Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No Respect

When people talk about the decline of culture and the poor quality of the media they should look no further than the following letter to the editor of the Enquirer:

The University of Cincinnati wins the biggest game in the history of the school, yet The Enquirer puts the Ohio State-Michigan game on the front page of the paper. To paraphrase Sam Wyche, you don't live in Columbus, you live in Cincinnati. The Bearcat football team will never get the respect they truly deserve thanks to the local media who'd rather talk about a team in another city then their local team.

Steve Heller
Mr. Heller is correct in his comments. The Enquirer should be very ashamed of giving preference to Ohio State of the huge victory by UC but part of the problem lies not with the media, but with the readers. People do not value what is around them. This is not just a problem here in Cincinnati, but nearly everywhere. Too many People don't respect effort and accomplishment. All they respect is popularity, rankings, money, aggression (conflict). The Enquirer chose to downplay the local story and play up the National Story of the Ohio State game. Yes, Columbus is close by, and there are lots of Ohio State fans in the area, but so what! The job of the local media is to serve the community by reporting the local news first and foremost. The problem with the media is that they are serving what they view as the demand of the local readers who don't care about their community and only seem to care about the national hot topic. That leaves a void that contributes to the false perception that Cincinnati is a small town where nothing good happens. We are big city, where culture, sports, and action play out every day. It is exciting and is worth paying attention to what happens.

When culture warriors opine about the decline and fall of American Society and Culture, I hope they look at the real decline and fall, that of local media coverage of local stories. When it is seen as a chore for the local newspaper to cover City Council meetings, how much long before they don't cover it at all or worse yet, just print press releases? Valuing community and taking pride in the places where we live is a founding value of our society. When people say buy American, I cringe. Instead, why don’t they say buy Cincinnati or buy local? Buy from the guy who runs the store a few streets over instead of at Wal-Mart. See the local band playing music instead of buying a CD of a manufactured “group.”

Just printing press releases is close to what our local media does a large part of the time. We are dangerously close to becoming what could be considered a closed society, cut off from what is happening just a few miles or blocks away. This sports story is not really important in the big picture of life, but it illustrates the problem very clearly. The media is not causing this problem, but they are enabling it to grow and fester. Get your local news first, then worry about the rest of the county. What is happening in Tampa or San Diego may be happening here too, but don’t assume it is happening everywhere without finding out first. Keep on eye on the rest of country and the world, but don’t take your eye of your own community. In the end, your neighbors will affect you more than someone in a bus wreck 1,000 miles away.

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