Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Get your lightning rods straight

Michael Clark's profile of Gary Hines, head of the Butler County NAACP, is all right, but it's a profile of the wrong person. The person who should have been profiled is Mike Taylor, superintendent of Lakota schools.

As the Hines profile states, and as the Enquirer has been reporting from the beginning, Hines did not ask that the performance of the play "And Then There Were None" be canceled. He says he complained, passing along the feelings of black families in the district. It was school administrators who decided to cancel the play. From the first story on this, November 27:

But Hines, who operates GPH Consultants - a diversity training company - in West Chester Township, said that despite his strong protest, it was Lakota officials' idea to cancel the play in response to his complaints.

Jon Weidlich, spokesman for Butler County school district, said subsequent discussions - after district officials met with Hines earlier this month - among students and staff at Lakota East High School led to the decision to cancel the play.

"After learning of the play's origins and the hurt that it caused, we had hoped to use the performances as a way to create a discussion about diversity of all kinds in our community. However, students and staff continued to raise issues, and it was quickly obvious that bad feelings about the play were much more widespread and strong than originally thought. The best action seemed to be to switch to a different play," Weidlich said.

Keith Kline, Lakota East principal, said: "Certainly, it was a tough decision but one that needed to be made.

"Doing the play now is not a way to promote the respectfulness we are trying to promote."

As usual, the Enquirer exhibits its twisted and misdirected sense of accountability. By running a front page profile of Hines, the Enquirer makes it look like it's his fault the play was canceled. Maybe he is a trouble-maker, or maybe not. Maybe his complaint is legitimate and maybe not. But he didn't have the power to cancel the play. He's just one man and he won't even reveal how many members the Butler County NAACP has.

[ And the headline on the story is just stupid: "He didn't expect to be A LIGHTNING ROD." First, when you're the head of an NAACP chapter, you're a lightning rod. Second, Hines is never quoted saying that in the story. He is paraphrased saying he didn't anticipate the firestorm, but that's it. It's the Enquirer who named him the lightning rod. ]

The real story here is that the school administration made the decision, and the Enquirer has yet to dig into that. The Enquirer editorial board praised the Lakota administration for its wisdom in deciding to stage the play, but never called into question the flawed decision making that led to its cancellation in the first place.

So, why hasn't the Enquirer profiled superintendent Mike Taylor and Keith Kline, the Lakota East principal? Why haven't they been held accountable? The story and the Enquirer's coverage in general introduce the issue of censorship, and the introduction of it today in the Hines profile makes it look as thought he is the censor. He is not. That would be Taylor and Kline, but the Enquirer coverage never really connects those dots.

The Enquirer needs to set this record straight, and detail who at Lakota talked to whom to arrive at the decision to censor the play.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newsache, a question for you - who would hold the Enquirer accountable? Readers, certainly. But, besides you, there doesn't seem to be any form of ombudsman out there.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about missing the point...the point of this whole story is a man who makes money off of diversity training raising a ruckus so he can get a job teaching diversity to the district. It's kind of like a window washer running around town flinging mud on every pane of glass he can find.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After one month, this is the best post NewsAche can come up with?

You're losing your readers.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not as exciting as previous posts, but Newsache raises a good point.

Perhaps the Enquirer recognises that digging into administrator’s decisions would most likely result in alienating a lot of people in an area that they desperately need to grow profits.

In regard to Hines, his egregious attempt to use his NAACP role to personally profit speaks volumes about him, and the NAACP. Broader “discussions” appear only as attempts to cover up actions that really deserve wider attention. But, that’s not without some risks too.

4:08 PM  
Blogger The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Great post.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When are the end-of-year layoffs coming?

9:45 PM  
Anonymous A Concerned Reader said...

Anon 11:17,

This is NewsAche's blog. He or she can write as often or as little as they want. The blog stills provides an important insight and valuable service as a media watchdog.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Editorandpublisher.com. Where's www.Enquirer.com rank??

Below is the list of the top 30 newspaper Web sites and the total time spent for the month of November. They are ranked in order of unique visitors so you can see that the order changes when considering time spent. The percent change compares November 2007 and November 2006. Please note this is a custom made list for E&P. (Nielsen is owned by E&P's parent company.)
*

Top 30 Newspaper Websites, November 2007

Site -- Total minutes (000) -- % Change/minutes

NYTimes.com -- 550,035 -- 9.3%
USATODAY.com -- 136,603 -- (-27.8%)
washingtonpost.com -- 145,083 -- 30.4%
Wall Street Journal Online -- 72,110 -- 60.9%
Newsday -- 28,203 -- 42.3%

