Monday, February 28, 2011

How Will the Cincinnati Media Tackle the 10th Anniversary of the Riots?

We are less than two months away from the 10 year anniversary of the Riots that followed the police shooting of Timothy Thomas. It is the time for the local media to be planning how they are going to commemorate that event, if at all. I think I found one such plan from WCPO with this Twitter account: @TEN_YEARS_LATER. A quick search on WCPO's website turns up this test post, which indicates that a least a story is in the works, if not more.

I'm not looking forward to looking back on the Riots. Other than living in Cincinnati at the time and from my ninth story office watching a couple dozen kids cause some minor vandlism Downtown, I didn't experience them. I followed the news coverage of the riots like a hawk, and it was terrible. It showed a lack of understanding and of experience in coverage of the rioters point of view. No journalist had any remembered ability to get inside the story as it was happening over multiple days.  Instead the press was driven off by small incidents of rock or bottle throwing or were held back by the police from entering  most of Over-the-Rhine, which was the center of most of the violence.

There were several good pieces that ran well after the riots, but the importance of the early and first draft of history type reporting is critical. In the case of April 2001, our local media failed to know what was going on. They couldn't or wouldn't get into the scene and cover it. They stood by the sidelines and bought the hype and what little they could get from police scanners or the handful of contacts on scene as the only story. That was not good journalism.  With the vast reduction of news gathering resources of today's media, I don't believe they could do any better now.  Citizen journalists can't make-up the difference and provide objective reporting that is comprehensive, serving every part of the public.

The City and it's citizens overall ability to deal with those types of situations, like both the shooting and the riots after, can better be handled with a local media that can engage all segments of the population. 10 years ago, one segment was vastly undeserved.  I don't think it has measurably improved.

Make Cincinnati Weird is Still Really Weird and We Like It

A new team has relaunched the local blog Make Cincinnati Weird. They've put out a new mission statement which reads:
This Blog was created by Gerard Sychay. Recently, a group of Cincinnati weirdos have joined forces to carry on the mission Gerard began. The goal is to document the quirky, offbeat, and… well… weird goodness of Cincinnati. The single guiding principle, is that diversity breeds strength.

Jake Gerth, Kevin Feldman, Rebecca Nebert, Latria Roberts, Josh Laichas, Chris Grunden, Kara Driscoll, and Hannah Gerth have joined forces to embrace Cincinnati’s weirdness and support the road less traveled. Welcome to our journey…
As the most normal person in the entire world, I can't relate to this website in any way, but I applaud their effort to shed some light on Cincinnati and show a side of it that I will never know.

(Yes, I am really is just a bunch of weirdos)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Looks Like a Northside Bar Needs to Close

When someone is murdered at your bar, it moves to the top of the list to be closed. It is time to close Club 360.

Too Much Fluff, Not Enough Gruff

Is is just me or does it seem that most of the news stories you see on local TV news about our members of Congress are Fluff pieces?

Yes, I know, Local TV news viewers don't care about politics, at all. I also know this is rather obvious, but am pointing it out again, just so everyone doesn't forget.  Courting ignorance is no way to run a news operation, but local TV News has a big ass box of chocolates and is camped out on ignorance's doorstep.  They've been camped out there for years and show no sign of looking for a better litter box to sniff.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jake Speed and Bock Beer, What Else Do You Want at Bockfest, a Goat?

Bockfest 2011

The People Behind the Know Theatre Share Why they Do It

The Know Theatre is one of my favorite organizations in Cincinnati and that has to do mostly with the great people that work there. The newly hired Managing Director, Haley Elkins, wrote a blog post about why she works in the non-profit arts world and got her coworkers to chime in as to why they work incredibly long hours for relatively modest pay.

As fan of Know's work, I am very happy they are doing it and it makes me proud they do it right here in Cincinnati.

If you want to show your love for this organization, you can do so in person on Tuesday March 8th at their Mardi Gras fundraiser.  Starting at 5:30 PM you can join in a Fat Tuesday celebration. Enjoy music provided by Cincinnati's only Cajun New Orleans Gypsy Band, Lagniappe. A $10 suggested donation at the door includes light fare provided by Washington Platform and beads. Know cash bar will be open and serving New Orleans' style hurricanes.  Just come out to the Know Theatre at 1120 Jackson Street and learn more about great Theatre in Cincinnati.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Possible Berding Replacements?

