Friday, May 23, 2008

Chiquita, again

I read this and thought wow, neither the Enquirer nor anybody else within Gannett would have the guts to publish anything like this today. I had thought that 10 years later, the Chiquita mess really hadn't had a long-term impact on the Enquirer. It wasn't a hard-nosed paper before, and it wasn't afterward, so what was the effect?

Cincinnati Magazine set out to answer that question, but came back with something different. No readers were interviewed, none of the powers that be in the region were interviewed. The editor and the publisher were interviewed. What would Tom Callinan know about the effect of the Chiquita mess? First, he wasn't here at the time. Second, the journalistic tone he's set for the Enquirer shows he doesn't know much about journalism. You get President's Rings for pushing paper, not for putting people in jail.

After reading Cameron McWhirter's look back, it occurred to me that the Enquirer would never, ever write about itself in such terms. A hard-hitting series, the disavowal that didn't say the reporting was in error, the $10 million payment to the richest man in town, the felony conviction, the naming of previously unnamed sources -- the Chiquita affair was a major event in this town, of historical proportions. The Enquirer celebrates the anniversaries of lesser events with front-page treatment. Why not Chiquita? The Enquirer, sadly, can't be honest its present, about its circulation numbers and its business practices. Why would it be honest about its own past?

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the intent of the magazine article was to determine the effect of the Chiquita series on the Enquirer. In my opinion, after reading the piece, the intent was to compare the Enquirer's attempt to make its mark in journalism back then (Chiquita) with its attempt now (online).

Granted, the magazine piece talked abou the effect of Chiquita, but that obituary has been written a dozen times since then. This article seemed to focus more on today's efforts at journalistic quality, as lame as they may be.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous mr. whig said...

Oddly (unless I missed it), nowhere in that story does it say that Julie Irwin worked at The Enquirer in the 90s.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie does disclose she worked at Enquirer at the time of publication, 8th graf in.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, 9th graf in.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On another subject.

Are times that tough at the Enquirer that they have to set more than a few of CincyMom's forum pages on auto-reload? Well, that's exactly what's happening now. I'm sure advertisers will be glad to know that there's been a "spike" in page views.

Frankly, I always appreciated the more subtle approach of broken pages so people would click more.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading both the stories you link to is saddening. McWhirter's tribute to the shield law is fine but in it he takes little stabs at Cincinnati, calling it provincial (If you want to see provincial, visit any neighborhood in NYC where residents have never even been to Jersey) and referring to its "modest" downtown. Making it clear that he was just too big for this town.

McWhirter grandstanded from the moment he hit Cincinnati's newsroom. What has always been odd about Chiquita is this: If McWhriter was such a crack reporter, how did he not know what the guy whom he was virtually chained to for a year was up to?

The Cincinnati magazine story covers no new ground. It allows Margaret Buchanan a platform to talk about something that ALL media has been doing since it began: niche publication. It's hardly a new idea. The web might offer a new platform but remember women's sections? food sections? fashion sections?

As for CincyMoms, the Enquirer was ordered to do it on the heels of the success of IndyMoms. Same is true of CinWeekly. Free weekly publications had already been started around the country before Gannett piped in. That's Gannett's MO - let others do the research and lose the money ad then when all the kinks are worked out, it steps in. It's very smart and it's why Gannett is still here and Knight-Ridder, etc. are not.

As for a 10-year Chiquita story in the paper? Dream on. Bet there was something in the settlement that prevents that from EVER happening. And talk about sucking up: wasn't Lindner the biggest picture on the cover of that 185th, or was it 165th, anniversary section the Enquirer published a year or two ago.

What would be something worth reading is not a rehash of what happened or the honchos' spin on what they're doing now but something we''ve never read before: the contents of that settlement agreement.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell will freeze over before the Enquirer prints ANYTHING about the Chiquita settlement again.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 7:47 a.m., From The Enquirer, thanks for the tip. There's no deliberate effort to cause pages to reload on cincyMOMS.com. Some of the new JavaScript we're using from a third-party vendor does have a reload statement in it, but it only pertains to our new login system and not the page or its content. I don't believe it causes a page refresh -- and if it does, it shouldn't, and we'll get that stopped. We appreciate the tip on a possible bug or design flaw.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newsache, how are the new blogs at the Enquirer holding up since the changeover?

6:24 AM  

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