Boston.com -- 79,712 -- 31.5%
LA Times -- 44,259 -- (-21.2%)
SFGate.com/San Francisco Chronicle -- 40,610 -- 10.7%
New York Post -- 37,346 -- 46.5%
Village Voice -- 10,092 -- 89.1%

Chicago Tribune -- 31,690 -- (-14.8%)
Daily News Online Edition -- 19,180 -- 12.8%
Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- 46,371 -- 1.2%
The Houston Chronicle -- 64,166 -- (-0.7%)
Chicago Sun-Times -- 19,963 -- 11.2%

DallasNews.com - The Dallas Morning News -- 9,041 -- (-18.5%)
International Herald Tribune -- 4,011 -- (-19.0%)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer -- 18,197 -- 35.2%
The Seattle Times -- 13,296 -- (-15.1%)
The San Diego Union-Tribune -- 8,558 -- (-21.3%)

Ottaway Newspapers -- 9,015 -- 11.5%
Azcentral.com -- 62,735 -- 172.8%
Baltimore Sun -- 11,101 -- 4.4%
Philly.com -- 19,053 -- 87.2%
Orlando Sentinel -- 17,218 -- 124.5%

NJ.com -- 22,656 -- 7.5%
The Politico -- 7,672 -- N/A
MercuryNews.com -- 6,954 -- 38.6%
Detroit Free Press -- 18,733 -- (-27.8%)
KansasCity.com -- 8,442 -- 3.3%

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good site, fair on commentary:

http://gannettblog.blogspot.com/

So far, this blog appears to be trustworthy and reliable, even if you mail it directly...

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Booooo. Very weak post, NewsAche. You gotta pick your game up.

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't weak at all.

When will the Enquirer straighten out the mis-conceptions that this story produced? All we want is the day and time that this will be corrected.

Yeah, I know not to hold my breathe.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Offered in the spirit of a Gannett Chrismas, the corporate mindset that -- by design -- deprives Cincinnati of a quality newspaper, and in so doing crushes staff morale and almost any sense that journalism is a worthwhile career.

Sung to the 12 days of Christmas, and dedicated to Enquirer employees who will find that lump of coal in their stockings along with Christmas greetings that things are likely to only get worse next year.

On the first day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, a really really crappy press job.

On the second day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, two rate increases, and a really really crappy press job.

On the third day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases, and a really really a crappy press job.

On the fourth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the fifth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the sixth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the seventh day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, seven pink slips, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the eighth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, Margaret's unreasonable demands, seven pink slips, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the ninth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, nine iditorials, Margaret's unreasonable demands, seven pink slips, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the tenth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, Page 1 blowjobs, nine iditorials, Margaret's unreasonable demands, seven pink slips, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the eleventh day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, 11 budget cutbacks, Page 1 blowjobs, Margaret's unreasonable demands, seven pink slips, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

On the twelfth day of Christmas the Enquirer gave to me, Hollis is out of control again, 11 budget cutbacks, Page 1 blowjobs, Margaret's unreasonable demands, seven pink slips, six Gannettoids, questionable reporting, four Tom Callinans, three rotten webcasts, two rate increases and a really really crappy press job.

Despite the nasty tone of the 12 days, it is reality, OK extended reality, in the Enquirer newsroom. Those who survive day to day and do their best -- despite the nonesense -- are the real heroes.

Happy New Year to all.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true nonachiever. Don't worry. Someone someday is going to recognize your brilliance and put you in charge. If you can't wait until then, just go take a header off the Brent Spence bridge. Or hold your breath until you turn blue. End the misery the Enquirer imposes you. Or stop your bi!ching and go get a new job.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 1:51

I would prefer to consider this painful analysis of the realities of transitional journalism, a situation in which some good things being done are being overshadowed by far too many poor judgments by people who have simply should know better. At least, they are paid well enough to know better.

Thanks for letting me know how much an underachiever I am. My annual reviews will have to be amended to reduce my score to your rating.

However, I will say this. You can bet that if I do take the big dive off the Brent Spence, the Enquirer will be in a world of conflict. You see, there will be a fight in the newsroom over whether the Ohio or Kentucky staffs should cover.

That situation alone is a good indicator of what's wrong with this newspaper.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kentucky has a newspaper?

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kentucky kicks Ohio's ass on the Education beat.

For whatever THAT'S worth.

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. I am confused. WHO thinks that the Enquirer is in touch with Kentucky school children and their parents?

OMG: Does anyone really think that "Kentucky kicks Ohio's ass on the Education beat" is the statement Kentucky parents should answer too?

So sorry, my daughter doesn't answer to that BS that I think no one does...-mo

3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the Post people doing? Anyone landed a job?

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In answer to the above question: Many of us are retiring. Others have new jobs. None that I know of is staying in journalism.

10:37 AM  

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