CityBeat's Kevin Osborne reports on interviews for Jeff Berding's replacement when he finally resigns from City Council. These interviews were reported to have taken place for the Cincinnati Business Committee with Berding and Chris Bortz. The three candidates interviewed were:

Brad Wenstrup
Kevin Flynn
Crystal Faulkner

All three are Republicans, with Flynn locally endorsed by the Charter Party.

Yes, you read the first name correctly, Brad Wenstrup. Wenstrup is the former mayoral candidates who thinks Iraq is safer than OTR.  If Berding picks him and Bortz accepts it and actually appoints Wenstrup, I don't think either would win another election in the City, let alone find allies anywhere outside the suburban Republican Party.

I don't know of Faulkner at all, but as a radio host on WNKU, I hope she's not an anti-Public Broadcasting Republican, yet she probably voted for some or held fund raisers for them.

Fynn is the only viable candidate of the three, so I am guessing this was just going through the motions for the big money donor base. Give them a more conservative anti-city Republican, like Wenstrup, and an insiderish newcomer like Faulkner for comparison, and that makes the pro-city Republican/Charterite Flynn look good.

The question now: When is Jeff Berding actually going to resign?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ignorance Is Bliss in Parts of Northern Kenturcky

I really don't get how people can be ignorant enough to not see the health problems caused by second hand smoke, but there are enough of them to push the Campbell County Fiscal Court to extinguish a law to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

All people have to do is to point to Ohio. We passed a smoking ban statewide, and naysayers then pointed to Kentucky as a grave warning of bad times ahead. They said that bars in Cincinnati would crumble without smoking and with Kentucky just over the river with a smoker's paradise we would never recover. Well, how many bars have opened in the Downtown Cincinnati area since the ban, let alone around the city? If you are not going to say a ton, then you just haven't been in Cincinnati in years.

Kentucky needs to pass a statewide ban and get over smoking. It is not a bottomless pit of profit as some think. It is a quick high, then you crash and need another. Don't get sucked into the bad habit of overplaying the importance of militant smokers. The militancy dies out after a couple of days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cincinnatians for Progress Streetcar and City Defense Fundraiser Tomorrow!

All of Cincinnati needs you to GET ON BOARD with Cincinnatians for Progress' FUNDRAISER for their Campaign in the fight against another far-reaching anti-passenger rail amendment and in support of Good Governance and Progress in Cincinnati.

Join Mayor Mark Mallory and CFP
Wednesday, February 16th 2011
5:30 - 8:00 pm
Historic Grammer's
1440 Walnut Street, Over the Rhine
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

$25 or $50 Suggested Donation at the door
Cannot attend? Please donate online by clicking here

To stay current on the effort to protect our government and allow it to develop the Streetcar, check out Cincinnatians for Progress on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Anti-Streetcar Bias of the Enquirer: A Smoking Gun Example

Everyone says this all the time: The Enquirer is biased towards Republicans and the Suburbs, and has a strong anti-city contempt. I tend to think the first two are very true, but the third less so, except with certain segments of the daily newspaper's staff. The main bias of all for profit media is in favor of controversy/sex/crime (anything that attracts eyeballs like a car wreck,) but that has become mostly a given in our popularity driven society. Being against the Streetcar has been an editorial stance of the Enquirer for a couple of years, so the Enquirer's bias in its coverage of that issue has long been a question.

If you buy all of that or not, you can't deny this week's clear smoking gun bias in the form of a Barry Hortsman article entitled Poll: residents oppose both streetcar and ballot. Please note that headline. It is where the core of the bias lies.

In case you missed the news last week, a poll was sent to the Enquirer from Chris Finney, Mr. Anti-Cincinnati and fearless leader of the anti-Cincinnati group, COAST. That poll was conducted by Republican Paul M. Fallon. I say he's a Republican because it was something brought up by Twitter posts and CityBeat's reporting, but not something you read in Hortsman's article.

Where the bias lies is in the headline. This poll was conducted County wide. Yes, county wide. The term used by the Eqnuirer in the headline is "residents." I didn't know the Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati were synonymous How can they not be lying? Well, that is where the bias happens. Hortsman focuses in on the number of City Residents included in a poll, a number which is a subset of the poll, something we might call an internal. How do you trust a poll that is created on a county wide basis, then adjusted for a city only topic and consider that to be good polling? Well, you do it when it provides you with an answer you want, which is why Chris Finney pitched the news story and the Enquirer took it. There is more, howerever.

