Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why is the Enquirer Mixing a Murder in North OTR with Development Efforts?

The Enquirer's article online about the tragic murder of a 15 year old girl fails to be nothing more than pointless quotes cobbled together and a transparent ploy to gain attention. The first problem was the sensationalism, with two headlines: one on the article itself:
Girl's blood marks Over-the-Rhine dividing line
the other on the front page preview:
Girl's death a 'black eye' on OTR
The thought of trying to link violence with the neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine (OTR) is not a new thing, obviously, in Cincinnati. OTR still brings up the idea of violence and crime to the average suburban/exurban resident of the metro area who have been here for at least 10 years. Today, that crime and violence has decreased at a massive rate. This has helped changed the image of OTR. We (I live in OTR) don't have the automatic fear factor present itself, as often, when we mention OTR in conversation, except by the most anti-urban conservatives around town.  This link, however, sells newspapers.  The Enquirer makes money selling papers to people who have lived in Cincinnati for all of their life and their ignorance doesn't like to be challenged, so the newspaper feeds that ignorance with the same old story: crime happens where it is supposed to happen. To the ignorant person that place is OTR.  Selling it with emotional tugs is just the means.  If you can get quotes that bash 3CDC and the development in OTR, then that just appeals to a newer potential Enquirer Reader that wants their ignorance fed.  That group tends to be one left, as opposed to the right wing anti-urban knuckle-scraper.

What is the more disappointing problem with the story is it's structure.  What I get from it is that the reporter walked down Vine Street over a half mile from the murder scene and talked with some of the businesses in the newly developed area (right where I live). The article added pleasant quotes from employees at a couple of the businesses. He then walked West towards Washington Park in the quasi-narrative and invoked quotes from the usual suspects that were not really relevant to the point of the article, which was talking about the divide of the neighborhood, or was it the violence, or was it the drop in crime, or was it the resilience of the new residents?

If the article was going to be about something, it needed to be one of three things. First: Tell the story of the crime and/or the victim.  We got little about who she was, why was she there, what happened. Second: Talk about the situation of the Street Violence that affects many neighborhoods in Cincinnati.  Was this a stray bullet from a drug deal gone bad?  What she standing next to people who are involved in the drug trade?  Was this just an accident of some foolish person handling a gun?  Third: Tell of the divide between Northern OTR and the development South of Liberty.  This would surely have been most of what Josh Spring would have talked about.  His quote was filled with a big lie, but that's another blog post. One of the three would have work as an article and been relevant.  Instead we get a mess.

This article had many contributors, so that likely added to the hodgepodge feel, but the lack of editing just beams like a beacon a top a tall radio tower. It is like there could have been three different stories written and either the reporters were not able or allowed to do enough reporting for those stories, or more likely the story was only given so many lines of space. It would seem to me that the Newspaper should stop structuring their articles for newspaper print and focus on writing for the web. On the web, there isn't much of a space limitation. Also, other than organizational limit, the number of articles shouldn't be an issue, so write three stories instead of one. Put the out of town copy editors and layout people to the test!

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