had everyone wanting to see more.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what what ..... circus ..... lions and tigers and bears, oh my ..... and managed by Gannett ..... I'd rather be staked face down on an ant hill and forced to read the New York Sun.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should respect NewsAche's position on wanting to chronicle the journalistic flub-ups and lack of journalistic ethics at the Enquirer. NewsAche has stated that this blog's focus is on getting the city a decent newspaper.

At the same time, I don't understand why he/she doesn't see why the circus behind the internal issues matters. That's fine because it is NewsAche's blog. We should respect it and be thankful that we are allowed to post within NewsAche's standards.

That said, the answer to what happened to the CFO is important. Provide information or speculation here on on the Beacon. If you can (and it is practical for all parties) identify the source so we can tell the difference between fact and speculation. The Enquirer certainly isn't going to say or be truthful.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think any infighting at the top at the Enquirer could have a direct bearing on the quality of the paper. After all, management keeps cutting the newsroom budget so's to maintain Gannett's sinfully high profit margins. Someone's got to stand up once and for all for the Enquirer's raison d'etre. Maybe it was the CFO. Certainly wasn't the VP of audience development.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not exactly right about Callinan. He has taken stands on staffing on multiple occassions, and has been beaten up (sometime to a pulp) for it by the publisher. His key editors know this.

Callinan is extremely aware of the long-term impact of cut-to-the-bone budgeting and is in fact a master of doing the most with what he can salvage. He may not cook the books, but he's a damned good sous chef.

Yes, I know that sounds like heresy to those who think he's a stooge. But I've been in the conversations, watched a master of the budget at work and seen first-hand the maneuvering (sometimes guerilla warfare) to salvage as much as can be from the jaws of Gannett. I've also seen him shaken, and close to tears. Not about the direction of coverage -- the information center. He's signed on to that concept, as, frankly, most newspapers have. It's the people issue that disturbs him.

Callinan knows the boundaries of the envelope, and that he can only go so far with Buchanan. He's also a man with a bit more conscience than is generally given, and in the past has refused to honor commands -- yes commands -- for layoffs that would have put innocent staffers on the street at holiday time.

I'm not saying he's a saint. Ultimately, he bears responsibility for the dump in morale and downspiral of the quality of the newspaper. And if push comes to shove, those Gannett stock options would be huge influence.

What worries me is that Callinan worked with Mary Devish in Rochester, where he describes her as tough as nails on finances. If she got the heave-ho, I would have to believe the situation on manufacturing the profit margin is at a critical stage. Maybe she just couldn't take any more of ridiculous demands, or maybe she wouldn't put her name to absurd P&L projections made in the name of satisfying corporate.

I'll say it again. Callinan carries a fair amount of baggage. But it would be wrongheaded to think he doesn't fight back against Buchanan, or doesn't care.

It's true, she scares the living daylights out of him and she can be ruthless. I suppose that's why Callinan's favorite fruit comes shaken, not stirred (and no, I'm not saying he's a drunk).

Those who have not carried the executive burden can only see the light through an oblique prism.

I only wish Callinan would do something like Dean Baquet did in Los Angeles -- say no mas. Maybe before it's all over he will; maybe not.

But then the Enquirer would be stuck with Towns firmly at the top, and the festival of bloodletting would truly begin.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:01 is a bit of an oracle, methinks. Or rather just one of the few that would rather see the light than have sand-filled ears.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sand make me itch.

Besides, there are good people at the Enquirer trying to make the situation work despite it all.

Probably the leading example is deputy managing editor Julie Engebrecht, but she is not the only one.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ad for another one that bit the dust in Finance is posted. It is "Cash Supervisor." It's another one on the tally.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: 8:01. A sandy beach in Alaska sounds pretty good right now...

Good, thoughtful discussion about Enquirer management issues. But for those who haven't been in other newsrooms for awhile, may I remind you that there are truly consistent, journalistically solid, motivating media editors out there who stand head and shoulders over the Callinans and Townses of the world. The Enquirer just has not seen one in awhile.

If Callinan's ever gotten teary, it had to be after two hours on the barstool. And, be honest, we all know how much time he spends on barstools.

As for middle newsroom management, they are mouses, the exhausted and the beaten down. Again, the Enquirer hasn't seen truly talented middle management in awhile, so the quality baseline is skewed. For example, how many women managers does the Deputy ME for News have working for her? A truly talented manager of any stripe builds and manages a diverse team of quality people who balance his/her strengths. Not the case in Local News. You challenge her, you are gone.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:22 said "You challenge her, you are gone."

Are you sure you're not fudging the logic on that one? It sounds as though you're saying if you challenge top editors you get the boot. My understanding is that people in that newsroom can scream, kick and cry for progress only to be left hoarse with sore legs and salt-stained faces. It's the apathy that drives people insane and, eventually, away. Making someone disappear requires energy, time, passion. It is much easier for top editors to play the silent game and wait for staffers to run from the newsroom, yelling "uncle."

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Anons at 11:22 and 12:59.

I'm just remembering that list of long-gone newsroom types Newsache's fans put together awhile ago. Lots of Local News folks on that list, many of 'em women. Maybe there's truth in both these comments about why women run (or are booted away) from the "leader" of Local News.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So going back to the list of the lost, who were the good managers that left in the past three years or so?

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heartfelt message to anon 12:58:

An unspoken rule of working in a hostile environment is to NEVER, ever say anything good or nice about anyone. To do so will mean that negatives will come back in multiples.

The Enquirer OOOZES hostility. Say nothing nice, don't do anything good and by all means don't affect any sort of change. Those are all bad, bad things. Stay under the radar.

Then, of course, eventually, the company will blow up. When the dust settles, it won't matter... or will it, if it is a newspaper?

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is disturbing to hear the paper's employees are hostile.

7:43 PM  

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