The story linked above was posted at 8:52 PM on February 10th, 2011. The first story about the poll was actually first written for the Enquirer's politics blog with a headline that read "A new streetcar survey," which was published at 10:17 AM on February 10th, 2011. That blog post was updated once at 12:15 PM with more information clarifying some of the reports from Fallon's survey.

So, the initial gut of Carl Weiser (the author of the blog post) wasn't to spin the story, it was to be honest. Carl knows where he got the press release from, Chris Finney, and in the blog post rightfully reports that Finney is an "anti-streetcar activist. I'm also betting that Weiser knows of Paul Fallon as a Republican pollster, which I'm also surmising tempered the headline of the blog post. I think Carl Weiser is a good journalist and I think his coverage, for a Republican newspaper, is fair, within reason at least. That's why I think that headline on the blog post appears the way it did. Something didn't smell right about the poll, and Carl knew it.

Eight hours later we get a snow job. I don't know who gets the blame more, Barry Hortsman himself or his editors, but we get a biased and knowingly misleading headline and article. Eight hours later is plenty of time for Barry to do a Google search on Fallon and read this profile (read the right sidebar) to learn he was director of public opinion research for the Ohio Republican Party. It also doesn't take five minutes for a green reporter to know that you are going to get a Republican conclusion from a Republican pollster. Hortsman knows that the Hamilton County Republican Party is against the Streetcar. So, putting two and two together shouldn't have been too much to do in eight hours. So, does that leave laziness as the cause instead of bias? I'm not going to say lazy, although in a time crunched reporter's life, that often is a big problem. Instead, I lay this at the feat of Hortsman's bias and/or the bias of his editors. I don't know if Carl Weiser is his editor, but I'm going to guess no, based on the variation in how this poll was presented over an eight hour period.

Headlines, in case you forget, are very important in the news media. A large portion of readers only read a scant few articles, but read all of the headlines. They draw conclusions based on those headlines. In this case a false conclusion would be reached by anyone reading the Hortsman article's headline. Further false conclusions would be drawn from the article it self, lacking any context as to the source of the poll and back ground of the pollster. Not determining why this poll was conducted was the most damning element not to include. Are we supposed to honestly believe the pollster wanted to throw this in for the hell of it? He took the time to write up a press release because it seemed like a good thing to do? Yes, and I have deal on the Suspension Bridge that you just can't pass up.

I sent a request to Barry Hortsman for comment and answers to a list of questions relating to this story early Friday morning. I copied all of the editors I believed would have been responsible for his work. As of the publishing of this post, I received no response, except that one of the editors was out of the office.

I don't expect the Enquirer to be perfect. I do expect them to try and be fair and not do something so obviously biased. Instead, Hortsman should never have written the story. Weiser's blog post was enough. Instead the article likely reached the print edition and mislead a much wider audience.

At this point everything Hortsman writes has to be second guessed. I wouldn't trust him getting a 'dog bites man' story right, let alone the streetcar. The new editor of paper, Carolyn Washburn, should take the time to think about reassigning who ever is responsible for this biased article. If the blame lies at hers or her boss's feet, then I'll be making a habit of this type of blog post.

Additional info from WLWT, which has the press release generated from Fallon Research.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Perceived Gay Couple Denied Admission to Creation 'Museum'

Read up on the two men denied entrance to the Creation 'Museum' for a Date Night event because security guards believed they were Gay. This is an event that they had spent $71 each for tickets and didn't get a refund.

The Creation 'Museum' is the same organization that is seeking state tax-breaks for building a Biblical theme park. I am thinking there is clear problem with discrimination and as you might guess, non-Christians (Gay-Christians I would surmise as well) are not welcome to visit this establishment.  The Commonwealth of Kentucky should not be in the business of helping religious and Gay bigotry prosper.

Don't tell the Kentucky Enquirer this happened, they might have to improve their embarrassing coverage of the farce that is the Creation 'Museum.'

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Enquirer New Website Design Is Launched

You can check out the new design of the Cincinnati Enquirer's website by going to many different websites: specifically, but when you do, the term "Enquirer" will be something you don't see much. It is there, but is on the same footing at the Community Press. The old site still works, but goes to a less graphic sub category of "News".  This isn't a new development, as the old site did something similar, but the main page of "News" on the previous design had more of a front page of the Enquirer feel.  The only front page I see is itself (or for a Kentucky focus).  It is moving a little slow, at least I feel it is, and some of the links don't seem to respond, but they'll work that out.

For help on using the new website, has provided a FAQ.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another Cop the FOP Likely Won't Let Be Fired

The Cincinnati Police Department knows how to pick them, with this police officer Jeffrey Brunswick (Age 54) accused of punching another cop repeatedly in a bar. The Equirer reports this key piece of information:
Brunswick was fired in 1990 after he was accused by his supervisors of operating a vehicle in a reckless manner and then lying about it.
That's right, 20 years ago this cop was fired, but he took it to court and "won" his job back. Seems like he should be fired again, but the FOP will be there to protect his "right" to assault other police officers.  If I hit a co-worker, I would be fired as would nearly everyone else.  I am sure there are circumstances to consider, but there are few that could even be considered as even a partial excuse.  Being drunk at 2 in the morning isn't one of them.

Yes, you also read correctly that this guy is 54 years old and should clearly know better.

Monday, February 07, 2011

New Over-the-Rhine Blog

The prolific OTR Twitterer, @OTRcincy, has taken another step in the promotion of Cincinnati's amazing neighborhood Over-the-Rhine by starting a new blog, aptly titled Over-the-Rhine Blog.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

For a Live Taste of the Enquirer's New Web Design Look to Louisville Paper

As I reported yesterday the Enquirer's website is set for resign. If you want to get a feel for how it is going to look, I suggest checking out the Enquirer's sister newspaper The Courier-Journal in Louisville for an example of the new design and organizational structure.

FOP Contract: The Song Remains The Same

The City Manager and FOP leadership have reached a deal to extend the current contract through the end of 2012, including a pay freeze.  The City Council and the FOP rank and file must approve the extension.

I guess this is the easiest solution. The FOP gets to keep its rules that make it nearly impossible to fire bad cops, and other structural benefits. The City gets the pay freeze, which will take some future pressure off the budget, and marginally reduce the future need for police layoffs or other consessions.

This in no way solves the budget problem that will loom for the City at the end of this year for 2012, but it makes it a little better.

Friday, February 04, 2011

CPD Reminds Me Of Egyptian Politics

We appear to have chaos in city government all over the impending retirement of Police Chief Tom Streicher, who leaves his position in a month. The city has been conducting a national search for going on for a new chief, but it has been suspended, because City Council is considering a police merger with or partial outsourcing to the Hamilton County Sheriff's department.

So now we have various factions fighting over what happens. The FOP is fighting back against the impending change and fear the Hamilton County Sheriff, who for the lack of a better analogy fits the "Muslim Brotherhood" roll, but his operations are cheaper and more flexible to manage.

Thankfully we don't have any actual violence in the streets, but we lack much protest either way.

We need a City police department. The Cincinnati Police Department should remain a viable organization. Giving up on it means the City's safety will be at the whims of a different elected official with too many constituents who don't care much for the crime in Cincinnati, as long as it stays in the City. We have a horrible contract with the FOP, however and that is costing us far more than it should. Sounds like we have a great city council campaign issue to discuss, but one that will be twisted into a litmus test by the usual players.

A Redesign For Is Coming Soon to a Browser Near You

The Enquirer issued an announcement that the and the Enquirer websites will be resigned. A sample image shows a very different look, with some structural changes.  No word yet on when the redesign will be launched.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

P.G. Sittenfeld Leads Council Race In Fundraising

I'm stunned by the fund raising skills of Council Candidate P.G. Sittenfeld who has already raised over $100,000 as of December 31st of last year. He has over nine more months to go and has more money than most candidates will raise for the whole cycle.

Money can't buy a win in November, but it can take a well run campaign with no name recognition into a winning campaign with a large TV-Radio Ad campaign. I don't know if Sittenfeld is vying for any political party endorsements, but the ability to raise money is one of the factors that will give credibility to a campaign within political circles. Sittenfield's problem now, is that he will be expected to keep raising money at a high rate. Having money tends to bring more contributors, but you have to be able make a sell that he can win.

The details on how important his money will be comes with the list of his contributors. If this is mostly family, then it will be difficult for him to keep the fundraising up at this level. If he has branched out to a wider circle of friends or colleagues, he'll be better positioned.

Chris Seelback and Jason Riveiro did well, for this point in the race, and have a better chance to show improvement, if they can connect with more support and turn that into contributions.

Arrest Made In Tucker's Shooting

The Enquirer is reporting that one of the alleged shooters in an incident at Tucker's Restaurant was arrested. That is great news for the OTR community. There is no reason the other suspect can't be caught as well.